The Pirates grabbed three high school players -- outfielder Austin Meadows, catcher Reese McGuire, and pitcher Blake Taylor -- with their first three picks in the 2013 MLB Draft, and as a Bucs fan, it's hard not to feel good about it.
All the usual caveats about the draft apply here. I'm closer to the sitting-in-my-underpants-in-my-mom's-basement stereotype of a blogger than I am to a scout, and while I feel pretty comfortable making judgments about professional players, judging draftees is a lot more difficult. And so most of my opinions come secondhand, through people like Jim Callis, Keith Law and Jonathan Mayo, and occasionally from bits of whatever I can glean from watching videos online. Ultimately, for example, I think it's pretty safe to judge trades when they're made, but with draft picks, you've got to withhold judgment a bit.
That said, I like what I see so far. I'd feared the Pirates would choose McGuire with their ninth pick. Well, "feared" isn't the right word -- it would have been a reasonable pick. But I thought the Pirates would be able to pick someone better, particularly Clint Frazier or Austin Meadows. Frazier was off the board when No. 9 came up, but Meadows and Braden Shipley were still there, and the Pirates went with Meadows.
Meadows is ultra-toolsy, and he has the kind of body that could lead to good power. He's also athletic, and we can at least entertain the possibility that he'll end up in center. He's very young, having just turned 18, and he'll likely be a bit of a project. That's fine. This pick was about long-term potential, and Meadows appears to have more of it than anyone else the Pirates could have picked.
When the Pirates came up again at No. 14, well ... what do you know? McGuire was still there. So was Shipley, and I would have loved if the Pirates had taken him instead -- he ended up going to the Diamondbacks with the next pick. But they took McGuire, and it's hard to argue that he wasn't good value there. McGuire gets very high marks for his defense, and he's also called games since he was very young, which may make the transition to catching at the professional level a little easier than it is for most high school catchers. Unlike Meadows, McGuire isn't viewed as having huge upside with the bat, but he has enough hitting talent to be a potential regular later on, with a good swing and bat speed. McGuire is from a northern state (Washington) and will probably take a while to get through the minors, just like everyone else the Pirates took on Day One.
Speaking of which, a lot of people have asked what the Pirates' interest in McGuire means for Tony Sanchez. Sanchez himself tweeted about it a few hours ago. This has absolutely nothing to do with Sanchez. You shouldn't draft in the first round for need, first of all -- the Pirates picked McGuire because they liked him, not because he was a perfect fit for some weirdly specific plan about who was going to catch Tyler Glasnow in 2018. Also, McGuire is almost seven years younger than Sanchez. I'm certain Sanchez didn't even enter the Pirates' minds when they picked McGuire.
In the second round -- which began about 82 exasperating Harold Reynolds moments later -- the Pirates took another high schooler, California pitcher Blake Taylor. He's a big lefty with a thick lower body who can get into the 90s and has the makings of a good breaking pitch. There will be work to do with his control and his changeup, and he's 17, so it'll be awhile before we see him, but there was consensus among the experts that he was a second-round talent, so it's no surprise that he went there.
There's no real reason to worry about signability for any of these guys. All three have college commitments, but they're all about to be offered big chunks of money. Meadows and McGuire were tweeting at each other after they were selected, which is a great sign, and it's clear from their comments after the draft that they're both pretty excited.
We'll wait to see more commentary on how the Pirates did, and we'll have a somewhat clearer picture after Rounds 3 through 10 tomorrow. Baseball America's Conor Glassey says he really likes the Pirates' draft so far. Law didn't list the Pirates at all, positively or negatively, in his post-Day One recap. BA's John Manuel called the Meadows/McGuire tandem a "very nice haul." Overall, the reviews range from not bad, at least, to downright good.
In any case, we won't see any of these guys in the majors for four years or so, given their age. McCutchen Is The Truth and others in the comments yesterday were discussing where Meadows and McGuire fit within the organization. The Pirates' system suddenly has so much high-quality stuff in it that even Meadows probably only looks like their fourth-best prospect, or maybe their fifth, behind Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco and maybe Alen Hanson. McGuire fits in behind those guys, plus maybe Glasnow, Luis Heredia and Josh Bell. We've complained a lot about how slow the Pirates' big-money drafts were to bear fruit, but with Glasnow's emergence, Polanco's strong play and Bell's health, the Pirates inarguably have a very good farm system. Now they've got three young guys to add to it, and even though they're very interesting, they're not really going to be the Bucs' key prospects, at least not at first. It's a good position for the organization to be in.