System dictates how Pirates plan for Draft

System dictates how Pirates plan for Draft

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates didn't so much lean toward college players in this year's MLB Draft as much as they fell completely in that direction. The Bucs made 41 picks, and 35 of them were out of the college or junior college ranks. Was that their plan all along?

"It's the new system," general manager Neal Huntington said Saturday night, after the Bucs' front office completed 40 rounds -- and at least a year's worth of work -- from the offices of their Pirate City training complex in Bradenton, Fla. "Get used to it.

"Once you get beyond a certain point in the Draft, you're looking at probably 80 percent college [players] and 20 percent high school [players] from the selection pool. At other points in the Draft, it's even heavier than that. It's not a strategy. It's the reality of the new system."

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So the Pirates aimed to work within that reality, and they came away with an otherwise balanced group. They selected 23 pitchers and 18 hitters: four catchers, eight infielders and six outfielders.

"Whether it's an All-Star player, quality Major League player, role players -- they come from all parts of the Draft -- we believe [scouting director Joe DelliCarri] and our guys do a terrific job of finding players that will help us in some way, shape or form, regardless of the pool," Huntington said. "The pool allotment certainly has an impact regardless of your process."

Of the Bucs' 35 college picks, 18 were pitchers and 17 were position players. They landed five prep pitchers, including three of their first five overall picks, and one high school hitter: third baseman Austin Bodrato, their 24th-round selection.

"I think we got a nice combination," DelliCarri said. "Had an opportunity to add some more arms throughout that we like a lot in terms of the traits they bring. ... This is a nice group. I think the staff did a nice job of continuing to find value throughout the Draft."

The Pirates may have added an impact bat atop their Draft, selecting infielder Will Craig out of Wake Forest University with the 22nd overall pick. They then sought potential with high school left-hander Nick Lodolo (Competitive Balance Lottery Round A) and right-hander Travis MacGregor (second round) as well as lefty Braeden Ogle (fourth round). After that, the Pirates had only three more prep picks.

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"It gets harder and harder to get high school players. As the industry shifts, you've seen high school players go earlier and earlier if they're signable," Huntington said. "You've got guys that are coming off the board earlier than they would in certain situations because they are signable high school players."

Pittsburgh already has a deep farm system, with potential impact prospects at every level. Seeing a chance to further bolster that group with their selections in this year's Draft, the Pirates wasted little time in trying to get those players signed and sent out into the Minor Leagues.

"The process has started," DelliCarri said Saturday. "Last night a little bit, then a lot more calls tonight."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.