Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – Draft Special

Question:
Which player would you like to see the Pirates draft with their first pick? Why?

Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
Ideally it is going to come down to two players, Tim Beckham and Pedro Alvarez. Whether or not we have a chance at Beckham is in the hands of the Rays with their first pick. I would think that if Beckham is off the board, we will take Alvarez. The nightmare option would be if the Rays took Posey and the Pirates had to make a decision between Beckham and Alvarez, but that is another matter. I think with Alvarez we get the best hitter in the draft and the one who can quickly get to the majors. I know the argument for ‘fast track’ guys makes us cringe thanks to Dave Littlefield, but having Alvarez come on board potentially with McCutchen, Walker, Pearce, and others makes a ton of sense. It will help in adding to a wave of prospects in the upper minors and give us talent on the major league roster sooner, as we will more than likely be trading away our talent later in the season. We can then focus later in the draft on building up the lower minors to create new and future waves of prospects.
Andy Smith from Bugs and Cranks
It’s my understanding that there are three top players available in this year’s amateur draft: Buster Posey, Tim Beckham and Pedro Alvarez. Fortunately, with the second overall pick, the Pirates are in position to nab one of these players. If I had to pick a name, from what I’m hearing, I’m inclined to go with Tim Beckham (although apparently so are the Rays). Any of these hitters would likely fall just behind Andrew McCutchen on the organization’s prospect rankings, but it appeals to me that Beckham fits the new breed of athletic, five-tool shortstops. Such a player at that position would be a revelation in the Pirates system. That said there aren’t exactly a ton of highly-touted catchers, so Posey makes some sense in that regard, and Pedro Alvarez may be the most major-league ready hitter in the draft. As long as it’s one these three, I’m happy. If it’s another college closer, I quit.
Jesse from Raise the Jolly Roger!
I would really like to see the Pirates draft 3B Pedro Alvarez. He is from Vanderbilt and is a .330 hitter in college and hit the most homers on the team every year. This guy is perfect for us because he can also play shortstop and IS A LEFTY. He is just the player we are looking for.
Matt Bandi from Pittsburgh Lumber Co
The Pirates will likely take either Tim Beckham or Pedro Alvarez with their first pick. Honestly, they canít go wrong with either. Both deserve to be selected among the top couple of picks, and both would be a welcome addition to the organization. Ideally, I would prefer to have Beckham. Many feel he has the better upside, although Alvarez is the much more developed hitter at this point.
As I mentioned yesterday, selecting Alvarez would indicate that the Pirates feel they can compete within the next couple of years. While that is exciting for a fan base that has endured 15 years of ineptitude, Iím not sure it is very realistic. The Pirates have a few promising young players and a couple of veterans to deal for more young talent. But they will still need plenty of luck to become a serious competitor in the near future. The focus of the draft should be taking the best player with the highest upside, regardless of how far that player is from the Major Leagues.
What I like most about Beckham is that he plays shortstop, a premium position. A top talent at that position is very difficult to find, and most observers believe that he will be able to play short at the Major League level. On the other hand, some feel that Alvarez will have to move to first at some point, lowering his offensive value.
Of course, this all becomes irrelevant if the Rays select Beckham with the top pick, as many believe they will do. In that case, the Pirates in all likelihood will go with Alvarez. While I would prefer Beckham, Alvarez would obviously be a large improvement over some of the teamís recent first round picks.
Steeltown Mike from Steeltown Sports
I know precious little about prospects, or even the Pirates minor league system beyond what I read here in the blogosphere. I just went to a website and looked at names of who are considered top prospects. I looked at statistics and ages, and things like that; whether a pitcher was a lefty or a righty, etc, etc.
What I do know is that you can’t draft for need in the draft. You just have to take the best player available. If it’s a toss-up as to who that is, you look at how thin you are at each position being considered through your farm system.
The Pirates have a couple of problems here, being as that they’re pretty thin everywhere, except maybe outfield, and the proof couldn’t be more evident than when you go through the farm system and where they are in their respective standings:
Entering play June 3rd:
AAA Indianapolis: 28-31 (8.0 GB) last place in division
AA Altoona: 22-32 (10.5 GB) only one game out of last place tie
Hi-A Lynchburg: 21-36 (13.5 GB) last place in Carolina League
(and, incidently, last year’s first round pick, Daniel Moskos, is 3-3, with a 5.22 ERA in 11 starts)
Lo-A Hickory: 28-31 (7.0 GB) 6th out of 8 teams in South Atlantic’s Northern Conference
The organization can’t be considered “strong” on any level, so the “starting point” for the draft is nebulous.
First, I’ll say that I like to see the Pirates take Catcher Buster Posey, even if he is 21. Or, if they want to go the “age” route, 18-year old backstop Kyle Skipworth despite some limited playing time might be the way to go there (of course, a name like “Skipworth” is about as encouraging for a catcher as “Sharpless” is for a pitcher).
A lot of folks are high on 18-year old shortstop Tim Beckham. I like the age (you don’t want them coming up to the majors too old, ya know? See: Brad Eldred) and he appears to have the offensive numbers and the speed. But Beckham has some limited playing time, too.
There are a couple of appealing first basemen on the list, too.
All that said, I don’t think it’s going to matter. The Pirate brass has indicated that they won’t sign minor-league players to major league deals, and a lot of top prospects are generally ready for the big leagues sooner rather than later.
What I want to see is for them to prove me wrong, and actually take the best player at their position with the first pick…and again with the second pick. And, dare I think it, the third.
This is the make-or-break point with fans confidence in the new regime. They haven’t given us a lot to go on as yet, and this draft will be the biggest statement of them all.
With our luck, we’ll see this name:
Jordy Mercer, a 21-year old RHP/SS, 4.96 ERA, 16 strikeouts.

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