Pittsburgh Pirates Draft History: Huntington Looks Underslot

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Major League Baseball draft starts today at 7:00 pm.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have selections at 12, 42, 50, and 72, and all four will come today.  Rounds 3-10 will occur tomorrow, and rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.

The Major League draft rules changed in 2012 after the Pirates broke records to sign Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell with their first two picks.  A slot value was assigned to each pick, and teams have a set amount of money to spend on the draft.  The Pirates pick at 12 is set at $4,032,000, at number 42 $1,635,500, number 50 $1,357,300, and number 72 $804,000.

In terms of spending, Neal Huntington said that in this wonderful piece on the MLB Draft by Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"“It’s nice to have the ability to invest somewhere between $10 and $11 million dollars in this draft. We will go pick by pick, as we’ve done each of the years of the new system. In some cases we’ve been able to negotiate aggressively and save some money to use on a player later.”"

Last year, I looked at Neal Huntington’s draft trends in the first five rounds.  They added another hitter in Will Craig in the first and drafted Nick Lodolo, but they did not sign him.  But there is one trend that seems to fit, in the first round, they look to go under slot on the player they draft.

In 2013, the Pirates drafted Austin Meadows at pick number nine.  They signed Meadows for $3,029,600, which was the assigned slot value for the pick.  At pick number 14, the Pirates drafted Reese McGuire, who signed for $2,369,800.  Slot value for pick number 14 was $2,569,800, so the Pirates saved $200,000 on which they could allocate elsewhere.

In 2014, the Pirates signed Cole Tucker, the 24th overall pick for $1,800,000.  That saved the Pirates $125,500, as the slot value was $1,925,500.  They signed their Competitive Balance Round A, Connor Joe who was taken at number 39, for $1,250,000.  The slot value for the pick was $1,457,600, a savings of $207,600.  They reallocated those savings, and they went over slot to sign their second round pick Mitch Keller for $1,000,000, which was $113,200 above the pick value.  They also signed their Competitive Balance Round B pick Trey Supak, later traded for Jason Rogers, for $1,000,000.  Slot value for the pick was $772,000, so the Pirates went $228,000 above slot.  The Pirates saved $333,100 on their first two picks and spent $341,200 above slot on their next two.

In 2015, the Pirates selected college shortstop Kevin Newman from Arizona.  The slot value for the pick was $2,273,800, and the Pirates saved $98,000 by signing Newman for $2,175,000.  They signed their 32nd overall pick, Ke’Bryan Hayes, for slot value of $1,855,000.  Then, they saved more money in round two, drafting Kevin Kramer and signing him for $144,800.  They went over slot on their next two picks, Casey Hughston and Jacob Taylor.

In 2016, the club selected Will Craig for slot value of $2,253,700.  They were unable to sign Lottery Round A pick Nick Lodolo, who declined $1,750,000 the Pirates offered to go to TCU, and slot value was $1,576,000.  The Bucs went under slot on Travis Macgregor in round two, saving $48,900.  They saved $68,400 on third round pick Stephen Alemais.  Then, later they drafted Max Kranick for $200,000 over slot in the 11 round.  Kranick slid due to signability concerns.

Next: Neal Huntington Drafts 2008-12

Watch for the Pirates select a player in which they can sign at or below slot value with their first pick at number 12.  Shane Baz has been mocked to the Pirates, but he supposedly has a strong commitment to TCU, which would mean the Pirates would have to go over slot in the first, something Neal Huntington has not really done.

*Slot values and signing information from MLB.com