While a number of injuries and underachieving players have marred the success the Pirates have had in the Draft over the past decade, the new management has changed its internal player evaluation tools, and consequently, believes the organization is ready to turn the corner.
MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.
Several of the top amateur prospects are expected in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.
Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.
Here's a glance at what the Pirates have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
With the revitalized goal of building a winning organization primarily from within, how long those rebuilding plans are going to take will depend on how well the Pirates evaluate and draft, beginning now. That No. 2 pick can be used to draft a long-term cornerstone, but it is important to not underestimate the importance of the picks to follow.
"We've certainly been in the process of narrowing it down," said Greg Smith, Pirates scouting director. "One of the things with having the No. 2 pick is it's easy to say that we've narrowed it down to two players. But you can't do that. You have to be aware of injuries that can happen, financial expectation changes -- anything like that you have to factor in. I certainly know that we have tried to create a clear direction and clear objectives moving forward though."
Smith hasn't divulged much more than simply saying that the Pirates are considering high school players and college players, pitchers and position players with that No. 2 overall pick. If the Pirates go the high school route, it will likely be Griffin (Ga.) High School shortstop Tim Beckham.
Looking at the college route, Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez is thought by many to be the best talent in this year's draft, though he may not be available when the Pirates make their choice. First baseman Justin Smoak (South Carolina) and pitchers Brian Matusz (San Diego) and Aaron Crow (Missouri) are also expected to be atop the Pirates' draft board.
The Pirates aren't narrowing their No. 2 pick to try and fill a particular hole. Quite frankly, the philosophy is simple: draft the best player available. When it comes to the following rounds, though, it's no secret that an organization can never have enough pitching. The Pirates are no different here, and are in dire need of more arms in their system. When it comes to position players, most of the current legitimate future prospects are outfielders, making infielders more of a draft priority.
The Pirates' recent track record shows that in recent years, they have often followed the philosophy of taking safer college picks earlier than the potentially higher ceiling high school player. However, with a new scouting director in place, it's hard to use the organization's history as a projection this year.
Smith has said that if a high school player shows enough maturity and has the build, he likes getting those young players into the system and in front of the organization's coaches early in the player's development. So expect to see high school players drafted, even drafted high, though still expect the majority of players selected to be coming out of college.
Recent top picks
2007 -- Left-hander Daniel Moskos (Clemson): The left-hander, who was the No. 4 overall pick last year, is being used in the rotation at Class A Lynchburg. He went 2-1 with a 4.56 ERA and 15 strikeouts in his first month as a starter in the organization. Though the Pirates have not determined in what role they project Moskos to pitch in the big leagues, he will be used as a starter throughout his climb in the Minors.
2006 -- Right-hander Brad Lincoln (Houston): Lincoln continues to work through a rehabilitation program in Bradenton, Fla. After being selected fourth overall in 2006, Lincoln was shut down and underwent reconstructive right elbow surgery at the beginning of the 2007 season. He continues to increase the durability of his arm and will join the rotation at one of the Pirates' two Class A clubs when he is deemed ready.
2005 -- Center fielder Andrew McCutchen: After spending most of last season at Double-A, McCutchen began the 2008 season in Triple-A Indianapolis. The center fielder, who was the 11th pick in the '06 Draft, is still projected by many to be the premier talent in the Pirates' farm system. He will likely spend most of the season with Indianapolis, but may get his first chance in the big leagues as a September call-up.
Patrick Bresnehan wrapped up last season -- just his first full season in the Pirates farm system -- by making the jump up to Double-A. The 6-foot-2 right-hander started there this season, and through April has limited opponents to three runs and eight hits in 12 1/3 innings of relief. The right-hander was, however, placed on the disabled list on May 2, though he is not expected to miss an extended period of time.
Picked in the 12th round of the 2005 Draft, Jason Delaney continues to turn heads in the organization. After hitting .300 in low Class A Hickory his first year in the system, Delaney batted .340 in high Class A Lynchburg last season before being promoted to Double-A. The outfielder began this season with the Curve, and at the end of April was hitting .314 with seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs.
In The Show
Steve Pearce is the only player drafted by the Pirates in the last three years who has seen time in the Majors. Pearce spent one month in Pittsburgh last season after being called up in September and hit .294 with six RBIs in 23 games. The natural first baseman has since been converted exclusively into a right fielder and is now polishing his outfield skills in Triple-A.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.