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2016 MLB Draft Day 2 recap: Pirates go for pitching, defense

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Throughout most of the draft thus far, the Pirates have gone their own way, choosing according to their own interests rather than to the preferences of publicly-available scouting reports. That's generally what they've done since MLB implemented its draft pool system a few years back.

Each year, there's a temptation to find a trend with the players the Pirates have selected -- last year, for example, they picked a bunch of contact-oriented infielders. I'm not sure these apparent trends reflect much more than our need to create narratives, but if there's been one this year, it's been high-school pitchers, and specifically pitchers who flew a bit under the radar. The Pirates picked four high school or junior college hurlers in the first five rounds, and of those, Comp Round A pick Nick Lodolo (a 6-foot-6 lefty) and fourth-rounder Braeden Ogle (a lefty who's touched 96 MPH in the past) stand out as potentially having upside. The Bucs also got two young righties, Travis MacGregor in the second round and Blake Cederlind in the fifth, about whom less is known.

We've already discussed first-round pick Will Craig fairly extensively here. He stands out as by far the Bucs' best chance of getting any offensive help out of this draft. The next hitter they took was third-rounder Stephen Alemais, a shortstop from Tulane who wins high praise for his fielding but not really for his offensive ability. Their third position player selection, seventh-rounder Brent Gibbs, is a catcher whose game also appears to be oriented around defense. There's nothing wrong with taking players like this, of course -- if they can learn anything at all offensively, they can probably make the majors in some capacity. But they don't look like big-time hitters. The Pirates did grab a college outfielder, Clark Eagan, in the ninth round, but that far down in the draft, it's hard to tell what kind of hitter they might wind up with.

Elsewhere, the Bucs took several college pitchers in the later rounds, grabbing Michigan State lefty Cam Vieaux in the sixth round and Cal State-Fullerton righty Dylan Prohoroff in the eighth. Scouting services seemed underwhelmed by Vieaux, with Baseball America calling him a "typical polished college lefty." And no one seemed to know much about Prohoroff, although several online reports praised his velocity.

Even in those cases, though, the Pirates did at least take college juniors. Everyone they selected in Days 1 and 2 of the draft appears to be a prospect who will require a significant bonus, except for 10th-rounder Matt Anderson, a senior right-hander from Morehead State. Anderson has plenty of deception in his delivery, leading to a ton of strikeouts at the college level. College seniors drafted outside the first few rounds tend not to be great prospects, but Anderson might actually be one, perhaps winding up as a reliever.

Other than Anderson, there were no college seniors, whose selections are often designed to route extra money to other players. ( lists Vieaux as a senior, but it appears he's actually a redshirt junior with an extra year of eligibility.) That means the Pirates probably didn't pick anyone who's going to require a massive over-slot commitment, but it also means they didn't use any early picks on players who don't figure to be at least marginal prospects.

In short, it doesn't look like anything all that terrific or surprising -- or terrible -- happened here. That doesn't mean that the Pirates didn't have a good draft, only that their picks don't look flashy, and it will be a while before we find out if they're better than they appear. They'll probably save a little bit of money against their pool with the Anderson pick in particular, so it wouldn't be surprising if they were to take fliers on a couple higher-upside players on Day 3. That approach can yield dividends. For example, the Bucs picked Max Moroff in the 16th round in 2012 and gave him $300,000. They could try one or two Moroff-type picks tomorrow. Mostly, however, their most important work in the draft is done.