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Looking Ahead: Pirates Pick Fourth in Next Year's Draft

Via Primer, the Seattle Times has a nice writeup on next year's draft. It's from the Mariners' perspective, but since the Mariners will have the second pick and the Pirates will have the fourth, it has relevance for the Pirates as well. 

The take-home message: avoid pitchers with early picks:

...[P]itchers taken with the No. 1 pick have been especially erratic. Here's the complete list; have fun picking out the franchise-changers: David Clyde, Floyd Bannister, Mike Moore, Tim Belcher, Andy Benes, Ben McDonald, Taylor, Wilson, Kris Benson, Anderson, Bullington, Luke Hochevar, David Price...

Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America, termed Strasburg "head and shoulders above the 2009 draft class right now, much like David Price was in 2007. But that doesn't mean the Mariners can't get a tremendous player at No. 2.

"After Price went off the board [to Tampa Bay], guys like Mike Moustakas, Matt Wieters, Matt LaPorta, Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward were still on the board, and all of those guys look like they're going to be stars, too."

Ranking the next group of prospects after Strasburg, Callis mentioned USC shortstop Grant Green ("supposed to be a cross between Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria") and North Carolina first baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley ("the best pure hitter in the draft and a possible center fielder.")

Of the five likely stars Callis mentions from the '07 draft, four are hitters. As good as Price looks so far, I'd probably rather have Wieters right now, and Moustakas and Heyward aren't far behind. (Side note: Bumgarner, if he stays healthy, could just be ridiculous. His stats this year are just off the charts. It's a shame the Pirates didn't pick him, in a way; he was born in Hickory, and if the Pirates had drafted him he would have played for the Crawdads this year.)

So, as exciting as Stephen Strasburg looks so far, the Pirates should be glad to take a potentially excellent hitter instead. WTM has said for years that teams should avoid pitchers early in the draft, and history agrees with him on that. Strasburg may turn out to be the star he now appears to be, but he may not.