Pirates notebook: Reaching into Power 5 conferences on draft’s second day | TribLIVE.com
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Jerry DiPaola

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected eight college players Tuesday in Rounds 3-10 during the second day of the MLB Draft. Six came from Power 5 conferences.

Clint Hurdle was too busy with game preparations to comment on those picks, but he spent part of his day watching video of the first four selections from Monday night.

“As every organization will tell you, we really like our first four guys,” he said, smiling.

He joined the growing group of baseball people raving about first-round pick Quinn Priester’s athleticism. Of his work on the mound, Hurdle said, “It’s live. It sinks. That’s going to be exciting.”

He said second pick Sammy Siani can “grow into (hitting with) some gap power.”

Here’s a list of all eight Tuesday picks:

• 3rd round (No. 95): Arizona center fielder Matt Fraizer hit .412 before a broken wrist in March ended his season.

• 4th round (No. 124): Florida State right-hander J.C. Flowers saved 11 games with a 1.52 ERA.

• 5th round (No. 154): Nevada right-hander Grant Ford saved five games with a 2.76 ERA.

• 6th round (No. 184): Stanford right fielder Will Matthiessen also can pitch, but he’ll be a hitter for the Pirates after driving in 52 runs in 57 games.

• 7th round (No. 214): USC right fielder Blake Sabol, the second cousin of former Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, stole 13 bases.

• 8th round (No. 244): Sacramento State right-hander Austin Roberts struck out 84 in 7313 innings.

• 9th round (No. 274): Vanderbilt shortstop Ethan Paul hit .325 with nine homers and a team-high 70 RBIs. He was a 26th round pick of the Pirates last year.

• 10th round (No. 304): Notre Dame right-hander Cameron Junker struck out 73 and threw 15 wild pitches in 7713 innings.

It was more than a coincidence that the Pirates drafted nothing but college players Tuesday after drafting prep prospects Priester and Siani on Monday.

General manager Neil Huntington mentioned the difficulty in selecting high school players after the early rounds and fitting them into the bonus pool system. After all, they can opt for college whereas players who have been in college for three or four years are eager to get their pro careers started.

“The high school players that are signable tend to fly off the board,” Huntington said via conference call from Bradenton, Fla. “The ones that are tough signs, you’ve got to get them in the first two to three rounds.”

The upside is that the college players may reach the majors quicker than those who are just graduating from high school this month.

Also, Penn State left-hander Dante Biasi went to the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round (No. 169), and West Virginia catcher Ivan Gonzalez was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round (No. 230).

The draft concludes Wednesday with Rounds 11-40.

Reynolds: Just like a vet

At this time last year, Bryan Reynolds was playing in Double-A Altoona.

At the start of spring training this year, he was listed as a nonroster player.

But there he was Tuesday night starting in left field for the 24th time this season and carrying a .350 batting average into the game against the Atlanta Braves.

He has five home runs, including one on a 3-0 count.

“He’s gotten his 3-0 swing off as well as a 10-year veteran, which is very impressive,” Hurdle said. “And it’s with no fanfare, no muss, no fuss. Just a guy who shows up and pays attention. He prepares well, and he learns as he goes along. He’s one of those guys who says ‘OK, you got me this time. I’ll be ready for it next time.’ ”

Down on the farm

Jung Ho Kang (side strain) and Corey Dickerson (shoulder strain) continue their rehab assignments in Triple-A Indianapolis.

Kang has six hits, including a home run, in 20 at-bats. Dickerson is 4 for 29. Both are eligible to come off the injured list, but there’s no timetable for it happening.

Kang was hitting .133 at the time of his injury.

“We’re getting him at-bats,” Hurdle said. “We’ve talked about the focus, what we want it to be and what we’re trying to get out of it. The one thing we’ve all talked about is more consistent contact.”

Another road for Craig

Meanwhile, Indianapolis first baseman Will Craig, the Pirates’ first-round draft choice in 2016, is playing some games in the outfield. It’s probably his only route to the majors with Josh Bell entrenched at first base.

“With Bell doing what he’s doing here, (we’re) just seeing if it’s something that can take place and can get any traction.”

Craig, who hit 20 home runs with a .248 batting average and led the Double-A Eastern League with 102 RBIs last season, has 15 homers with 39 RBIs and a .365 average this season in Triple-A. The Pirates are seeking ways to keep his bat in the lineup.

“He’s met the challenges along the way,” Hurdle said. “Sacrificed some average for power (last season). We’ll see if the bat can continue to work.”

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