There’s one thing that drives me nuts, and that’s same-team player comps. I understand why they exist. In most cases that’s all fans know. If you say a player could be like Andrew McCutchen, a Pirates fan knows exactly what you’re talking about. The problem is that same-team comps shrink the possibilities for any player.
Left handed starter in the Pirates system? He’s going to be the next Paul Maholm or Zach Duke. Top high school pitching prospect taken in the draft? The next Bobby Bradley. A defensive shortstop with a weak bat? The next Jack Wilson.
The thing about those comparisons is that they provide such a limited view. It’s like getting an opinion about the world from someone who has never left their small town. They only have so much reference to draw a comparison. Would Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens be the next Duke and Maholm if they pitched for Philadelphia? Or would people be hoping for the next Cole Hamels? Would Jameson Taillon be the next Bobby Bradley if he pitched for the Dodgers? Or would he be the next Clayton Kershaw?
Then there’s Deven Marrero. I’ve already seen a few Jack Wilson comparisons made with disdain due to Marrero’s strong defense at shortstop and weak bat. That’s kind of surprising, seeing as how Jack Wilson was such a fan favorite when he was here. That might be a fair comparison, but once again, it’s only limited to the Pirates.
Inevitably there will be one comparison that will be made if the Pirates do select Marrero, which seems more likely considering that Keith Law has them taking the Arizona State shortstop in his first mock draft. You could say “what does Keith Law know?” But that was the same thing that was said when Law was talking about the Pirates taking Tony Sanchez in 2009. He also correctly guessed Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.
If Law is right again this year, the pick of Marrero will probably be compared to Tony Sanchez or Daniel Moskos. Earlier today Law tweeted that Marrero wasn’t Tony Sanchez. I agree, as they’re two different scenarios. Sanchez was taken fourth overall, but was ranked 32nd. He was never considered a top five prospect, although there was talk that he could have gone to a team in the 10-15 range if the Pirates didn’t take him. Marrero, on the other hand, entered the year in the top five, and is currently a consensus top 15 prospect.
For that reason I think a pick of Marrero would be more comparable to Daniel Moskos. The Pirates took Moskos fourth overall in 2007. Fans immediately hated the pick, because catcher Matt Wieters was still on the board. But Moskos wasn’t a reach. Baseball America rated him eighth overall in their pre-draft rankings. They had him ahead of Jason Heyward (9), Jarrod Parker (10), Madison Bumgarner (14), Max Scherzer (17), and other players who are currently in the majors.
Moskos wasn’t a reach. You could argue that he was appropriate value for the pick at the time. The problem was that he wasn’t the best player on the board. Matt Wieters was the clear pick at the time, and probably shouldn’t have been there, since he was rated second overall going in to the draft.
There probably won’t be a Wieters available for the Pirates this year. The only way that will happen is if one of the top six players (Byron Buxton, Mike Zunino, Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, Carlos Correa, Kyle Zimmer) magically falls to eighth overall. That seems unlikely to happen. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be better options on the board. They might not be considerably better than Marrero, but they’re better. My preference would be Lucas Giolito if he’s healthy and on the board. I’d also go for Albert Almora or Max Fried, with Almora being the preference.
This brings up a few interesting situations. First, if the Pirates took someone like power hitting third baseman Richie Shaffer, I don’t think people would be as upset, even though Shaffer is ranked lower in every list than Marrero. I think people would accept that because Marrero isn’t hitting, Shaffer is hitting, and people don’t value the strong defense from Marrero and the chance that Shaffer could eventually move to first (which seems to be reflected in the rankings).
The other interesting situation is that the Moskos comparison might be another situation that is limited to the Pirates’ world. If the Padres took Marrero seventh, I don’t think their fans would care as much as Pirates fans. Maybe part of that is because they live in San Diego, and how much would you really care about a baseball draft if you live in San Diego? But while their fans might say “I don’t think Marrero was the best available guy”, I don’t think they would scream “Here we go again!”.
If I’m putting a comparison out there, using only the Pirates’ universe, I’m saying a potential pick of Marrero would be Moskos-lite, just because there’s probably not a Wieters on the board. If I’m just talking about the move without comparisons, I’d say that Marrero doesn’t look to be the best available on the board.
I could see how some would disagree, as it was only three months ago that we were all disappointed that Marrero, a consensus top five guy, wouldn’t fall to the Pirates. It really just depends on how much stock you put in to this season, and whether you think Marrero can hit going forward. I personally think it’s a good pick value-wise, but a risky pick considering his lack of hitting the last two years. And I’m saying that while advocating for a prep outfielder who is no guarantee to add power, and a prep left hander who is no guarantee to add velocity, thus also making their futures less than a guarantee.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 6-2 to the Marlins. Kristy Robinson looks at Kevin Correia’s lucky start to the year in tonight’s notebook, and some replacement options if the Pirates decide to go another direction.
**Prospect Watch: Tim Alderson returns to the Altoona rotation with decent results.
**The Pirates are rumored to be one of eight teams interested in a Taiwanese infielder who projects to get the biggest non-pitcher bonus in the country.
**A lot of draft links as the draft gets closer. Baseball America released their top 100 prospects. Keith Law released his first mock draft. I did a feature on how scouting will be important this year. In the feature, Neal Huntington talks about how the Pirates don’t anticipate going over-slot this year.
**Tomorrow’s schedule has an interesting pitching matchup: Jameson Taillon goes up against former Pirates prospect Chris Young.+ posts
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.