Pirates Draft Report Card

Analyzing Pittsburgh's 2008 draft class




QUICK TAKE
The Pirates gambled and tried to get the top bat and one of the top college arms in the same draft. Pedro Alvarez will make or break the draft, especially with Scheppers going unsigned. Late-rounders such as Cunningham, Miller and Klinger could soften the blow.
POSITION PLAYERS

Best Pure Hitter: 3B Pedro Alvarez (1) has a polished approach at the plate and repeats his strong, balanced swing well.  >>  Best Power Hitter: Alvarez has the strength in his hands and forearms to produce excellent bat speed and could hit 30 home runs annually. Being able to hit for average and power made him the No. 1 prospect in the 2008 draft class.  >>  Fastest Runner: The fastest member of the Puerto Rican draft class, OF Edwin Roman (27) has run 6.4-second 60s and is a 7 runner on the 2-8 scale.  >>  Best Defensive Player: The Pirates drafted three shortstops with defensive chops, led by Puerto Rico's Benji Gonzalez (7), who has smooth hands and an above-average arm. Chase d'Arnaud (4) and Jordy Mercer (3) are also strong defenders with athleticism and body control.

PITCHERS

Best Fastball: RHP Quinton Miller (20) sits in the 88-92 mph range but has reached 95, prompting the Pirates to buy him away from a North Carolina commitment with a $900,000 bonus.  >>  Best Secondary Pitch: Miller's slider has future plus potential. LHP Justin Wilson (4) came on late and helped Fresno State to the national championship after incorporating a solid-average slider that he throws for strikes into his four-pitch repertoire.

ODDS AND ENDS

Best Pro Debut: 3B/SS Jarek Cunningham (18) hit .318/.385/.507 to lead the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates to a playoff berth. 3B Matt Hague (9) showed an advanced bat, hitting .322/.386/.467, mostly with low Class A Hickory.  >>  Best Athlete: OF Wesley Freeman (16) has a prototype body with raw tools, strength and speed. OF Robbie Grossman (6), signed for $1 million, has solid all-around tools and athletic ability.  >>  Most Intriguing Background: North Pole High LHP Chris Aure (15) is the third-highest-drafted player from Alaska, following Brian Montalbo (2000, fourth round) and Trajan Langdon (1994, sixth).  >>  Closest To The Majors: Alvarez got a $6 million bonus and major league contract for this reason, though he will need to come to spring training in better shape than he showed in instructional league.  >>  Best Late-Round Pick: Cunningham dropped off many draft boards due to a spring knee injury but returned for two state playoff games, and the Pirates stayed on him, signing him away from Arizona State. They also like RHP Brent Klinger (21), whose fastball reaches 94 from a low three-quarters slot.  >>  The One Who Got Away: RHP Tanner Scheppers (2), coming back from a shoulder injury, still wanted a bonus commensurate with the first half of the first round, and while the Pirates closely monitored him they ultimately didn't meet his price. The former Fresno State ace has signed with the independent St. Paul Saints of the American Association.