The Pittsburgh Pirates and Logan Ice
The 2016 Major League Baseball draft starts on June 9th with the Pittsburgh Pirates picking in the first round at both 22 and 41, with the pick number 41 coming in the Lottery Round A portion. The second round sometimes gets overlooked, but in baseball, the second round is full of great talent. Players slide do to sign ability – thank you Josh Bell for supposedly having that problem – but there is also so much talent in baseball, that even if the player has great sign ability, they can still be there for the taking. Some of the players take in the second round in the Neal Huntington era include:
- Stetson Allie, 2010. Ranked Baseball America’s eighth top prospect and they noted “his pure stuff rivals Jameson Taillon’s as the best in this draft.”
- Josh Bell, 2011. Ranked Baseball America’s fifteenth and MLB Pipeline’s 23rd top prospect. MLB Pipeline even stated “it’s the kind of bat that compares favorably with someone like Chili Davis or Cliff Floyd.”
- Mitch Keller, 2014. Keller, the 20 year old, has produced a 1.89 ERA along with a 10.1 K/9 and a 12.8 K/BB in West Virginia this season, a league where he is 1.9 years younger than the competition.
Those three, just to name a few of the nine second round picks, have been some of Huntington’s best second round picks, even with Allie flaming out as a pitcher and is not much of a hitting prospect, Trey Supak netting Jason Rogers, Blake Taylor netting Ike Davis, and Kevin Kramer having too small of a sample to judge. The second round has been a place where good talent has been implemented into the system, especially when they take below slot value players in the first round.
This 2016 draft should be no different, as the talent pool is still large. This draft year the Pittsburgh Pirates pick at number 68, and there round three pick is at number at number 105. They could take a look at many options. However, history tells us that they’ll likely take a pitcher, as six of the nine second round picks have been pitchers. We can also guess, based on Huntington’s past drafts, the pick will be a high school kid, as seven of the nine have been high school draft picks, and five of the six pitchers have been high school pitchers. Based on history alone, the likely pick would be a high school pitcher since that has been five of the nine second round draft picks under Huntington.
However, 2016 should be the year the Pittsburgh Pirates mix it up and go a college catcher in the second round. Huntington has drafted catchers four times in the first five rounds in his tenure – Tony Sanchez from Boston College in 2009 (first round), Reese McGuire from Kentwood High School in 2013 (first round), Wyatt Mathisen in 2012 (second round), and Taylor Gushue from the University of Florida in 2014 (fourth round). Of the 46 picks made by Huntington, 8.6 percent of them have been catchers, and of the 24 positional players he has picked in the first five rounds, 16.7 percent have been catchers. This year, it could be time to add another one to the list.
Logan Ice, born May 27, 1995, is a 21 year old catcher from Oregon State University. Ice came to Oregon State after graduating from Rogers High School. Oregon State’s website mentions that Ice was the number 230 high school player at graduating and was a four time letter winner in high school. Baseball America ranks him as the 67th best draft prospect, which in terms if player rankings lines up well with the Pirates pick at 68, but player rankings really mean nothing in the grand scheme. The thing that stands out most when looking at the junior, is how he has started all three year in Corvallis.
Ice is coming off of his best season with the Beavers, as he slashed .310/.432/.563 with an OPS of .995. He also walked 37 times while only striking out 25 times, an outstanding 1.48 BB/K ratio, which goes along with a career high in doubles with 13, career high in triples with five, and a career high seven home runs. The switch hitting catcher really took big steps forward in the 2016 season. Ice’s career slash line now stands at .279/.400/.424 with an OPS of .824, 26 doubles, six triples, 10 home runs, and a 1.29 K/BB in 164 games and 607 plate appearances.
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The most important thing for Logan Ice may be the fact that his favorite athlete is Yadier Molina according to the Beavers website. For a catcher, that is a great player to have as your favorite. Ice stands at 5’11” and 191 pounds, Molina stands at 5’11” and 220 pounds. But the thing that sticks out for Molina most is his arm.
Molina has thrown out runners at a career rate of 44 percent, and that is with the league average over his career being 28 percent, simply Molina has a hose. This is where the comparison becomes a fun one. Baseball America cites that Logan Ice has thrown out 48 percent of attempted base stealers in the three years he has been at Oregon State, and that Ice has averaged a pop time of roughly 2.0 seconds. Both of these are remarkable feats, and would put Ice among the the top defensive catchers in the game. Combined with his ability to square up the baseball and that he walks more than strikes out, Ice could be a real great pick up for the Pirates if he is available at pick number 68.
But where would Ice fit in on the Pirates, a team that has extended their two catchers, has a top catching prospect on the AAA disabled list, another top catching prospect in AA, and the fact they took a catcher in the fourth round in 2014 could be a question that arises.
Francisco Cervelli has been one of the best catchers in baseball since his trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates due to his combination of on-base abilities, pitch framing, calling games, and blocking the baseball. The Pirates reworded Cervelli with a three year and $31 million extension, which starts next season and runs through the end of the 2019 season. Chris Stewart signed an extension lasting though the end of the 2017 season, and features an option for the 2018 season. The team is set for the next couple years behind the plate, at least the end of 2019. At the beginning of the 2020 season, Ice will be 24 years old and soon to be 25. It will allow him to spend three years developing more with the bat and behind the dish.
Elias Diaz is currently on the disabled list due to an elbow injury and he will be 29 by the time the 2020 season rolls around. He is known for being a defensive catcher and having a strong arm, but who knows how well he will bounce back when he returns to full health. Him being 29 is also a downside, as he is approaching the down age for catchers. Diaz could be on track for becoming a back up catcher in Pittsburgh if he is not traded when healthy. Logan Ice would pass him up on the future depth chart as well.
Taylor Gushue has hit .235/.301/.368 slash line in 191 minor league games and has only thrown out 24 percent. He will also be 26 years old by the time Cervelli’s contract is up. Ice would pass him up as well on the future.
Reese McGuire has been a .269/.327/.327 hitter in 281 games in the minor leagues, but he has thrown out 38 percent of attempted base stealers. Defensively he looks like the real deal, but still has questions with the bat. He could become a solid everyday starter with the main focus on defense or an excellent backup. He’s still young, younger than Ice even, so the future is still there. However, you can’t rely on one prospect at the position. Logan Ice can come in, and advance up the minors at a rate that still allows Reese to develop in Double A all of this year and next year, and Triple A Indianapolis in 2018 and 2019.
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Logan Ice is a solid catching prospect, who started to square up the baseball this spring and has thrown out runners at a great clip in his three years. Baseball America thinks high enough of the switch hitting catcher to be ranked as their 67th best prospect on the Baseball America Top 500. If he falls to the Pirates at either 68 or 105 and the Pirates select Logan Ice, it could be a steal for the team from Pittsburgh.
*Numbers from the baseball cube and baseball-reference