Pittsburgh Pirates day one draft analysis


The Pittsburgh Pirates’ upper management team turned its attention to an off-the-field event on Monday night as the 2015 MLB Draft got underway at 7 PM EST. Rounds one through the Competitive Balance B picks were held on day one, which included the Round One, Compensation, Competitive Balance A, Second Round, and Competitive Balance B picks. The Pirates had the 19th overall pick, the 32nd pick (a compensatory pick for losing Russell Martin), and the 62nd pick. Unlike last year, the Pirates did not receive any competitive balance picks in 2015.

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected SS Dansby Swanson with the number one overall pick. Here are the Pirates’ selections and our analysis of each pick.

19th Pick – SS Kevin Newman, University of Arizona

Kevin Newman just finished his junior year at the University of Arizona. Newman is 6’1″ and 180 pounds and bats and throws right-handed. This past season for Arizona, Newman batted .370/.426/.489 with two home runs, 36 RBIs, 20 walks, and 15 strikeouts in 227 at-bats. He was also 22-for-25 in stolen base attempts and made 12 errors in the field. He became the first player in Cape Cod Baseball League history to win consecutive batting titles after the 2014 season. You can view his UCLA profile here.

This is what MLB.com draft and prospect expert Jim Callis had to say about Newman immediately following the pick:

"We’ve talked about how shortstop is one of the deepest positions in this Draft and here’s another one off the board. Newman is that he’s one of the better pure hitters in college baseball. He won back-to-back Cape Cod League batting titles, which had never been done. I’m not sure there’s really another plus tool and he might be more of a second baseman, but he can hit his way to the big leagues."

One area that stands out negatively about Newman is his lack of power. He had no home runs in his freshman or sophomore seasons, and only had two in his junior year. But power is a bonus from the shortstop position. And Newman can flat-out hit, as he hit .304 in his sophomore season and .336 in his freshman season. His defense and arm are seen as average but the ability to hit can often help a player overcome the other lacking areas of his game to help him get to the majors.

Here is footage of Kevin Newman, courtesy of Moore Baseball:

Heading into the draft, Newman was Baseball America’s 29th-ranked prospect. Some other notable players that remained on the board when the Pirates selected Newman included BA’s number five overall prospect, OF Daz Cameron, their 14th-ranked prospect, RHP Kyle Funkhouser, and their 16th-ranked prospect, RHP Mike Nikorak.

With the uncertain future of Neil Walker in Pittsburgh, and the lack of much shortstop talent in the minors, this fills a need in the Pirates’ system. Shortstop Cole Tucker was taken with the Pirates’ first pick in 2014, and Alen Hanson should graduate to the majors this season, so the team keeps replenishing its infield in the minor leagues.

32nd pick – 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, Concordia Lutheran High School, Texas

Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of former major leaguer and one-time Pittsburgh Pirate Charlie Hayes, was selected with the Pirates’ compensatory pick for losing Russell Martin to the Toronto Blue Jays. Hayes was BA’s 57th-ranked prospect. Here is what Callis had to say about Hayes following the pick:

"He is another guy who was making a late push into the first round and it comes to fruition here. He’s another bloodlines guy as the son of Charlie Hayes, and you can tell when you watch him, especially with his approach at the plate. He doesn’t try to yank everything out of the park, focusing on hitting line drives gap-to-gap. I’m very impressed with how much better defensively he’s looked this spring compared to last summer. I really like this pick."

Athletic talent often runs in the family, and the Pirates are banking on that with this pick. He seems to have improved since last season and had been rising up draft boards as the draft neared. Here is footage of Hayes, courtesy of Prospect Pipeline:

OF Daz Cameron and RHP Michael Matuella were notable players still on the board when Hayes was selected by the Pirates.

62nd pick – SS/3B Kevin Kramer, UCLA

The Pirates added a third infielder to their day one picks with the selection of Kevin Kramer, a redshirt junior out of UCLA. Kramer was BA’s 133rd-ranked prospect. Kramer is 6’0″, 194 pounds, bats left-handed, and throws right-handed. You can view Kramer’s full UCLA profile here. In 2015 Kramer batted .323/.423/.476 with seven home runs, 34 RBIs, 36 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 254 at-bats. He was seven-for-15 in stolen base attempts and made 13 errors in the field.

Here is footage of Kramer, courtesy of FanGraphs:

Kramer brings more power to the table than Newman, but he missed the entire 2014 season due to surgery that he required for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He was a medical redshirt for the 2014 season. He’s been a consistent hitter throughout his college career, batting .281 in 2012 and .278 in 2013. He typically adds good defense from the infield and has improved his all-around game during his time at UCLA. There may have been some concerns about his shoulder injury before 2015, but he put them to rest with his numbers this past season. RHP Michael Matuella was a notable player still left when the Pirates took Kramer.

The Pittsburgh Pirates stocked up on infield prospects and potential third basemen, a position that is lacking in their system, on day one of the MLB Draft while passing up on players with signability issues (OF Daz Cameron) and potentially high-upside prep pitchers (RHP Mike Nikorak and RHP Ashe Russell). 2014 number one overall pick, LHP Brady Aiken, who didn’t sign with the Houston Astros last year and eventually required Tommy John surgey in March of this year, came within two picks of falling to the Pirates at number 19. Former Mt. Lebanon High School standout, 2B Ian Happ, was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the ninth pick in the draft.

More from Pirates Draft

Day two of the MLB Draft is set to get underway on Tuesday, June 9th, at 1 PM EST. Day two can be streamed live from MLB.com and includes rounds three through ten. The Pirates will hold the 19th pick in each round from the third round onward. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates plan to save money with their earlier selections and draft players that may be harder to sign later on.

Make sure to follow us on twitter @rumbunter for all of the latest draft news. And, of course, make sure to check in at rumbunter.com for all of our post-draft analysis over the course of this week.

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