Pirates weigh choices for No. 2 pick
All eyes will be on the Washington Nationals this week, and not just because of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg's major-league debut Tuesday against the Pirates.
The Nationals have the first overall pick in today's draft and are expected to take slugger Bryce Harper, 17, a catcher and Strasburg's future batterymate should things unfold in the way they're expected.
After the Nationals pick, it's the Pirates' turn at No. 2, with the choices believed to be narrowed down to Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado, Texas high school pitcher Jameson Taillon or college pitcher Drew Pomeranz, with the possibility of college pitcher Anthony Ranaudo still being in the mix.
The Pirates have selected college players for their first pick in each of the past four years: catcher Tony Sanchez (2009); third baseman Pedro Alvarez (2008); left-hander pitcher Daniel Moskos (2007)l and right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln (2006).
The last time the Pirates drafted a high school player was in 2005 when they took outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but this year's class, while considered overall fairly weak, is brimming with high school talent in the top spots.
"There's definitely a higher risk (drafting high school players) because they have less life experience, but we like high school players because we can get them into the minors," general manager Neal Huntington said. "At age 18-21, we can start teaching them Pirates baseball rather than getting them after they've gone to college. In some cases that can be extremely helpful, but in others we feel (some players) would have benefited by coming into the program earlier."
This will be the third draft under scouting director Greg Smith, who said that just because they took college position players with the first picks the past two years doesn't mean that will happen every year.
"I don't think we're looking to create this belief that our philosophy is only taking college position players first," Smith said. "That's not fair or accurate."
The 3-4-5 picks in the draft belong to the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians.
The draft continues through Wednesday.
What were they thinking?
It wouldn't be far-fetched to say the Pirates have been the worst team in Major League Baseball when it comes to drafting in the 1st round the last quarter-century.
Here is a look at the players taken by the Pirates and players selected afterward:
Barry Bonds, OF, (6th overall)
Career home run leader. 15-time
All-Star. 7-time MVP. Led Pirates to
3 straight NL East crowns. One of game's all-time greats.
Jeff King, 3B (1st overall)
11 seasons, 154 career HRs, .256 lifetime avg.
Players of note taken after: 3B Matt Williams (3), P Kevin Brown (4), SS Gary Sheffield (6)
Mark Merchant, OF (2nd overall)
12 seasons in minors. Taken pick after Ken Griffey Jr. Traded to Mariners in 1989 as part of deal to acquire Rey Quinones.
Players of note taken after: P Jack McDowell (5), P Kevin Appier (9), P Cris Carpenter (14), C Craig Biggio (22)
Austin Manahan, SS (13th overall)
8 seasons in minors. Never made it to majors. Released after 1992 season.
Player of note taken after: 1B Tino Martinez (14)
Willie Greene, SS (18th overall)
Part of 1990 trade that brought Zane Smith to Pirates. 9-year major-league career. 86 HRs, .234 lifetime average.
Players of note taken after: 1B Mo Vaughn (23), SS Chuck Knoblauch (25)
Kurt Miller, P (5th overall)
Traded by the Pirates in 1991 as part of a deal with the Rangers for Steve Buechele.
Player of note taken after: P Mike Mussina (20)
Jon Farrell, C (24th overall)
.246 lifetime batting average during a 6-year career in the minor leagues. Released after 1996 season.
Jason Kendall, C (23rd overall)
Perhaps the team's best pick after Bonds. debuted in 1996. 3-time All-Star. More than 2,000 career hits, .290 career average.
Charles Peterson, OF (22nd overall)
Spent 6 seasons in Pirates' minor-league system. Spent 14 seasons in minors, never made it to majors.
Mark Farris, SS (11th overall)
Spent 4 seasons in Pirates' farm system before leaving to play quarterback at Texas A&M, where he started 2 seasons.
Players of note taken after: SS Nomar Garciaparra (12),
C Jason Varitek (14)
Chad Hermansen, SS (10th overall)
Once considered the jewel of Pirates' prospects. Moved to outfield. Played 139 games for Pirates over 3 seasons. Had 12 HRs, 29 RBI , .189 career average with Pirates.
Player of note taken after: P Roy Halladay (17)
Kris Benson, P (1st overall)
Uneventful career. Made his debut in 1999. Never won more than 11 games with Pirates. Traded in 2004.
J.J. Davis, 1B (8th overall)
At 6-4, 250, was considered a power hitter. Had 1 HR, 7 RBI in 53 games with Pirates.
Players of note taken after: OF Michael Cuddyer (9), P Jon Garland (10), 1B Lance Berkman (16)
Clint Johnston, P (15th overall)
Spent 4-plus seasons in Pirates' farm system. Never advanced past Single-A. 9 career wins, 5.35 ERA
Players of note taken after: P Brad Lidge (17), P CC Sabathia (20)
Bobby Bradley, P (8th overall)
Spent 6 seasons in Pirates' farm system. Advanced to Triple-A. Arm problems brought premature end to his career.
Players of note taken after: P Barry Zito (9),
P Ben Sheets (10)
Sean Burnett, P (19th overall)
Debuted with Pirates in 2004. Showed promise with 5-5 record before arm surgery kept him out of majors until 2008.
Player of note taken after:
P Adam Wainwright (29)
Jon Van Benschoten, P (8th overall)
Lifetime 2-13 record in parts of 3 seasons with Pirates. 9.20 career ERA.
Player of note taken after: 3B David Wright (38)
Bryan Bullington, P (1st overall)
Former GM Dave Littlefield described Bullington as potential No. 3 starter. Spent parts of 2 seasons with team. 0-3 record.
Players of note taken after: OF B.J. Upton (2), P Zack Greinke (6), Prince Fielder (7), P Scott Kazmir (15), P Cole Hamels (17), P Matt Cain (25)
Paul Maholm, P (8th overall)
Solid selection. Made debut in 2005, has been part of rotation since. 42-48 career record, 4.29 ERA.
Neil Walker, C (11th overall)
Recently called up to majors. Replaced Aki Iwamura as starter at second base.
Players of note taken after: P Jered Weaver (12), SS Stephen Drew (15)
Andrew McCutchen, OF (11th overall)
Called up last June. Has potential to be
All-Star for many years to come.
Brad Lincoln, P (4th overall)
Arm surgery wiped out his 2007 season. Pitching solid at Triple-A Indianapolis. Could be called to majors soon.
Daniel Moskos, P (4th overall)
One of the most questionable selections. Signability won out over potential. A reliever at Double-A Altoona.
Players of note taken after: C Matt Weiters (5), OF Jason Heyward (14)
Pedro Alvarez, 3B (2nd overall)
Expected to be Pirates' power-hitting
3rd baseman for years to come. Has 38 HRs, 142 RBI in 182 minor-league games. Likely to be called up to majors soon.
Tony Sanchez, C (4th overall)
Considered top catching prospect in organization. Hit .309 last season in Single-A.