As the Pirates 2011 campaign slowly winds down, we are all thinking about various aspects of the Pirates and things related to them. Will Andrew McCutchen be extended? Will a good FA be signed in the offseason? Will Paul Maholm or Ryan Doumit be resigned? However, unlike last year, fans do not seem to have the same interest in the following years draft. Now, I am no expert. I'm just a casual, laid-back fan who enjoys baseball, but I've taken some time to take a look at some players who may be very intriguing to the Pirates come June 2012. I'm not going to waste peoples time by proposing crazy theories about how Lance McCullers or Mark Appel could fall to the Pirates. Instead, I'm providing five players who are projected to be Top 15 talents who may be taken around the area the Pirates draft.
Under GM Neal Huntington, the Pirates farm system has slowly began to resurface and be stocked with talent. Even while the system recovers from several disastrous years under Dave Littlefield, it is still weak in several areas. While Huntington has done a fine job drafting, he has favored drafting pitchers over position players for the past two years. Positions such as SS, 1B, and corner OF are all very week in the system and 2012 may be the year Huntington grabs a position player over a pitcher. The 2012 draft will not have the Pirates drafting in the top 5 for the first time since 2005, when Andrew McCutchen was drafted 11th overall. However, the 2012 class seems to be very strong on talent and whoever the Pirates end up getting, they will no doubt be a very good addition to an already improving farm system. These are the five players and a video link to each player:
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (FL)
Russell could be a five-tool player when it is all said and done. The kid plays outstanding defense, hits for power, hits for average, can fly on the base paths, and has a cannon arm. As a junior for Pace HS, Russell's line was .516/.619/.956 while hitting 10 HR and 37 RBI. At SS, he shows excellent range and turns the double play quickly. Like Thompson, Russell has an outstanding work ethic. Russell is considered to be one of the best high school hitters in the country and won't come cheap as he is represented by Scott Boras. If available and if drafted, he would be the SS of the future.
Taylore Cherry, RHP, Vandalia Butler HS (OH).
Cherry might be one of the biggest draftees ever, and out of high school no less. Cherry is a 6'10, 260 pound pitcher out of Vandalia Butler HS in Dayton, OH. Cherry already features a mid 90's fastball that has been clocked as high as 98. He commands his fastball, as well as a 10/4 curveball, and a solid changeup. Huntington loves prep pitchers and I think his mouth will be watering over this kid. He has a slow delivery but repeats it and his delivery seems near-effortless. Cherry is considered to have a very high ceiling and with a strong 2012 HS season, he could propel further up the list and be out of reach to the Pirates.
David Thompson, OF/3B, Westminster Christian HS (FL)
Thompson is considered to be one of the toughest and most athletic kids coming out of high school. At 6'1, 195 pound, Thompson has been a superstar down in Miami since leading his high school team to the state championship as a freshman. Thompson is considered a heck of an athlete also starring for his school's football team. Watching videos of him, you'll notice, the ball explodes off of his bat but also hits for average. As a sophomore, he batted .458 with 19 homeruns, tying the Florida record. Thompson also appears to possess a great work ethic and understands he needs to work to get better than he is now.
Victor Roache, 1B/OF, Georgia Southern
Roache will be 21 years old when his name is called next June. The 6'1, 225 pound OF from Ypsilanti, Michigan (that's not a misprint, his hometown is spelled like that) has been a big contributor at Georgia Southern. Roache's stat line in 2011 was impressive with a .326/.438/.778 line while belting 30 HR to lead all of the NCAA. Strikeouts have been a concern for Roache but with his impressive hitting and "big-time power" (Mark Monahan, Tigers Scouting Director), he'd fit nicely in at 1B or RF for the Bucs.
Joey Gallo, 3B/1B, Bishop Gorman (NV)
Gallo seems to have a bit of everything. Gallo handles a variety of positions in the field as well as pitching. His real talent is at the plate. Gallo has been described by those who have seen him as possessing some very good hitting skills and excellent power. If drafted, it is hard to say what position the Bucs would put him at. He has a plus arm but with his bat I would doubt the Pirates would convert him to a pitcher. As a junior he batted .471 with 25 HR and 76 RBI while maintaining a perfect field percentage all around the diamond.