It’s not something that Pirates fans want to hear, but the 2012 draft looks to be another year dominated with pitching at the top.
Sure, there’s Mike Zunino, the two-way catcher from Florida who is tearing the cover off the ball. There’s Deven Marrero, a great defensive shortstop who has struggled with the bat the last few weeks at Arizona State. There’s a slim chance that Zunino falls to the Pirates at eighth overall, while there could be a chance that Marrero falls. That’s possibility is still unlikely. You can add Byron Buxton to the list of offensive players who will probably go in the top five.
There are hitters who are ranked lower on the draft boards, but have potential. Power hitting third baseman Trey Williams. Shortstops Carlos Correa and Gavin Cecchini. Injured outfielder Victor Roache.
The top offensive players project to be top five picks. There are offensive players who profile in the lower half of the draft. But the area where the Pirates pick is dominated by pitchers.
There’s Kevin Gausman and Kyle Zimmer, two college right-handers who have put up strong numbers this year, while both hitting in the upper 90s and flashing top of the rotation potential. There’s the injured Lucas Giolito, the top prep pitching prospect who would have gone number two overall before his UCL injury.
Those three pitchers could still go in the top seven. Throw in Mark Appel, and my top seven consists of guys mentioned above, with Zunino, Marrero, Buxton, Gausman, Zimmer, and Giolito in the mix, in no specific order.
We’re about two and a half months away from the draft, so a lot can change. I feel like I say that every week, and every week we keep adding a name to the list. But the last two names we’ve added have been pitchers: Gausman and Zimmer. That’s not a bad thing. I’m sure if the Pirates landed one of these guys in June, there would be some groans about taking another pitcher, and the lack of power hitters in the organization. But you win with pitching, and pitching is a game of attrition.
The Pirates have a few guys who profile as top of the rotation starters, but that doesn’t mean they’ll have a few top of the rotation starters a few years from now. If just one of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, and Stetson Allie lives up to their potential, that would be a good result. If two become aces, that would be a huge bonus. So if the Pirates see themselves in a situation where they can add another guy to the mix, increasing their chances of eventually having multiple top of the rotation guys in the majors one day, they can’t pass that up. And from the early looks at this draft, it seems more likely that they’ll have a top pitcher fall to them than a top position player.
Mark Appel – OFF
Chris Beck – 7.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, W (3-2)
Kevin Gausman – 8.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, ND
Kyle Zimmer – 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, W (1-1)
Deven Marrero – 4-for-17 (.235), 5 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 0 K, 2 BB
Mike Zunino – 3-for-9 (.333), 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 1 K, 4 BB
Trey Williams – 2-for-5 (.400), 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 3 BB
-Kyle Zimmer was 94-96 MPH, topping out at 97 in his start against Hawaii. (via Kendall Rogers)
-Kevin Gausman was hitting 95-97 MPH early in the game, and was 94-95 late in the game. (via Kendall Rogers)
-Mike Zunino and Florida play a game on Tuesday, then start their weekend schedule against South Carolina a day early on Thursday.
-Deven Marrero and Arizona State play a game on Wednesday.
-Trey Williams and Valencia high school play a game on Wednesday.