MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Pirates Shouldn't Draft For Need

Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette argues that the Pirates should pick a college hitter with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft because the Bucs need a player to help in the major leagues sooner rather than later, and because the Pirates already have good pitching prospects.

As a general draft philosophy, this is, like nearly every idea Smizik has had in the past decade, reactionary and silly. With the first overall pick in the draft, you don't draft for need, and you don't draft a player because you think he'll be close to the majors. You draft the best overall player.

I do agree that the Pirates need to at least strongly consider taking a position player - not because the Pirates already have a lot of good young pitchers, as Smizik suggests, but because the last dozen or so years of draft history strongly indicates that teams overrate pitchers, of both the high school and college varieties, early in the first round. The high schoolers are risky works in progress, and the college guys have often been overworked.

I agree with the first part of Smizik's conclusion, which is that Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is the right pick. But Smizik goes on to say that if Rendon turns out not to be the guy (and he might not be, since he has had a number of injury issues this year), the Bucs should draft a college hitter. This is, frankly, crazy. The crop of college hitters is very thin behind Rendon - Rendon is, for example, the only college hitter in the top 10 of MLB.com's list of the top 50 draft prospects. If the Bucs reach that much for George Springer or Mikie Mahtook or Kolten Wong or whoever, that will be a terrible use of the top overall pick.

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