The 2021 MLB amateur draft wraps up today with the final ten rounds of the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have the first pick of the day shortly after noon. If you followed along yesterday, you know that the Pirates won the draft with their first four picks, getting players with first round talent with all four of those picks. It was quite the impressive haul made possible by having the largest bonus pool available to them. We know that those first four picks are going to get paid well as a group, and we also know that the Pirates didn’t go cheap (aka senior signs) with their fourth round pick or their eighth round pick, so there won’t be much (if any) savings with those picks. I’m sure the Pirates know what it will take to get their top ten picks signed, but that doesn’t help us when we’re trying to figure out how they plan to go about today’s picks.
For those who don’t know the draft bonus pool rules well, teams get a certain amount to spend, plus they are allowed to go over 5% of their pool without a stiff penalty. Plenty of teams have taken advantage of that 5% rule, including the Pirates multiple times. In order to get your entire bonus pool, you need to sign all of your top ten round picks. We know that Henry Davis is signing with the Pirates, but if a team took a first round pick who they knew they couldn’t sign, that doesn’t mean that they could spend his slot money elsewhere. That slot would be gone.
I’m going to assume that all of the top ten round picks will sign. The first pick today will probably let us know if the Pirates spent all of their bonus pool money, or they might be able to go over-slot today. Before making any selections yesterday, they already had a good/great/exact idea what it would take to sign that player, allowing them to see how much they have left in their bonus pool before talking to players who are still available.
With that in mind, I’m going to give two lists here. The first is the top ten available players according to MLB Pipeline rankings. The second list is the top college players left. The first list is all high school players, so it makes it easy to split the lists up. If a player is rated this high and he isn’t signed, it usually means unrealistic bonus demands. Sometimes those players gamble and it didn’t work out for them, but they really want to go pro, so those demands are out the window when they get to the later rounds undrafted. There’s a current player in the system who had a high bonus number on days one and two that caused him to fall, and he ended up signing for less than 1/3 of his original asking price. Something like that could work out in the Pirates favor as they went/go around calling all of the best players last night and this morning.
As I said, we don’t know what they could spend today. Maybe the pool is maxed out and they go for the best college player and give him $125,000, which is the max amount you can give 11-20 round picks without going into the bonus pool. Maybe they have $500,000 left over and they choose to split that up or spend it all on one player. I don’t know what they have, but we will get a great idea with the first pick today. So here are the two lists, with quick notes on each player. First up is the high school players. They are listed by their MLB Pipeline rank (the number before their name), but I also included their Baseball America rank and their commit, which is also a pretty important factor.
20. Will Taylor, OF, Clemson commit, two-way star, ranked 21 by BA. Pirates would have needed to save more than my random $500,000 number I threw out there to get him. That’s a strong school and a mid-first round talent
29. Peyton Stovall, SS, Arkansas commit, ranked 33 by BA. Strong bat, solid defender, but will move off of shortstop.
43. Gage Jump, LHP, UCLA commit, ranked 58 by BA. Small for a pitcher, but he has a strong fastball/curve combo already. I could see teams passing on him due to size concerns, but getting this far undrafted has more to do with bonus/commitment.
47. Chase Burns, RHP, ranked 50 by BA. Tennessee commit. Not only does he have a good commit, he’s also a local kid, so there’s probably been a desire to get there. He has a big fastball, strong slider, held back by control and below average changeup.
53. Jackson Baumeister, RHP, Florida State commit, ranked 84 by BA. Very nice fastball/curve combo. Changeup is below average and control is average. Solid 6’3″ frame.
60. Thatcher Hurd, ranked 45 by BA. Another UCLA commit. He’s a 6’4″, RHP, four above average pitches and above average control. I’m not sure why he isn’t ranked higher, but he’s fully committed to UCLA according to bonus demands.
61. Tommy Dilandri, TCU commit, ranked 140 by BA, so there’s a big difference in opinion here. Right-handed hitting outfielder with power and speed, but his hit tool is below average and so is his arm.
64. Alex Mooney, ranked 66 by BA. Duke commit. Shortstop with solid tools across the board and a strong school.
66. Braden Montgomery, ranked 87 by BA. Two-way player with Stanford commit. As an outfielder he has above average power, strong arm. As a pitcher he has a nice three-pitch mix with control. Stanford is a tough school to sign players away from.
71. Davis Diaz, ranked 69 by BA, Vanderbilt commit. Has the hit tool and fielding at shortstop, lacks power and speed. Another tough signing due to school.
**Pipeline list has Hosh Hartle and Cody Schrier ranked inside the above group, but both withdrew from the draft.
89. Jonathan Cannon, Georgia, RHP, Above average fastball/changeup combo with control of his pitches, average breaking pitches. He’s 6’6″, 207 pounds. BA rank is 68th.
97. Isaiah Thomas, Vanderbilt, he has four above average tools, missing the one tool that makes it the hardest to make the majors, with a 45 grade hit tool. Gifted athlete, solid 6’3″ frame. Ranked 95 by BA.
101. Luca Tresh, NC State, Pirates probably aren’t going catcher here after drafting two of them already. He has good power, solid defense, low OBP, very slow runner. Ranked 75 by BA.
132. Troy Melton, San Diego State, 6’4″, RHP, four-pitch mix, fastball is above average, breaking balls are average, changeup is below average. His control also needs work. Ranked 117 by BA.
135. Niko Kavadas, Notre Dame, ranked 158 by BA. He’s a huge power bat at first base and not much else. Received 20 grade for speed, which is basically standing still. Glove is also weak, but he can hit dingers.
143. Andrew Walling, Eastern Oklahoma State JC, LHP, ranked 183 by BA. He’s 6’3″, 220 pounds, nice fastball/slider combo, average changeup and control, below average curve.
152. Dylan Ross, Northwest Florida State, huge RHP at 6’5″, 250 pounds. He throws very hard and mixes his fastball with an average slider and an average changeup (also called a split-change). He gets a 45 grade for control. Ranked 115 by BA
157. Chase Silseth, Arizona, 6’0″, 205 pound, RHP, ranked 144 by BA. Strong fastball/changeup combo with decent slider and average at best control.
158. Bryce McGowan, UNC Charlotte, RHP, ranked 220 by BA. Solid four-pitch mix with fastball that touches 97 MPH. He needs better control.
176. Dominic Keegan, Vanderbilt, ranked 227 by BA. 1B/C, he’s mostly about power, his only above average tool. Inexperienced behind the plate.