Pirates wrap up top picks Taillon, Allie

Two deals worth total $8.75 million, done just before draft deadline


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The Pirates stockpiled their impressive arms.

Landed a college shortstop who recently dazzled in Japan.

Finished a deal for a stout scholastic first baseman, too.

All in all, it was a successful draft-deadline Monday for a franchise still vying to be successful on the field Sunday through Saturday.

Time will tell if the Pirates' nearly $12 million investment in the 2010 draft will prove to be a turning point for the franchise or a future boiling point for fans on the precipice of an 18th consecutive losing season. But that is a given with a procurement process that involves 18- to 21-year-olds.

"An inexact science" is the phrase Pirates general manager Neal Huntington often uses, and he's the one doling out all the bonuses above Major League Baseball's slot system.

He's the one who made the deals encompassing nearly $30 million in Pirates prospects over the past three drafts.

Huntington spoke this morning about the talented Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie instantly ranking among the Pirates' top prospects, "Certainly in the top 10, if not higher."

Top talent comes at a price, too. Huntington credited owner Bob Nutting with supplying the resources, admitting but not revealing the precise amount, "This is the highest that we invested" in this administration's three years. He added that their three-year total has reached $31 million, which would bring the 2010 price tag to approximately $12.3 million.

Despite speculation that one or both pitchers asked in negotiations to be added to the 40-man roster, Taillon and Allie were signed to minor league contracts. That places no clock on their rise to the majors.

In the minors, one or both may report to short-season State College or Class A West Virginia merely to observe or learn. There had been discussion about Taillon spending time with the West Virginia club, however, Huntington said neither will pitch until the Florida Instructional League in October.

"The last thing we want to do is rush these guys into competition," Huntington said.

"Overall we feel good," Huntington said a day earlier, tying up loose ends with the Hendricks brothers who represent Taillon and Allie. "Obviously we'll feel a lot better if we get the two big ones."

They got them, all right.

Taillon got a $6.5 million bonus, a franchise record that surpassed the $6,335,000 that 2008 No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez got from the Pirates and less than the $7 million-plus tailored deal that last year's No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley received from Seattle.

Allie got $2.25 million.

Taillon is a 6-foot-7 flamethrower from The Woodlands, Texas, just north of the rival that produced Boston's Josh Beckett in that Houston hotbed of baseball.

Taillon threw 97 mph this past high school season, but he has added at least 10 pounds of muscle since to his sturdy 225-pound frame. He is considered a top-of-the-rotation talent, and his minor league path could be handled a tad differently.

Allie is a burly 6-4, 225-pound fellow who befriended Taillon and a couple of times each year worked under his same Houston pitching coach, David Evans, a onetime Pirates minor leaguer.

Allie threw 99 mph fastballs in leading St. Edward to an Ohio scholastic championship hours before the draft, yet fell from mid-first-round projections to the second spot in the second round in part because of what was perceived as a high price tag. Where Taillon had a Rice scholarship that few expected him to carry out, Allie's commitment to North Carolina left scouts wondering if there was a 50-50 chance to lure him into the pros. Scouts differ on his future, some believing him a starter, others a closer.

They Pirates also invested in: No. 4 selection Nick Kingham of suburban Las Vegas (who cost around $480,000); No. 5 Tyler Waldron of Oregon State ($173,500, where MLB slotted the pick); ninth-rounder Brandon Cumpton of Georgia Tech ($124,500); and 17th-rounder Ryan Haffner from suburban Kansas City, Mo. (an above-slot $450,000).

Earlier Monday, two other position-player deals came through, amid MLB's painstaking, protracted approval process for such above-slot signees and one's late decision whether to sign.

Drew Maggi, a 15th-rounder, gave up the chance to play with his little brother, Beau, for another season or two at Arizona State by accepting a deal worth about $460,000 with the Pirates.

Maggi, a shortstop who helped lead Arizona State to the College World Series, was recently named the defensive player of the tournament at the World University championships in Japan.

He and third-rounder Mel Rojas Jr., a center fielder, were the only position-player signees among the Pirates' top 15 selections.

The Pirates also completed an above-slot contract with 23rd-round selection Jared Lakind, a first baseman from Texas.

Sixth-round choice Jason Hursh, a Texas prep pitcher who also punted in football, turned down the Pirates' offers to attend Oklahoma State -- one of several players, in what surprised Huntington and scouting director Greg Smith, to disdain money and opt for the college experience. A player can return to the draft after his second year in college.


Chuck Finder: cfinder@post-gazette.com .


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