Monday, June 4, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Preview

Today is a pretty big day if you are a pretty serious Major League Baseball fan as the 2012 Draft is just hours away with the Pirates sitting in the number eight spot. For the past couple of weeks I have been waiting for this day to come and that might be contrary to how a lot of people feel because the baseball draft can hold no cards to how much hype and press that the NFL draft gets. Even the NBA draft gets a good amount of fuel and I really think that a lot of people just think because baseball is "slow" that the draft can't be interesting. Also a big part of this is that when you draft a player he isn't really well known as college baseball and especially high school baseball and when they get drafted you usually have to wait a great number of years before you even see them. Just hard for a lot of people to really get into it, but I do.

The draft this year is so up in the air that I don't think I can really even start to break this down in any form or fashion. Usually you have a couple of sure fire guys that are going to go the first couple of picks but this year people are talking about three or four guys that the Astros could take with the number one pick. If you look up five different mock drafts you could see a different top five in each of them with probably nine different players. Some will call this a weak draft and I would tend to agree that the draft isn't as deep as past years but there is still some really good talent at the top of the draft.

This year the draft is going to be a little different than years past. Before the Pirates were able to go over slot for some of their picks to get the players that might fall because of sign-ability but that will not be the case going forward. Here are some of the key points of the new draft rules as Tim from Pirates Prospects broke down in his draft preview (which you need to read and follow him the rest of the night/forever).

**If a team outspends their pool by 0-5%, they will face a 75% tax on the overage.

**If a team outspends their pool by 5-10%, they will face a 75% tax on the overage, and lose their first round pick in the next draft.

**If a team outspends their pool by 10-15%, they will face a 100% tax on the overage, and lose their first and second round picks in the next draft.

**If a team outspends their pool by 15% or more, they will face a 100% tax on the overage, and lose their next two first round picks.

In addition, any team that goes over their bonus pool wouldn’t qualify for additional picks in future drafts, awarded through a new lottery system. So even if a team goes over by less than five percent, they’re still forfeiting potential draft picks.

When we are talking about the Pirates in the number eight spot there are obviously guys that the Pirates don't really have any chance of getting because they will not fall. These guys are the prep outfielder from Texas Byron Buxton, Stanford right hander Mark Appel, LSU righty Kevin Gausman, San Francisco righty Kyle Zimmer and Puerto Rico prep shortstop Carlos Correa. I don't think there is much chance of seeing any of those guys falling to the Pirates. Ideally I would love it if Correa fell to the Pirates but I think I have a better chance of seeing Jesus.

Like I said the draft is really a crap shoot and it really depends on how the top seven go to know who the Pirates are going to land. Some of the players that have been linked to the Pirates through various mock drafts and scouts which include but will not be limited to: Deven Marrero (SS, Arizona State), Mike Zunino (C, Florida), Albert Almora (OF, Prep), Max Fried (LHP, Prep), Lucas Giolito (RHP, Prep) and David Dahl (OF, Prep). Obviously there are more guys that could fit this mold but as you can see there are a ton of different options that could be there for the Pirates.

Of all of those guys would be alright in my book to have on the Pirates but if you gave me that list of players that "could" be there for the Pirates I think I would love to have Zunino fall to the Pirates. It is really unclear what percent chance he has of falling to the Pirates but I have seen him going as high as three to the Mariners to as far as hearing teams that are drafting in the low teens might have a chance at him. He plays a premium position so this makes it a very appealing option. With Tony Sanchez struggling in the minors this would make a lot of people happy and what makes Zunino such a good prospect is that he doesn't struggle in any aspect of his game. He is a good defensive catcher that has called his own game while at Florida and has quick feet and a good release. Offensively he could develop into a pretty nice power option for the Pirates as he has hit for a .316/.388/.667 line in 62 games so far this season while hitting 18 home runs and driving in 60. While Zunino isn't great at any one part of his game he is pretty good at all aspects which makes him a nice prospect and the guy the Pirates should take if he is there.

If Zunino isn't there I really think the guy that the Pirates will take is prep pitcher Fried. He is a UCLA commit and is a 6'4 180 pound left hander. From all things that I have seen he profiles as a guy who can fill out the slender frame and add velocity to the 93-94 MPH fastball that he possesses. He might not profile as an ace pitcher but not every guy that you can get can be that good. HE has a good slider and adds a change up to give him three pitches that he can use. I know a lot of people are going to scratch their heads if they take another prep pitcher but in my opinion you can never have enough good pitching. It is much easier to add hitters than to add pitches and if they can keep the system stacked with young arms, especially that throw from the left side, then you are going to have a good team.

Almora was someone that a lot of people in the know had going to the Pirates a few weeks ago but now it looks like he might be going to either the Cubs or the Padres who own the two picks ahead of the Pirates. Almora is a prep outfielder that can really do a little bit of everything and from a development standpoint it has been talked about a good bit that you have a better chance to develop prep bats than you do college bats. He doesn't have a ton of power right now but he is a strong defensive centerfielder that is thought to be able to develop the power.

Dahl is really a dark horse that didn't come into the mix until one of the main mock drafts had the Pirates taking the prep outfielder. He is a toolsy guy that is the third ranked outfielder behind Buxton and Almora. He has been described as a well rounded player that has gap power and is a good defensive centerfielder with above average speed on the bases. He is a good contact hitter and does have some decent plate discipline that will make him a name that a lot of teams will be linked with. I am not sure how much I put into the Pirates going for Dahl and would be somewhat surprised if they take him.

The biggest question of the entire draft is prep righty Giolito. Going into the season he was widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the draft and if he was healthy he probably would have had a chance to be the number one overall pick. He missed the entire 2012 season with an elbow problem which resulted in him falling out of favor with a lot of teams. He is a really big pitcher for the prep class as he stands 6'6 and is 230 pounds which lets him throw in the upper 90's. The elbow sprain leaves a lot of questions about his health and it would be somewhat of a leap of faith to take him but if it turns out that he is healthy this could be a huge pick for the Pirates.

The final guys I want to touch on really quick is Marrero the shortstop from Arizona State. At the beginning of the year Marrero was a top-5 pick that the Pirates would have been lucky to have a chance to get but after another year with offensive struggles a lot think this might be a reach to go for him. The huge positive on him is that he is almost guaranteed to stick at shortstop as he is easily the best defensive shortstop in the draft class. I put a little more stock in that than most and would actually be more than alright if the Pirates went for him but as the weeks have gone by I don't think the Pirates are going in that direction.

Well, there you have it. Those are just some of the guys that should be there for the Pirates and if you were asking me who I might take in that situation I would say that they go in this order for my first three 1) Zunino 2) Giolito 3) Almora.

Should be a fun night to watch the draft.

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