Friday, June 21, 2013

Short Season Ball

The Reds just split a series with us.  And while it was probably better to win the series at home, 2-2 is not too bad.  On to the Angels.  But today is about the excitement of short season ball.  Allow me to speak about who I am watching closely.

In Jamestown it I am watching Harold Ramirez.  He got a huge bonus a few years ago and looks to be a guy who can play.  Had a good year last year, and so the jump in competition is going to be revealing.

Elvis Escobar is also looking good as another outfielder.  Jamestown should not have problem with outfields spots with two legit prospects on the team.

Others are excited about Jin-De-Jhang.  I don't know a lot about him, but he has hype and two early homers, so he will get a watch.

Colten Brewer is still a pitcher I am looking forward to see.  He needs to stay healthy, but I think he still has rotation potential.

More guys will come to this team as more sign from the draft.

The GCL Pirates are even more interesting.  Here we get to see a lot of the high schoolers who signed this year and some who will still be signing.

Other than this year's stock I am hoping to see a good turn out from Candon Myles in the outfield.  He has a high upside.

Catcher looks stacked as I am sure everyone is going to be watching Reece McGuire, but I will also be hoping to see a good amount of Danny Arribas, a Dutchman who has some good international experience, and he is very young.  Able to play other positions, so it will be interesting to see if they let him in other places to get him some extra at bats.  He did play in the DSL last year and hit over .300.

Pitching should be interesting.  Jonathan Sandfort had some control issues here last year, but only was in 8 games.  Hayden Hurst is one to keep an eye upon as well as he makes his debut.  Hopefully more signings will lead to more people ending up here as well.

Either way, it looks a like a great day for the Pirates, both now and in the future.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Comparing Royals and Pirates Draft Thinking

Comparing the Royals and Pirates

I live in Kansas City Royal territory, so I am always flooded with Royals news.  I also find it interesting to compare the Pirates and Royals because they are both in a similar small market boat.  

This year's draft by the Royals should draw immediate comparisons between the KC front office and the Pirate front office.  

Take a look at what the Royals did this year in the draft.  This is a very different approach than the Pirates who took the number 5 and 10 prospects on MLB's top 100 with the 9 and 14th pick.  This was in part thanks to the Royals taking Hunter Dozier 8th.  

The thinking of the Kansas City front office was Dozier would be a cheap sign, which he was as he has already signed under slot by about a million bucks.  This is to help them sign their 34th pick Sean Manaea.  Manaea is a big talent who underperformed this year, so their is some risk in this pick.  If they don't sign him, they don't get compensation.  If they had drafted Manaea first, they would have been compensated if they failed to sign, and whether or not Dozier would have been there at 34 is a debatable point.  Of course if his underperformance is the norm and his summer league the aberration, then this pick is a complete disaster no matter what.

But look at the rest of the Royal draft.  Not a lot of high schoolers and not a lot of people that even had draft reports on  I counted 10 with reports and two more that had videos.  The Pirates this year had 13 with reports and 1 more with a video.  Only one of the Pirates first 10 round picks did not have either a report or video.  They also picked 5 High Schoolers in the first 10 rounds and no college seniors.  The Royals took 4 college seniors in the first 10 rounds and only two high schoolers.  The majority of the High Schoolers taken by the Royals are past round 25 where they are not going to sign.  They seem to be betting on signing Manaea because they do not have high school talent out of the top 10 rounds.  If Manaea does not take the deal where are they going to throw the extra money?  

The more interesting comparison is with the Pirates last year.  The Pirates last year used a pick to draft a tough to sign guy in Mark Appel.  They also tried to save some money in the first 10 rounds with picks like Crumlich, Wood, and even Barrett Barnes who was still about the talent level of the pick.  
But the Pirates seemed to have a back up plan.  They drafted high upside high schoolers Walker Buehler, Maxwell Moroff, and Hayden Hurst in the 14th, 16th, and 17th rounds.  And when Appel refused to sign they were able to pick up Moroff and Hurst.  AND they got to have the 9th pick this year, which turned out to be Austin Meadows.  

The problem with the Royals is not that they went and tried to sign the 13th overall prospect who is considered a hard sign.  The problem is that they don't seem to have a back up plan for it.  If they fail, they do not get a comp pick, and they do not seem to have high upside high schoolers to throw the extra money to in order to get them to sign.  Instead they pick the 46th overall talent who will have to move to third, and may have to move to second eventually.  They continually passed on talents that might have signed if you had an extra million or so laying around from the attempt to sign Manaea.  For example Ryan Boldt is committed to Nebraska, and he went undrafted until round 22 despite being the 39th best prospect.  Boldt could have been drafted in round 14-17 (as the Pirates did last year), and then on top of the max $100,000 they Royals could have added at least a 1 million, and judging from some of the names in their top 10 rounds, probably at least 1 million more.  Boldt might have gone for that.  Isn't it at least worth a try?  

It seems to be a different thinking about drafting than the Pirates, and one that makes me glad we have the front office that we have.  

I think we can all say, "I am glad we are not the Royals."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Draft Round 1

Okay, so following a successful Pirates team is proving more stressful than I imagined.  I am not sure I am able to cheer on a team that is close to the playoffs, but might well miss them.

But today is a day of looking forward, and it turned out to be a much better day than I had hoped.

Almost all of the mock drafts had the Pirates taking high schooler Reese McGuire with the 9th pick and then getting usually Hunter Renfroe for the 14th or D.J. Peterson or Dominic Smith.  But, when the draft picks started falling into place the Pirates were given the opportunity to pick Austin Meadows, a high school 5 tool outfielder.  Almost all predictions had him going before the 9th pick.  So, the Pirates snatched him up as they had been rumored to want another good outfielder.

Meadows is young and will be a bit of a work in progress, so don't expect massive numbers in short season ball.  But he is highly athletic and has been highly successful so far.  We got a guy that everyone thought would be gone, and was almost universally rated higher than McGuire, so it is reason to be excited.

The best news is that then McGuire was still around at 14, so the Pirates took him then.  It seemed obvious the Pirates thought McGuire a top 10 talent, as all mock drafts had the Pirates taking the high school catcher.  His defense is apparently great and his bat will need the work, but not in the same way that Sanchez needed work.  Expect more from this kid.

With the Pirates clearly wanting McGuire and still getting him 5 picks later than they had planed and thus getting an even greater talent at 9, this was a highly successful Day 1 to the draft.  And there is one more bit of great news.  Mark Appel went #1 to the Astros.  He will not get the amount of money he could have if he had been willing to let the Astros draft him last year, but that is not the great news.  The great news is that many had thought the Astros would pass on Mark again and that would have meant he fell to the Cubs, who would have taken him.  Now Appel will pitch in the American League and never have to cross the Pirates, and especially not have to cross in division every year.  That too is good news.

More tomorrow on the next section of the draft.