Bucs round out Day 1 with prep OF Uselton

Oklahoma teen, selected No. 72, shows promising power

Bucs round out Day 1 with prep OF Uselton

PITTSBURGH -- After using 71 of their 82 picks the past two years on players from the college or junior college ranks, the Pirates rounded out a high school-heavy day in the MLB Draft by choosing outfielder Conner Uselton with their Competitive Balance Round B selection at No. 72.

In previous years, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington and director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri insisted they didn't lean toward college players for any particular reason; it was simply the way the Draft played out in their pursuit of the best available players. Their process was the same on Day 1 of this year's Draft, they said, even if the results were skewed in the other direction.

"It's most definitely the way the board falls," DelliCarri said. "It's not necessarily college, college hitter, college pitcher or high school pitcher, high school hitter. I think there are certain traits, characteristics, of these players on and off the field that we're looking for and we'll continue to do that. The shape or form they come in is not at the forefront."

Pirates' 12th overall pick: Shane Baz
Pirates' 42nd overall: Steve Jennings
Pirates' 50th overall: Calvin Mitchell

Uselton was ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Draft's No. 46 prospect. The product of Southmoore (Okla.) High School is committed to play for Oklahoma State University, the alma mater of Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer.

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Uselton was a star quarterback in high school as a freshman and emerged as a potential college football prospect. He gave up football as a sophomore to focus on baseball, and his right-handed swing boasts promising power.

The Pirates appreciate Uselton's natural athleticism as a multi-sport start. In fact, he was their second Draft pick of the day with extensive football experience; the other was Steven Jennings, a right-hander selected 42nd overall. The Pirates used their first pick of the day on right-hander Shane Baz before selecting Jennings, outfielder Calvin Mitchell (50th overall) and Uselton.

Whereas Baz is young for his Draft class, selected at age 17 but set to turn 18 on Saturday, Uselton is the rare 19-year-old high school pick. While there are some benefits to drafting younger players, DelliCarri said age is just one of many factors the Pirates evaluate.

"Age is relative," DelliCarri said. "At the same point in time, it's not an isolated factor that weighs a lot more than other things. It's all included."

The 72nd overall pick comes with a slot value of $804,000, part of the Pirates' overall pool of $10,135,900, the seventh-highest figure in this year's Draft. Competitive Balance Draft picks were introduced in the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement to give small-market or low-revenue clubs, such as the Pirates, an additional avenue to add talent. Under the new CBA, six clubs were awarded Round A picks based on a formula take takes winning percentage and revenue into account; those six teams will pick in Round A in alternating years from 2017-21, with the others moving into Round A every other year.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.