By John Perrotto
The Pirates selected 20 players on Wednesday to finish the First-Year Player Draft. If they are fortunate, one of those picks from the 31st round on might contribute in the major leagues someday.
While the odds grow greater with each passing round of finding impact players, some of those players chosen later in the draft will wind up establishing themselves as big-leaguers. After analyzing the Pirates’ first 10 draft picks previously, let’s take a look at 10 players selected from the 11th round on who are at least worth keeping an eye on:
· Outfielder Jo-El Bennett, the 11th-round pick from Dothan (Ala.) Houston Academy, has good raw power and arm strength but needs a lot of development. He has committed to Southern Mississippi.
Outfielder Jordan Dunatov, the 14th-round pick from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Horizon High School is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds but is a question mark after missing a majority of the season with a back injury. He has signed with Oregon State.
Right-hander Kody Watts, the 15th-round pick from Vancouver (Wash.) Skyview High School has a fastball that reaches 95 mph and a plus curveball, and was ranked as the 139th-best player in the draft by Baseball America. However, he may be a tough sign as he comes from a wealthy family and is strongly committed to playing college ball at Portland.
Left-hander Eric Skoglund, the 16th-round pick from Sarasota (Fla.) High School, draws comparisons to Chicago White Sox rookie lefty Chris Sale because of his tall thin build and ability to throw hard. Skoglund is a Central Florida recruit.
· Outfielder Aaron Brown, the 17th-round pick from Chatsworth (Calif.) High School, is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder with outstanding raw power who the Pirates like as a hitter, even though he is also a left-handed pitcher who can throw 90 mph. The Pepperdine recruit was ranked as the draft’s No. 149 prospect by Baseball America.
· Left-hander Josh Poythress, the 18th-round pick from Fresno State, was chosen two rounds lower than during his senior year of high school. He throws in the high 80s, occasionally reaching 92, but his strength is exceptional command of his fastball, slider and changeup.
· Right-hander Jordan Cooper, the 23rd-round pick from Kentucky, is a puzzle for scouts. He can be dominating at times with a sinker that reaches 93 mph and a hard slider but then has diminished stuff in other starts.
· Shortstop Brian Sharp, the 24th-round pick from California Baptist, is already 23 years old, which limits his upside. He has power and speed but his lack of range will likely force a move to the outfield.
· Shortstop Kirk Singer, the 29th-round pick from Long Beach State, hit a paltry .217 this spring. However, his exceptional range and strong arm were enough to make him a draftable player.
· Outfielder Willie Argo, the 43rd-round pick from Illinois, helped the Fighting Illini win the Big Ten this year but it’s his overall athleticism that is intriguing. He won 13 letters in high school and holds the Iowa career record for touchdowns with 83.