Pirates Had the Strongest 2013 Draft, According to Jim Callis

Jim Callis of MLB.com reviewed the 2013 draft today, and picked the Pittsburgh Pirates as the team with the best draft in the majors. This is the second time that the Pirates have gotten a grade for the best 2013 draft. Previously, Baseball America graded their draft number one. I can’t recall if that was before or after Callis went from BA to MLB.com.

Callis gives the disclaimer that it takes at least five years to really know what a team gets out of the draft, but these ratings provide instant analysis. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com went a different direction, taking the Twins with the best draft. Callis said that no team can match the Pirates, mentioning that Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire look like potential All-Stars at up-the-middle positions.

Beyond the top two picks, Callis noted the depth later in the draft, pointing out second round prep pitcher Blake Taylor and fourth round college pitcher Cody Dickson as a pair of left-handers who show promise with three pitches. He also noted the right-handers, like Buddy Borden (7th round), Neil Kozikowski (8th round), Chad Kuhl (9th round), and Shane Carle (10th round). Kozikowski is the only high schooler of the group, and Callis says he has the most upside in the group due to his projectable frame and low-90s fastball. The other three are sinkerball pitchers, which is not uncommon for the Pirates.

Outside of the pitching, the Pirates took a few high upside position players. Of those players, Callis mentioned JaCoby Jones, who he says was the best college athlete in the draft, and Adam Frazier, who he graded as the top college shortstop available.

Callis only focused on the top ten rounds, so he didn’t get into guys like Billy Roth in the middle rounds. However, looking at the top ten rounds it doesn’t look like the Pirates wasted any picks. Not all of those guys will work out, but the Pirates picked a lot of players who have a good shot of reaching the majors. Right now I would say the 2011 draft has been the best for the Pirates, but the 2013 draft could easily surpass the 2011 group in a few years. That’s saying a lot since the 2011 group looks like it could produce two top of the rotation pitchers (Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow), a mid-rotation starter (Clay Holmes), and a back of the rotation starter or strong middle reliever (Jason Creasy).

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • csnumber23

    Yeah so far it looks like an outstanding draft! Because of our surplus of depth at right handed starting pitcher, I think we will be better off with getting Mcguire and Meadows as apposed to one of them and Appel. Even though I think Appel will be a solid big league pitcher.

    • Jared

      I loved the Meadows pick (a top 5 talent)…I really wanted D.J. Peterson to fall to the Bucs 2nd pick…but oh well, McGuire was, I think, a little more highly rated but I love Peterson’s power and corner-infield position. I’d love to see Jones stick at SS, but I doubt he’ll be able to stick there…especially competing against Frazier for playing time coming up…2B is more likely.

  • emjayinTN

    Yep, nice to be recognized by such experienced baseball folks as Baseball America and MLB.com. I lovced the selection of Meadows and McGuire and both look like they can rise fast through the system. The 2013 draft also addressed a need for LHSP’s and the RH pitchers are a very strong group. Somewhere along the line we have to take a strong look at the LH hitting or switchhitting OF talent we have stockpiled and see if any of them can be a serviceable first baseman.

  • sammykhalifa

    I don’t know . . . it seems that when you have two of the top 15 picks, you will have the “strongest” draft almost by default . . .

    • stickyweb

      Agreed sammy. That plus the fact that we’ve seen all of these guys for 2 months in the lowest levels and that the writer himself admits you can’t fairly grade a draft until years later means this is not significant. Still it’s nice most of these guys got off to goo or great starts to their careers…much better than the alternative.

      And if both Meadows and McGuire contribute at the MLB level, it will be a great draft, since even 1st rounders succeed much lower than 50% at the MLB level. Plus the possiblities of Jones, Frazier and the pitchers means it’s gonna be fun to watch for years.

      • emjayinTN

        stick: It is very meaningful to the Pirates as a whole. When prospects get mentioned, it is not too long before they start to make Top 100 or Top 50 Prospect Lists. I would like to say selection is totally objective, but that is not the case – when these kids get locked in as “a 5 tool player”, they tend to get at least 2 years of rope and during that time they are very important trade pieces if a team so chooses to use them in that manner. Perfect example of a Top Prospect who never fulfilled his projected potential is Gorkys Hernandez. But, he was identified early as a “can’t miss 5 Tool” kid, who brought top dollar when he was traded from Atlanta to Detroit. The Pirates got him after he proved not to be a 5 tool player. Guess who was part of the trade to Miami for Gaby Sanchez?

    • jaygray007

      Yeah agreed.

      But if you ding the 2012 draft for having no 1st rounder, you have to count both 1st rounders in the 2013 draft.

      I’d be curious to see the ranks if they placed Meadows in the2012 draft and not in the 2013 draft because that’s basically what we’re looking at. i gotta think the2013 draft would still be in the conversation for top drafts, based on what we’ve read about the other picks.

  • piratemike

    I’m really excited about Meadows, McGuire, Jones and Frasier, I think this is the first time they have drafted this many quality position players in one draft plus they didn’t forget about pitching.
    This ” may ” end up being the best draft class of all time for the Pirates. It will be fun watching to see if these guys progress.

  • CalipariFan506

    The West Virginia every day 8 are going to be really intriguing this season. 5 of them could be legit major league prospects with McGuire C, Meadows CF, Ramirez RF, Jones 2B and Frazier SS.

  • freddylang

    Now they just need a nice true SS that can hit a little to fall to them in the first 2-3 rounds next year and they will be good to go.

    • https://www.facebook.com/nate.james.125 Nate James

      This draft in particular will be the one I am most intrigued by. We are not picking in the upper half of the draft so finding the true gems that GREAT teams like the Cards find will be the true test. Huntington has done everything right thus far for this team, lets see if he is able to continue the strength of drafting and developing players well. GO BUCS!

    • Jared

      Already had that happen last year with JaCoby Jones.

      • Jared

        And Frazier.