In the minor league phase of Thursday’s draft, the Pirates selected three players – pitchers Shea Spitzbarth from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Claudio Finol, an infielder from the Reds organization, and Jeffrey Passantino, a pitcher from the Cubs organization.
Unlike the major league portion of the draft, in which the team acquiring the player must keep him on the active roster all season (barring injury) or be forced to return him to his former team, there are no similar rules in the minor league phase.
According to Baseball America, once the player is drafted in the minor league phase, he becomes part of his new organization, and his old organization is paid $24,500.
Spitzbarth, 26, is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander from Staten Island, NY. In 174 minor league games, Spitzbarth has allowed 216 hits in 261 2/3 innings while surrendering 100 walks. The eye-popping number is his strikeout total – he has fanned 340 hitters in those 261 2/3 innings.
He split the 2019 season between Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League, where he was 3-3 with a 2.05 ERA in 32 games and 60 strikeouts in 44 innings, and Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was roughed up for an 8.18 ERA in 20 games. There, he struck out 29 in 22 innings.
The 5-11, 171-pound Finol, who turns 21 in April, divided the 2019 season between rookie ball, where he batted .226, and the Class A Midwest League, where he hit .218 in 53 games.
Passantino, like Spitzbarth, has some impressive strikeout totals, as he has whiffed 202 batters in 182 career minor league innings. The 5-9, 225-pound right-hander appeared at four levels in 2019 – two Class A clubs, Tennessee of the Class AA Texas League and Iowa of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He worked 89 innings total, giving up 84 hits and 14 walks while striking out 104.
One of the more interesting stats about top pick Soriano is his size. Baseball Reference and MLB.com list him at 6-foot-3 and 168 pounds, but a Baseball America scouting report described him as 6-3 and 210 pounds “athletic with long and loose limbs.”
Given his inexperience and health history, the Pirates might just try to stash him on the injured list for much – if not all – of the season.