Draft day arrives: Pirates leaning toward Tony Sanchez?
Just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the Pirates will make the No. 4 overall selection in the First-Year Player’s Draft. And unlike last year — when we all knew it would be Pedro Alvarez — the Pirates’ first-round selection remains somewhat of a mystery. Maybe.
Based on conversations I’ve had over the last 24 hours, I’m beginning to believe that Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez just might be the Pirates’ guy.
Pirates management is down in Bradenton, Fla., in the “war room” (as they call it) putting together a Draft board. As of Monday night, the organization’s short list was believed to have Sanchez, former Mizzou right-hander Aaron Crow, high school righty Zack Wheeler and USC shortstop Grant Green on it.
Crow and Wheeler are both expected to be top 10 selections, so their inclusion on the list comes as little surprise. And both have been listed above Sanchez in mock drafts. So why would the Pirates consider Sanchez?
Well, to begin with, he has intriguing talent. He hit .317 with 49 doubles, 24 homers and 124 RBIs in 161 games with Boston College. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has taken time to go and see Sanchez catch, and Sanchez reportedly had dinner with some members of the Pirates’ management team.
A while ago, Pirates scouting director Greg Smith mentioned that there were some intriguing catchers available in the Draft, so maybe that was a setup for the direction the Pirates were going to go.
If the Pirates do select Sanchez, he’d likely command a bonus that would fall within “slot” of where he was picked. He’d also be likely to sign quickly, something Pirates management really would like to happen.
Not only that, but by not dishing out above-slot money for a first-round pick (especially with this Draft not having premier talent beyond Stephen Strasburg and Dustin Ackley, both of whom are expected to be taken by the time Pittsburgh selects), the Pirates will have the rest of their budget to allot to their later round signings.
Remember last year when they selected Robbie Grossman in the 6th round and paid him a $1 million signing bonus to convince him to skip college? Expect the Pirates to employ that same technique again as they take intriguing high school players who other teams will shy away from because of previous college commitments.
Furthermore, the depth of pitching in this year’s Draft will leave plenty of arms available to be selected in rounds two and beyond. The Pirates will have no problem stocking up on pitching.
They have the 49th and 53rd selections in the Draft, both spots where the Pirates expect some strong arms to be available.
Huntington has emphasized that the organization’s Draft needs to be judged based on the entire product and not the first-round pick. He also recently mentioned that the club’s first-round selection will likely not be extremely popular. That could all be pointing to Sanchez as being the guy, despite the fact that he is not listed as a first-round selection in every pre-Draft rankings.