The Pirates are in a much different situation this year than they have been in years past. When they had a top pick it would be great news for someone like Mike Zunino to have a huge season. Now that they’re picking eighth, that news isn’t as good. A guy like Zunino — who is putting up a .415/.489/.634 line with three homers in 41 at-bats — moves away from them the better he does.
That means they’re in a situation where they’re taking one of three players:
-Someone who was highly rated coming in to the year, but struggles throughout the year or gets injured, lowing his value to number eight.
-Someone who was rated lower in the draft, and sees his value rise due to a strong season.
-Someone who is rated around the 8-15 range, and stays that way throughout the season.
The first group of players would provide the Pirates with a very talented pick, although it wouldn’t be a situation where fans would be comfortable with the selection. Think Anthony Rendon from 2011. Sure, you’re getting a guy who was rated at the top of the draft boards heading in to the year, but can he return to that level? How much do you place on that one year?
The second group of players involves a similar question. If someone rises up the draft boards all because of one strong year, how much emphasis do you place on that year? This is less of a concern for me, because I feel it’s more likely that a young player will progress rather than a top player regressing, especially when we’re talking about players who are staying at the same level.
The third group just doesn’t provide that flashy pick. In the last two years we’ve seen the Pirates take guys who profile as future aces and some of the top prospects in baseball.
Just thinking about it early, I’m not sure the number one pick this year would crack my top five prospects. I don’t think there’s anyone who would be available at number eight overall who could top Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen out of Josh Bell so far in Spring Training, and I think he’s going to have a big debut in the pros. If Starling Marte repeats his AA numbers at the AAA level, and maintains his prospect eligibility, it would be hard to rate him lower than the type of guys who would be available 8th overall. And Luis Heredia has a ton of upside, with the potential to be better than Cole or Taillon.
This could all change. What the Pirates need to see is a deep draft. They need to see a situation like 2011 where there isn’t a consensus number one pick, but several guys who could go first overall, and a few other guys who could compete for top picks. Last year Francisco Lindor went eighth overall. If the Pirates could get that kind of talent this year, it would be big. For that to happen, about three to five more players need to emerge as top-five possibilities.
Mark Appel – 8.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 2 HR, L (2-1)
Chris Beck – 6.0 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, L (2-1)
Kevin Gausman – 6.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR, W (3-0)
Deven Marrero – 5-for-9 (.556), 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 K, 1 BB
Mike Zunino – 6-for-15 (.400), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K, 1 BB
Trey Williams – 6-for-9 (.667), 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP
-Deven Marrero hurt his ankle in Saturday’s game, and left after just one at-bat. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game and is listed as day to day.
-I found stats for Trey Williams. Next goal is finding stats for Byron Buxton and Lucas Giolito.
-Mike Zunino and Florida play two games this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.
-Deven Marrero and Arizona State play Texas Tech on Tuesday before starting their weekend schedule.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Victor Roache’s injury isn’t considered a long-term worry. If he’s available, the Pirates should pick him.