GM on No. 1 pick: 'We need to get this right'

Pirates narrow down choices 2 weeks out from 2021 MLB Draft

June 27th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- How close are the Pirates to narrowing down whom they will select with their No. 1 overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft?

“I think I can say that we’ve gotten it down to single digits,” said general manager Ben Cherington, who made the remarks on his Sunday radio show with 93.7 The Fan.

OK, so they aren’t close enough to get a read on exactly whom they plan to pick. That much is not a surprise.

But as the Pirates’ scouting and Draft brain trust convenes this week in Pittsburgh to narrow down the choices even further, getting the list in a manageable state is an important step to make the conversation more focused and productive as the Bucs try to nail the top pick.

In years past, there have been a few clear No. 1 overall picks. The Tigers largely knew they were going to select Spencer Torkelson with the top selection in 2020, and Adley Rutschman was the consensus No. 1 pick in '19 for the Orioles.

That’s not so much the case for the Pirates this year. The organization has been linked to Marcelo Mayer in the past three mock drafts that MLB Pipeline has conducted. Mayer is a left-handed-hitting California prep shortstop who is seen as having some of the best raw hitting ability at the top of Draft boards. He has drawn comparisons to the Dodgers' Corey Seager and the Giants' Brandon Crawford.

However, Mayer is far from a lock, even with the Pirates linked heavily to a hitter over a college ace like Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker of Vanderbilt. Among other players that will likely be in consideration for the Bucs at the No. 1 slot are Louisville catcher Henry Davis, Texas prep shortstop Jordan Lawlar and North Carolina prep shortstop Kahlil Watson.

“There are a lot of good players at the top of this Draft, and they’re pretty tightly packed together,” Cherington said. “We’re going to spend the next few weeks seeing if we can separate them.”

In internal Draft prep rooms, there will be days of discussions, no matter how clear cut the No. 1 pick is. But with such a crowded top of the table -- which Cherington says isn’t a bad thing at all -- it isn’t 100 percent certain that the Pirates will have things decided the morning of July 11.

“I think the way we would look at it is we’re going to use all the time that we have,” Cherington said. “We need to get this right. It’s really important. Let’s take all the time we have to get this right.”