The MLB draft starts tonight, and the Pirates have the top pick. Many of you know that. You probably also know that they don't really have a clear best player to choose in round 1. Since I already reviewed my first-round wishlist, let's examine what we could get in the later rounds.
Josh Bell, OF: Josh Bell is one of the top position players in this draft, and is committed to Texas. Did I mention that he's committed to Texas? He recently said that would attend college, and with his mother teaching at the University, he should be a tough sign. Look for Bell to drop to the supplemental round, at the very least, because of this.
Javier Baez, SS: Baez has a solid offensive game, and is a fairly good fielder, but could possibly slide down a few rounds, because scouts are unsure about his ability to stick at shortstop. Even if Baez doesn't stick at SS, he could turn out to be a solid 3B.
Levi Michael, SS: Coming into the season, Michael looked like a potential top 10 pick. He has fallen off a little bit, as he didn't hit as well as he used to, and his glove has always been average. However, he has seen his stock rise over the last few weeks, and could end up in the top 20. If he falls to the Pirates, it would be a blessing, as getting the best college shortstop is a rarity in the second round.
Austin Hedges, C: Hedges is a potential Gold Glove caliber catcher, who can also hold his own at the plate. If Hedges drops into the second round, the Pirates would have a hard time passing him up, as he could move through the system with their young pitching core of Heredia, Allie, and Taillon. Hedges is arguably the top catcher in the draft, and would be a great backup plan for Tony Sanchez.
Jackie Bradley Jr, OF: For those of you who think Anthony Rendon had it rough, take a look at Bradley. Coming off a CWS championship, Bradley has dealt with injury all season, and has only started to heat up as of late. Unlike Rendon, JBJ's struggles and injuries may have dropped him to round 2, but make no mistake, he has legitimate 5-tool potential.
Daniel Norris, LHP: Norris entered this season as the top HS pitcher, but has since been passed up (much like AJ Cole last season). Norris would be an excellent fit for the Pirates future rotation, as he and Taillon would make a great 1-2, righty-lefty punch at the top. Norris is very projectable, and built well. He already possesses a mid-90s fastball, a great changeup, and a solid slider. All three pitches are potential plus-pitches, and he is arguably the most polished pitcher in the draft, as he has great command.
Matt Purke, LHP: It's very hard not to feel sorry for Purke. He was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2009 draft, but the MLB would not allow an over-the-slot signing bonus. So Purke went to college. He dominated his first year, and looked to be a guaranteed top 5 pick. Then Purke developed shoulder problems this year, and his stock feel drastically. Purke has a very good chance to fall to the Pirates in round two, and would remind fans of the Tanner Scheppers pick a few years back, if the Pirates picked him.
Henry Owens, LHP: Owens (no relation to Rudy) has long been considered a top high school arm. He tops out at 91mph, but could add more velocity with age. Owens also has very good command of all his pitches, and could be a fit at the top of the rotation. Many scouts have also compared Owens to Tyler Skaggs, the pitching prospect who was the centerpiece of the Dan Haren deal.
Anthony Meo, RHP: Meo possesses one of the best pure arms in college, but also lacks the polish that teams like to see from college players. By lacking polish, Meo has potentially knocked himself out of the first round. Meo would be a project and could end up in the bullpen, as he only has two pitches, but he does have the potential to be a front-line starter.
After the Pirates first selection, they don't pick again until number 61, so there is no guarantee that any of the mentioned players will be available at that point. Also, for those of you that love to play drinking games, take a drink every time the TB Rays pick. See if you make it passed pick #50, as it seems like the Rays have about 45 of those picks.
Draft starts at 7 EST!