June 8, 2015
by Bill West
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Travis Sawchik wrote a lot of good stuff on here earlier today, so that read that, too. Consider this post the second in a series of 2015 MLB draft courses you should consume tonight.
Just after 7 p.m. this evening, the dominoes of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft will begin to fall.
The Pirates must wait until 18 other teams make moves to announce their first-round pick, and after several years of choosing from among the true cream of amateur baseball’s crop with a top-five spot, they’re comfortable with the idea of drafting the best player still on the board at No. 19 and also in the compensatory first round at 32.
Only the first two rounds of the draft will occur tonight. Rounds three through 10 will follow on Tuesday, and the rest will finish up Wednesday.
“The obvious reason we’re glad we’re picking toward the back end of the first round is it means we’ve won,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “But this is a really good class to be picking at the back end of the first round. “There’s a ton of gray at the top of the draft. … There’s some depth to it, but there’s not the elite, knockdown talent that there has been in the past.
Mock drafts from a variety of sources suggest the Pirates want a high school pitcher with their first and possibly even second pick.
ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo name Stroudsburg High School right-handed pitcher Mike Nikorak as the Pirates’ first pick in the mock drafts they posted today.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis, in conjunction with Mayo’s mock draft story, goes with Kolby Allard, a left-handed pitcher from San Clemente (Calif.) High School.
Baseball America’s John Manuel listed Ashe Russell, a right-handed pitcher from Cathedral Catholic High School in Indianapolis, as the Pirates’ first pick in the mock draft he posted today.
Many of the mock drafts suggest the San Francisco Giants, who pick at No. 18, also want a high school pitcher, so the Pirates’ decision might hinge upon what happens one spot earlier.
Huntington hinted little about the front office’s plan beyond a desire to draft the best player available and dismissed the idea that it’s even possible to meet major league needs with young men who might not last long in the minors.
“They’re so far away,” Huntington said. “Even the college players are three to five years away from having an impact on the major league team. The high school players are six, maybe even seven years away.”
The Pirates’ picks through the first 10 rounds are Nos. 19 (first round), 32 (compensatory first round), 62 (second), 96 (third), 127 (fourth), 157 (fifth), 187 (sixth), 217 (seventh), 247 (eighth), 277 (ninth), 307 (10th).
They have a signing bonus pool allotment of $7,392,200 for their picks in the first 10 rounds. Read more about the slot bonus system and how it affects draftees and teams alike here.
The Pirates’ last took a pitcher in the first round in 2012 — the Mark Appel ordeal, in which Appel turned down the money offered to him as the No. 8 overall pick and returned to Stanford.
They also drafted a pitcher first in 2011 (Gerrit Cole) and 2010 (Jameson Taillon).