Draft adds 20 new players to farm system

Draft adds 20 new players to farm system

Draft adds 20 new players to farm system
When Joe DelliCarri talks about Barrett Barnes, he does so in glowing terms and with excitement in his voice.

DelliCarri serves as the Pirates' director of amateur scouting and Barnes is the talented outfielder from Texas Tech University who Pittsburgh selected with its supplemental pick -- between the first and second rounds -- in the First-Year Player Draft in early June.

"Barrett Barnes has a chance to be a complete outfielder," DelliCarri said. "He's got a chance to contribute strongly on both sides of the ball. He's very athletic. He's got plus-plus pure speed. He has a chance to hit, and hit with some impact, some power -- some doubles, triples and home runs. He has a chance to do some really good things, there's no question. I should also mention that he can contribute in the third part of the game, which is with his baserunning."

Everything DelliCarri said about the 45th overall selection proved to be true early on as Barnes hit .291 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in his first 23 games for State College of the New York-Penn League (short-season Class A). He also swiped seven bases in his first eight attempts.

That was more of the same for Barnes, who this year hit .325 with 17 doubles, six triples, nine home runs, 49 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 55 games as a junior at Texas Tech. He also became the fourth player in the school's history to earn All-Big 12 honors in three consecutive seasons.

Although the Pirates were not able to come to terms with their first-round selection -- pitcher Mark Appel -- they still signed a total of 20 players from this year's Draft.

Appel, a 20-year-old right-hander who was 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA as a junior at Stanford University this season, decided to return to college for his senior year rather than accept the Pirates' offer of $3.8 million. Under baseball's new labor agreement, that number was significantly higher than the $2.9 million signing slot for the No. 8 overall pick and the most the organization could have given Appel, without surrendering a future No. 1 pick.

"I think the penalty of giving up a future first-round pick to sign a current first-round pick is awfully steep," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "As much as we like Mark, we just didn't think that was prudent business for us."

Huntington also said because the Pirates look at the Draft as an investment portfolio, rather than just one pick, they're pleased with the group of players they brought in. Pittsburgh will also receive the ninth overall pick in next year's Draft as compensation for not signing Appel, plus what's called a competitive balance pick.

"We may be looking at three of the top 40 or 45 picks in the country next year," the GM said.

Other exciting additions to the organization this year include second-round pick Wyatt Mathisen, a catcher from Calallen (Texas) High School and third-round selection Jonathan Sandfort, a right-handed pitcher from Winter Springs (Fla.) High School. Both are currently playing for the Pirates' entry in the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League.

Mathisen, who turned down a scholarship offer from the University of Texas, in order to sign with Pittsburgh, hit .433 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs as a high school senior. And even though he played shortstop and pitched more than he caught this year, the Pirates have made it clear that the young man is a catcher.

"I don't want it to be misrepresented that he's a conversion guy. He's a catcher and he wants to catch," DelliCarri said. "And his athleticism, his arm strength and his ability to be a leader on the field are the reasons he's projected to be a catcher in the big leagues. He also has the ability to swing the bat with strength. He has a chance to be a very solid hitter down the road."

During his senior year in high school, Sandfort registered an 8-1 record and a sparkling 0.92 ERA and he struck out 72 batters in 68 2/3 innings. At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, he has the type of frame that the Pirates' scouts covet.

"We look for certain things in these pitchers -- body, size, athleticism -- so you're going to hear the same things when we take these kids," DelliCarri said. "We don't have a lot of 5-foot-10 pitchers.

"Jonathan is a high school athlete, a football quarterback. He has a sound delivery, good arm action, size and ease of operation -- all of which give him a chance to fulfill some good upside. He's also a velocity guy. He pitched with solid-plus velocity his whole senior year, but we believe there's even a little more upside off that because of the athleticism and his delivery and arm action."

Jim Lachimia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.