Some may remember back in the spring when I took my trip to Texas to attend the Houston College classic. At the time, my main reason for doing this was to see then number one player in the country and potential Pirates draft pick Anthony Rendon in action. I wanted to see what all the hype was about and to bring everyone on here the best possible coverage I could of him.
Although the Pirates didn’t end with Rendon, the trip wasn’t a total loss. While there I used the time to attend as many games as I could to see what other potential “interesting” players were out there. Some of those players such as Ricky Oropesa , CJ Cron and Miguel Pena would go on to be high draft picks in 2011 while others such as Baylor’s Max Muncy had huge games and will no doubt get a look from Major League teams in 2012. During that time I also had the opportunity to see a couple of future Pirates farmhands in action in RHP Jordan Cooper and C Ryan Hornback, so there was a great deal of reward after all.
With that being said, I’ll be heading back down for about two weeks again this year to check in on the College Classic and some of the other colleges in the area to see what kind of talent is available for the upcoming draft. My hope is to introduce everyone to as many talented players as possible. Some of these players may be household names and others may not be so well known but they are all good players who deserve to get a little attention. In the event that they so happen to be drafted by the Pirates, we’ll all have a bit of a head start on whom they are.
If all goes well, I’m hoping to continue expanding on this and creating reports over the coming years of the players I’ve seen. As interest with prospects and the draft continues to grow, I felt this is the next logical step in the site's evolution. My ultimate goal is to keep a database of sorts with players I’ve seen. Included would be a small scouting report of the player along with a report of their game performance but that is down the road some. In the meantime to start this all off, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the two Pirates draft picks and see what they ended up doing when I saw them in action.
San Jacinto Junior College
Commitment:University of Mississippi
2010-43rd Round (Tampa Bay)
2011-27th Round (Pittsburgh)
Ryan Hornback arrived at San Jacinto JC from Sweeny HS in Sweeny Texas, which is in Brazoria County a suburb of the Houston area. As a freshman at San Jacinto, he was an all conference selection and a gold glove award winner. He also finished third on his team in hitting, compelling a .341 batting average. Due to his success the Tampa Bay Rays took a flier on him in the 43rd round of the 2010 draft. Opting not to sign a pro contract, he returned to school for the sophomore year and made a college commitment to attend the University of Mississippi once he finished up at San Jacinto.
When I arrived at San Jacinto, Hornback was one of the players on my watch list. From what I had read, he came highly regarded for his defensive abilities behind the plate. What I saw from him did not disappoint me. In the first game of a doubleheader, Hornback was the battery mate for future Boston pick Miguel Pena (5th Rd’11). Pena’s stuff was good but his control was a bit off at time so Hornback got some major work behind the plate. He moved very well behind the plate and was on a number of occasions made a few good blocks on balls that were in the dirt. At one point with a runner attempting to score, he did a nice job of blocking the plate and forced the runner to go wide leading to an out. In the 3rd inning of the first game, he made a beautiful throw to 3rd to catch a runner attempting to steal. To look at Hornback, one would not think of him as a catcher due to thin build, almost resembling Eric Fryer but he is a ball player. Some same due to where he was taken in the draft and how quickly he signed that he more than likely an organizational catcher which may end up being the case but if his hitting can come together, the Pirates may have something here.
School:University of Kentucky
2009-17th Round (Pittsburgh)
2011-23rd Round (pittsburgh)
Jordan Cooper arrived at the University of Kentucky from Shelbyville Central High School in Shelby, Tennessee which is in Bedford County. Coming into the 2009 draft, he was rated as the best high school arm and fifth best player in Tennessee. He slid to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round due to perceived bonus demands. Unable to get a deal done with Pittsburgh, he attended Kentucky and quickly made an impact for the wildcats becoming one of the top freshman pitchers in the country.
Coming into his sophomore season, it seemed that huge strides were expected of Cooper. He was part of a talented pitching staff that included 2011 Nationals first round pick Alex Meyer. The day I got to see Cooper pitch was the third day of the tournament when Kentucky was coming off back to back losses, losing to both Rice and the University of Houston. That day, he pitched what might be his best game as a college player. He flashed some power stuff, striking out 9 Utes hitters in 7 innings of work and only gave up 1 earned run. In the outing he also only gave up 3 hits along with walking 3 batters. He did work some deep counts at times but seemed to find a way to get himself out of trouble. The most impressive thing that I took away from the outing was how he managed to hold Utah first baseman and 2011 Angles first round pick CJ Cron in check the entire game. Cron had gone 4-7 with 2 walks and 3 runs batted in the previous two days but Cooper was able to keep him off balance. That was the first win of the season for Cooper and showed everyone what kind of pitcher he can be. After that he bounced in and out of Kentucky’s rotation the remainder of the season due to inconsistency so when the Pirates landed him where they did, I feel they got a real steal and look for him to develop on the next level.