First Pitch: Reactions to the Day One Picks
Day one of the 2013 MLB Draft is in the books. The Pittsburgh Pirates took Austin Meadows with their first pick, Reese McGuire with their second pick in the first round, and Blake Taylor with their second round pick. For more on the three picks, check out our Day One Recap.
John Dreker and Wilbur Miller have been following the draft prospects all year, and were both following along tonight. Below you will find our thoughts on day one, plus thoughts on all three individual picks.
Tim Williams – I like the picks the Pirates had on day one. I feel they got a lot of value, with Austin Meadows being the biggest value at number nine. It was a surprise to see Reese McGuire drop to 14, and I was fine with him at 9, so I really like him there. It might be tough to pass on Braden Shipley, and that has the potential to be a decision people will look at over the next few years, but I’m on the side that feels McGuire could be a good two-way catcher. In the second round the Pirates took a gamble, adding a high upside project prep pitcher with mid-rotation potential. That was the theme of the day. Forget about risk and go for upside. It’s definitely an approach that small market teams should take, and if just one of the two first rounders reaches his upside, this draft will be a good one for the Pirates.
John Dreker - Overall I’m okay with the Pirates selections. They sort of started off strong and then took a little air out of the tires as they went along. You go best player available in the MLB draft, I truly believe that. Never draft for position unless you have two players that you can’t choose between. I’m a little surprised by the fact they went with three High School picks. It’s going to be hard to get anyone who will provide any type of immediate(2-3 years) help at this point with what is left, though a few interesting names are left on the board.
Wilbur Miller - The big story for the Pirates on day one has to be the fact that they were able to get a guy at #9 who was probably regarded by most as better than the #9 talent, then still get the guy everybody thought they’d take at that slot. The McGuire pick prompted Baseball America’s John Manuel to comment that it was a “good day for the Bucs.” The team also shifted their focus with early picks from pitching to hitting. The upper levels of the system are pitching-heavy, but the lower levels, thanks largely to the team’s Latin American program, are more oriented to position players. All three players from day one have significant upsides, which didn’t figure to be an easy thing to come by in a draft that was regarded as weak. Of course, there’s a lot of risk, too. That’s always the case with prep players. The Pirates already have a very good number of high-ceiling players in the system, though, so they don’t have to hit on every one of these picks.
Tim Williams - It’s tough to pass on a potential two-way catcher in McGuire, but I think the offensive upside from Meadows is worth the risk. He seems like he’s going to be in a good situation as a left-handed hitter in PNC Park. The Pirates certainly have plenty of outfielders, but you can never have too much depth. Meadows is an advanced hitter for a prep outfielder, and if he eventually adds power he could be a strong all-around hitter. He might not profile well defensively, but the bat should be enough to make up for that.
John Dreker - I really liked the selection of Austin Meadows with the ninth pick in the draft. All during the draft coverage, especially once the rumors came out that either Meadows or Clint Frazier could drop, I’ve been saying the Pirates need to take them if they are there. Once Meadows was there, they surprised me by going against the prevailing thought that they were zeroed in on Reese McGuire with that pick. Meadows adds a huge upside player to the system, very athletic, with the possibility to be a five tool player. I think they took the best player available.
Wilbur Miller - This was a bit of luck for the Pirates. If Meadows’ power potential develops, they’ll have a guy with plus tools in every area except throwing. The risk is that his power doesn’t develop and he can’t stick in center. Some fans may worry about what the team will do with him, considering that the future outfield right now projects to be McCutchen, Marte and Polanco. Being overloaded with talent at one position, though, is never worth worrying about. It’s a problem I’d love to see them have.
Tim Williams - McGuire had been one of my favorites in the early draft rankings, and while I had Meadows and Frazier ahead of him, I would have been fine with him at number nine. To see him drop to number 14 was good value in my book. He’s got strong defense behind the plate, which will allow him to stick at the position. People are mixed on the bat, but I’ve always been on the side that likes his hitting potential, and feels he could add some power. He would probably become the top catching prospect in the system, and a top ten prospect in my rankings.
John Dreker - The pick of McGuire at #14 didn’t surprise me, but it did disappoint me for only one reason…at first. It became two reasons later on when Jonathan Denney was available when they made their second selection (and he’s still on the board). The reason the pick disappointed me is because Braden Shipley was still on the board. Again, going with the best player available philosophy, Shipley was definitely the one to go with at that point. I thought they might take him too, not being sure that they would actually take two prep bats in the first round. I don’t hate McGuire at all, I had him ranked tenth, but when Shipley fell into their lap, I thought they should have taken him. It’s obviously hindsight now, but with Denney still on the board, who some rated as good as McGuire, it really could have been a draft haul with Meadows, Shipley and Denney.
Wilbur Miller - McGuire’s bat seems to draw differing comments from scouts. His big positive is that he’s universally expected to stay behind the plate. Even catchers who are considered blue chip prospects may not hit – Jeff Clement springs to mind, and he was a college draftee – so it’s not like the Pirates were likely to find a risk-free catcher. The system already has two good catching prospects at the lower levels in Wyatt Mathisen and Jin-De Jhang, although Mathisen is struggling now. McGuire will give them significant depth at the position.
Tim Williams - There were some interesting options on the board here, so the Pirates could have gone any direction. My preference would have been Jon Denney or Oscar Mercado. Mercado would have been interesting because he’s a strong defensive shortstop, although he’s got a questionable bat. There were also a lot of interesting college pitchers. There still are some good college pitchers, and the Pirates could grab one 87th overall. Meanwhile I like the upside with Taylor, and I like that his two areas of weakness are two things where the Pirates have had a lot of success developing pitchers.
John Dreker - As we got close to the second round pick, I was going through the list of names left, seeing who they could take. Being 100% honest, I never even consider Blake Taylor ever for that pick. I read his scouting report earlier in the week, didn’t like it and moved on. He sounded like someone who could end up as a reliever and that didn’t interest me so early in the draft. Watching a draft video afterwards, his description reminded me of Zack Dodson. I like Dodson as a pitcher, I think he could still be something, but there were definitely better choices available. I was expecting a college pitcher. There were plenty of decent ones left, so that is where I was focused as the pick got closer, especially once Austin Wilson went off the board two picks earlier. Overall, an okay pick that they could have done better on in my opinion.
Wilbur Miller - Assuming he signs, Taylor will be the earliest-drafted prep lefty drafted and signed under Neal Huntington. In fact, he’ll be the first prep lefty the team has signed out of the draft since they took Zack Dodson in round four in 2009. Quality LHP prospects are in very short supply in the system anyway, although I doubt that’s why the Pirates took Taylor. He hasn’t been consistently effective, so he should not be expected to move quickly.
Links and Notes
**Save $8 On The Pirates Prospects Books With the MLB Draft Sale. The sale only runs for one more week, so act quickly!
**Check out the latest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 8: When Should Gerrit Cole Join the Pirates?
**P3 Episode 7: Talking Pirates Draft With Jim Callis of Baseball America. From Tuesday. We talked about Meadows and McGuire, plus talked about how the Pirates might take a pitcher in the second round, although we were discussing college arms instead of prep pitchers.