Pirates Competitive Balance Pick Nick Lodolo Announces He Will Go to TCU

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected pitcher Nick Lodolo with the 41st overall pick in the draft this year. He was considered a tough sign, but the team has been negotiating with him. Lodolo set a high bonus demand before the draft and said that he was planning on attending TCU, but he never took his name out of the draft, which left a door open for him possibly signing. According to Lodolo on Twitter this morning, he will be headed to school.

The Pirates will receive the 42nd overall pick next year, which also means a bigger bonus pool next year unless they fail to receive an extra competitive balance lottery pick, which happened in 2015. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% official he won’t sign since the deadline is Friday, but it certainly appears that way.

The Pirates lose his slot bonus amount, but they do have about $100,000 left to negotiate with a player after the tenth round, possibly someone they had as a backup plan in case Lodolo didn’t sign. That $100,000 or so they have left doesn’t include the $100,000 base bonus that every player after the tenth round can sign for without it counting against the team’s bonus pool. Teams are allowed to go up to 5% over their bonus pool without losing a draft pick, though they do pay a tax on the overage.

Here is our draft tracker with the remaining unsigned players. Of those players, the following have said they are returning to school already:

28. Michael Danielak

31. Ben Miller

34. Craig Dedelow

39. Harrison Wenson

40. Bret Boswell


Of the remaining picks, three are from East Tennessee State. That seems fairly odd to take three players from the same school and not sign any of them, but it is a possibility. Hagen Owenby was the 14th round pick and his draft stock likely shot up after the draft, as he won the college HR derby with a very impressive showing. He also said he was looking forward to ETSU next year, though that has not been made official.

The next highest unsigned pick is right-handed pitcher Pearson McMahan and there has been no news on him since the draft. He was even hard to find information on right after the draft. He has an advanced curveball, which led to a high strikeout total in JUCO ball this year, but he also had control issues. It’s tough to say if he would be someone they would go over slot for just because there isn’t enough info out there on him.

Austin Bodrato might be a target now. He has a commitment to Florida, but it’s only a partial scholarship. Bodrato has a strong arm, throwing 94 MPH, though he was announced as a third baseman. He has negotiated with the Pirates since the draft, so they might go back to him. Bodrato is very athletic with excellent speed. He’s old for a high school player though, turning 19 back in early February.

Shortstop Chris Cook from ETSU suffered a torn labrum, otherwise he would have gone higher in this draft. He’s an athletic player, who hit well as a sophomore, but only played nine games in 2016. If he returns to school next year, he will probably begin the year late due to the timing of his injury, and he also turns 22 this August, so his age isn’t on his side. It could be a case similar to James Marvel last year, who signed late for $150,000 and continued his Tommy John rehab with the Pirates.

Austin Shields is a huge 6’5″, 245 pound righty from Canada, who hits 94 with his fastball and has a slider with plus potential. I can’t see him being an option to sign for $200,000 because of his potential and he has a college commitment. He hasn’t ruled out signing as far as I can tell, but the upside suggests he would be better off returning to school. If the Pirates are able to sign him, then that’s a nice fallback plan.

Dustin Williams from Oklahoma is a power-hitting first baseman with solid defense. He has major strikeout issues though, so I can’t see him being someone who would require an over-slot deal. He only hit .219 this season. His team went to the College World Series and he said at the time that the Pirates would give him some time after the season ended before discussing him possibly signing.

Colin Brockhouse didn’t have great stats at Ball State, but he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, so he has more negotiating leverage. He’s a 6’3″, right-handed pitcher, who turns 21 next week. He has a three-pitch mix, including a fastball that gets into the 90’s, and judging from pictures, he has a frame that has a lot of room to fill out.

Aaron Maher is the third ETSU player and he’s also a draft-eligible sophomore, though he’s nine months older than Brockhouse. He’s a big lefty bat, who plays left field and put up solid numbers this year. He would likely require an over-slot deal.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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brad c

I think the risk to the kid is much more than it was to the Bucs. He bet $1.5 million that he will improve his value in college. Maybe. Maybe not. He could bite. He could get hurt. His value could plummet. Meanwhile, Pirates regroup and find someone else and get compensation next year. It’s not like they’re not stocked with pitchers. Now, about that first round pick. Hope he’s not another Tony Sanchez. That’s what I am worried about.


There could also be a revision in the amount of money made available for bonuses over the next three years. It might be addressed in the CBA talks. There was a downward step change in bonuses after the Bucs signed Bell. The top picks now get less than half what they once did. What went down might go back up, and then waiting will seem like a good idea.


Draft went from decent to really blah…..unless one of the lower round picks surprises and turns out to be a real viable prospect. I think the drafting of Craig in the first round will eventually be proven to have been a mistake – largely because he doesn’t have a position and his sole value is his bat. So, that puts a lot of pressure on him to really hit well – not just for average but also for power. I hope I am wrong, but I would have taken the Perez kid (the SS who dropped because of a failed drug test) who the Cards grabbed right after the Pirates chose to go the “safer” route….


What concerned me about drafting that kid in the first round was that, as far as scouts know, he might have cheated his way to getting noticed. His entire performance might have been enhanced. It could potentially be like scouting Brady Anderson as he hits 50 HRs, only to get a slap hitting outfielder


I wanted PEDez, too.


Stop praising these kids as if they are doing something noble. This is a horrible financial mistake that could haunt this kid his entire life.

Being generous and assuming he is good at something other than baseball, he might start (optimistically) at say $50,000. Assuming he gets 6% raises each year after that (as America continues to outsource every conceivable job), he could expect to earn $1,500,000 after 18 years…good choice!

(Oh and as everyone mentions, college is free if the kid flames out so his scholarship is irrelevant.)

joe s

I can not imagine the pressure on this young man to forgo $1.5+ million to go to college where he might not do anything and walk away from that small fortune. Seems like the Bucs might have blown this one, as he said that they never spoke with him before drafting him. Without the information as to whether he would sign or not and for the slot amount, it made little sense to take him in the first place. Well I wish him well and hope he achieves his dreams but if he ever makes the show, I hope the Pirates pound him into the dirt.


First top 10 pick not to sign since 2012–Mark Appel and Brandon Thomas. Googled Brandon Thomas. Drafted in 4th rd by PIT–$336,700 slot value. Went to Georgia Tech. Drafted in 37th rd by COL. Doh. Hit .200 in minors and never made it past A+. Currently playing in an independent league.


It is way early, but I sure wished Craig hadn’t signed either. Altho as a junior there was never much doubt?

I guess the Bucs should’ve taken Nolan Jones after all?

I wish Lodolo well, but I sure hope he doesn’t regret taking the cash. Even had he washed out, college is still very viable at 22-24 years of age.

Eric Marshall

Lodolo was a max over draft as well. Most had him 3rd or later. 99% odds against him getting this type of draft position in 3 years. Losing money this year and opportunity cost with each passing year. Not a very smart decision although i am somewhat happy he didn’t sign. Wasn’t enthused with the pick to begin with and like getting the extra pick and bonus next year.


I was not real excited about this draft to begin with. Taking the hitter was a Ok at best. Nothing to with his performance but unless he changes his mass, hard to see him staying at 3rd. Maybe a trade chip down the road. Lodolo was a pick that was more internal evaluations and that seemed to be a reach. Good luck at TCU but unless he develops and shows upside as a 20 to 21 year old with MLB stuff, he will not see that round again.


I can’t agree with Lodolo’s decision but I have an awful lot of respect for an 18-year-old that can stare down that type of money and in the end stick to his college commitment. TCU is getting a very mature young man aside from his talented left arm.

That being said, I agree with most everyone here that he’ll be lucky to two-thirds of his slot in three years unless almost everything breaks right. Side note: I’d love to see a chart of high school draftees from the last 10-15 years who walked away from $1 million-plus bonuses and improved their draft/signing position three years later. Could make for an interesting First Pitch or Morning Report Tim and John.


I couldn’t make a chart. But the same decision Lodolo made worked out okay for Gerrit Cole.


Can’t believe I didn’t think of that fella. He’s likely one of the few if I had to guess. Gerrit Cole you say, I’ll think of why that name is so familiar sooner or later…

Buddy Turney

Nick needed to take a 40 minute drive down the freeway to the Costco in Palmdale. There he could talk to Matt Harrington who is changing tires at $14 an hour. Matt was offered a lot more money than Nick and he turned it down. Zack Von Rosenberg took the money and now he’s enjoying the college experience as a walk on football player. Zack can easily write the check for college tuition and still have money in the bank.

Bobby L

That experience should be an eye opener for any prospect. ’twas for me.

john fluharty

I agree. That would be a very interesting article to read.

Bill W

Why “hate” a person for deciding to attend college? Makes no sense. Maybe three years ago they could have given him STETSON ALLIE MONEY?. Good Luck Nick.


Good for No-Dough-Lo….Crazy to turn that type of guaranteed money down!! I’m sorry, Take care of family first!! You can always go to college!! But maybe he wants a college experience!! Good for him and good for us!! You see how Appel is turning out compared to Medows!! So I feel we will get somebody even better next year!! When one door closes, another one opens for us!!

Tim Williams

I’ve been to college. Great experience. I think about it often, and not just because of my lifetime of student loans. But I’d still take the money.


To me Tim, it was a very bad decision on the young mans part. He, in my opinion, got some very dumb advise. I mean, if you had a son or daughter, would you tell them to turn down that much money (that can be invested)? He’s going to put extra wear and tear on his arm…just for the experience of college baseball? He had a chance at 18 to be a millionaire and potentially be set for life. Josh Bell’s mother wanted him to go to college and turn down the $5 million that was offered to him by the Pirates. My co-worker’s nephew was being pressured from his mother to turn down 2nd round millions from the NFL to go back and finish his senior year in college. This kid hasn’t lived long enough to know what he’s doing. Any effective parent would have strongly urged their kid to take the bird in hand rather than to try to get the two in the bush later. The Pirates still would have given him his tuitition even if he had failed. He’s making a huge mistake…a mistake that he might never recover from. But that’s just the Accountant in me.


…and it’s not like Mark Appel was taking a risk. I’m sure he had the big insurance policy on his arm, his dad is a lawyer with Chevron, and he has the Stanford degree. He had a ticket to the white privilege luxury box regardless…and he has god on his side too! Not on his pitching side…but on his side none the less.


College for me was fantastic, but I easily take the money.


Round 1.5 was a giveaway. How much do you think the money paid by the Reds for HS OF Taylor Trammell of $3+ mil and the money paid by the Braves for HS LHP Joey Wentz of $3+ mil had to do with Lodolo holding out for more.

At this point, load up whatever we have without losing a draft pick and jump on Hagen Ownby.


Yes, we have money left. Let’s get Owenby. Maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle!!!


What’s the scouting report on Owenby?


I don’t know much about him other than he has a good bat. He also won college baseball’s Homerun Derby. Sounds to me like someone to take a chance on.

Eric Marshall

would go back to “how stupid is this kid anyhow”? He was never in Trammel or Wentz category. 1.5 bonus was way over what he was worth. Happy he is heading back to school.

Bill W

He is probably getting a full ride or close. TCU is a decent school. Maybe his folks have some money so in his opinion a no brainer. I’m guessing money is not an issue.


Super fortunate not to have loans, but you GOT TO TAKE THE MONEY AND SQUARE YOUR FUTURE AWAY!! What was his slot bonus???


Bodrato sounds interesting. Older than other preps but still interesting.


Hey, they get 42 next year and with a possible bigger bonus pool maybe they can over slot with a second type first round talent with #42 who was asking for more money. And they signed Kranick.


I like the way you think!

Bill W

I wish he would have chosen WVU!

mitch t

I can’t name 1 first rounder who walked that I regret. Can you? Meadows was a nice upgrade over Appel that’s for sure


You’d probably have to go very deep in the draft to find someone who turned down the Bucs and reached prospect status. Trea Turner (20th round, 2011) and Jake Lamb (38th round, 2009) are the only two that come to mind. Neither would’ve had any financial incentive to sign here.


I did not know that. Could you imagine this team if they did sign? Filthy!


What are the chances we sign Hagen Owenby? They seem slim but I haven’t heard anything about him.


I hope they do. He sounds like the main character for the next Hobbit movie.


Appel not signing turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Maybe this is, too.


I for one was very glad Appel didn’t sign…saw him pitch at Stanford and thought he was way overrated in college


He got what he deserved for his arrogance and greed: an education and 7+mil. He never needs to do anything. It worked out for everyone! Well, except the Astros.

Joe S

Very poor that the front office makes this kind of blunder.


Like when they didn’t sign Mark Appel and ended up with Austin Meadows?


Not a blunder.


Picked Appel and he walked and got Medows!! Have you checked out where Appel is??? I bet you now he wished he would have signed instead of going to Stanford!!

Tim Williams

How is it a blunder? They signed everyone else, including their 11th round pick. They could still sign others. And they’ll get a pick next year as compensation.


I think that 42nd pick in 2017 is use it or lose it as well. So I’d guess that there is a fair chance that they use it on an easy sign player and have a decent amount ($250-500k) left to apply to a harder sign later on. Unless you are at the top of the draft and can save a million while signing your #1 to use toward an overslot deal on a comp (like ATL and CIN this year) that seems like the smart strategy.

Tim Williams

I don’t know if that’s the case with that pick. I know the other picks come with an extra year of protection, but that might not be the case with the competitive balance picks.

Joe S

It’s a blunder because you do not go into a draft with a plan to defer the pick for a year. You’ve essentially cost yourself a first round pick (deferred). And the Appel example was just a coincidence. Appel “could” have been great, certainly the Pirates thought that he was going to be or they would not have selected him. And there was no guarantee that Meadows was going to be available. Deferring an asset for a year is a blunder.


They took a kid that they liked and he turned down more than $1.5 million. Would you advocate that they exceed their draft pool and lose their 1st pick next year or would you rather they take lesser players? Maybe they could have taken another college senior or offered less to the Tulane SS to free more bonus money. But they still managed to land Kranick, who BA had rated 84 at pick 345. You’d like to have Lodolo too, but between the two I’m glad they got Kranick.


And as a bonus, Kranick is from my neck of the woods in NEPA. Now I have even more reason to root for the kid.


They gambled with insurance is what they did. To call it a blunder is just showing a lack of understanding. Would you have liked them to pass on Josh Bell? They have a history of doing this. As office linebacker Terry Tate would say:

Alan Saunders

I’ll forever up vote all Terry Tate references.


Totally illogical.


I guess you are saying they should have drafted someone similar to Daniel Moskos, because those players are willing to sign immediately. I guess I am missing your logic.

IC Bob

We got Austin Meadows instead of Appel. That seemed to work out great. I have no problem with a player not signing when we get compensation. Had we received no comp. then I think you could argue they should ahve drafted someone more signable.

Tim Williams

Deferring an asset for a year is not a blunder at all. The Pirates are in no rush to get talent through the system. Their MLB roster is locked up for years on the position player side, and is about to be the same situation on the pitching side. Their farm system is still stocked with a lot of talent.

If Lodolo signs, he’s going to Bristol next year, then maybe West Virginia in 2018. Then he’s got Bradenton/Altoona in 2019, Altoona/Indy in 2020, and Indy/Pittsburgh in 2021, under a best case scenario.

A prep pitcher taken next year would just be a year later on that timeline, putting him at 2022.

All of the pitching prospects who are coming up this year are under control through the 2022 season, and that’s without any extensions. It also doesn’t include guys who could come up between now and then, like Mitch Keller or Gage Hinsz.

So at best, you’re saying this is a blunder because the Pirates will hopefully have a pitching prospect arriving in 2022, rather than 2021, when they might not even need that prospect in either of those years.

Joe S

If that’s the case, then just don’t sign any of the picks from the 2016 draft (that carry over) and defer all the money to 2017. You got a business degree Tim, you know that an asset in your hand now is better than one in the future


It is called a calculated risk, even in business. Obviously they wouldn’t have drafted him if they didn’t believe they could sign him, but it wasn’t like it was entirely within their control. That same risk a few years back brought them Josh Bell…….and there was probably oh…….a 5% chance they were going to sign him. You take the risk, and if you win even a portion of the time, it is a value add. If YOU have a business degree (and I do as well as an investment advisor license) then you know this as well


This is not exactly the same type of “business.” There are risks you want to take with drafting tough to sign players knowing there’s a chance the won’t sign them even if you offer them all you have available. Fortunately, in this business the risk is mitigated significantly by a compensation pick the next year who may actually turn out better. So it’s clearly not as cut and dry as calling it a “blunder” because you have to wait a year to find out.


It’s a “blunder” because it’s a convenient way to rip the front office.

Darren G

I think this was considered a minimal loss potential roll of the dice since the Buccos get a pick in the same position next year. Perhaps next year’s class is considered to be deeper in talent as well.

Darren G

Not sure how any one, unless they are already rich, can pass up a million dollar plus pay day. Lodolo may do better in three years when he is draft eligible again but the odds are stacked against him.


I’m 48, educated, and without looking, I think I’ve made about $1.5 million in my LIFE so far. Wow.

Robert A Bishop

a lot of things can happen in 3 years…. most of them bad. Not only is it likely that Lodolo isnt drafted higher than 42 in 3 years, but it will also take him longer to get to the bigs…if it happens at all. Essentially he would also lose money on back end. Statistically speaking, its a bad decision but good luck to the kid.


Yes, if his main goal is to make the majors, then it’s a bad decision. College coaches are notorious for prioritizing wins over development, as they should be. And few, if any, organizations have a better track record developing pitchers right now.

Probably not a big loss–we need guys who are all in for making it to the show.

Daniel F

Anyone with three “o”s in their last name is destined to be a failure anyway. 🙁

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