This year’s draft is very high school top-heavy. The two best-ranked prospects are high schoolers. The best pitchers are high schoolers. But there are plenty of college players who should go in the first ten selections.
What they decide to do will depend on a few factors. The first thing is if they want to go under slot or something closer to slot value. If they go under slot, they’d likely pick Berry, based on Ben Cherington’s last two first-round selections and how often high school pitchers go in the first five picks. If they decide to go with something closer to slot value, they’d likely pick Green, given he’s still seen as a top 5 draft prospect.
Obviously, you can’t rule out either Johnson or Jones available to the Pittsburgh Pirates when they are up to pick. We’ve seen consensus top two guys like Marcelo Mayer and Austin Martin fall past the third selection. It would be malpractice for Cherington not to select either if he has the opportunity. In the event the Pirates do choose either Jones or Johnson, they’d likely be over slock picks given that they’re interchangeably the best players right now.
So if the likeliest options are Berry, the best college hitter, or Green, the most powerful high schooler, who would they go with? If both are available at the fourth slot, the Pirates should ultimately go with Green. Green brings the high-end athleticism you love to see with young players. He also has an extremely high offensive ceiling. There aren’t many players that you could see being potential 40/40 club members in the future.
You also have to consider that even though they’ve taken the best college position player available at the time the last two drafts, they were picked for slightly more premium positions than guys like Berry, Lee, and Jung. Gonzales was drafted as a shortstop and has played second base so far. Davis is a catcher, and while he’s not the best when it comes to the leather, he’s shown improvement and has a rocket arm. Jung and Berry are likely first basemen long-term. Lee has a chance of sticking at the premium position of shortstop but likely will have to shift to the hot corner.
They should also go with a high schooler because it helps provide a potential long-term building block. The Pittsburgh Pirates have already added plenty of guys who we should see between now and 2025, but adding a guy we could use from there onward would be greatly beneficial. Plus, they could always add a college pitcher or hitter with their competitive balance pick or in the second round.