PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates had a top-10 pick in the MLB Draft, they selected an 18-year-old outfielder from a high school in Loganville, Ga. That was Austin Meadows, the ninth overall selection in 2013 who broke into the Majors earlier this month.
The Bucs' disappointing, 75-87 season in 2017 left them out of the postseason for the second straight year. The silver lining is a top-10 pick in the Draft that they hope will lead them to another talented young players like Meadows.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com today at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Pirates, whose first selection is the 10th overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Pirates would love to land another five-tool talent like Meadows or another intriguing arm like Shane Baz, their first-round pick last year. Their 10-year history of top-10 picks includes Meadows, Mark Appel (unsigned), Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tony Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez -- a handful of hits and misses. They're aiming for another hit this time around.
Video: Mayo breaks down Top 200 Draft prospects
MLB Pipeline's top three Draft prospects are college players: right-handers Casey Mize (Auburn) and Brady Singer (Florida) and infielder Nick Madrigal (Oregon State). Mize is widely expected to go first overall to the Tigers. Beyond that, the top 10 is anyone's guess.
"There isn't a ton of clarity in front of us," general manager Neal Huntington said. "One seems to be pretty set at this point in time, but two through nine seem to be variable at this point … maybe more so than prior years."
There will be a lot of high school talent available when the Pirates pick, so they can continue their search for high-upside players. However, Huntington and director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri always keep their options open to take the best player available when they're on the clock.
"Complete confidence in Joe DelliCarri, and our group [of scouts] down there has done everything that they can do," Huntington said. "We joked with Joe that he was ready to draft on Jan. 4. We could've put a board together and felt really good about it."
MLB Pipeline's experts have linked the Pirates to a handful of high school players. MLB.com's Jim Callis has connected Pittsburgh to prep right-handers Grayson Rodriguez, Carter Stewart and Cole Winn as well as lefty Ryan Weathers. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo also mentioned Winn as a possibility for Pittsburgh in a recent mock draft.
Video: Draft Report: Jarred Kelenic, High School outfielder
If they decide to pick a position player, Callis noted that the Pirates' preference for athletic outfielders could lead them to Jarred Kelenic (a high schooler from Wisconsin) or Travis Swaggerty (South Alabama). High school third baseman Nolan Gorman, a lefty-hitting slugger with plenty of raw power, may also be of interest.
Each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values assigned to its selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. Any bonus money above $125,000 given to a player picked in rounds 11-40 also counts against a team's allotment. If a player selected in the first 10 rounds doesn't sign, his pick's value is subtracted from the team's pool. If the club exceeds its allotment, it will face a penalty.
A team that outspends its pool by 0-5 percent will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. Beyond that, clubs can lose future picks and pay additional taxes. In six years under these rules, teams have outspent their allotments 95 times but never by more than 5 percent.
The Pirates are one of seven clubs with an eight-figure bonus pool this year, as they have $10,390,400 to spend. Their first pick (10th overall) is valued at $4,560,200, their Competitive Balance Round A pick (36th) at $1,967,900 and their second-round selection (51st) at $1,382,400. Last year, the Pirates signed first-round pick Baz for a $4.1 million bonus, more than the $4,032,000 value assigned to the 12th overall selection.
Teams rarely, if ever, take players based upon a "need" in the Draft. But the Pirates certainly have traits that they look for in players. They have a history of selecting patient/high-contact hitters, athletic defenders and projectable pitchers who have strikeout stuff and high ground-ball rates. But they've also shown a willingness to draft raw talent out of the high school ranks, as they did early on in last year's Draft. The Pirates have a young Major League team and a deep, well-rounded farm system, so they're best served sticking to their "best player available" philosophy.
Video: Top Prospects: Shane Baz, RHP, Pirates
The Pirates used their top pick on a position player each year from 2013-17, and they gravitated toward hitters with their top-five-round picks during that stretch. They bucked that trend a bit last year by taking Baz in the first round. With four picks on Day 1 of the Draft last year, the Bucs went heavy on high-ceiling high school talent by selecting Baz, right-hander Steven Jennings and outfielders Calvin Mitchell and Conner Uselton.
Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer, two of the Pirates' first three picks in the 2015 Draft, began the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. Newman could make his Major League debut later this year, and the Bucs began moving the former first-rounder between shortstop and second base to increase his defensive versatility if he breaks in as a bench player. Kramer, who's worked around the infield this season, may not be far behind after a breakout 2017 season at the plate with Double-A Altoona.
Video: Top Prospects: Kevin Newman, SS, Pirates
Max Moroff was a 16th-round pick out of high school in the 2012 Draft, but his patient approach and versatile glove have made him one of the Pirates' top infield depth options. Most of their current players and top prospects were either high-round Draft picks, trade acquisitions or international signings. Keep an eye on Class A West Virginia first baseman Mason Martin, though. Pittsburgh's No. 25 prospect is off to a slow start this season, but he slugged 11 homers over 39 games in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Pirates last year.
In the show
Twelve players on the Pirates' 40-man roster were acquired in the Draft: Josh Bell (2011, second round), Adam Frazier (2013, sixth round), Tyler Glasnow (2011, fifth round), Clay Holmes (2011, ninth round), Nick Kingham (2010, fourth round), Chad Kuhl (2013, ninth round), Jordan Luplow (2014, third round), Meadows (2013, first round), Jordy Mercer (2008, third round), Moroff (2012, 16th round), Jacob Stallings (2012, seventh round) and Taillon (2010, first round). All 12 of them have played for the Bucs over the last two years, with Luplow and Stallings the only two who haven't spent time in the big leagues this season.
The Pirates' recent top picks
2017: Shane Baz, RHP (Rookie-level GCL Pirates)
2016: Will Craig, 1B (Double-A Altoona)
2015: Kevin Newman, INF (Triple-A Indianapolis)
2014: Cole Tucker, SS (Double-A Altoona)
2013: Austin Meadows, OF (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.