ShareThis Page

Pirates nab high school outfielder, catcher in 1st round

| Thursday, June 6, 2013, 8:21 p.m.
Grayson's Austin Meadows (right) was selected ninth by the Pirates in the MLB draft Thursday, June 6, 2013.
Getty Images
Reese McGuire of United States argues with third base umpire during a disputed call in the seventh inning during the U18 Baseball World Championship match between Japan and the United States at Mokdong stadium on Sept. 7, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. McGuire, the Pirates' second first-round pick in the Major League Draft, is expected to sign with the Pirates.
Grayson's Austin Meadows was selected ninth by the Pirates in the MLB draft Thursday, June 6, 2013.
Grayson's Austin Meadows was selected ninth by the Pirates in the MLB draft Thursday, June 6, 2013.

The Pirates employed a high-risk, high-reward strategy in making their two first-round selections Thursday in the Major League Baseball draft.

The Pirates targeted upside in selecting Grayson (Ga.) High outfielder Austin Meadows with the ninth overall pick and Kentwood (Wash.) High catcher Reese McGuire at No. 14. High school players often carry more upside than college prospects, but they are further away from the major leagues.

The Pirates had not drafted a high school position player in the first round since taking Andrew McCutchen in 2005.

The Pirates dipped into the high school ranks to take some of the draft's best available players in Meadows, rated as the draft's No. 5 overall prospect by Baseball America, and McGuire, who was rated 12th overall.

General manager Neal Huntington said Meadows and McGuire were the best players available.

“We really liked the upside,” Huntington said, “(and) where we were able to select them.”

The Pirates lack impact bats in their system and had taken right-handed pitchers in the first round in three straight drafts. Meadows is an athletic 6-foot-3, left-handed outfielder who scouts project to hit for power.

Baseball America rated Meadows as the best athlete. It also said he has the best strike-zone awareness and second-best hitting ability among high school prospects.

Meadows hit .535 with four home runs and 28 RBI as a senior. Some of the best prep baseball is played in northern Georgia, and Baseball America ranks Meadows as the second most advanced high school bat.

“With Southern hitters, there is a little more what you see is what you get,” Huntington said.

What will the Pirates get?

“Do we think (Meadows) will be a quality major league hitter with power? Yes,” Huntington said.

Meadows said he has extended family in Pittsburgh.

“I've heard a lot of good things about the Pirates,” Meadows said. “My brother (Parker) actually predicted I was going to the Pirates. ... I'm excited to get up there.”

McGuire is the highest drafted prep catcher since Kyle Skipworth was taken sixth by the Marlins in 2008. McGuire was rated as the second best defensive player among prep prospects by Baseball America.

Huntington said McGuire has a chance to be a rare two-way impact player at catcher.

“We really like the receive, the block, the throw,” Huntington said. “We believe there are the attributes to be a major league-caliber hitter. You add that to a plus defensive package, you have pretty good player.”

McGuire is lauded for his high baseball IQ. He has called his own games since he was 10. McGuire said he began calling his own pitches when his father and uncle coached his youth teams.

“It's helped me become the player I am,” McGuire said. “I feel very comfortable behind the dish.”

Signability is always a factor with baseball picks, though Meadows (Clemson) and McGuire (San Diego) are not thought to be major threats to stick to their college commitments. The slot value for the ninth pick is $3.02 million. The slot value for the 14th is $2.5 million.

“I think in this situation I'm going to be leaning toward professional baseball,” McGuire said.

The Astros took Mark Appel No. 1 overall. The Pirates selected Appel last year with the eighth overall pick but the Stanford ace did not sign.

As compensation, the Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.