Pirates' pick of Kranick comes with uncertainty

Pirates' pick of Kranick comes with uncertainty

PITTSBURGH -- The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is no longer new, by definition. It went into effect in 2012, and it will expire at the end of the year. But it's still leading teams to find new, creative ways to get the most out of each Draft.

For example, look at the Pirates' 11th-round pick, the 345th overall selection: right-hander Max Kranick out of Valley View (Pa.) High School. Kranick was MLBPipeline.com's No. 179 Draft prospect, and he was considered a top 100 talent on some boards.

System dictates how Pirates plan for Draft

For all his talents, the 18-year-old is more projection than proven. And Kranick, coming out of high school, is committed to play at the University of Virginia. Before the Draft began, it was unclear if Kranick would honor that commitment or begin his professional career.

Under the previous Draft system, a club like the Pirates had the freedom to open its wallet and convince Kranick to go pro. But with each pick assigned a slot value, each team is given a bonus pool and the better teams by record receiving smaller pools, it's not so simple anymore.

"The new system makes it more challenging to take a high school player later in the Draft and pay him what you think he's worth," general manager Neal Huntington said. "If you think a pitcher's worth a second-round figure, you essentially need to take him in the second or third round. It's much harder to take him in the eighth or ninth round, as we used to our first four years here."

Triple-A infielder Max Moroff was a 16th-round selection in 2012. The Pirates used their leftover bonus pool savings to reel him in for an overslot bonus, and he's developed into their No. 25 prospect. They did the same in 2014, also with their 11th-round pick, and landed right-hander Gage Hinsz -- now their No. 23 prospect -- out of high school.

2016 Draft Recap: Pirates

Can the Pirates do it again and pick up Kranick? Three of their top picks were also high school pitchers: Nick Lodolo and Travis MacGregor on Day 1 and Braeden Ogle in the fourth round.

"We're working hard to make sure we gather information so we've got a feel for what their expectations are," Huntington said. "If we believe that we can meet those expectations or get within striking distance of that dreaded common financial ground that I talk about so much, then we'll take the player."

Kranick's fastball sits at 91-92 mph throughout his starts, and he can reach back for more when needed. He recorded a 0.31 ERA and 66 strikeouts as a senior, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune, and he finished his high school career 16-3 with a 1.17 ERA and 201 strikeouts to 37 walks in 138 1/3 innings.

Regardless of the system, the Pirates like what they see in the 6-foot-3 Kranick.

"We've liked Max for a long time," scouting director Joe DelliCarri said. "He brings a lot of things that we do like. ... He's got some good arm speed. Throws strikes. He's a terrific competitor. Just start there as a floor."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.