Written by: Peter Amalbert
Follow him on Twitter: @PapisCorner0
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The Pittsburgh Pirates had five draft picks in this draft. But what is more important is that it is the first five draft picks for the Cherington regime. While Cherington brought Steve Sanders with him from Toronto, it is important to note Amateur Scouting Director Joe DelliCarri is still around from the previous regime.
The picks include players that had success in the Cape Cod League (Gonzales, Mlodzinki, Garcia, Hofmann). Players that have fresh arms (Garcia, Hartman). But of more substance the notion that they are young and have high upside. The approach included finding talent that were very athletic, hard workers, but most importantly remained humbled for the opportunity to be a pro baseball player.
A breath of fresh air is being taken now by the Pittsburgh organization because they have a new face in charge and a new crop of talent. Let’s dive into what Cherington and co. got themselves this year!
1st Round, Pick 7: Nick Gonzales, New Mexico St., 2B/SS
Bat: R -Throw: R – Height: 5’10 – Weight: 190lb – Age: 21
Nick Gonzales falling to the Pirates at 7 is a blessing in disguise. He possesses the best hitting tools out of any one and brings a humble and hungry mentality with him. Gonzales was a walk on at New Mexico State and worked his way to a first round pick. A baseball rat that loves to hit how can you not love him and want him?
Gonzales has proven to hit by showcasing his skills and winning the Cape Cod Summer League MVP award this past summer. He slashed .351/.451/.630 in the Cape.
This season he took it upon himself to display his abilities at the shortstop position. Scouts believe he can handle it but he is more suited as an everyday second baseman and I agree. His range isn’t as elite as it should be but his arm is there to take over the position if need be. The defensive tools he owns are similar to the player comps he has in terms of his hitting abilities as well. The Pirates organization will have him play the shortstop position once he begins his pro journey.
Gonzales possesses above average speed and base running abilities. Out of the box he is one of the fastest that were available in the draft. Only downfall was that he has only stolen 13 bases in his collegiate career. Can we see that number rise in the future? Yes.
He was able to end his collegiate career slashing a line of .399/.502/.747. In 596 total plate appearances, he had 37 home runs and 152 RBIs. He also owns a statistic that many don’t have which is having more walks (89) than strikeouts (79).
Outlook: Nick Gonzales projects to be an everyday second baseman. His comps include the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Keston Hiura, and Scott Kingery.
Competitive Balance-A, Pick 31: Carmen Mlodzinski, South Carolina, RHP
Height: 6’2 – Weight: 230lb – Age: 21
The Pirates select an SEC pitcher that brings an interesting arsenal of pitches. Mlodzinski owns a power sinker that has reached 99 mph. As well as a slider and a changeup that can develop to two plus pitches. His secondary pitches’ velocity range in the mid to upper 80s. He brings as well as Nick Gonzales does, a hard working mentality.
Mlodzinski also joins Gonzales as a standout performer in the cape. He struck out 37% of the batters he faced. He held a 2.15 ERA in the cape and in the shortened 2020 season, he had a 2.84 ERA. His command has been improving every single year and his mechanics has helped him translate this success. His delivery of a 3/4 arm slot but it is fluid and can continue to be because of his build and athleticism.
Outlook: A 4 or 5 starter with the potential of having 3 plus pitches. Being able to work through 2 times through the order is vital to his success. His comps include the likes of Brandon Webb and Jake Arrieta.
Round 2, Pick 44: Jared Jones, La Mirada HS (CA), RHP
Height: 6’2 – Weight: 180lb – Age: 18
Jones is a two way prospect that was a standout in high school and Perfect Game tournaments. He once threw a perfect game against Bellflower HS and struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced. He has a projectable frame that features a high leg kick and a 3/4 arm slot in his delivery. His future is thought of by many on the mound thanks to his age, athleticism, and mechanics.
His arsenal includes a fastball with some sink that was in the low to mid 90s but topped out at 96 mph. He has a hard biting slider that was in the mid 80s and a curveball that was in the mid 70s. Throws a hard changeup in the mid 80s sometimes touching up to 87 mph, with nice movement.
Outlook: Jared Jones projects to be a mid starting rotation arm with an arsenal of a power fastball along with breaking pitches. His road to success looks very bright due to all of his intangibles and tangibles. His comps include the likes of Brennan Malone, Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman.
Round 3, Pick 79: Nick Garcia, Chapman University, RHP
Height: 6’4 – Weight: 215 – Age: 21
Fresh arm who is fairly new to pitching. And another Cape Cod standout is taken in the 3rd round. A DIII national title winner that if he was in a D1 Power 5 school he would’ve been a first round selection. He boasts a four pitch arsenal that includes a power fastball, a late bite slider, a cutter, and a good changeup.
Nick Garcia owns a 3.17 ERA in the Cape Cod League and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2019 NCAA DIII World Series.
Garcia, again, brings that hard working mentality. It is said that he enjoys soaking up data and knowledge from others.
He brings athletic abilities that are unique as well. His delivery is very easy and his pitches out of his arm come with good rhythm.
A great story for players out there that believe that DIII athletes aren’t scouted as much but it goes to show if you have talent, scouts will find you.
Outlook: He will be given the chance to start in the minors. He has a big projectable frame with good enough mechanics that the Pirates should be able to let him go and see what success he has against pro competition. His comps include the likes of John Smoltz and former DIII standout Jordan Zimmerman.
Round 4, Pick 108: Jack Hartman, Appalachian State, RHP
Height: 6’3 – Weight: 205 – Age: 22
55.2 innings of collegiate pitching experience was enough for Jack Hartman to be selected in the fourth round. Hartman has pitched for Tallahassee Community College and College of Central Florida before transferring to Appalachian State. His repertoire includes a power fastball that has some sink, a cutter, and a slider that flashes some wipe out potential at times.
In a statement about Hartman, Cherington said “Jack hasn’t been pitching for very long but already shows very promising stuff with a fastball/slider combination that we believe has a chance to be very effective at the professional level. He’s a strong, physical pitcher with strong character and work ethic. We look forward to working with Jack in a Pirates uniform.”
Hartman lives in the bottom of the zone and is more of a groundball pitcher than anything. He has fairly good command on the fastball but needs development on the secondary pitches he already throws that he makes hitters chase.
Outlook: A reliever that needs to be used for a couple innings or to get three outs after a starter comes out is what Jack Hartman has the potential to come in and do.
Round 5, Pick 138: Logan Hofmann,
Northwestern State (LA), RHP
Height: 5’10 – Weight: 190 – Age: 20
A ‘undersized’ pitcher from Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada lands in the fifth round to the Pirates. He was previously drafted in the 35th round by the Cardinals back in the 2019 draft. He pitched two seasons at Colby Community College and set the career strikeout record with 230.
Hofmann is also a Cape Cod League standout that was named an All Star in 2019. He went 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA while striking out 27 in 20.1 innings. In the shortened 2020 season, he had a 0.00 ERA in 28 innings pitched! In his first appearance for the Demons of Northwestern State, he had a seven shutout inning with 8 punchouts against the Power 6 Wichita State Shockers.
His arsenal includes a low 90s fastball with a plus changeup and slider that has some bite to it. He generates a lot of swing and miss because he mixes his fastball with his secondary pitches all over the zone.
His delivery is repetitive and deceptive to hitters when comes to his 3/4 arm slot. Hofmann has an arm that was just developed into being a pitcher. His freshman year at TCC he was a two way player. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he was a full time pitcher. The tools are still a bit raw and have huge upside because of the success he has had so far against top competition in the DI level and the Cape Cod League.
Outlook: What separates Hofmann from the rest is his build and upside. He has the chance to be a big league reliever for the organization. While he is able to be consistent with his delivery it will be interesting to see how his pitches improve in tune with his biomechanics.
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