SOUTH HILLS – A brief timeout from hot stove news today – namely because there has not been much over the last 24 hours – to share more encouraging analysis on the most important thing the Pirates can do: draft well.
After Baseball America ranked the Pirates as having the best 2013 draft last month, MLB’s Jim Callis agreed with that assessment earlier this week
At No. 9, the Pirates grabbed the best all-around high school position player in the 2013 Draft. Georgia high schooler Austin Meadows has a chance to be a four-tool center fielder, with arm strength his only below-average attribute. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder entered pro ball with a reputation for having a smooth left-handed swing and an advanced approach at the plate, and he backed it up by hitting .316/.424/.554 in his debut. …
The Pirates strongly considered taking the top catcher in the 2013 Draft class at No. 9, and they were thrilled to get him five picks later. Washington high schooler Reese McGuire is extremely athletic for a backstop, and his quick feet enhance his already strong arm. He threw out 44 percent of basestealers in his pro debut and also showed fine receiving and blocking skills behind the plate.
McGuire can hit, too. He batted .323/.380/.380 in his first taste of pro ball and should continue to hit for average as he advances. Once he adds strength to his 6-foot, 181-pound frame, he could develop 15-homer power as well.
I actually think McGuire has more potential upside than Meadows. If he can hit, you’re talking about a productive defensive and offensive catcher, which is among the rarest of commodities in the game.
Callis also liked some of the later round selections:
Louisiana State center fielder JaCoby Jones (third round) was the best college athlete in the entire Draft, featuring well above-average raw power and plus speed, and he could be a star if he develops more consistency at the plate. Mississippi State’s Adam Frazier (sixth round) was the top college shortstop available, though he may wind up at second base or in a utility role. He’s a gamer who knows how to handle the bat.
The Pirates also stockpiled some intriguing right-handers in the seventh through 10th rounds: UNLV’s Buddy Borden, Connecticut high schooler Neil Kozikowski, Delaware’s Chad Kuhl and Long Beach State’s Shane Carle. The college arms all have good sinkers, while Kozikowski may have more upside than any of them with a projectable 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame and a low-90s fastball.
As we see with the Yankees teams can’t out spend their way out of trouble. The Red Sox, Rays, and perhaps even Orioles are in better shape than the Yankees in the AL East because they have drafted and developed players more successfully. It was important the Pirates improved in this area and 2013 should offer encouragement.
As I wrote about last month, free agency ain’t what it used to be. And that’s really an advantage for small-market teams provided they draft and develop well.
PIRATES CREEP UP PAYROLL LIST
The Associated Press released the final payroll numbers for the 2013 season yesterday.
The Pirates’ final payroll was 74.6 million. That’s was an improvement of four spots as the Pirates ranked 29th in major league payroll in 2012 at $61,300,313.
Now can the Pirates move up to the edge of the middle class in the next couple of seasons?