Pirates stick with college players in 2015 MLB Draft
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates didn't enter this week's 2015 MLB Draft intending to fill their farm system with so many college players. But given their position, they had little choice.
Pittsburgh made 41 selections, 36 of them coming from the college ranks -- highlighted by Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman, the Bucs' first-round pick. They landed only five high school players and only two prep pitchers.
That was largely a result of picking toward the back end of the Draft -- a place the Bucs certainly don't mind being, as it means they're successful at the Major League level -- and their allotted bonus pool of $7,392,200.
"A very college-oriented Draft, not by intent -- just by how the board falls and the system under which we work," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
Before rounds 11-40 began on Wednesday, Huntington said there were more than 100 high school players demanding bonuses over $500,000 and at least 50 players asking for $1 million or more.
"The system is working, but it is making it challenging to be able to draft high school players unless you grab them early in the Draft. And we're never going to force that," Huntington said. "We're going to stay true, and we're going to draft the best Pirate available. We feel like we did that this year."
The Pirates wound up selecting 25 pitchers, including seven left-handers, and 16 hitters. Two of them were catchers, nine infielders and five outfielders.
"We like this Draft," Huntington said. "We're really pleased with the quality of players. Now the challenge becomes signing them and getting them out, getting them playing."
On the Draft's final day, the Bucs believe they reeled in a quality group of young players, including two catchers and a number of college arms. Their most notable selection was Oregon LHP Cole Irvin, MLBPipeline.com's No. 173 prospect who underwent Tommy John surgery last year.
"We got a little bit of everything today," Pirates scouting director Joe DelliCarri said Wednesday. "A little bit behind the plate, a nice collection of pitchers and a nice collection of hitters later in the Draft."
The last three years, the Pirates have taken position players with each of their top two picks. From 2009-11, they picked a total of 17 prep pitchers within the first 10 rounds. In four years since, they've only picked five in the top 10 rounds.
The last two years, they've selected three shortstops atop the Draft: Newman and UCLA's Kevin Kramer this year, along with shortstop Cole Tucker, their top choice last year.
"It's no specific effort on our part to draft shortstops," Huntington said. "It is great to have depth at premium defensive positions, especially if they're offensive as well."