Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strategy Changes with High School Players

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strategy Changes with High School Players

Article excerpt

In past years, the Pirates were able to nab highly touted high school prospects in later rounds and lure them away from college with seven-figure signing bonuses.

But new draft rules that limit what teams can spend on draft picks made the Pirates take a different approach this year.

The Pirates drafted 18 high school players in the amateur draft, a four-year low. In 2011, the Pirates drafted 24 high school players. In '10, they drafted 26, and in '09, they selected 21.

Team president Frank Coonelly said the Pirates recognized that using a later pick on a high school player who is unsure about his immediate future "might not be the best tact because the money might not be enough to convince them to start" their pro careers.

In '08, the Pirates lured sixth-round pick Robbie Grossman away from a college commitment with a $1 million signing bonus. In '09, they signed sixth-round pick Zachary Von Rosenberg for $1.2 million and eighth-rounder Colton Cain for $1,125,000. Last year, they signed ninth-round pick Clay Holmes for $1.2 million, a record for a ninth-round pick.

Coonelly said he is not sure those players would be in the Pirates' organization under the current rules. High school players drafted in the first two or three rounds are more likely to sign, Coonelly said, because there is still "meaningful money" available. But as the slot values shrink in the later rounds, so, too, do teams' chances of luring high school players away from solid college commitments.

The Pirates have a limited pool of dollars with which they can sign all their picks within the first 10 rounds. And any signing bonus in excess of $100,000 for players selected in rounds 11 or later will count against that $6.6 million pool the team can use to spend on those early picks.

Should the team exceed that pool, they will suffer penalties ranging from financial losses to the loss of future picks, depending on how much they spend beyond their pool. Pirates management has indicated it is unlikely to spend more than their allotment because it does not want to lose future picks. …

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