The signing deadline for the draft is at 5 p.m. today. The Pirates still have three top-10 picks left unsigned: first-rounder Mark Appel, fourth-rounder Brandon Thomas and eighth-rounder Kevin Ross.
It's unclear which of those picks will sign, but I'd bet on at least Appel doing so, despite a report from a couple days ago saying that he was "leaning toward" staying at Stanford. The Pirates have saved about $600,000 against the pool so far to use as extra money for Appel or for other draftees.They can also spend about $300,000 on top of that without losing draft picks.
As some of you discussed here yesterday, the Bucs have a lot of work to do today -- with Appel and with later-round picks -- to get this year's draft class up to standard. They drafted three college seniors in the first 10 rounds, signing them all to tiny bonuses, in order to save money for other players. Unfortunately, that means they didn't get a ton of talent in those rounds, so they need to spend the money in order to have a passable draft class. Right now they really just have Barrett Barnes, Wyatt Mathisen, Jon Sandfort, Adrian Sampson and a random smattering of guys who might have a bit of upside, like Chris Diaz, Dalton Friend, Hayden Hurst and Tyler Gaffney.
Pirates Prospects has some notes on the status of later-round picks:
**They’re close to the asking price for 16th round pick Max Moroff, although no deal has been reached. I’m told that Moroff will go to UCF if the offer doesn’t increase.
**They negotiated with 35th round pick Jackson McClelland, and offered him an above slot deal if he would have signed Wednesday night. McClelland turned down the offer and will be heading to Pepperdine.
**The Pirates were ready to draft 27th round pick Jake Johansen in the fourth round, although he turned down the money for that pick. They took him in the 27th round in case he changed his mind.
**21st round pick Jordan Steranka has agreed to a deal. However, he’s had mono, and as a result has failed his physical twice. Since he’s a college senior, the Pirates have until a week before next year’s draft to officially sign him.
I'd like for the Pirates to sign Appel, but if he doesn't, it's not a huge loss, since the Pirates will essentially get the pick back next year. In either case, though, they need to keep working on other picks, like Moroff, Thomas, Ross and Walker Buehler, if this is going to be a strong draft class. This is especially true because, with the Pirates playing well this year, their pool total next year isn't likely to be large (unless, of course, Appel doesn't sign).
I'll post a new thread once the first player signs.
-P- Actually, I lied -- let's keep it here. The Pirates have signed 18th-rounder John Kuchno, which will cost them $25,000 against the pool.
#Pirates sign 18th-rder John Kuchno for $125k ($25k counts vs pool). #OhioState RHP runs fastball to 95, also shows plus curve.
I hadn't thought of Kuchno as one of the better prospects remaining, but the Pirates must like him.
UPDATE 3:10: There's no word yet on Appel, which is no surprise. Given Scott Boras' past patterns, I'd expect him to start taking the Pirates' calls at about 4:45. It's the lack of non-Appel signings that I'm a little worried about right now. I'd like as many of these dominoes to fall as possible, and so far, John Kuchno is the only one.
UPDATE 4:01: The Pirates have signed 16th-rounder Max Moroff, a high school shortstop who had a commitment to UCF. This signing is probably well over the $100,000 quasi-limit. Moroff made it sound like fifth-round money, which is in the $200,000s, didn't really interest him.
UPDATE 4:03: Yeah, the Moroff deal is for $300,000. That takes $200,000 out of the Pirates' bonus pool. I'd take that as a likely indication that the Bucs aren't signing Walker Buehler, because there just won't be a lot of money left for him.