Ask BA: Updating The Pirates Top 10

The draft ended just 10 days ago, yet entering this morning 15 of the 33 first-round picks had officially signed or are known to have agreed to terms. Another half-dozen are on the verge of having deals done and/or announced, and by the end of the week a total of 25 or more first-rounders may already have turned pro.

In the 15 deals we know about, the first-rounders have averaged $2,605,787 in bonuses. Comparing this year’s first-round money to last year’s in the same slots—and excluding Hunter Dozier (No. 8, Royals) because last year’s eighth overall pick (Mark Appel) didn’t sign—the numbers are up 16.4 percent. It’s possible that the 30 teams will combine to break the all-time draft bonus record of $228 million set in 2011.

We’re reporting all the major signings at our MLB Draft Signings Central page. I’m trying to mention all six-figure deals and significant college senior signs via my Twitter feed at @jimcallisBA.

I’m off to my 25th College World Series in the last 27 years, so there will be no Ask BA next week.

Assuming Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire sign, where do you see them fitting into the Pirates Top 10 Prospects list?

Joe Dolney
Everson, Pa.

The Pirates will sign both of their first-rounders: Meadows, a Georgia high school outfielder taken No. 9 overall, and McGuire, a Washington prep catcher selected at No. 14. Even with 2011′s top overall pick, Gerrit Cole, getting promoted to Pittsburgh last week, space on our Bucs Top 10 will be at a premium because the system has a nice collection of high-ceiling talent.

Considering only players currently in the minors or taken in the 2013 draft, here’s my updated Pirates Top 10. It was tough after the first two prospects, trying to balance what players have accomplished in the minors and how they were regarded as amateurs (to try to compare them at a similar stage in their careers). First baseman Stetson Allie is a legitimate power-hitting prospect and second baseman Dilson Herrera is talented as well, but I couldn’t quite squeeze them onto this list.

1. Jameson Taillon, rhp
$6.5 million man has better feel than Cole and his stuff isn’t far behind.
2. Gregory Polanco, of
Keeps getting better and might be a five-tool center fielder.
3. Austin Meadows, of
This year’s No. 9 pick might be a five-tool center fielder, too.
4. Josh Bell, of
Now that he’s healthy, showing why his bat earned him a $5 million bonus.
5. Tyler Glasnow, rhp
Breakout prospect has an unhittable fastball/curve combo, needs more command.
6. Reese McGuire, c
No. 14 choice in June has above-average catch, throw and bat skills.
7. Alen Hanson, ss
This feels low for an offensive shortstop with average defensive tools.
8. Nick Kingham, rhp
Like Glasnow, he’s a projection righty coming into his own this season.
9. Luis Heredia, rhp
Very polished and has two pro seasons under his belt at age 18.
10. Tony Sanchez, c
Showing signs that he just might be a big league regular.

Who was the better hitter coming out of college, Anthony Rendon or Kris Bryant?

Matthew Grage
Chicago

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant (Photo by Robert Gurganus)

This is an interesting comparison. Both Rendon and Bryant won Baseball America’s College Player of the Year award (in 2010 and 2013), both were quality high school prospects who swiftly became stud college third basemen and both rated as the top offensive prospect in their drafts (in 2011 and 2013). In fact, we rated Rendon as the best prospect available in the loaded 2011 draft.

Rendon, who batted .371 with more than twice as many walks (176) as strikeouts (78) in three years at Rice, was a better hitter than Bryant, who batted .353 with a fine walk-strikeout ratio (138-137) of his own at San Diego. But Bryant had more power, with 54 homers in three seasons with BBCOR bats and a record 31 this spring, when he had as many or more homers than 228 of the 296 NCAA Division I teams. Rendon homered 52 times in three years, only one of which he played with the toned-down bats.

If I had to project their slash stats in their prime, I’d go with .300/.400/.500 for Rendon and .275/.360/.550 for Bryant. While their offensive upside is similar, Rendon was the superior prospect coming out of the draft because he was (and is) a potential Gold Glover at third base while Bryant may have to move to right field.

Had the Astros taken Mark Appel first overall instead of Carlos Correa in 2012, they could have taken Kris Bryant or Jonathan Gray with the No. 1 pick this year. What’s the better package: Correa and Appel, or Appel and either Bryant or Gray?

Esteban Garcia
Miami

There’s no wrong answer to this question. The longer I think about it, the more I keep changing my mind, so I’m going with my initial reaction: Correa and Appel.

Correa is batting .304/.400/.430 as an 18-year-old in the pitcher-favoring low Class Midwest League. He doesn’t quite have Bryant’s power, but Correa has plenty as well as significantly more defensive value as a potential solid shortstop or Gold Glove third baseman. By the time he’s Bryant’s current age (21), Correa already should have a season or two of big league experience.

As hard as it is to find frontline starting pitching, it would be tempting to grab both Appel and Gray. If you believe it’s better to bet on bats at the top of the draft, a Correa/Bryant combination would be tough to beat.

If I could take the player I thought was the best in each draft, I’d select outfielder Byron Buxton (who went No. 2 in 2012) and Gray (who went No. 3 this June). I continue to debate internally whether Gray, Appel or Bryant is the best prospect in the 2013 crop, yet I still believe Gray has the most upside if also the most risk.

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