Prospect Roundtable: Who Should the Pirates Draft in the First Round?

It's difficult to predict what any team will do in the MLB draft these days.

Even when the Pirates had the first overall pick, we didn't know the direction they would take until draft day. We didn't see their 2021 plan fully play out until weeks later when they signed all of their over-slot prep picks.

The Pirates have the fourth pick on Sunday, and this year's draft class is just as unpredictable. With that in mind, I asked our writers who they want in the first round, and what type of strategy they want to see.

For a preview of who is available, check out John Dreker's breakdown from earlier this week.
JOHN DREKER
If I was picking for the Pirates, my draft strategy going in could change depending on the first three picks. I'm going for Druw Jones or Jackson Holliday if either ...

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richard.deal

I love these discussions. And not sure if I love or hate the idea that like most, I have no idea who the Pirates will select first

emjayinTN

IMO, nobody is jumping out there as #1 due to injuries (TJ’s) and/or the positions of the players at the top. Love Termarr and Cam Collier, but the possibility of either making it to MLB in 4 years is remote, and I doubt that Druw Jones will drop to #4 . If he did he would be tempting.

The Gold Standard in MLB is pitching and the Pirates have stockpiled plenty in the 18-21 age groups, but I would still draft HS RHP Dylan Lesko. He established himself as being very special before having TJ surgery in April, therefore it would be at least mid-2023 before he would be ready to go. He’s definitely worth the wait!

stephen_searle

I understand why our draft strategy was what it was the last few years and looking for players that we could sign in later rounds after saving money in the first round. But now that we have a decent minor league system we need to swing for the fence with a top prospect. To me that is Elijah Green. He has the potential to be a superstar. There is a good chance he is still there at pick 4 and we need to pull that trigger. Even if that means not being able to get those high money guys later like we did with Chandler, White, and others.

docdon385

Prada. Advanced right handed power bat who could be in Pittsburgh in a couple of years and alternate between catcher and first base with Davis. Simple.

Ethan Hullihen

I think we should have a round table related to payroll!

tmcgowan

Give me Elijah Green in round 1, sign him for slightly under slot to save some money. Then with the comp pick take Rocker and get him for above slot, then a few picks later take Spencer Jones from Vandy in the 2nd round.
(Fangraphs ranks them 11, 60, and 28 respectively)

THAT would be a draft right there. Get the 2 guys with potential 80 power (and Spencer Jones may be a real asset if his arm recovers further like it was when he was 2 way guy), and I don’t care what I read, Rocker has stuff right now to contribute. Maybe his arm falls off in 3 years, but he can be nasty.

hoffmark83

Green won’t sign for under slot

ArkyWags

There is no way they’d be able to sign all three of those guys.

JollyRoger8

Assuming Jones and Holliday are gone I would go with either Green or Collier. I like their size and upside and they may sign below slot value. Johnson is on the small side. His hitting projects to what Nick Gonzales may give us. I think we have depth at middle infielders so Lee and Johnson are off my list.
I would love to get Rocker with the 36th pick but he most likely would be gone by then

SouthernBuc

I’ll get my vote in. I am assuming Jones and Holliday are gone. I am not as high on Green only because of my bad feeling about high school players who already don’t make contact. It only gets harder. In my brain I have narrowed it down to Collier, Johnson, or Parada. Parada seems like the only college player that is considered a top of draft talent so I don’t want to consider others (if I am saving money for later, i want a HS player here). I don’t care about drafting another catcher, we can deal with that as a very good problem if both succeed. I don’t have a strong opinion between Johnson or Collier so I would go with whoever will sign for less. So, if I haven’t lost you by now my vote goes in order: Collier, Johnson, and Parada. Stay tuned for more uninformed opinions if I change my mind.

CTBucco

I’m with Wilbur. Even if FG has him at 11 and his risk level is High (as it is for almost every HS player), you take Green. He may never hit 300, but if he fulfills much of his enormous potential, he’s a perennial AS in the OF who anchors the middle of the lineup.

I’d take him over anyone but Jones. I haven’t been as high on Holliday, and maybe that’s just because he was a late riser. FG’s blurb on him is glowing seeing him as a future AS SS. So, I could see taking him. And it sounds like Johnson’s peak potential could be Joe Morgan. I could live with that as well. But Green feels like the kind of guy the NYY lineup is littered with, and I like a couple of those for the Bucs.

ArkyWags

Peak potential of Joe Morgan? The best 2B of the modern era? I mean, I’d take that over almost anything they Green would become.

I’d be ecstatic with either. Parada/Collier…ok, but let’s see what they do with the rest. I don’t want Berry, Lee or Neto or anyone like that. They seem like tweeners.

Wilbur Miller

Well, if Termarr’s ceiling is Joe Morgan, hell yes.

I’d be fine with Parada but nobody seems to think the Pirates are really on him. He’s probably not a below-slot candidate.

HeisenbergWW

Interestingly, fangraphs has Parada listed as a LF’er. If some think he cannot stick behind the plate, I’d steer clear of him at #4 .

PirateRican21

Top two prep are unlikely to fall to four, if force to choose between the Prada / Berry, I chose Berry. Between Johnson and Green, I’m leaning Green…. So Berry at a discount!

AdministrativeSky236

I love this content, thanks so much everyone. Personally i like cam or temarr whoever gives better savings and go for HS pitching overslot afterwards

Wilbur Miller

BA has Jackson Ferris, prep lhp, for Bucs’ 2nd pick. Looks like a high-ceiling guy with the usual command-needs-work proviso. Total guesswork at this stage, but a guy of that type would be a typical fit for them.

Cobra

Fangraphs New: https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2022-mlb-draft/summary?sort=-1,1&type=0&pg=0&pageitems=10000000000000

FV Excerpts:
Lee 55
TJohnson 55
Parada 50
Collier 45+
Green 45+

James_Robert5

Wow they have Zach Neto at #5

A more toolsy Tommy Edman?

Let’s hope he’s still on the board at #4

https://amp.miamiherald.com/sports/mlb/article263342203.html

Danatural08

I was just looking at this too, theres a couple interesting ratings there. Lee is ranked really high (3rd rated in draft & would be about the 25th best prospect after the draft) & Green rated lower (11th overall) than most other places.

There’s also some college guys listed in there that i don’t agree with (especially Tyler Locklear 1B rated 23rd w a 45 FV when Melendez 1B is rated 84th & a 40 FV). Rocker rated as the 60th best prospect is a bit surprising too. Robert Moore (2B from ARK) rated 44 is a joke, he sucked ass this year hit .232 & is 5′ 9″. Also don’t love Parada listed as a LF (as he’s my favorite this year), but understand that they’re comping him to Schwarber.

jsdspud

I think that this is the type of year where 6 of the top 8 picks are going to be good players, similar to 2005 when McCutchen was pick 11. I think that they should pick one of Jones, Holiday, Green, Collier, Johnson, or Parada in that order.

The pick is going to come down to who they have lined up with their second and third picks. I agree with Wilbur that it is time to go for quality over quantity. Buster Olney interviewed Green on his podcast this week and he mentioned that the Pirates were one of the main teams talking to him. We will see if it was a smoke screen or not.

ArkyWags

So I went back and looked at the first five drafts in the hard slotting era (2012-2016). I stopped at 2017 because only now are most of those guys really reaching majors.

2012: 5 of first 8 were All Stars.
2013: 1 of 8.
2014: 3 of 8.
2015: 4 of 8.
2016: 0 of 8.

I’m not sure what this years talent level feels like. It certainly seems better than 2016. But I’m not sure you’re gonna see more than 5 guys make an all star team.

I get what you’re saying on Green. He seems like a potential meteor as a talent, but I also think Termarr looks really great at the plate. Honestly I want those two the most as there is zero chance Jones or Holliday get to them.

redwards60

Jones, Holliday, and Green are the obvious top 3 – if any of them are available at #4 , the Pirates need to find the intestinal fortitude to make that pick. In the top 10, you should be looking for potential franchise impact type of star players, not supporting cast members. If the above three are all gone by the time the Pirates pick, I would prefer Johnson, Lesko, and Parada in that order.

Danatural08

If Jackson is available, take him, if not & Parada is there, take him. If both gone, then take Green or Termarr

hoptown

I think the Pirates should focus on high school hitters only. They have a glut of hitting prospects in AA and AAA right now. I don’t like adding another one into an already crowded mix. If there was a top shelf college pitcher available, I could support that pick, but there is not. Therefore, the right play is to add a high school player to the “next wave” with Solometo, Chandler, Lonnie White, etc. I think the pick should be Termarr or Collier.

Colin

Any of the 4 prep kids I’d be happy with. Just hope GMBC doesn’t pass up a high quality player to save money

Scrappy2499

I don’t think he would pass on a player to save money (as in overall money) since they have a history of maxing out in the draft…The only way I see them looking to save money with the first pick is if they know they can pull off another draft like last year because of discussions they are having with agents/players etc…Really after the top 2 names in the draft, it is probably easier to look at that route as there is a drop off after the first two. If either of them were to fall though, then you take them. imho

ArkyWags

The example often cited is Correa with the Astros. Because it worked.

Is there a good database that lists signing bonuses for players? MLB’s signing tracker only goes back to 2017, so a lot of this is still fluid.

Still, that was the year Minnesota signed Royce Lewis for a bit more than a million less than slot at 1 overall. He’s clearly had some ups and downs. They used most of that savings on prep pitcher Blayne Enlow, who is currently in AA and is meh. Per MLB’s board, Lewis was fifth behind Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay, Kyle Wright, and Mackenzie Gore. I think most of us would take all of them ahead of Lewis right now, with the exception of McKay, because his arm fell off.

Cobra

Great Roundtable discussion. I went back last year and, even though Mayer was a soft consensus #1 overall on almost all the mock drafts, Mayo & Callis prior to the draft reported that Henry Davis & Watson were in the mix for the Pirates.

Interestingly, Mayo & Callis had a podcast worth listening to earlier this week with some Pirate predictions (bonus material: interview with Burrows and some serious love to John Dreker’s own Jersey relative from Monmouth U when talking about best tools in draft): https://www.mlb.com/news/pipeline-podcast-2022-futures-game-mlb-draft

In a nutshell, they think Jones falls no lower than #2 and Holliday no lower than #3 . And under that scenario, we pick either TJohnson (if he doesnt go 1 overall to Baltimore) or Collier. They cite the slot savings strategy. Mayo says at one point he was thinking college bat consistent with past couple drafts but the rumblings have us taking the slot savings approach like last year.

Personally I’m all in on what Wilbur says above. Go for the high risk, high yield game changer in Green if he’s there

Last point: GREAT draft coverage as usual fellas. 💪👊. Every year MLB Draft & trade deadline coverage are my favorite parts of this site. (It’s not like there are other things Pirate fans can look forward to 😆)

Last edited 25 days ago by Cobra
coreyschade

Monmouth U? I live seven minutes from there in Loch Arbour (smallest municipality in NJ)

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