Huntington says pitching is strength of 2011 Draft
The long-term health of Rice University’s Anthony Rendon will be a hot topic leading into the 2011 MLB draft and one that will surely be highly contested inside the Pirates organization.
The former consensus No. 1 prospect is in danger of falling out of the top-2 due to a shoulder injury that has forced him to DH this season.
Rendon is on the Pirates radar with the No. 1 pick but when a team is committing a signing bonus of several million dollars before the player has taken a professional at-bat, the team has to be sure the players’ health checks out.
GM Neal Huntington told me tonight that MLB teams are somewhat at a disadvantage because they are forced to rely on others due their not being a pre-draft combine like the NFL has.
“MLB does not have a NFL pre-draft type combine and as a result the process forces us to rely on others to provide medical information on draft eligible players prior to the draft ” Huntington told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com.
“We spend a significant amount of time and energy to study and review all documentation that is made available to us by the player and/or his advisor. Additionally, we will review public documents to gather and analyze as much additional information as is available on all players we have interest in drafting ” Huntington said.
According to John Perrotto, two collegian pitchers are also believed to be on the Pirates radar for the No. 1 pick and Huntington said that the strength of this years draft is pitching again.
“Our scouts believe pitching is this strength of this draft — as it was with the prior two drafts, ” Huntington said.
UCLA’s Garrett Cole has emerged as the No. 1 prospect in the draft and considered a potential top of the rotation starter. Adding a top end college pitcher who could possibly move through the system quickly is an immediate need for the Pirates due to their young core in place at the MLB level but Huntington said the Pirates draft approach takes none of that into account due to normal stages of a prospect taking several years to reach the major league level.
“Our approach to the MLB draft is to select the player we like the best when our name is called. Unlike the NBA or NFL where the selected player is immediately competing to make the highest level club, players selected in the MLB draft are typically 3-4 years away from making the major leagues and 5-6 years away from making an impact on the major league team. As a result, we take the player we like the best regardless of perceived current need at the major league level, ” Huntington said.
The Pirates under Huntington in the first round drafted two collegians in Pedro Alvarez (2008), Tony Sanchez (2009). In 2010 the Pirates took high school pitcher Jameson Taillon with the No. 2 overall selection.
Taillon in fact made his second professional start for Class-A West Virginia tonight. Taillon allowed 0 runs on 2 hits in 4 innings. He struck out 6 and walked 0 in his outing. From all indications, he threw the ball very well.
Expectations are that the Pirates next month will be drafting their third collegiate player under Huntington. The only high school player worthy of consideration for the top pick is fast rising Florida high school shortstop Francisco Lindor.
“We are working through several of the top draft eligible players in order to position ourselves to take the player we like the best with the first pick in the country, ” Huntington said.