The draft starts at 6:00 EST. This quote is interesting:
"It does not seem likely there will be a Pedro Alvarez-type talent available to us when we select fourth. ... but the 2009 draft class is deeper than the 2008 class, and is especially deep in pitching talent. ... It is important that our draft be reviewed based on the total resources allocated by the August 15 deadline and not only the first few round selections on June 9. Our selections may or may not match-up with the rankings compiled by various publications, but in every case we will select the player who we feel will have the greatest impact on the Pirates' organization."
Normally I'd be pretty angry about something like this, which I read as "We will probably be cheap in the first round," but unless San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg or UNC hitter Dustin Ackley are available with the fourth overall pick, I'm not sure spending lightly in the first round and throwing money around later is a bad strategy. There aren't a lot of players beyond those first two who have really distinguished themselves. If the Pirates do draft someone like Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez first overall, though, they'd better come through with a lot of very interesting picks later.
With Missouri pitcher Kyle Gibson on the shelf with a stress fracture, the most likely picks at this point are probably either indie league pitcher Aaron Crow or Sanchez, who isn't a top talent and sounds like he'll sign quickly:
"I made it clear: You won't have issues like last year," Sanchez, 21, said this past weekend. "I'm not looking for a $6 million contract. I know who I am. I kind of know what I'm worth. You don't have to go to [the wall] for $200,000. I want to go out and start getting my feet wet at the next level"...
"We're talking about a kid who hit .346 with 14 homers ... in [the Atlantic Coast Conference,] arguably the best baseball conference in the country," Aoki said. "We're nitpicking. But I think his plate discipline can still be improved. He's a draftable guy with the bat. What vaults him into the first round is he's an excellent receiver."
If the Pirates pick this guy and don't spend a bunch of money later in the draft, I'll have a problem. But I don't think drafting him should be viewed as an immediate indication that the Pirates don't want to win. This is a thin draft at the top, and there isn't much difference, talent-wise, between the fourth-best player and the twentieth-best player.
UPDATE: Keith Law, for what it's worth, reports (Insider only) that the Pirates have reached a pre-draft agreement with Sanchez. I'm really not sure what I'd do differently, and I think if the Bucs are planning to focus their money and energy on the later rounds that's probably a good idea, but nothing I've read about or seen from Sanchez tells me he's worth this high a pick. I imagine the Pirates just figure they're better off to take someone they can sign cheaply, because there's a glut of players after Strasburg and Ackley who haven't really distinguished themselves, except perhaps in terms of their bonus demands. Another problem is that the strength of the draft is pitching, and taking a pitcher below the Strasburg-David Price tier with the fourth overall pick in the draft is usually a bad idea. The success rate is very low.
One possible alternative is USC shortstop Grant Green, although he's a Scott Boras client, and it may not be worth it to tango with Boras if the Pirates deem Green to be a subpar talent.
Here, from the comments, is some video of Sanchez:
It's just one swing, but it looks very slow to me. If the Pirates take this guy with the fourth overall pick, another shoe needs to drop later in the draft.