We are now only two weeks away from the 2012 MLB Draft and, while the excitement is not as high as it was last year, the talk about who the Pirates will select is starting to heat up. There seems to be an increased negativity by a lot of posters concerning the draft. People seem to think that the Pirates are going to completely screw up this draft. This same kind of sentiment emerged last year in the weeks before the draft when the Pirates were linked to Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen and HS RHP Dylan Bundy. While the Pirates will not have as easy of a time this year, picking at #8, they still have the chance to pick up very good players with each of their first three picks.
For each pick, I am going to provide three of my own preferred prospects. By no means am I an expert but I have seen several of these players and like to think I have a decent idea of what I am saying (please decide for yourself). I am not basing this on organizational needs but on my opinion of who will be the best players available at each spot. You will not see certain players as it seems next to impossible that they will make it to 8th such as Mark Appel, C Mike Zunino, and OF Byron Buxton, If a person isn't listed under a designated spot, please don't leave the message of "why isn't (name) there, do you feel (other player) is better." Chances are, I feel that player will probably be gone. Feel free to comment or post your own wish list for the upcoming draft. It is only two weeks away.
First Selection (#8)
1. SS Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy) - So much has been said about Correa since he began attending showcases. His draft stock has really risen but I still see him being available at #8.Correa plays a solid shortstop but could be moved from the position if he continues to grow. He has a great attitude toward the game and is especially close with his family. He will be the best player available if he and when he falls to #8.
2. RHP Lucas Giolito (Harvard-Westlake HS) - Since being injured back in early April, Giolito has disappeared on most mocks. Giolito is a five-pitch pitcher with an explosive fastball and a curveball that is flashing plus potential. He has a low-effort delivery and, before the injury, had shown considerable determination to becoming a great pitcher. While he hasn't pitched in a game since his injury, Giolito looks to be a steal if available at #8.
3. LHP Max Fried (Harvard-Westlake HS) - Imagine a high school team where you have the top high school pitcher in the country as your ace. Then imagine, the number two pitcher on that same team is the top left handed high school pitcher in the country. Max Fried is Giolito's teammate and is the top left hander in the draft. Fried is a three pitch pitcher with a 94 MPH fastball though he relies heavily on a Sandy Koufax-like curveball to dominate batters.
Second Selection (#45)
1. 3B Patrick Wisdom (Saint Mary's College) - Wisdom is a solid hitting prospect who projects to play 1B or 3B at the next level. Wisdom was ranked the 71 on BA's Top 100 Preseason Prospects. Wisdom hits for power and average and looks to be a supplemental or 2nd round selection. He is 8th all-time on St. Mary's homerun list going into the 2012 season with 20. His ability to hit for average and power make him a prime candidate for a supplemental selection.
2. OF Rock Rucker (Russel County High School) - Rucker is a two-way prospect from Alabama. Rucker has a cannon for an arm in addition to being able to hit for power. It seems likely Rucker will stay in the OF instead of transferring over the mound. Rucker has plus bat speed, plus raw power, and decent speed. Rucker would be a nice pickup in the supplemental round but has a strong commitment to Auburn.
3. LHP Austin Fairchild (St. Thomas) - Fairchild is a solid pitcher from Texas who has had a breakout year after a disappointing 2011 season. Fairchild is a 4 pitch pitcher with a 90-93 MPH fastball, a developing changeup and a curve and slider that both show plus potential. This season, Fairchild is 6-0 with a 0.47 ERA, 108/26 K/BB in 60 IP.
Third Selection (#68)
1. C Josh Elander (Texas Christian) - Elander has a lot of offensive potential mixed with average defensive skills. He will be more of a project than some other players but has tons of potential and could be great if he realizes it. many have noted Elander's potential to have plus power and runs surprisingly well for a catcher, stealing 20 bases in 2011. Elander's offensive potential justifies taking a flier on him in the 2nd round.
2. RHP Duane Underwood (Pope HS) - Underwood is a two way prospect who will most likely end up on the mound. He has a hard fastball that has hit 97 on the gun in addition to a potential plus curveball and solid changeup. Underwood would add another power arm to an already strong minor league pitching corp.
3. RHP J.O. Berrios (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy) - While not as highly touted as Correa, Berrios is one of the top prospects out of Puerto Rico. Berrios throws four pitches, all of which have plus potential. He has a slow, 12-6 curve that sits around 70 MPH as well as a powerful fastball that has hit 97 on the gun and has some decent movement.