Pirates to sign third-round pick Rojas today
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Pirates third-round choice Mel Rojas, their only position-player pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft last month, is expected today to become their highest selection to sign.
Rojas, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound center fielder and son of the longtime major league closer by the same name, arrived in Pittsburgh Wednesday night for a PNC Park tour, medical examination and a bonus-contract signing. He then might report promptly to the short-season State College Spikes playing in Connecticut.
Eighth-rounder Dace Kime told the Crescent-News in his hometown of Defiance, Ohio, that he decided to attend Louisville instead of signing with the Pirates because of the prolonged process for above-slot draft contracts. Because of the slow pace, most such contracts do not get approved until late July or early August.
As a related effect, the Pirates, with a month left until the signing deadline, have yet to launch full negotiations with their top-choice pitchers, second-overall pick Jameson Taillon and second-rounder Stetson Allie. Other draftees are scheduled for visits starting this weekend.
Rojas is a tools-blessed prospect over whom some scouts debated before the Pirates took him 84th overall. Rojas collected 12 home runs, 71 RBIs, 94 runs and 61 stolen bases in 64 attempts with Wabash Valley (Ill.) Community College, at a junior-college level that left several major league scouts wondering about the competition and how his tools translate. He was batting .298 with 10 steals in the wooden-bat New York Collegiate Baseball League when his team, the Amsterdam Mohawks, held a sendoff ceremony Tuesday for him at its game.
The next-highest 2010 Pirates draftee to sign was Tyler Waldron ($173,500), pitching for State College.
NOTES -- The Pirates will promote catcher Erik Kratz for the game Friday, the 30-year-old journeyman was told during the Class AAA All-Star Game Wednesday night. It will be Kratz's first experience in the majors after nine years in the minors. With Indianapolis this season, he was batting .296 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs, as well as a .396 on-base percentage. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the team is expected to place minor league starter Chris Jakubauskas on the 60-day disabled list. ... Outfield prospect Starling Marte has been shut down for a few days while doctors reassess his surgically repaired left hand. Marte, an outfielder, played in two rehabilitation games with rookie league Bradenton, going 3 for 6, before reporting problems. "We hope to know more in the coming days," director of player development Kyle Stark said. Marte had surgery on his hamate bone May 18.