Pirates Eye Draft

The Pirates have the fourth pick in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on June 9. Last year, the Pirates spent roughly $12 million combined on the draft and Latin American amateurs and Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington feels that it is vitally important to stack another good draft on top of what they did last year.

"Without question," Huntington said. "The draft is going to be our lifeblood and we're going to spend money in Latin America and try to acquire good players that way and try to acquire them as professionals, free agents, trades, waiver claims.

The draft is probably our most crucial avenue of talent acquisition and we need to continue to have good drafts. Owner Bob Nutting has continued to provide us with the resources to be able to spend appropriately in the draft."

Huntington feels this year's draft doesn't have the sizzle in the first round like last year's draft.

"We actually feel like this year's draft overall is a deeper draft than last year," Huntington opined. "That will allow us we feel to get a little bit stronger class - second round, third round all the way through the end of the draft. Where it is different and a lesser draft than a year ago is the elite talent at the top end. There's probably eight to ten guys that went into 10th, 11th into the 12th pick last year that would be in consideration if not selected at number two this year."

The Pirates still expect to get a talented player at the number four spot.

"We still feel like we're going to get a good player at four," Huntington stated. "We do not anticipate a player of the caliber of Pedro Alvarez on paper. Now at the end of the day the draft is unscientific and sometimes the best player in the draft goes with the 30th pick and sometimes he goes in the 13th round ala Albert Pujols, but on paper there doesn't seem to be a Pedro Alvarez type pick out there, but our guys are working hard to find a player that can exceed our expectations and will be a good pick for us."

Neither the best pitcher (San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg) nor the top-rated hitter (North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley) likely will be available when the Pirates pick.

The Pirates have scouted several college pitchers, including Missouri's Kyle Gibson, Vanderbilt's Mike Minor and North Carolina right-hander Alex White. They also have taken a long look at righty Aaron Crow, who is pitching in the independent league after failing to sign last year out of Missouri. A player who has emerged on the Bucs' radar is Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez who is widely regarded as the top college catcher in the draft.

Adding pitching depth to the organization remains a top priority for the Pirates.

"We're never going to have enough pitching," Huntington said. "We don't look at our system and feel like we've got a bunch of middle-of-the-rotation starters coming, or even the occasional top-of-the-rotation starter.

"Will it impact how we trade (or) how we draft? In a perfect world, no. But all things being equal, maybe we lean toward the pitcher."


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