Share This Page

Bats becoming scarce resource in MLB draft

| Saturday, May 31, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

The Pirates' draft philosophy in recent years has focused on collecting as much pitching as possible in part because general manager Neal Huntington says pitching is a game of attrition and partly because small-market teams cannot afford top-of-the rotation arms in free agency.

The Pirates spent premium picks on pitching in three consecutive drafts: Jameson Taillon, No. 2 overall in 2010, Gerrit Cole, No. 1 overall in 2011, and Mark Appel, eighth overall in 2012, although Appel did not sign. The Pirates also heavily targeted pitching with other selections. In a three-draft span from 2009-11, the Pirates spent 22 of their 30 top-10-round picks on pitchers.

But if the Pirates are interested in targeting offense in the 2014 draft, which begins Thursday, particularly quick-to-the-majors college bats that could be paired with players such as Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte in their primes, the Pirates will have to target them early.

There has been a growing scarcity of bats available in the June draft and an increasing supply of pitching, according to Baseball America editor John Manuel. In Baseball America's latest mock draft, 18 of the first 30 picks are pitchers. Baseball America has the Pirates using a best-player-available approach in selecting toolsy high school outfielder Monte Harrison.

“Take the top 100 players in the country, 70 of them are going to be pitchers,” Manuel said. “And toward the top of the draft, it might be a little more hitter heavy because if you want to get a hitter, you better get him early.”

Former major league general manager and MLB Network analyst John Hart said teams can get quality arms later in this year's draft.

“You're going to be able to get bigger arms, good arms, deeper in the draft than position players,” Hart said. “(In the middle of the first round) that position player will not be there when you pick in the second round. There will be good arms still available.

“There is a shortage of bats throughout the game.”

College positional prospects particularly have been on the decline, Manuel said.

“Part of it is cyclical, but part of it is pro teams get the best high school hitters,” Manuel said. “They are doing a much better job of spending money, identifying which players want to sign and convincing them the best way to go is professional baseball.”

The Pirates could be in the market for a college first baseman such as Wichita State's Casey Gillaspie or Kentucky's A.J. Reed as the Pirates lack prospects at the infield corner positions, and Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis likely are not long-term options at the position.

“There's not a ton of buzz about the Pirates, but they are one of the teams later in the draft that I hear would like to get a college bat,” Manuel said.

Huntington said the Pirates simply are interested in selecting the best available player.

“We'll stay with the best-player model,” Huntington said. “Unlike the NFL or the NBA, where they're going right into your major league club, (MLB draft picks) are a long ways away.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.