MLB Network analyst John Hart suggests the Pirates should attempt to find another Andrew McCutchen in this year's major league draft, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday on MLB Network with the opening two rounds. The draft is short on the Pirates' biggest needs: quick-to-the-majors impact bats and college shortstops. But what should be available to the Pirates with the Nos. 9 and 14 picks are a number of high-upside, high-risk high school players, some fitting McCutchen's prospect profile back in the 2005 draft when he was selected 11th overall. “Here's what I think they are going to be wrestling with when they pick: the upside high school guys that I think have a high ceiling (versus) the sure-bet college player,” Hart said. “What is going to come with high school players is more inherent risk. They are further away.” But what also comes with high school options is more upside. Risk rarely deterred Hart when he was the Cleveland Indians GM in the 1990s. His clubs selected high school prospects Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia in the first round and unearthed all-stars. Hart believes the draft is where small-market clubs have the best chance to find impact players, and it is high school players who often have the most all-star potential as top athletes typically bypass college. There are two high-ceiling, five-tool prep outfielders: Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier — both hail from Loganville, Ga. — and both could be available at No. 9. The Pirates had a pre-draft deal with prep outfielder David Dahl in last year's draft, according to Baseball America, but scrapped the plan when Stanford pitcher Mark Appel slipped. The Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Appel. The Pirates have been connected to the top catcher, Reese McGuire, a high school prospect, as well as left-handed pitcher Trey Ball, who touches 95 mph. ESPN's Keith Law has the Pirates taking McGuire at No. 9. The only shortstop projected to go in the first round is prep standout J.P. Crawford. Shortstop is a need for the Pirates. “I think (Crawford) is the one guy who profiles as a guy who can stay at shortstop,” Hart said. “But he's a four-to-five year guy.” The Pirates also could select from the second tier of college talent. While there are no college first basemen, second basemen, shortstops or catchers graded as first-round prospects by Baseball America, there is depth in college third basemen. San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant (31 home runs) is the top college bat and is projected to go third overall after Appel and Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray, according to Baseball America. “Bryant is the guy with a big power grade who has separated himself from other (hitters),” Hart said.
Pirates seek impact players with 2 1st-round picks
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Jun 6