The Pittsburgh Pirates already have signed first-round pick Travis Swaggerty. They now have officially signed their second-round pick Braxton Ashcraft.
Just a day after the draft, it was reported that second-round pick Braxton Ashcraft planned to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, that is official now just weeks later according to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline. The big righty was the Bucs last pick on day one of the draft, coming in at pick number 51 overall. He was rated by MLB Pipeline as the 64th best prospect in baseball while Baseball America had him 58th. The Texas native was committed to the University of Baylor, but he will forgo that commitment.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed most of their top 10 round draft picks thus far. In doing so they had saved a good bit of money against their bonus pool. As of yesterday, the team has saved a little over $300K to use toward over-slot deals. Signing Ashcraft is exactly the reason why the team needed to do so. The Pirates 51st overall selection had a slot value of $1,382,400. The team gave Ashcraft a much higher bonus of $1,825,000, which is $442,600 over slot. As mentioned earlier, the team has already saved a lot of money toward their draft budget. Also, it has been reported that the team signed third round pick Connor Kaiser. They likely will save more money with him.
Ashcraft is everything that the Pittsburgh Pirates love to look at in pitching prospects. First off, he is big standing at 6 feet and 5 inches. He also only weighs about 195 pounds, meaning he has plenty of room to physically grow into. Also, being he is from Texas he has faced some of the best high school baseball competition in the country. Furthermore, Ashcraft was a star football player at his high school. According to reports, he caught 37 touchdown passes in high school football. So, the Bucs definitely got a highly athletic pitcher, which is obviously a plus. Here is a scouting report from MLB Pipeline on Ashcraft:
"“He created excitement among scouts when he began sitting at 92 mph and topping out at 94 during the postseason, and his heater also features sink and his 6-foot-5 frame creates difficult extension and angle. He has promising tilt on his slider that currently sits in the upper 70s but should be at least a solid offering once he adds more consistent power.Ashcraft’s changeup is still a work in progress. His athleticism enables him to repeat his delivery with ease and he shows some feel for working both sides of the plate. there.”"
Going forward it will be interesting to see how the Pittsburgh Pirates utilize their draft pool. The team has used up all their savings to sign Ashcraft. Meanwhile, they still have number 36 overall pick, Gunnar Hoglund, to sign. Hoglund is another prep pitcher who likely will cost an over-slot bonus. Also, their 11th round pick Michael Burrows, who is a prep pitcher, has to be signed. If they like him enough, he will definitely cost more than the allotted $125K for picks after the 10th round.
It will be interesting to see how much more money the team can save with their other top 10 round picks. They still have yet to sign their fifth round pick Grant Koch and 10th round pick Mike Gretler. Both are college players still playing, so they should save money on their bonuses.