By Jason Shetler
The 2020 MLB Draft was certainly unfamiliar territory for all 30 clubs, as rather than having 40 rounds, this year’s draft was limited to five rounds – six, if you include the teams who had a Competitive Balance pick.
For first-year Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington, he’s quite familiar with the draft – going through the process as GM of the Boston Red Sox. Cherington’s main duty will be to build up what’s been a mediocre farm system in the more recent years. Here is a recap of who the Pirates selected.
Nick Gonzales: The Pirates had the seventh overall pick – selecting SS/2B Nick Gonzales. As a freshman with New Mexico State, Gonzales slashed .347/.425/.596. Last year as a sophomore, he led the nation, with a .432 average, while putting up a ridiculous 1.305 OPS. Gonzales hit .448, along with 12 home runs in 16 games, before the season was shutdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. During his three seasons at New Mexico State, he posted an outstanding 14.9% walk rate – not too shabby for a kid that entered college as a walk-on. Gonzales has been regarded as the best pure hitter in this year’s draft class. The one caveat however is that he played in the WAC, which is a very hitter-friendly conference, so the numbers are likely to regress to some degree in pro ball. That being said, Gonzales has the skills to be a high OBP guy, and become a 15-20 HR middle infielder. Defensively, he’s probably better suited at second base than shortstop.
Carmen Mlodzinski: With the 31st overall pick in the Competitive Balance Round, the Pirates chose RHP Carmen Mlodzinski (pronounced Muh-gin-ski). After sustaining a fractured foot last year with South Carolina, Mlodzinski pitched very well in the Cape Cod League for the Falmouth Commodores, posting a 2.15 ERA and striking out 40 batters in 29.1 innings. At 6’2, 230 pounds, Mlodzinski throws a mid-to-upper-90’s fastball with sinking action to induce plenty of groundballs. His secondary pitches include a plus slider and cutter that has a chance to be a quality offering.
Jared Jones: Coming out of La Mirada High School in California, Jared Jones was a stellar, two-way player. As the 44th overall pick by the Pirates in Round 2, Jones was announced as a pitcher. Despite his 6’1, 180 pound frame, he can reach upper-90’s with the fastball, touching 99 mph. Jones’ other pitches are a biting slider and a developing changeup. Although the stuff is superb, the command of his pitches leave a lot to be desired, so he’s definitely a project with big upside. Jones currently has a commitment to the University of Texas.
Nick Garcia: Sometimes you need to explore all avenues to discover quality talent. The Pirates did that in Round 3, with RHP Nick Garcia. The 6’3, 210 pound Garcia pitched his college ball at Chapman University, a Division III school located in Orange, California. Garcia was lights out last season in the bullpen, as he registered a 0.64 ERA and had 82 strikeouts in 56 innings of work. He was then moved to the rotation this season, where he put up an ERA of 2.00 and a 12.0 K/9 in five starts. Garcia’s arsenal is a mid-90’s fastball, a slider, changeup and curveball. Even though he was taken 79th overall, Baseball America ranked him the 56th best draft prospect. Former GM and current MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd described Garcia as “A first round talent in the third round.” The Pirates selection of Garcia makes him the highest drafted D-3 player since the Washington Nationals took Jordan Zimmermann 67th overall in 2007.
Jack Hartman: In the fourth round, the Pirates selected Appalachian State RHPJack Hartman 108th overall. The 6’3, 205 pound hurler began his college career as an infielder playing for Tallahassee Community College in 2017 and College of Central Florida in 2018. Last year, Hartman made the conversion to the mound and transferred to Appalachian State in the process. He had a 4.98 ERA – pitching 21.2 innings and striking out 26. Hartman recorded an ERA of 3.00, fanning 22 batters in 12 innings this season. He throws a mid-90’s cutter and an above average slider.
Logan Hofmann: Pitching was the theme of the 2020 draft for the Pirates, and their final pick was no exception, as they went with Northwestern State righty Logan Hofmann. A native of Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada, Hofmann posted a 3.11 ERA, while recording 128 strikeouts in 89.2 innings pitched for Colby Community College a year ago. He was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals as 35th round selection in the 2019 draft, but didn’t sign. This season, he allowed no earned runs in 28 innings- striking out 38 and walking just five for Northwestern State. Hofmann is a smaller right-hander at 5’10, 190 pounds. His fastball sits in the low-90’s, while the curveball is a 12-6. Hofmann has said that will add a slider and changeup to his repertoire.