He is the first high school pitcher the Pirates have selected in the first round of the draft since Jameson Taillon in 2010.
“I’m definitely honored they picked me,” Baz said. “They’ve got to have one of the best systems in baseball, if not the best.”
Baz attended Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas. It is the same school that Pirates minor league infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes attended. He was selected by the Pirates in the 2015 draft.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound righty has peaked at 98 mph on the gun and throws a nasty cutter that was on display at the Tournament of Stars in 2016.
“Really, really competitive pitcher,” Director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri said. “Stuff, we talked about the stuff being plus or positive across the board.”
Baz is committed to Texas Christian and could be a two-way player — as a third baseman and outfielder, he hit .431 his senior year, and hit 18 home runs in the first round of the Area Code Games home run derby last year. It could be a difficult sign for the Pirates.
“I haven’t gotten there yet,” Baz said. “I’m just enjoying this for now. I’ll have to speak with my advisor and go over that another time.”
“Our guys do a terrific job of getting to know the player, the expectations, the interests, but we don’t always get them signed,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “And that is the challenge. We’ve run that situation a few times in the past and we’ve felt that this player was the best pick for this organization at this point in time. We felt that we have a legitimate chance to have him join the Pirates, but we also recognize there is a risk that he may not get done. If it doesn’t, we get the 13th pick next year. But we’re going to do everything in our power to have this player join the Pirates.”
In all, the Pirates selected four high school prospects on the first day of the draft.
DelliCarri said they selected four prep players because the draft board shook out that way, rather than because of a concerted effort to draft high schoolers.
In the second round, the Pirates used their 42nd overall pick to select right-handed pitcher Steve Jennings from DeKalb County High School in Tennessee, and then took outfielder Calvin Mitchell from Rancho Bernardo High School in California with the 50th overall selection.
The Pirates used a compensatory pick to select outfielder Conner Uselton from Southmoore High School in Oklahoma.