Pirates Focus On Draft

The Pirates have the fourth pick in the MLB 2009 First-Year Player Draft, which begins at 6 p.m. today. They also will select No. 49, No. 53 and No. 84, as the first three rounds are completed today. The three-day draft lasts 50 rounds.

General manager Neal Huntington and director of scouting Greg Smith have spent the past week-plus in Bradenton, Fla., preparing for their second draft with the Pirates.

The surprise trade of outfielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves may add a cash infusion to the Pirates war chest for the draft.

"Any money that has been freed up (by the trade) will be poured right back into baseball operations," general manager Neal Huntington said.

Among the Pirates' possibilities tonight are: Florida prep third baseman Bobby Borchering; one of several high school pitchers such as Georgia's Zack Wheeler; former University of Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow (too expensive?) - Crow was a first-rounder last year, but did not sign with the Washington Nationals. His asking price this year again is steep; or Kyle Gibson (too risky after the disclosure of a right arm stress fracture?). Then again, management may well decided to opt for Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez. Or possibly high school catcher Wil Myers.

Sanchez in recent meeting with the Pirates indicated that signability will not be an issue.

"I made it clear: You won't have issues like last year," Sanchez, 21, said recently. "I'm not looking for a $6 million contract. I know who I am. I kind of know what I'm worth. You don't have to go to [the wall] for $200,000. I want to go out and start getting my feet wet at the next level."

What are the baseball pundits saying?

The mock drafts have the Pirates selecting a pitcher, Aaron Crow, Alex White or Mike Minor. Other draft experts have the Bucs going for a catcher like Tony Sanchez or Wil Myers.

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