Will Rendon Be The One?

Pirates have several candidates for top pick

HOUSTON—Anthony Rendon might well be the No. 1 overall pick in the coming draft, but he knows little about the Pirates, who will be making the selection.

"I know they've been around, like, forever," he said after making his season debut for Rice on Feb. 19. "That's about it."

Ask the Pirates about Rendon, and the answer will sound equally vague. Except that their vagueness is intentional.

"Our approach remains the same as it has been the past three drafts," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We will work diligently to put the players in order and select the player we like best."

Huntington declined to specifically address any draft-eligible player, but the Pirates are scouting Rendon and several other prospects for No. 1. Internal indications are that there currently is no favorite.

Either way, that probably would not affect Rendon much. He said his focus is on getting Rice to the College World Series for the first time since 2008 and recovering from his dislocated-fractured right ankle.

"Aw, man, that's in June!" Rendon said of the draft. "I mean, honestly, you'd have to think about it a little. Everyone wants to get to the next level. But if you're thinking about that 24/7, then you're not getting done what you need to do."

Rendon went 1-for-8 in his first two games, his timing clearly off after seventh months of inactivity, but his ankle showed no ill effects as he began playing third base right away.

Rendon will be advised by super-agent Scott Boras heading into the draft, but that should not dissuade the Pirates. They dueled for two extra months in getting 2008 first-round pick (No. 2 overall) Pedro Alvarez signed, but it got done, and both sides said they would have future dealings.

Treasure Trove

• The battle for bullpen spots among lefthanders remained open enough that Daniel Moskos, the first-round pick in 2007, was getting consideration in spring training even though he has little experience above Double-A. "I feel like I'm going to have more of a role than I did in the past, kind of competing for a spot," Moskos said.

• The Pirates reached agreement with Dominican righthander Leandro Rodriguez on an $80,000 bonus, though no contract had been signed. Rodriguez, 17, is expected to report to the team's Dominican academy.