Pirate Picks Black, Pounders, Holt Sign; More on the Way

Brian WolffCorrespondent IJune 20, 2009

One More Pirates’ Draft Evaluation

The Pirates signed their number two overall pick on Monday, agreeing to terms with RHP Victor Black, their 49th overall pick.  The Dallas Baptis University star was the 29th highest rated pitcher in this years draft, as rated by Baseball America.

Two more draft picks signed in the last couple of days, with the Pirates getting their highly coveted second round pick, high school senior Brooks Pounders, for an in slot bonus on Thursday, and following with Rice University second baseman Brock Hold on Friday, their ninth round draft pick.

The Pirates have signed 12 or 51 picks from this years First-year Player Draft, including their top three.

Looking at the draft some might say the Pirates played the draft smart looking for talent that they could space out over time, giving their talent pool some longevity. Others mgiht say Pittsburgh played it risky and drafted several highly touted high school pitchers who had already made commitments to play college ball.

Which ever, by drafting a very reasonably minded Jorge “Tony” Sanchez first, they made room to sign some of these later round prep drafts with sizeable signing bonuses. The Pirates drafter 13 players at the high school level in total.  It is hard to know how many would-be future first rounders they migh sign out of this draft.

They also gave themselves the opportunity to "aggressively" pursue 16-year-old Dominican Miguel Angel Sano, according to Pirates President Frank Coonelly. They will have stiff competition as the Yankees are also pressing hard to land the future star, along with the Orioles, Indians and Twins

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported back in early June that the Pirates might just evaluate Sano like any other prospect of the DR and not necessarily pony up the possible $4M price tag some are expecting for Sano.  The Pirates are very serious about Sano, going so far as to varify the 16-year-olds age by doing a bone scan.

First Round 

Many people seemed to be disappointed with the Pirates drafting of Sanchez, a Junior Catcher out of Boston College. The fourth overall pick seemed to surprise many people but the Pirates felt he was the best position player available at that time, especially where they had a need.

For all the complainers, I wonder who some people would have rather seen drafted.

Despite this “sign-ability” moniker placed on Sanchez, he is no slouch and has the greatest chance to make it to the big leagues of all the Pirate draftees. He catches and throws well and hit for power and average in college. There are questions about whether this will translate into the big leagues but the Pirates plainly feel it will.

He lead his team in numerous offensive categories and the Pirates like him because he is a self-starting, hard worker. Catchers that can also hit the ball are highly desired at the major league level, and by locking him in the Pirates have made their organization more solid at this position. 

The Pirates drafter three cathers within their first fifteen picks. The crystal ball says that three years down the line you could hear talk of a mid-season, tooth gnashing Ryan Doumit trade for three prospects.

Sanchez, obviously thrilled to be picked fourth overall said, “I want to help turn that franchise into a winning franchise.” How refreshing is that to hear. Sanchez signed very quickly, making the Pirates very happy.

Sanchez will debuted today for the State College Spikes before heading to Single-A West Virginia.  In the game he got the game winning RBI in the ninth, and the Pirates have to be thrilled about this after last year’s nightmare with Scott Boras.

Supplemental Round A (Signed) 

Their second pick, Victor Black, RHP, was compensation for a draft not signed last year. Black is a Junior at DBU. The Pirates draft team, particularly scout Mike Leuzinger, took notice of Black’s fastball mentality.

This is just the kind of young pitcher the Pirates feel they can work with. The Pirates had felt that there is a good chance the junior would sign as he has expressed his desire to get out and experience professional baseball. The 6-foot-4, 210 pound 21-year-old relies on his up to 95-MPH fastball but also throws a slider.  

Black was 6-4 in 15 starts with Dallas Baptist University, striking out 99 batters in 88.2 innings.

Black is also open to the idea of being a closer rather than a starter which might just be what the Pirates have in mind for him. “If that works I would love to do it. I love throwing strikes to get people out.”

Second Round (Signe

The Pirates yesterday announced the signing of Brooks Pounders, their 6-foot-5 high school hurler with a four-pitch repertoire and he will be headed to the Gulf Coast League team in Bradenton. Pounders was 9-2 with a 1.96 ERA and four complete games in his senior year in high school.

General Manager Neal Huntington tagged him has having an above average fastball, a breaking ball and a solid changeup, which the Pirates like their pitchers to be able to throw. Based on meetings with the prep athlete, the Pirates feel he is extremely teachable and will develop into a quality major league pitcher.

As an added bonus, Pounders can also swing the bat with 17 homeruns during his junior and senior years. Pounders signed in slot with a $670,000 bonus.

Third Round

The Pirates went to another position player with their fourth overall pick, grabbing junior college center fielder, Evan Chambers. For me it is hard to see him as being that great of a grab, but the Pirates see him has having authentic hitting power, in spite of his issues with changeups.

Some feel this pick came perhaps a round too early. I do no know what the Pirates know, that no one else does.

Fourth Round

The Pirates’ second high schooler taken in the draft was another example of a likely future first round pick that the Pirates are taking a chance on getting (Pounders being the first).

If Zach Dodson can be persuaded with an out of slot signing bonus, the Pirates could be winners in the long run. Dodson has said he is leaning toward signing with the Pirates and will likely sign sometime after the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game on Sunday.

The 6-foot-2 180 pound lefty has a good mid 90s fastball and a curveball. He has been developing a changeup. Scouts say he will need to work on his mechanics and command in the minors.

The four years he would spend at Baylor, he will spend in the Pirates farm system, making him major league ready sooner, and giving him a longer major league career.

Fifth Round

A hiccup in the Pirates’ prep plan occurred as LHP Nathaniel Baker from Ole’ Miss was taken with the 145th overall pick. Baker appeared as a starter and a reliever, building a 4-3 record with a 3.63 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 67 innings last season.

Baker throws a mid 90s fastball and a mid 90s slider. With a year of eligibility left, Baker might not sign, but there are no indications he is going to get his draft number any higher by delaying his professional career any longer, and risks losing negotiating power as a senior.

Sixth Round

A Zack of a different spelling, looks to be passing up the Pirates offer and heading to LSU. Zach Von Rosenberg of Zachary, Louisiana would be a great pull for the Pirates if they could sign him, and of course the deadline is not until August 15.

Word is he bought a one-way ticket and headed to Baton Rouge but who knows, perhaps this could be little more than posturing on his part. He has a lot of talent and he knows this. He could just be holding out or he could be looking ot enjoy the college life. If he signs, I would give this draft pick a five of five rating.

Seventh Round 

The fourth high schooler in the first ten draftees is Trent Stevenson from Brophy Jesuit Prep, a 6-fot-6, 175 pounder throws a 90 MPH fastball. He has already signed a letter of intent to attend Arizona, but he is meeting with the Pirates on Monday, according to the Post-Gazette.  He is number 83 on the top 100 basball talents.

Eighth Round 

The third High School star, Billy Cain who originally signed to play for Texas, looks to be close to signing with the Pirates. The 6-foot-3 225 pound pitcher is reportedly waiting for the league to work out the details of his contract. Cain has a mid 90s fastball with room to grow.

He pitched internationally against South Korea and Chinese Taipei winning both games for the 2008 USA Under-18 team.  He had a 19-strike out no hit peformance as a junior.

Ninth Round 

The Pirates announced today the signing of Brock Holt. The second baseman hit .348 with 12 homers and 43 RBI in 59 games for Rice this year. Holt also stole 11 bases. Holt has been assigned to the Single-A State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League. He will give the Spikes a much added boost and hopefully help turn around their dismal performance last season.

Of the first 10 players drafted the Pirates have three locked up and look to be well on their way to getting three more.

Stay tuned for a look at the next 10 players in the coming days.  The Pirates have a very good chance to turn what was deemed by many a mediocre draft, into a very good draft if they can continue to sign many of their high picks.

Three other lower round draft choice signed on Monday. First baseman Aaron Baker was the pirates 11th round choice.  Baker hit .284 with 15 home runs for the Oklahoma Sooners in his junior year.  Baker drove in 50 or more runs in three consecutive seasons for the Sooners.

Phillip Irwin, chosen in the 21st round, was 8-3 with a 3.84 ERA in 15 games as a junior at the University of Mississippi.

Ed Fallon, chosen in the 43rd round was 2-0 and had a save in 20 appearances for the University of South Carolina.


Five lower round draft choices signed on last Wednesday.  LF Jose Hernanedez (23), RHP Jason Erickson (24), SS Ty Summerlin (30), LF Pat irvine (33) and RHP Marc Baca (42) all made their professional debuts Saturday with the Spikes in a losing effort.


Related Story: Pirates Sign Black, Top Three in Uniform



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