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Pirates: No decision on draft choice

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pirates head scout Greg Smith said the team still hasn't decided whom it will take with the No. 2 pick Monday in the Major League Baseball draft.

That verdict will come over the remaining days as management and the scouting staff pore over statistics and opinions, weighing pros and cons at their Pirate City facility in Bradenton, Fla.

"But it's not going to be one of those things where all of a sudden you're going to say, 'I didn't see that one coming,' " Smith said.

Whether that translates into taking shortstop Manny Machado, considered the best position player in the draft, high school right-hander Jameson Taillon or college lefty Drew Pomeranz -- the three mentioned most often behind 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper -- will play out Monday.

Other players mentioned sparingly in connection to the Pirates are Georgia Tech righty Deck McGuire and LSU righty Anthony Ranaudo, the top college prospect at the start of the year whose stock plummeted after he battled elbow issues, then surged after a good SEC tournament showing.

Management said money won't be the deciding factor.

"It will not be the foundation of any selection," general manager Neal Huntington said.

Team president Frank Coonelly echoed that, saying the club has the financial resources to sign the best available player. Outside of that, team executives offered few details on how they'll make their pick -- other than to say they're looking for the player with the most upside.

"We always take the best player available in our minds, all things considered," Huntington said. "Baseball's not a draft where you fill needs; it's about potential and the probability of reaching that potential. It's not the NFL, where you're going to plug a guy in right away."

The Pirates spent about $9.8 million on draft picks in 2008, most of that going to No. 2 selection Pedro Alvarez. Last year, they spent just more than $8 million -- more than all but five major-league teams.

Coonelly said how they divvy up the money this year will be determined by who that top pick is.

"That really depends on who's available at No. 2 and what resources are necessary to sign the first-round selection," he said. "Last year was a situation where we valued Tony Sanchez higher than many in the industry. As a result, we were able to sign Tony at a $2.5 million bonus, then allocate the dollars we'd used in the first round the previous year with (Alvarez) elsewhere in the draft.

"Our priority in the draft has always been a strong investment in talent and, if we can allocate additional money from the first round, great. And if not, we're still prepared to allocate some significant resources in the later rounds if the right player is available for us."

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