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Pirates draft recap: 2014

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MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, more and more will still be up in the air as this goes along.

Numbers are draft rounds.

Top Picks

1-24. Cole Tucker, SS. Tucker looked like he was really turning a corner last year. He had stretches both at Bradenton and Altoona when he was hitting the ball with much more authority than previously. This year, after a good start, he’s become mired in a lengthy and drastic slump. Even the outstanding base stealing ability he showed last year has completely evaporated. It’s early to get too down on him, but he seemed poised to take the “shortstop of the future” label away from Kevin Newman. Now, maybe not.

1-39. Connor Joe, OF. This pick went off the rails when Joe hurt his back literally days after signing, scuttling a plan to move him to catcher. He recovered slowly and never hit much for the Pirates, got traded to Atlanta for Sean Rodriguez last summer, batted .135 in AA in 20 games for the Braves, then went to the Dodgers for international slot money during the off-season. And now he has an OPS well over 1.000 in AA, albeit at age 25. I suspect he’s going to end up as a AAAA guy, but maybe he just suddenly got fully healthy.

2. Mitch Keller, RHP. Keller has hit a rough stretch recently in AA, but he’s one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

2. Trey Supak, RHP. A prep pitcher like Keller, the Pirates traded Supak to Milwaukee in the ill-fated Jason Rogers deal. He’s made slower progress than Keller, but he pitched mostly well last year and is pitching very well in high A this year. He doesn’t project as a star but could be a major league starter.

3. Jordan Luplow, OF. Luplow had a breakout season in 2017 and reached the majors. After a slow start this year, he’s hitting well again in AAA and should ultimately be a major league player.

4. Taylor Gushue, C. Drafted as a bat-first catcher, the Pirates sent Gushue to the Nationals for Chris Bostick. Gushue is currently struggling badly in AA. The Pirates don’t seem that interested in Bostick, but he appears to be much the better of the two.

5. Michael Suchy, OF. Suchy never developed with the bat and was released this spring.

Others of Note

6. Tyler Eppler, RHP. Eppler is a tall guy who throws hard and has good control, which probably explains why the Pirates have pushed him aggressively. He’s generally gotten hit very hard, though, especially last year in AAA, and hasn’t missed many bats due to inadequate secondary stuff. He wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft but is pitching well this year in AAA, with a much-improved K rate.

8. Austin Coley, RHP. Coley doesn’t have dominating stuff and is currently struggling badly in AAA. He probably profiles now as an upper level depth guy.

10. Alex McRae, RHP. McRae is similar to Coley but has had slightly more success. Another pitch-to-contact guy, he’s also off to a rough start in AAA, although not as rough as Coley’s.

11. Gage Hinsz, RHP. The third above-slot prep pitcher the Pirates signed from this draft, Hinsz has shown some promise but struggled with shoulder problems last year at Bradenton. He was expected to return there this year, but now it appears he won’t pitch again until 2019.

13. Frank Duncan, RHP. Duncan doesn’t have impressive stuff, but had a huge 2016 season. The Pirates sent him to Arizona for Phil Gosselin after the season and he’s struggled badly ever since.

26. Jerrick Suiter, OF. Suiter is a big guy with good plate discipline who, prior to 2017, didn’t hit for any power. He started hitting for decent power last year and is currently in AAA, although he’s not hitting much. He’s probably limited to first base, where he’s good defensively. If his bat comes around he could ultimately see a little time in the majors as a bench bat, but more likely he’s a AAAA guy.

27. Jess Amedee, RHP. Thanks to a good slider, Amedee missed a lot of bats in the low minors, but he hasn’t so far been able to get past Bradenton due to control problems. He’s struggling there this year.

32. Montana DuRapau, RHP. DuRapau has had a lot of success as a closer in the minors, and also has the system’s best name. He got a non-roster invitation for this spring and seemed like a dark horse candidate to reach the majors at some point, but the NRI went by the boards when he got suspended for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He’ll be eligible to return in a two and a half weeks.

One Who Got Away

The Pirates drafted Paul DeJong in round 38, but didn’t sign him.

Overall

After Tucker, the Pirates went heavily for college hitters and prep pitchers in this draft. Apart from Luplow, the hitters did poorly. They did much better with the prep pitchers. With a group of three, having one a top prospect, one still a solid prospect (elsewhere, unfortunately) and one still on the charts if health problems clear up is a very good batting average four years out. Tucker himself gave the Pirates more upside than is often available late in the first round; yes, it’s a first round pick, but the 24th pick in the draft doesn’t have remotely near the value of a top five or even top ten pick. There’s still a lot of upside there and Tucker shouldn’t be dismissed due to three very bad weeks.

Grade: A.