Results tagged ‘ Greg Smith ’

Some additional Draft thoughts

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Allie, Stetson 3.jpgSpent much of the afternoon meeting Stetson Allie – the Pirates’ second-round Draft pick — and his father, Danny, during Stetson’s introductory press conference. I was also able to catch up with scouting director Greg Smith, and I wanted to share some stuff he said that wasn’t able to make it into the Allie story, which you can find here.

On overall Draft: “It’s hard to say [if it's the best of the three in Pittsburgh], but it was definitely youth driven. We were also able to get some nice position players up top like Mel Rojas (third round) and Matt Curry (16th round). We think it was a nice balance. It was obviously driven by the youth and the pitching, but there are also some position players we feel really good about.

“As we continue to grow as a scouting staff, I challenge our guys that no matter how good we think Pedro [Alvarez] and that ’08 class is, or the ’09 class, or this class, we want to continue to raise the bar so that [director of player development] Kyle [Stark] and his staff keep getting more and more confidence that we’re bringing in better players each year.”

On bringing so much young talent into the organization: “One thing that I expressed to Stetson and his family at lunch is that without our confidence in Kyle and his [development] group, we can’t Draft like this. We can’t give him a slew of high school pitchers without the trust in the program that they’re going to maximize the return.

“It’s fun for both sides. Obviously, our instructors like working with good players and our scouts like signing good players. It’s a happy relationship.”

On the financial resources (approx. $12 million was spent on this Draft class) made available by owner Bob Nutting: “The amount of support and resources for our scouting department has been tremendous. Understandably, what happens at the Major League level means a great deal to everyone, as it should. But we reap the initial benefits from where Bob and [president] Frank [Coonelly] are coming from. For three years now, we’ve been able to Draft and sign the players who we feel like are going to make us better. Now that doesn’t make everybody here feel the same way because that takes time.”

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August 18: Brewers (58-60) @ Pirates (47-70)

I’ll admit it was quite nice to be able to sit on my couch last night, turn on ESPN and wait to hear if Strasburg and Co. signed by the midnight deadline, knowing that in Pittsburgh we didn’t have to deal with anything similar to the Pedro Alvarez/Scott Boras/Pirates nightmare from a year ago. Too, I was intrigued by how those negotiations would work out. There are sure to be long-term implications since the Draft system has to be scrutinized and possibly revised in the near future based on how the slot system is failing.

As it concerns the Pirates’ Draft class, though, 23 of 51 players were signed. And you can find an overall Draft assessment with reaction from GM Neal Huntington and scouting director Greg Smith on the main site now.

To highlight a few main points:

  • The Pirates, who came in with a Draft budget of about $10 million, spent $8.919 in signing bonuses for 23 players.
  • By his latest calculations, Huntington said the Pirates ranked sixth in the Majors in spending on Top 10 picks, even though nine teams signed their first-round pick for more money than the Pirates gave catcher Tony Sanchez ($2.5 million).
  • Without naming names, Huntington said that there were three drafted players that the team came real close to signing but was unable to in the end. One had gone so far as to come to a verbal agreement with the organization before backing out. The other two were ready to sign, but the delay in the signing process because of Major League Baseball discouraging above-slot signings caused each player to change his mind. Huntington said there were steady discussions with another six players or so, but nothing was close to happening on those fronts.
  • On the opposite end, Huntington cited Colton Cain, Zachary Von Rosenberg, Jeffrey Inman and Trent Stevenson as players who the Pirates initially felt they had only an outside chance of signing when drafted.

Huntington seemed well-please with the final results, though I guess we’ll have to come back in five years or so to do an even more thorough assessment.

As for today’s other news, notes and randomness…

  • Manager John Russell dropped catcher Ryan Doumit to the fifth spot in the order on Tuesday. Doumit had hit in the No. 4 hole in all 38 of his starts before today. The move was done to try and relax Doumit, who has just three hits in his last 24 at-bats and showed visible frustration during his 0-for-5 showing on Monday.
  • Right-hander Jose Ascanio had further tests done on his right shoulder and it looks like he’ll be sidelined longer than initially expected. Ascanio has been shut down from throwing until the soreness goes away. Russell didn’t have a timetable for when Ascanio could pick up a ball again, but said it would likely be more than 10 days.
  • The Pirates were looking at using Ascanio in the rotation in September, though those plans are likely now scratched. Still, Russell said that he will likely need to use an extra starter or two during the last month to get through the two doubleheaders and because the Pirates will eventually start limiting pitch counts.
  • While no limitations have been set yet, the club will start to limit innings in September so no starter has more than a 20 percent increase in innings thrown. Ross Ohlendorf and Zach Duke are the two to keep an eye on in this respect.
  • Who could be the candidates to make some spot starts in September? Phil Dumatriat, Eric Hacker and Daniel McCutchen would seem the most likely choices.
  • Speaking of Dumatrait, Huntington said that he will make another relief appearance for Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, which is the last day he can be on his rehab assignment. Afterward, Huntington said, Dumatrait will be evaluated to see if he’s Major League ready. Judging by Huntington’s expression, though, I’d say the Pirates are right now very hesitant to add Dumatrait to the big league roster. His numbers sure haven’t been good, and I’ve not heard very positive reports about his stuff in Indy. Since Dumatriat is out of options, the Pirates could put him on waivers and assign him to Triple-A once he passes through.
  • The Pirates have hit eight homers in the team’s last two games against the Brewers. Consider this, though: the Brewers lead the league in home runs allowed this season with 159.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  7. Steve Pearce (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Felipe Lopez (2B)
  2. Craig Counsell (SS)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Mike Cameron (CF)
  7. Frank Catalanotto (RF)
  8. Mike Rivera (C)
  9. Manny Parra (LHP)

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Pirates select C Tony Sanchez with No. 4 overall pick

One year after selecting the can’t-miss college bat of the First-Year Player Draft, the Pirates went a more unconventional direction on Tuesday in choosing Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez as their first-round selection in the ’09 Draft.

Sanchez, who the Pirates picked with their No. 4 overall selection, was widely regarded as the top amateur catcher available in this year’s Draft, but wasn’t ranked among the top-20 and even top-3- available players in a number of pre-Draft rankings. 

Still, Sanchez, a native of Miami, Fla. hit .346 with 14 homers, 19 doubles, 63 runs scored and 51 RBIs in 58 games with the Eagles this year. The 63 runs scored set a Boston College record, while his 14 home runs were third-most in a single season.

General manager Neal Huntington was among those who saw Sanchez in person this spring, and he and scouting director Greg Smith recently met with the 21-year-old backstop over dinner. While the Pirates passed on a number of highly-regarded pitchers to nab Sanchez, their thought process in selecting the catcher with that first pick seems to be part of a larger plan.

According to one baseball source, the Pirates are believed to already have reached an agreement with Sanchez that would pay him a signing bonus of approximately $2.25-2.3 million. That figure would fall under “slot,” Major League Baseball’s recommended signing bonus for first-round picks. And with a deal in place now, the Pirates can get Sanchez in their system quickly, which the organization was hopeful of doing.

Furthermore, by not spending an excessive amount on their first-round selection, the Pirates are now expected to be increasingly aggressive in the later Draft rounds, especially in grabbing pitching talent.  Much like they did last year, look for the Pirates to draft high-ceiling high school players who have already committed to playing in college, which had kept other teams from potentially drafting them in earlier rounds. With the money available, the Pirates can then offer substantial bonuses to try and convince such players to forego college and sign with the organization.

As for Sanchez, he was named as one of three finalists for the 2009 Coleman Company – Johnny Bench Award, which is presented annually to the top college catcher. He was also recently named to both the All-ACC First Team and the Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team.

Sanchez finished his collegiate career with a .317 batting average, 49 doubles, 24 home runs and 124 RBIs in 161 games.

The last time that the Pirates used their first-round selection on a catcher was in 2004 when Pittsburgh native Neil Walker was selected with the 11th overall pick. Other catchers drafted in the first round by the Pirates include: Steve Nicosia (1973; 24th overall), Jon Ferrell (1991; 24th overall) and Jason Kendall (1992; 23rd overall).

Video of Sanchez and a scouting report of the catcher can be found here.

***

Prior to Sanchez, the Draft selections went as follows.

  1. Washington Nationals — Stephen Strasburg (RHP; San Diego State University)
  2. Seattle Mariners — Dustin Ackley (CF; UNC Chapel Hill)
  3. San Diego Padres — Donovan Tate (CF; Cartersville High School (Ga.))

Draft day arrives: Pirates leaning toward Tony Sanchez?

Just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the Pirates will make the No. 4 overall selection in the First-Year Player’s Draft. And unlike last year — when we all knew it would be Pedro Alvarez – the Pirates’ first-round selection remains somewhat of a mystery. Maybe.

Based on conversations I’ve had over the last 24 hours, I’m beginning to believe that Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez just might be the Pirates’ guy.

Pirates management is down in Bradenton, Fla., in the “war room” (as they call it) putting together a Draft board. As of Monday night, the organization’s short list was believed to have Sanchez, former Mizzou right-hander Aaron Crow, high school righty Zack Wheeler and USC shortstop Grant Green on it.

Crow and Wheeler are both expected to be top 10 selections, so their inclusion on the list comes as little surprise. And both have been listed above Sanchez in mock drafts. So why would the Pirates consider Sanchez?

Well, to begin with, he has intriguing talent. He hit .317 with 49 doubles, 24 homers and 124 RBIs in 161 games with Boston College. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has taken time to go and see Sanchez catch, and Sanchez reportedly had dinner with some members of the Pirates’ management team.

A while ago, Pirates scouting director Greg Smith mentioned that there were some intriguing catchers available in the Draft, so maybe that was a setup for the direction the Pirates were going to go.

If the Pirates do select Sanchez, he’d likely command a bonus that would fall within “slot” of where he was picked. He’d also be likely to sign quickly, something Pirates management really would like to happen.

Not only that, but by not dishing out above-slot money for a first-round pick (especially with this Draft not having premier talent beyond Stephen Strasburg and Dustin Ackley, both of whom are expected to be taken by the time Pittsburgh selects), the Pirates will have the rest of their budget to allot to their later round signings.

Remember last year when they selected Robbie Grossman in the 6th round and paid him a $1 million signing bonus to convince him to skip college? Expect the Pirates to employ that same technique again as they take intriguing high school players who other teams will shy away from because of previous college commitments.

Furthermore, the depth of pitching in this year’s Draft will leave plenty of arms available to be selected in rounds two and beyond. The Pirates will have no problem stocking up on pitching.

They have the 49th and 53rd selections in the Draft, both spots where the Pirates expect some strong arms to be available. 

Huntington has emphasized that the organization’s Draft needs to be judged based on the entire product and not the first-round pick. He also recently mentioned that the club’s first-round selection will likely not be extremely popular. That could all be pointing to Sanchez as being the guy, despite the fact that he is not listed as a first-round selection in every pre-Draft rankings.

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