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Quality is prized as Bucs end Draft

Quality is prized as Bucs end Draft

PITTSBURGH -- For GM Neal Huntington, it's all about quality, not quantity.

The 2009 First-Year Player Draft ended Thursday with the final 20 rounds. The Pirates' three-day Draft total includes a strong influx of high school players among the team's 51 selections.

Huntington repeatedly used the word aggressive to describe his club's drafting and signing approach. He acknowledged while some people may not recognize a number of the selections, the club's scouts saw potential in them.

In all, 21 out of the 51 players selected are either from high school or a prep school. Fourteen out of those 21 are pitchers.

"The resources given us will allow us to aggressively pursue every one of these players," Huntington said. "We've given ourselves options. We haven't locked in to one or two players. And no team ever signs 50 players or goes in with the anticipation of signing 50 players."

The GM also said the club would stretch to sign if the situation called for it. Otherwise, such money could be allocated to another player or two.

With a deep Draft field, there are many options to sign good players even if some don't sign.

"So many dynamics go right into expectations and signability," scouting director Greg Smith said. "Unfortunately, there are some players out there who were disappointed they weren't selected until today. But once you select them, you let them know. We've gotten a lot of excitement on the other end."

Pirates -- Top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
4CJorge SanchezBoston Col
49RHPVictor BlackDallas Baptist U
53RHPBrooks PoundersTemecula Valley HS
84CFEvan ChambersHillsborough CC
115LHPZackry DodsonMedina Valley HS
Complete Pirates Draft results >

Huntington now recognizes that he has to be a recruiter. With a handful of the Pirates' selections being collegiate recruits, Huntington will try to use advantages such as Pirate City and Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College to sway draftees. Pirate City, located in Bradenton, Fla., houses the team's Spring Training ballpark and the club's Minor League complex. The State College facility is the home of the Short-Season A Minor League club, the State College Spikes. The park opened in 2006.

Huntington didn't give an estimation as to how many of the players drafted he expects to sign. He said while the average is in the upper-20s, the funds available make it possible to sign more than that or even less if the club goes after the more expensive players.

On Thursday, the Pirates' 20 selections were made up of 13 college players and seven high school players. The numbers were in stark contrast to Wednesday, when Pittsburgh selected only one more college player than high school player.

Smith said there are always "a diamond or two in there" in the later stages of the Draft.

One of the third-day highlights was the drafting of pitcher Yasser Clor of the University of California, Berkley, in the 49th round. The pitcher was first drafted straight out of high school in the 15th round by the White Sox in 2006.

Another repeat draftee was Zachary Fuesser in the 34th round. The lefty, from Walters State Community College, was drafted last year by the Atlanta Braves in the 19th round.

As for a player with family ties, Seward County Community College's Robert Doran fits the bill. Selected in the 36th round, Doran's great uncle, Gene O'Brien, was a Minor League teammate of Yogi Berra when both played for the Norfolk Tars in 1943.

As for negotiations with the selections, Smith said it's a daily process. With the Draft complete, dialogue will be a continuing event.

"At the conclusion of today, they will be ongoing," Smith said. "Not for all 50, but there are players we've reached out to to notify them and set up meetings and discussions."

Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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