By John Perrotto
Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft is less than two weeks away and the Pirates have started zeroing on one particular player they want to take with the second overall pick.
Multiple baseball sources have indicated that the Pirates are strongly considering drafting Manny Machado, a shortstop from Brito Private School in Hialeah, Fla., a suburb of Miami.
The Washington Nationals are expected to take much-hyped catcher Bryce Harper from the College of Southern Nevada with the first pick.
Also under consideration for the Pirates are right-hander Jameson Tallion from The Woodlands (Texas) High School in suburban Houston and college left-handers Drew Pomeranz from Mississippi and Chris Sale from Florida Gulf Coast. However, it seems Machado is their man.
“I’d be shocked if they didn’t take Machado,” said a scouting director from another major-league club. “They’ve been all over him the last few weeks.”
Machado is represented by agent Scott Boras, who clashed with Pirates president Frank Coonelly two years ago during acrimonious negotiations with first-round pick Pedro Alvarez.
The Pirates, though, have reportedly already reached out to Boras and are confident they can strike a deal. Some industry insiders also believe that Machado deciding to sit out the Florida High School Classic, an all-star series that includes the top players in the state, is a strong sign that he and Boras feel they have the framework of a deal in place.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Machado is considered to be athletic enough to remain at shortstop in professional baseball as he is above-average defensively with good range and a strong arm.
He also projects to be the type of hitter who could annually bat .300 in the major leagues with average power. His only weakness, and it is minor, is that he is only an average runner.
Machado has signed a letter of intent to play close to home at Florida International but there seems to be no chance of him actually playing a college game.
John Perrotto has covered the Pirates for 23 years and is the editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and baseball columnist for the Beaver County Tmes