Pirates sign No. 2 overall pick Taillon
Club also agrees to terms with second-round pick Allie
PITTSBURGH -- Vowing beforehand to allocate significant financial resources in order to secure premier talent from the First-Year Player Draft, the Pirates spent an unprecedented amount by the time Monday's signing deadline had passed.
The Pirates signed their two most prominent Draft choices -- No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon and second-rounder Stetson Allie -- on Monday to wrap up a signing period in which the organization inked a total of 27 players.
The two right-handed pitchers, both recent high school graduates, received bonus money well above the recommended slot. Each signed Minor League contracts, meaning that neither is being immediately placed on the 40-man roster.
The Pirates are believed to have handed Taillon a signing bonus of around $6 million to convince him to forgo his scholarship to Rice University. The only member of the 2010 Draft class to receive more money was Washington's Bryce Harper, who reportedly received a $9.9 million bonus.
Allie's $2.25 million signing bonus was equivalent to the recommended amount for a player taken among the in the first 10 picks. Allie was the Draft's 52nd overall selection, falling to the second round primarily because of perceived bonus demands.
Prior to the Draft, he was ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best available prospect.
"We knew the day we drafted them that we had a legitimate chance to sign them," general manager Neal Huntington said of the top two picks. "We believed that the players wanted to play. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we also had confidence in our hard work and due diligence behind the scenes and our belief that they wanted to play."
Despite approximately more than $8 million being tied up in their first two selections, the Pirates weren't shy in allocating large signing bonuses to targeted players in later rounds. Four other picks all drew signing bonuses of at least $400,000 in order to bring them into the organization.
Right-hander Nicholas Kingham (fourth round; $485,000), right-hander Ryan Hafner (17th round; $450,000) and first baseman Jared Lakind (23rd round; $400,000) all gave up college scholarships to sign. Shortstop Drew Maggi (15th round) passed up the chance to play two more seasons at Arizona State University when he agreed to a bonus of $468,000.
These six above-slot signings, along with the other 21 players the Pirates inked, cost the organization approximately $12 million, Huntington confirmed. Never before has the organization allotted that much money to one Draft class.
In the three Drafts headed by Huntington and scouting director Greg Smith, the Pirates have now spent about $31 million.
"We've got a vision," Huntington said. "We've got a plan. We're in the midst of executing it."
It was the negotiations with Taillon and Allie, though, that were most anticipated as the signing deadline approached. Both players are represented by the Hendricks Brothers, who met with Huntington and Smith over the weekend as negotiations turned more serious.
The Hendricks Brothers had the leverage of college scholarships and education, while the Pirates countered with offers of millions in guaranteed dollars. Both sides gave a little bit, Huntington said, to ensure that deals got done.
With Taillon, the Pirates can dream of a future top-of-the-rotation pitcher. The 18-year-old out of The Woodlands (Texas) High School has already drawn comparisons to the likes of Josh Beckett and Roger Clemens, both because of his pitching potential and Houston-area roots.
Taillon went 8-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 114 strikeouts and 62 2/3 innings as a senior. He pitched a no-hitter on March 23 and entered the Draft ranked as the second best available player by Baseball America.
"He has a power fastball with advanced secondary pitches for his experience level," Smith said. "In addition, he has the size, mentality and pitch repertoire to become a quality Major League starting pitcher."
Allie's pedigree is much the same as Taillon's. Also a right-handed power pitcher, the 19-year-old gave up a scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina to sign with the Pirates.
In his senior season at St. Edward High School in Lakeland, Ohio, Allie went 9-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 60 innings. His fastball has been clocked at 100 mph.
"He is a physical right-handed pitcher with a solid combination of intelligence and competitiveness to go along with a power fastball, breaking-ball mix and a complementary changeup," Smith said. "Stetson was one of the best high school pitchers available in the Draft, and he has the potential to be a quality Major League starting pitcher."
Tailon and Allie will not pitch professionally this season because of how late they signed. Rather, they will begin pitching during the organization's instructional league, which begins in September. There is a chance, though, that the pair might join one of the Minor League clubs in the meantime just to get a feel for what professional baseball will be like.
And as for how quickly the two -- both of whom almost surely jump into the list of top 10 Pirates prospects -- might rise through the organization?
"They will dictate that to us by their ability to make adjustments, by their ability to go out and commit themselves to be not only be the best pitchers and best professionals that they can be," Huntington said. "Their development, their advancement, their accomplishments will dictate their moves through the system."
Lakind and Maggi also both had their agreements finalized on Monday. Lakind is scheduled to join the Gulf Coast League Pirates, while Maggi will join short-season State College for the remainder of the season.
Maggi, a shortstop out of Arizona State University, hit .343 with 10 doubles, three triples, four homers, 34 stolen bases and 37 RBIs in 58 games as a sophomore last year. The 21-year-old was Draft-eligible because of his age.
Lakind joins the Pirates out of Cypress Woods (Texas) High School. The first baseman hit .404 with 15 doubles, five homers and a .523 on-base percentage last season. He had committed to play baseball at the University of Arkansas.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.