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MLB Draft: Pirates zeroing in on four prospects with the No. 2 pick
By John Perrotto
The Pirates hold the No. 2 pick in June’s amateur draft and it looks like the Washington Nationals will keep them from being put into a most difficult spot.
All indications are that the Nationals are going to take the much ballyhooed Bryce Harper, the catcher at the Junior College of Southern Nevada that Sports Illustrated hyped as “Baseball’s LeBron James” in a cover story last summer.
It would be most interesting if the Nationals passed on Harper. Would the Pirates actually go back to war with agent Scott Boras after the nasty Pedro Alvarez negotiations of two summers ago and spend the eight figures that it will likely take to sign Harper?
Or would they take a pass and think the fans are gullible enough to buy their likely excuse that Harper is overrated?
Since it looks like we won’t get a chance to watch that fascinating scenario unfold, let’s focus on the four players the Pirates are zeroing in on with the No. 2 pick:
*Manny Machado: The 6-foot-2, 180-pound shortstop from Brito High School in Miami has as much upside as any player in the draft beyond Harper. While he has a lot of athleticism and plenty of pop in his bat, Machado isn’t the type of the player who will necessarily blow through the farm system as his talent is somewhat raw.
Drew Pomeranz: The 6-5, 235-pound left-hander from the University of Mississippi throws hard and has a good breaking ball. However, he spit the bit last weekend in a Southeastern Conference showdown with Louisiana State, again raising questions about his mound presence and poise.
Anthony Raunado: The 6-7, 230-pound right-hander from LSU is a polished pitcher who could get to the major leagues quickly. He has a good feel for pitching and is not overpowering but scouts feel he could eventually get his fastball up to 95-96 mph because of his lanky frame.
Jameson Taillon: The 6-5, 215-pound right-hander from The Woodlands High School in suburban Houston effortlessly throws his fastball at 98 mph, which has caused him draw some comparisons to Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg. There is reason to believe Taillon could throw a few ticks faster when his body fills out but the one thing working against him is high school right-handers selected very early in the draft rarely turn into major-league stars.