Bucs sign draftees Mlodzinski, Jones, Garcia

July 3rd, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates finished the process of signing their MLB Draft class on Thursday, officially announcing deals with right-handers Carmen Mlodzinski, Jared Jones and Nick Garcia.

Mlodzinksi, the Pirates' Competitive Balance Round A selection, received a $2.05 million bonus, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. The slot value of the 31st overall pick was $2,312,000.

The Pirates gave Jones, a high-ceiling pitcher out of La Mirada (Calif.) High School, a bonus of $2.20 million, going well over the second-round pick's assigned slot value of $1,689,500. Pittsburgh's last two picks signed below-slot deals, part of the club's strategy to save bonus pool space for Jones' over-slot deal.

Garcia, a third-round pick thought to have first-round talent, received a bonus of $1.2 million. The slot value for the 79th overall pick was $780,400.

The Pirates previously signed infielder Nick Gonzales (first round) and right-handers Jack Hartman (fourth) and Logan Hofmann (fifth). They had the fifth-highest bonus pool in this year's Draft, with a total of $11,154,500, and they signed their six picks for a combined $11,067,400.

Shortly after announcing those deals, the Pirates signed a non-drafted free agent who will be a familiar face to Garcia: catcher Joe Jimenez, who was Garcia's batterymate at Chapman University. Jimenez hit .348 with two homers, five doubles and 10 RBIs in 12 games as a senior this spring. The finance and data-analytics major played all four years at Chapman, and he was signed by scout Brian Tracy, who also evaluated Jones and Garcia.

Mlodzinski, Jones and Garcia were all ranked among MLB Pipeline's top 70 prospects in this year's Draft. Mlodzinski was the Bucs' second pick on Day 1 of the Draft, as Pittsburgh plucked him from South Carolina despite an unusual college career set back by his own inexperience and injuries.

But the 21-year-old righty flashed a power sinker that touched 99 mph last fall and sat around 92-96 mph in the Cape Cod League before that. He also throws a power slider, a quality changeup and a curveball, giving him the arsenal of a legitimate starter. The Pirates were impressed by other traits that aren't so easily quantifiable, like his competitive nature and his ability to manipulate the ball.

"We are very excited to add Carmen to the Pirates organization," general manager Ben Cherington said in a statement. "Carmen is strong, physical, moves well on the mound and shows plus stuff. His performance continued to improve during his time in college, culminating in a dominant summer in the Cape Cod League and a promising start to 2020 before the shutdown. We look forward to helping Carmen continue his development as a starting pitcher."

Jones, 18, was a two-way standout in high school. The Texas commit hit .457 while putting together a 0.77 ERA during his junior season, and the elite arm strength he showed both on the mound and in the outfield should translate to success at the next level. Jones throws a fastball that has been clocked up to 97 mph, along with a potential swing-and-miss slider. His command has been inconsistent at times, but considering his athleticism and aptitude for the game, the Pirates believe that will improve with time and development.

"We are fortunate to add Jared to a growing group of young pitching prospects with the Pirates," Cherington said. "Jared is one of the best athletes out of this year's high school pitching class. He has elite arm speed and excellent raw stuff. We are equally impressed with his maturity and passion for the game. We look forward to working with Jared in a Pirates uniform."

Garcia has a fascinating story, having made the transition from light-hitting college infielder to lights-out closer to dominant starter over three years at Division III Chapman University. The Pirates were encouraged by what they saw from Garcia throughout his time at Chapman and during an excellent stint in the Cape Cod League. Cherington said the Pirates believe Garcia is "just scratching the surface" of his ability -- something his college coaches and teammates believe as well.

"He's got talent. He obviously pitched well here. He's going to pitch well," Chapman pitching coach Dave Edwards said. "And I really believe that Pittsburgh got a bargain, because there's so much more there."

With their entire Draft class having joined the organizational ranks, the Pirates can still sign non-drafted free agents for a maximum of $20,000. So far, the team has only made two such signings: Jimenez and Sacramento State right-hander Parker Brahms.