Pirates Day Two Draft Roundup: Bucs' draft looks more straightforward than usual

Justin K. Aller

We're two days into the draft. You can read my reviews of the Pirates' picks here (for Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire and Blake Taylor) here (for JaCoby Jones and Cody Dickson) and here (for Trae Arbet, Adam Frazier, Buddy Borden, Neil Kozikowski and Chad Kuhl). The only pick I wasn't able to cover earlier in the day is 10th-rounder Shane Carle, a righty from Long Beach State who gets sinking action on his fastball but didn't particularly throw hard this spring.

The biggest difference between this draft and previous Pirates drafts is that the procession of picks has been more logical. From 2008 to 2011, the Pirates frequently got guys like Robbie Grossman, Zack Von Rosenberg and Clay Holmes in the late rounds even though they likely viewed them as second-round-type talents, and paid them big bonuses to keep them away from school. Last year, the new bonus pool system meant they couldn't do that, but they did pick some college seniors (Jacob Stallings, D.J. Crumlich, Pat Ludwig) in the first 10 rounds and lowball them so they could sign Mark Appel, and then ended up using that money to sign more talented later-round picks Max Moroff and Hayden Hurst.

This year, there wasn't much reason for any of that kind of maneuvering, and so the Pirates didn't really do any. The best player available when their first pick came up, Austin Meadows, will require a substantial bonus, but he isn't viewed as being un-signable, so there was no reason for the Pirates to rearrange the rest of their draft if they wanted to pick him. The same goes for McGuire.

And so, knowing that their first two picks weren't likely to do cannonballs in the draft pool, the Pirates essentially picked ... guys who made sense. Their second-round pick, Taylor, was basically has the talent of a second-round pick. JaCoby Jones basically has the talent of a third-round pick. And so on.

Meanwhile, there were no obvious Stallings/Crumlich/Ludwig-type picks. Everyone the Pirates selected was out of high school, or a college junior. It's possible some of those picks are dying to sign even for $5,000, but I doubt it. You can get away with that with some college seniors, whose options are to sign for $5,000 or go sell insurance. But high school students and college juniors have the option to continue their studies, and so they have the leverage to demand something closer to what they're worth. So my guess is that most picks the Pirates have made so far will sign for something close to their draft pool recommendation.

The Pirates may pick a couple Moroff/Hurst types tomorrow, but I doubt they'll sign them. Maybe there are a few players in the first 10 rounds from whom they can squeeze some extra cash, and of course the first $100,000 from each bonus after Round 10 doesn't count toward the draft pool. And teams can go a little over their total pool recommendation and not lose picks next year. So the Bucs may draft, and sign, a couple guys in the later rounds for $200,000 apiece or so. But I wouldn't expect anything grand.

In other words, there aren't any Robbie Grossmans or Josh Bells in this draft. No one from the later rounds jumps off the page. Instead, the Pirates' high-value guys are ... well, the guys they picked in the first round.

The Bucs went heavily on high school kids in the first two days. Everyone they picked on Day One was a high-schooler, and so were fifth-rounder Arbet and eighth-rounder Kozikowski. And Jones, the first college player they took, is a project. Don't expect anyone from this draft to make an impact for awhile.

I'm very satisfied with this draft so far, but that's mostly because I like the combo of Meadows and McGuire at the top. It wasn't very practical for the Pirates to go crazy with their picks after that, and they didn't, but Taylor, Jones, Dickson and Borden all look like they could be interesting, and the only players who look likely to be organizational types are Frazier and perhaps Carle. (Frazier has no home-run power and appears to have no plus tools besides his plate discipline; Carle gets ground balls and doesn't have overwhelming velocity.) We'll learn more about the Day Two players as they debut in the GCL and in Jamestown this summer (and as their bonus figures become public).

Given the new draft pool system and the fact that the Pirates no longer pick in the top four every year, we can't really expect fireworks anymore. But Meadows, McGuire and a handful of interesting mid-round guys looks like a good haul given the constraints the Pirates faced.

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