Pirates Draft Report Card
Best Pro Debut: A 1998 Orioles second-round pick, RHP Alex Hart (5) had Tommy John surgery in 2000 and didnt enjoy much college success until last spring. He carried that over into the pros, going 7-0, 1.85 with 73 strikeouts in 68 innings in the short-season New York-Penn League. NY-P all-star 1B Brad Eldred (6) hit .283-10-48 with 10 steals.
Best Athlete: OFs Bobby Kingsbury (8), Joseph Hicks (9) and Chaz Lytle (42). Kingsbury is compared to Steve Finley, while Hicks has been likened to Juan Pierre. They pale, however, next to RHP/OF Wardell Starling (4), who has a 95 mph fastball, tape-measure power and plus speed. Also a star high school wide receiver, Starling passed up San Diego State for Odessa (Texas) JC, so the Pirates control his rights.
Best Pure Hitter: Kingsbury or OF Anthony Bocchino (11), who hit a combined .437 the last two years at Marist. Draft-and-follow 3B Kody Kirkland might have a better bat than either.
Best Raw Power: Eldreds 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame generates huge power.
Fastest Runner: Lytle needs 4.0 seconds to go from the left side of the plate to first base, while Hicks takes 4.1 to get their from the right side.
Best Defensive Player: SS Taber Lee (3) has plus arm strength and range, and he gets good jumps on the ball.
Best Fastball: RHP Blair Johnson (2) stayed strong through his first pro summer and was still maxing out at 94-96 mph in instructional league. RHP Bryan Bullington (No. 1 overall) has the same velocity, but just signed and has yet to play. Now that RHP Matt Capps (7) no longer spends part of his time catching, he reaches 94-95 consistently.
Best Breaking Ball: Johnsons hard slurve sits in the low 80s. Bullington tightened his slider this spring.
Most Intriguing Background: Lytles father Charlie was a musician who toured with Dick Clark in the 1960s and worked with bands such as the Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones as a representative of a company that manufactures instruments and other equipment. He also has rented RVs to diverse groups such as Aerosmith, ESPNs "Baseball Tonight" anchors and Tiger Woods entourage. Lees brother Travis plays first base for the Phillies. Unsigned RHP Chris Toneguzzi (30) is a cousin of NHL star Chris Pronger.
Closest To The Majors: Given Bullington's hold out, Hart could beat him to Pittsburgh.
Best Late-Round Pick: Lytle. The Pirates also have hopes for projectable LHPs David Davidson (10), Brian Holliday (11) and John Hummel (16).
The One Who Got Away: Toneguzzi, who has a low-90s fastball, changed his mind about attending a junior college and went to Purdue.
Assessment: The success of this draft depended on Pittsburghs ability to sign Bullington, who sought Joe Mauer money ($5.15 million), and Starling. Pirates scouting director Ed Creech ended up getting Bullington for the price the Pirates originally offered--$4 million.
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