There is something very magical about watching something you believe in grow. At the same time, you start worrying about a lot of things too, and every decision starts becoming more and more critical. Much the same can be said of Pirate fans who watched in distress as Dave Littlefield laid to waste an organization which deserved much better, and whose fans certainly did too. Slowly, however, the fans (or at least, those with open minds) are starting to see a plan mature. They are starting to believe that those much criticized moves might, in fact, one day produce a winner.
In late 2007, the Huntington management committed to building from within, and emphasized the importance of the draft in this process. The 2008 draft nearly turned into a disaster, with Scott Boras and Pedro Alvarez challenging the signing on the grounds that it happened after midnight, ostensibly in an effort to secure a major league deal and more money. The 2009 draft saw an interesting approach by the Pirates where they drafted Sanchez with the #4 pick and picked up a bunch of high-ceiling prep pitchers in von Rosenberg, Cain, Dodson and Stevenson. No one is really sure as to whether the Pirates saw Sanchez as the best player available or whether it was part of the strategy in a draft where there didn’t seem to be a clear choice.
The 2010 draft had a lot of people worried that the Pirates might try the same approach again instead of going for the best players available in Taillon and Machado. Those turned out to be unfounded, as the Pirates spent a lot of time debating between those two players before settling on Taillon. They followed that up with a barrage of RHPs with high ceilings, including Stetson Allie, believed to be first round worthy but one who dropped because of bonus demands. I certainly thought that we would not get most of the large set of prep pitchers drafted, since the top 2 picks would take a significant chunk of the draft budget. So far, though, the Pirates have done a great job with signing a bunch of good picks, and there are so many rumors around that its hard to contain oneself at the potential in this draft class.
The most recent of these rumors says that a deal may already be in place with Taillon. I would be very surprised if this were the case, since I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a pick believed to be as tough a sign as Taillon signed this early, but it would be a welcome change. In fact, since they had extensive meetings with Taillon before the draft, it’s entirely possible they agreed to some part of it in advance.
Regardless of whether rumors about Taillon having signed are true or not, I’d expect the Pirates to sign him. Pitchers like Taillon are rare, and he has very little to gain by not signing. The harder part will be getting Allie to sign and managing to find enough in the budget to sign other high-ceiling players. One way or other, a good number of those high-ceiling players are already signed. Allie remains, as do a few more, and it remains to be seen where this Pirate class ends up.
So with 23 picks in the fold, one wonders if this will be the draft where the Pirates break notions of a draft budget! Some of the higher priced signees include the (apparently) recently signed Jared Lakind, Ryan Hafner, Mel Rojas Jr, Nick Kingham. As I said in my post after the draft:
here are the ones I’d like to see the Bucs make runs at: Andrew Maggi, Matt Curry, Emanuel Kent, Dale Carey, Jared Lakind.
Of those, Lakind and Curry are already in and it appears that Maggi might be too. I’d go after Carey first and Kent after that, although this might well depend on some of the guys earlier that are still unsigned such as Jason Hursh and Austin Kubitza. I wrote then that I expected not more than one of those 2 to sign, but we’ll see how things work out. So far, the Pirates have spent just over 2M to get Rojas, Kingham, Waldron, Cumpton, Hafner, and Lakind. I’d expect Taillon’s bonus to be in the $7M range. That puts it at around $9M (hypothetical, of course). They’ve signed a whole bunch of others too, presumably for much lower amounts, but given that there were at least 15 of them, they would have cost a somewhat significant amount put together.
How much more can they spend, and what can they get? If there are deals in place already, then clearly they must be for more money, else we’d know about them, or later rounds for similar money. I’d expect Hursh to cost around the $400K range, and the more I read about it, the more I think Kubitza will not sign. So, let’s say the likes of Carey, Kent, Hursh or any set of 3-4 players the Pirates have their eyes on will take somewhere between 1.5-2M to sign. How much then can we allocate to Allie?
$2M for Allie will take the overall draft spending in the $13M range, and 3M into the $14M range. I expect the final number Allie will be somewhere between those 2, probably in the 2.3-2.5M range, and yes, I expect the Pirates to sign Stetson Allie. The overall point, though, is that if they do, they will end up spending in the $14M range, and that could end up being the new record.
In the meantime, over the next few days, watch out for Taillon, Allie, Maggi, Carey and a name we haven’t heard much of, but one that I expect the Pirates have their eye on- Dan Grovatt.
EDIT: Even as I typed this up, I received email from a friend pointing me to this signing.