Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – Draft picks

The Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable is a weekly collaboration of Pirates writers from around the internet. Thank you to all of the authors that have contributed to this post. To read more of their work, please click on the link next to each name. If you would like to submit a question to our panel, please e-mail me here.
Question:
Now that the signing deadline has passed, which Pirates’ draft pick are you most excited to see entering the system? Were there any selections that you were disappointed to see go unsigned?

Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
The excitement of the past few days has almost been too much to handle. When looking back at the flurry of signings that were made this past week, any Pirate fan should be happy with the work of the new management team.
I am excited about many of the players that have come into the system, but perhaps Robbie Grossman is the one that has me most excited. In Grossman we have a high upside high school outfielder that is something that we have never really had much of in the past. I really like his high upside potential.
I am a little disappointed that they were unable to sign Tanner Scheppers but it seems that his injury would have made his signing be a huge question mark. But I’d say that the ones that I find myself wishing we could have signed were Patrick Palmeiro and Jaron Shepherd. Palmeiro obviously is a very high upside player, but his father wanted him to go to school. Shepherd is a terrific athlete, who is fine tuning his baseball skills. I thought both would have been excellent additions.
For the most part I am extremely pleased and excited about the potential of these players that they have brought into the organization. I think this past week has made many come to the realization that there is a plan in place, a solid actual plan that is being executed in a precise manner. I hope that the good times continue to roll.
Nancy from Sandlot Swashbucklers
It’s not that I’m not excited about Pedro Alvarez…
But I’m more excited, or maybe more impressed, with the guys who signed what was considered a reasonable offer and then showed up and got to work.
I’m excited most about Matt Hague (9th round), another third baseman. He was first assigned to State College, where he hit .333 in 7 games. Now he’s at Hickory, hitting .320 in 40 games, with 13 doubles, 5 homers, and 25 RBI. He’s hitting .372 with RISP.
Jordy Mercer (3rd round), a shortstop, started a bit slower, but is doing better now. He’s hitting .280 for August in Hickory, and .345 in his last 8 games. He has 4 homers and 16 RBI.
Chase d’Arnaud (4th round), another shortstop, is at State College, hitting .339 in 28 games, with 8 doubles, 5 triples (in 28 games!), and 12 RBI.
RHP Brian Leach (25th round), also at State College, has pitched 42 innings, with a 3.64 ERA, 11 walks, and 29 strikeouts.
Teammate Alan Knotts (38th round), another RHP, has thrown 33.2 innings, and has a 4.01 ERA, with only 6 walks and 35 strikeouts. And remember, those two are pitching for a team that is … well, pretty crummy.
Shortstop Jarek Cunningham(18th round) is with the GCL Pirates in Bradenton. He’s hitting .310 with 15 RBI.
And, don’t forget outfielder Craig Parry. He was the 50th pick, signed right away, and got busy. He’s hitting .308 with 14 RBI in 16 games in Bradenton, and he’s 4-for-13 in this last week.
Those are the guys I’m looking forward to watching as they move through the Pirates’ system.
Jesse from Raise the Jolly Roger!
Obviously it is Pedro Alvarez. He is a Miguel Cabrera type third baseman with more speed. I am excited to see what level we send him to. I was not very disappointed with not signing Scheppers because of his injuries, and I am glad we signed a lot of shortstops.
Andy Smith from Bugs and Cranks
Surprise, surprise, I’m most excited about Pedro Alvarez. I realize the baseball draft contains the least certainty of all four of the major sports, but from what I understand, Alvarez isn’t the kind of hitting prospect that comes around every year. Although I also think I heard, during the negotiation process, that if Alvarez had to re-enter the draft in 2009, he might not be picked so highly considering the depth at third base. So who knows. It’s just awesome that after years of talking about it, the Pirates have a mythical left-handed power bat in their system. On the less obvious side, I’m excited from what I hear about outfielder Robbie Grossman. I don’t know what his peripheral numbers look like, but he’s five-tool player with an abundance of athleticism which is something else the Pirates system has been lacking for a long time.
Matt Bandi from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
Obviously, Pedro Alvarez is the gem of the draft. He is a rare talent, and it is great to have him in the organization. But I am very interested to see how Wesley Freeman ultimately turns out.
The new front office has been in place for about a year now, and we have seen many instances of improvement throughout the franchise. We have seen a strong draft, as well as two bold trades at the deadline. One aspect of the revamped organization that we still have not learned about is player development. That will take years to properly evaluate. If the new front office can judge talent well, player development very well may be the final hurdle to clear in order to field a winning team.
Freeman, a high school outfielder drafted in the 16th round, has loads of raw tools. Hes big, strong, and possesses above average speed. He also has some mechanical issues with his swing. Freeman has the athletic ability to be a special player. He will need capable coaching at the minor league level to reach that potential. I am excited to see whether our development of prospects has also improved with the implementation of the new front office in 2007.
I would have loved to see the Pirates sign tenth round pick Drew Gagnon. If there was one issue with the draft, it was the limited amount of pitching acquired. The team signed 20th rounder Quinton Miller after it became apparent that Tanner Scheppers would not sign, but I would have liked to have added another high-upside player.

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