The Pittsburgh Pirates finished up their 2020 Draft class late Thursday night when they made their fifth and final round pick. How did the draft shake out?
When the league changed the draft to five rounds this year it changed a lot of team’s draft plans, including the Pittsburgh Pirates. There would not be those later rounds for teams to cut deals to get high upside players who slid down the board or the late round gems who may not ever get a chance. On top of that, undrafted free agents can only receive a maximum of $20,000, once again limiting team’s and player’s opportunities.
With all this being said, how did things shake out for Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates? Overall, talent and value-wise, the organization did well. They received multiple high remarks from the commentators during the draft and for good reason. Nick Gonzales was one of the best pure bats in the draft to go along with potential plus power. He has a good chance to move quickly through the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and be one of the first to make an impact from this draft class as a whole.
They then came back and took right-handed pitchers the rest of the way. The club needed to add pitchers as only 36 percent of MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Pirates prospect list were pitchers. This is a number that should be closer to 50 percent as an organization that needs to continuously have highly touted farm systems. Still, no one expected them to only take one bat and five pitchers.
The team was also able to take a chance on a prep player. While we said that the team would focus mainly on college players, there would still be a chance that they would take a prep player early on day two. This was because the top three rounds of the draft are protected and if a team fails to sign a player, they are given a compensation pick for the next draft.
It made sense when they selected prep right-hander Jared Jones. Jones has one of the most electric high school arms in the draft, posting all above-average spin rates on his pitches and throwing a fastball that has touched 97. The team had to get creative and take a couple of college seniors with their fourth and fifth-round picks. In doing so, the team will save bonus money that they can use toward Jones and whoever else may require an over-slot deal.
The biggest surprise might have been that the team did not select a catcher. The team passed on Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler with the 31st overall pick and instead drafted power righty Carmen Mlodzinski. Unfortunately, Dingler was the first pick of the second round. There were really no other highly ranked college catchers in this year’s draft aside from Patrick Bailey, who went 13th overall, and Dingler.
One thing that Pittsburgh Pirates fans have already learned about Ben Cherington is he wants to add the best talent possible. It was good to see him not just draft a catcher if there was not one that he thought graded out well. Furthermore, he stayed away from the higher-rated prep catchers. This was good to see as prep catchers are often the hardest to project.
Overall, Ben Cherington had a strong first draft, especially under the circumstances of this year’s event. He was able to bring in two of the best talents in the draft with Gonzales and Mlodzinski. Those two prospects will have a lot to do with whether or not Ben Cherington was able to make an impact with his first draft class in Pittsburgh.