The Pirates pick at an interesting spot this year in the draft. They have the 8th overall selection and there are 7 players that stand out, Byron Buxton, Michael Zunino, Kyle Zimmer, Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, Carlos Correra and Albert Amora. Hopefully one of those players will fall to the Pirates at #8 but if not the choice gets a little more complicated. Lucas Giolito would be the obvious choice but injury and sign ability concerns make him far from a safe choice. Should Giolito prove to risky and the top 7 be off the board there is no clear-cut choice at #8. None of the available players excite me but somebody has to be selected so I have assembled a group of 7 choices that I would find acceptable.
Richie Shaffer, College 1B/3B
– Shaffer is a 3B but projects as a 1B or RF. He is the best pure power college bat in the draft but his value is all in his bat making him most likely a mid round selection. Still the upside his bat could provide makes him at least an intriguing possibility
Deven Marerro, College SS
– Marrero is the much maligned ASU SS but he looks like a sure bet to stick at the shortstop position and while his bat is on the weak side he does have the potential to become a very good major league shortstop.
David Dahl, High School OF
– Dahl is similar to Albert Almora (one of the top 7 guys) but has less intangibles. Some scouts see him as being too poor defensively for CF and not having enough power for a corner OF spot. Something along the lines of Grossman and Tabata in our system. His dedication has also been questioned
Courtney Hawkins, High School OF
– My personal favorite of this group hitters, Hawkins is another HS OF like Dahl but he profiles to hit for more power. He is currently a CF but most think he will eventually need to be mover to a corner spot. He needs some work on pitch recognition and scouts see him as being the type of hitter who will strike out a lot.
Max Fried, High School LHP
– Fried is a left-handed pitcher and if the Pirates choose to go the pitching route here he would probably be my #1 choice (assuming the top guys are gone). Fried has a decent fastball (low 90s) which he has shown the ability to crank up to 95, a great curve (his best pitch) and a decent change-up, something that is rare with high school pitchers. Scouts view him as a potential #2 major league starter.
Michael Wacha, College RHP
– Outside of the top 7 Wacha is the highest rated player according to Baseball America. Wacha has a good low 90s fastball and a devastating change-up but lacks a true breaking ball. He is viewed as a safe pick with a high floor.
Marcus Stromman, College RHP
– Stromman is an interesting case. He has a good arsenal of pitches, a low to mid 90s fastball, a great slide, a good change-up and even a cutter. It is thought he could be the first player in this draft to reach the majors. He seems to have all the intangibles but yet he is not viewed too highly because of one thing. He is 5′ 9″ and it is believed he won’t be able to hold up as a starter and will have to go to the bullpen.