Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Timing the prospect waves

The Rule 4 MLB draft is less than 2 weeks away and it seems as if things are coming into focus a little more clearly.

Unless the Pirates are playing things real close to the vest, it seems as if the 3 choices on their plate (assuming Harper goes to the Nats, as presumed) are:

Drew Pomeranz LHP - Ole Miss
Manny Machado SS - HS in Florida
Jameson Taillon RHP - HS, Woodlands, TEX

I've contended that the Pirates front office, specifically Neal Huntington and Greg Smith, want no parts of drafting a HS pitcher early in the first round and committing upwards of $6-8M. They are very comfortable cherry-picking guys in the later rounds who were "tough signs" out of high school and getting them for $1-2M. Plus, NH has made some comments on radio shows about wondering how a HS kid can square up on Taillon's high-90's fastball.

So in my mind, the Pirates are deciding between Pomeranz and Machado.

Pomeranz sits in the 90-93 mph range with his fastball, has a high 70's curveball said to be his out pitch, and an average changeup at this point. He has a fantastic K rate, but a so-so BB rate. To me, he could be a #2 pitcher.

Machado got an unfair "Alex Rodriguez" comp about a month ago....a lazy comp because they are both of Latin descent and from Florida. He is said to have the range and actions to stay at SS with moderate power and average speed.

In my mind, though, I would take Pomeranz because you can line him up with our current talent wave getting ready to crest in Pittsburgh. I believe, as do most rational Pirate fans, that our future for the next 6 years will start and end with the success of Pedro Alvarez. Thanks to gaming his clock in 2010, we will have his services from 2011 to 2016 before Emperor Boras whisks him off to a big market city upon free agency.

If Pomeranz is selected, he can start 2011 in A+ and get to AA by the end of the year. A tune-up and arb gaming session in 2012 in AAA and...voila! June 2012 he can be on the mound. At that time, Pedro will be rounding into shape in his 2nd full year. Cutch-22 will be in his last pre-arb year. Tabata will be patrolling the OF, Lincoln will be in the rotation along with Bryan Morris, and Walker will be super-subbing all over the place. It's not hard to imagine that with a bonus prospect making the jump and/or a well-timed free agent signing that the Pirates could be on the edge of the wild card.

Meanwhile, if you draft Machado in 2010, here's his timetable:

2011 - Low A
2012 - High A
2013 - Double A
2014 - Triple A
2015 - Majors

By that time, you are breaking a rookie SS into a lineup with Cutch-22 in his last arb year (possibly his last in PGH) and Alvarez one year behind him. You are not taking advantage to the fullest of Cutch-22 and Alvarez's time together due to the extra development time needed.

Machado may have the higher upside, but Pomeranz is forecasted to be decent in his own right. Plus, he will get here quicker.

All that said - it seems as if the Pirates are leaning towards Machado.

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