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MLB Draft 2017: Pirates Draft Preview

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2011 Little League Baseball World Series
Nick Pratto, a possible Pirates draft target as a hitter, played in the 2011 Little League World Series with his team from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Pirates are in an interesting position picking 12th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, which starts Monday night. The slot is the highest the Pirates have picked since 2013, when they used the ninth overall pick to take Austin Meadows.

The Pirates have the seventh-highest bonus pool of any team, at $10,135,900. They will have four picks on the first night of the draft, including a compensation pick for their unsigned second-rounder last year and a pick in Competitive Balance Round B. (Read more about bonus pools and the slotting system here and here.)

But back to that first pick, because it’s going to be hard enough to nail down on its own.

With a few notable exceptions, it seems guys the Pirates are being linked with are likely to be available to them at No. 12. As opposed to taking what the top 11 leave for them, the Pirates seem to be looking at the best of the rest. That might just be a convoluted way of saying, “The Pirates have the 12th pick,” but there’s a difference. The Bucs, in theory, are in good position to get a guy they want, not just what other teams deem to be the most flawed top-tier prospect.

As for who that player is, your guess is as good as mine. Texas high-school right-handed pitcher Shane Baz has popped up on a lot of mock drafts, and has done so recently. The Pirates are known to not show their leanings to the press, though, and they’ve been linked with about every possible type of player — high school and college, pitcher and hitter, high potential and low risk.

My favorites:

Nick Pratto, 1B/OF, California high school: A high-ceiling hitter with developing power. Comps are bad, but has a Joey Votto comp. Baseball America’s mock from Friday has him going to the Pirates.

Shane Baz, RHP, Texas high school: Has the profile of a later-round Pirates pick — tall, projectable righty — with a first-round pedigree. Fangraphs’ report on him notes an excellent spin rate, and Eric Longenhagen has mentioned the Pirates as a team that eats up Trackman data on draft prospects.

Evan White, 1B/OF, University of Kentucky: Weird. A bats-right, throws-left first baseman with questionable power. Has gotten a lot of praise for his hitting and athleticism, though. Has the ability to play the outfield well, and has even been considered a potential center fielder. Elite defense at first has kept him there in college, though. Probably fun to watch.

Others: University of North Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley, Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall and Kentucky high-school outfielder Jordon Adell are the exceptions, having been ranked higher, but with reports of possibly falling to the Pirates. ... UVA first baseman Pavin Smith’s stock appears to have gone from above the Bucs to beneath their first pick. ... UC Irvine second baseman Keston Hiura fits the Pirates’ bill as a polished college hitter, but he’s almost certain to require elbow surgery, limiting his safety factor. ... UNC’s Logan Warmoth is a shortstop that should hit enough even if he has to move down the defensive spectrum. ... Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger is being compared to Will Craig, though I’m not so sure trying another guy like that is the worst thing in the world.

Schedule

Monday: First round, Competitive Balance Round A, Second Round, Competitive Balance Round B

7 p.m.

Coverage: MLB Network (first round and competitive balance round A), MLB.com

Tuesday: Rounds 3-10

1 p.m.

Coverage: MLB.com

Wednesday: Rounds 11-40

Noon

Coverage: MLB.com

Pirates Picks

Round 1: 12th overall

Round 2: 42nd overall (compensation for not signing 2016 No. 41 overall pick Nick Lodolo), 50th overall

Competitive Balance Round B: 72nd overall

Round 3: 88th overall

Rounds 4-40: 13th pick in round

The full draft order with slot values can be found here.