2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: From Likely to Risky, Here’s Who We Pick at Number Eight


The toughest pick of the Neal Huntington era is a few hours away and what a mess of a MLB Draft this is turning out to be. Injuries, signability concerns, and the new rules from the Kremlin have us a mess.  The Pirates lack of position players is concerning, the Stetson Allie news, the pitchers scattered all over the system left us scratching our head when we tried to come up with a pick this year.

We featured three special players that peaked our interest in this years draft.  Each of them should be in the mix for the Pittsburgh Pirates fans to cheer for tonight.  Now if the Bucs have the courage to pick the one we would pick…. the roof could blow off the Hall of Fame Club tonight at PNC Park.

So from a likely pick, to a risky pick, to the pick we would make, it’s all here for your eyes to swallow:

Mike Zunino


University of Florida |  6-2, 220 pounds

Age:  21

Numbers: .323 AVG/.394 OBP/.664 SLG, 16 HR, 55 RBI

Scouting report:   As the Pirates have learned by experience, good hitting catchers are extremely hard to find.  Zunino is the best college catcher in the draft, perhaps the best position player in the draft.  The average arm scares me, but he is considered a good defender.  Can hit the ball to all fields and has some pop.

His father is a scout for the Reds.  Leadership seems solid and has played for a successful winner in college providing plenty of great video moments like the one below from the other day:

Some mocks like the one at Seedlings to Stars have Zunino going as high as number three to Seattle.  And it does make sense for the Mariners to latch onto him, but the M’s are always especially hush-hush about their picks.  We anticipate that if Zunino doesn’t go at number three he should be available for the Pirates at number eight.

Bucs might want to pass because:  The first round pick should have star studded impact.  The scouts say Zunino isn’t Matt Wieters (sorry had to say it) or Buster Posey.  Zunino didn’t hit especially well in SEC play, but is showing power late in the season.

Bucs should grab him because:  He seems to be a safe pick.  Remember the last one like that?  Yeh, Tony Sanchez.  It seems he might or might not be the catcher of the future.  Even if Sanchez lights up AAA, stockpiling catchers is a good idea.  Remember how many played last year?

If the Pirates brass wants to go safe, Zunino would be a nice healthy pick.

Lance McMullers

Right handed pitcher

Jesuit High School | 6-2, 205 pounds

Numbers: 14 starts, 77.1 IP, 140 K, 30BB, 0.18ERA

Scouting report:  Good genes always help when we consider break-your-heart prospects.  Lance McMullers, Sr. pitched in 306 games while spending seven years in MLB. He had a career 3.25 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

Dad has taken good care of his son’s arm too as there is plenty of life left in it.  He has touched triple digits.  He has a fastball with late movement.  A power curveball.    A delivery that scares people–you can see the slow motion video below.   He hasn’t been a pitcher very long, but has incredible stuff.  Good mental makeup.

Bucs might want to pass because:  The Pirates can’t afford to miss on the number eight pick.  McMullers has a commitment to the University of Florida and the school has given him permission to work on both hitting and pitching and there is some history with the school, thus signability could be a concern.  The three-quarters arm slot isn’t the best because scouts are worried about how much effort he puts into delivering his pitches, some tab him as a reliever.

Bucs should grab him because:   The first round pick should have star studded impact.  McMullers has that with his 94-96 mph heat that can touch 100.  We think he currently has the best arm in the draft.  He uses his legs to get the drop and drive momentum and downward plane that is loved by the Pirates scouting department.   McCullers is also viewed as a solid prospect at the shortstop position, which would be interesting if he never gets his command together.

McMullers seems to be a risky pick depending on what we read or who we spoke to about him. Remember the last one like that? Yeh, we heard all about him today.  If the Bucs development team feels they can improve and develop McMullers into a stud starter, they should jump all over him.

Lucas Giolito


Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, California) | 6-6, 230 pounds

Age: 17

Numbers:  100 mph

Scouting report:   The best pitcher in the draft was how some described the 6’6″ Giolito before he suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow this March.  A high school pitcher going that number one?  It was hard to fathom.

Giolito has the size the Bucs covet.  He is a beast and won’t turn 18 until after July.  According to Baseball America, one scout has described last year’s first round pick Trevor Bauer’s long-toss program as “kid stuff” compared to Giolito’s throwing program.

Just watch his very simple, repeatable, and powerful delivery in the video below to understand why scouts gushed over the right hander.  His fastball sits 94-96 mph. He has been clocked as high as 100 mph.

Note to self, he is 17.

The curveball is a solid knee buckler and some believe it might be better than his heater.  The tall righty with the commitment to UNCLA also has an average to plus changeup with 10-12mph difference from the fastball.

Bucs might want to pass because:    Elbow concerns.  The Pirates can’t afford to miss on the number eight pick.  The health of the elbow might scare the Bucs off as some think he might not be drafted at all.  A few million won’t get this guy.  His father was with EA Sports and the family does have some cash., so it’s not anticipated that they will take a bargain offer because of the injury.

Whoever picks Giolito will be in a bargaining battle.  Teams won’t want to pay full rate due to the injury.  The Bucs typically set one price on what they will invest in a player.

Bucs should grab him because:   The first round pick should have star studded impact.  The talent in the draft simply isn’t there this year.  Snag this stud, pray he heals up and the video that surfaced of Giolito long tossing is for real.  The Pirates have pitching on the way to the majors.  Taking some extra time with a talent like Giolito could pay massive dividends down the road.

The Bucs have some money to spend in this draft, so dropping a big number on Giolito would likely tweeek the back end of the draft, but decent players should still be able to be picked. The 5% taxed threshold over the budgeted number of which a team can spend without losing a future pick means a few hundred large would also be available for the Pirates if we understand the new rules correctly.

Assuming Giolito is healthy or improving toward a full recovery, this is the pick the Bucs should make.  But does Giolito want to be a pro ball player right now?  Maybe he will value an education first.  If he doesn’t jump at this chance, it will be 2015 until he has the chance to be drafted again.    If anyone knows how to sell pro baseball over heading to college it’s the Bucs after watching the Josh Bell signing.

Before the injury Jim Callis called Giolito a lock for one of the top three spots in this draft.  Talent like that doesn’t always fall into your lap, so the Bucs brass should double check his health and then pull the trigger.  Making a pick like Giolito takes balls, and none are bigger than the Pirates brass.  Here’s trusting Lucas Giolito is the Pittsburgh Pirates pick tonight.  Picking Mike Zunino won’t disappoint, but the number eight pick should be a future stud, not another seven or eight hole catcher.