Neal Huntington has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Pirates through the 2017 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2013 Draft and Future Projections

The MLB draft is fast approaching and the Pittsburgh Pirates will have two picks in the top 15, now the question becomes, whom will they take? There have been a ton of names thrown out there and a multitude of positions. We have seen prep-pitchers, high school outfielders, college aces, and college hitters. Once again, the draft doesn’t boast a name like Harper or Strasburg but the draft does have some good talent and depth. Because of the way certain players have played and a couple injuries the mock drafts have been in constant flux.

At this point, I have no idea who will fall to the Pirates and who NH will decide to take. There are just too many variables to project. I’ll give you my guesses and hopes later in this article but they are just that. Pure guesses.  If I had to take a stab at the positions, I’d say one college hitter and one prep-pitcher, those seem to be the type of players that Huntington targets.

I know that in the MLB Draft, you don’t pick based on need but rather talent. The MLB draft is a different animal than the NBA and NFL. Just because you choose a player doesn’t mean you’ll sign him (Appel). And a top 10 pick has no certainties and a 20th rounder could be an All-Star. It’s all a crap shoot. However, I will give you my future roster for the Pirates to give you a look at who the Pirates could target to help in the near future.

My 2015 Pirates’ Starting Lineup:

February 20, 2012; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez (71) takes a break from work outs during camp at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

C. Tony Sanchez: The 2009 first rounder is finally starting to play up to his caliber. At first labeled a bust he is now quietly roughing up AAA pitchers and should be in Pittsburgh soon. He wont be a 25+ homerun mashing catcher, but he can hit for a high average and call a great game. He’ll be a quality player behind and at the plate.

1B. Josh Bell: The steal of the 2011 had a shortened season last year after injuring himself and many people forgot about his immense talent. Bell is hitting for a .276 average with 6 homers. Bell is a power hitting switch hitter with a ton of athleticism. He is currently an OF but because of the gridlock of talent at that position I expect the Pirates to change his position to get his bat in the lineup.

2B. Neil Walker: The Pittsburgh Kid will stay in Pittsburgh and be a fixture at second base for years to come. I just cant see him playing any where else

3B. ?: At this point I don’t see an answer to this question. Alvarez will be a free agent after 2016 and with super agent Scott Boras he’ll likely be out of the price range for the Pirates. So its possible that the Pirates trade him before he’s a free agent. Most likely Alvarez will be there though. Many might want Allie but I’m still not completely sold. He’s just now becoming a position player and that’s at first. I don’t think there is anyway he’s ready to play the hot corner in 2015. This should be a position the Pirates need to target soon.

SS: Alen Hanson: After a disappointing April, Hanson is tearing up May. This month he is posting a .326 average with 10 XBH and an .872 OPS. His fielding has also drastically improved. The talent and skill level are all there. Hopefully he can be the SS the Pirates have desperately longed for.

May 26, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte hits a double in the 3rd inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. At right is Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

LF. Starling Marte: The Marte Partay is here to stay and it should be a fun one. Marte is having a spectacular season and I don’t see any reason the 24 year old will regress. In 2015 he’ll be 26 and just begin getting into his prime. Scary

CF. Andrew McCutchen: I really hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. McCutchen is the star, leader, and face of the franchise. This wont change anytime soon.

RF. Gregory Polanco: Polanco is building off of last season and still mashing. He is already being touted as a prospect better than Marte. His left-handed bat will play great at PNC and he is just now coming into his power. He hits for a high average and should make up 1/3 of the best outfield in the majors.

Starting Rotation:

1. Gerrit Cole: There have been a couple articles saying Cole may never become an ace or even a number 2 pitcher. I’m not buying it. Cole has a 100 MPH fastball with some late movement. Another 2 power fastballs, a wipeout slider, and a plus change up. He has an arsenal of pitches that would make almost any pitcher envious. The only problem is his delivery that some accounts say isn’t always consistent and allows the hitter to see the ball for a long time. The lack of deception makes him miss less bats then he should. But don’t buy into the hype just yet. He’s only 22 and only been in the pros for a year. He has plenty of time to work with the staff and become the dominant ace he’s destined to be.

July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; USA pitcher Jameson Taillon throws a pitch during the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jameson Taillon: He makes up the second half of the dynamic duo. I really cant wait to see these two pitch on back to back days. It’ll be a good time in Pittsbugh.

3. Jeff Locke: Locke might be the biggest surprise of the season. I had my doubts that he’d be a quality 5th starter to begin the season but I am happily wrong. Locke has been fantastic and should be part of the rotation for the next couple years. His lefty arm is the only lefty I see as a quality starter for the next few years.

4. Stolmy Pimentel: Pimentel came over in the trade for Hanrahan. He was dominant to start the season, basically untouchable. He’s been roughed up in his last 4 starts but can still be a quality pitcher for the Pirates. Especially until Glasnow or Heredia are ready.

5. ?: This is the other position I don’t see that will be available for the Pirates in 2015. The Buccos will need another lefty starter and there just isn’t an option right now in the minors. Best-case scenario is that Andy Oliver lives up to his potential. He was terrible both times he was called up in Detroit going 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA. He is still only 25 and has pitched well in for Indy this year. But is he the answer? I’m not sure

Top Relievers:

Mar 1, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Duke Welker throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the bottom of the sixth inning of a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Vic Black, Duke Welker, Justin Wilson: I’ve always been a huge fan of both Welker and Wilson and now it appears everyone else is coming around. These 3 should make up the majority of the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings with others filling in.

 

Recap: So what was the point of all that? Well I just wanted to explain my top 2 picks for this upcoming draft. I really believe that the above roster is championship caliber. It will take some big contributions from young players but the talent is all there. Like I stated there are two spots that need filled. My dream draft would be:

9. Colin Moran: 3B, UNC

14. Sean Manaea: LHP, Indiana St

It’s highly unlikely that Moran will be available and a slim possibility that Manaea will be there at 14. However, it would be the perfect scenario where BPA meets need. In addition, as both players are in college, they would most likely be up in the majors or close in 2015.

Like I said that’s my dream but here is my actual projection:

9. JP Crawford: SS, High School

14: Trey Ball: LHP, High School

I’d still be very happy with this draft. Crawford is the best middle infielder in the draft and if Hanson doesn’t stick or pan out Crawford looks like he could step in. He has the defense and can hit at the top of the order. He also has a nice pedigree, as Carl Crawford is his brother.

Trey Ball is another high ceiling prep-pitcher. He is extremely tall a 6-6 and has yet to fill out, only weighing 180. Oh, and he’s already lighting up the radar with 94 MPH fastballs. As a lefty, that’s blazing speed. Ball, like Allie, is also a great hitter so if things don’t work out pitching he still has a high upside as a batter. A tall, lengthy, flame throwing prep-pitcher? That’s basically NH’s soul mate.

Let me know who you think makes up the roster or who the Pirates should, or will draft

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