In the past few years it has been easy to follow the potential draft prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They were usually picking at the top of the draft, which meant the list of players to choose from was limited to the top three or four guys. Last year they were picking first overall, which made things easy for the draft trackers. The starting group of players that I followed was Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Matt Purke. Danny Hultzen was later added, but it was still pretty simple to determine who the Pirates would take.

This year is going to be a bit different. The Pirates pick eighth overall, which makes the field wide open. What kind of approach do you take when the team is picking eighth? Do you include top prospects like Mark Appel ad Deven Marrero, who have almost no shot of falling to the eighth pick? Do you only include players in the 8-10 range? Since the team wouldn’t have any clue at this point who they would be taking, do you just focus on need?

In 2009 the Pirates had the fourth overall pick. I ended up following 12 players for that pick. Of course, the Pirates didn’t take any of them, opting for Tony Sanchez. Out of those 12 guys, all of whom were highly ranked at the start of the 2009 season, only two ended up being taken in the top ten. They were Dustin Ackley, who didn’t fall to the Pirates, and Mike Leake, who was taken eighth overall.

The field is wide open with the eighth pick, so I could go two directions. I could track almost every possible player in that range. This will inevitably lead to me keeping tabs on a few people who will fall to the second or third round. The alternative is that I could start small, focusing more on need, and track a few players to start off, adding more as the season goes on.

The second route is the one I decided to take. Since there’s no way of knowing who would be on the Pirates’ radar, I focused primarily on need. There are several pitchers ranked around number eight, but I left those off because I figured they’d be met with the typical “we need some bats!” response. The guys I focused on are power hitting outfielder Victor Roache, power hitting prep third baseman Trey Williams, five-tool prep outfielder Byron Buxton, and prep shortstop Gavin Cecchini. The last two won’t have stats throughout the season, so their pages are more for reference to their skills.

As the season goes on, I’ll be adding more players. Odds are that I’ll add one or two players by the end of the upcoming weekend, which is the start of the college season. Some of those might even be pitchers. I might even add Marrero, the best shortstop in the draft, even though I don’t think he falls to the Pirates. For now, the links below take you to the initial players. In the future those links can be found under the “Amateur Players” section on the menu at the top of the page. If you guys have any suggestions for players you’d like to see, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern

Trey Williams, 3B, Prep

Byron Buxton, OF, Prep

Gavin Cecchini, SS, Prep