06/10/2009 12:32 AM ET
Neal Huntington speaks about the Draft
Pirates GM talks about first-round pick Tony Sanchez
Why Tony Sanchez with the #4 overall pick?
In our minds, Tony Sanchez is an outstanding pick and a quality, premium position player. We put players on our board without signability as a primary factor. It does factor into all decisions, without question, but if we felt like there was a player worth a huge chunk of our signing bonus budget that was available we would have gone in that direction.
There was also a chance to allow us to position ourselves to go out and get some quality arms later in the draft. Some of these arms may even still have the potential as the pitchers taken earlier, but they just haven't flashed that caliber of stuff to date. Several of these pitchers have the opportunity to come on to the scene in terms of their maturity and stuff.
How would you rate Sanchez's offensive ability?
Tony is a very intelligent and hard-working young man and we think his bat has a chance to be a solid Major League bat. We like his strength, his bat speed and his approach. He is a middle of the diamond guy that has the power to drive the ball from gap to gap, and as he matures and makes the transition, we see the power coming along as well.
But with that being said, we're excited about his total package. As the total package comes into consideration, he is a plus defensively with the chance to be among the elite in the game if he continues to work hard and the game-calling elements come together.
Some scouts have compared his throwing arm behind the plate to a shut-down type of catcher like Yadier Molina. Is that a fair comparison?
(Yadier's) is one of the names that were thrown around in our room, and we don't compare things like that lightly. We take these things very seriously and we try to get our scouts to avoid superlatives; to talk in realistic terms. And realistically, Molina is a guy relative to catching and throwing that we did in fact compare him to.
Do you know what level Sanchez will start at once he is signed?
If we can get this done quickly, there is no reason why Tony Sanchez can't go out and compete at the low-A ball level right away. But, it will be something that would have to get done quickly. If it lingers then the value of trying to get him out to an advanced level lessens.
How much did this pick have to do with your perception that since the draft is so deep, there will be later picks that might have higher demands, thus you will need the funds to spread amongst those picks?
It did play a role, but again, we are excited about Tony Sanchez as a player. As we look at our board as a whole, given the players who are available and given our draft strategy and process, we do think we can get a number of good players by allocating resources across a large number instead of a small number of players. We were excited about what we were able to do last year, but one could argue that we've got more resources to distribute over a large number of players this year that was tied up in Pedro Alvarez last year. If a talent like Pedro was on the board and that talent was available at our draft pick we would have taken it. We feel this pick gives us the best ability to maximize our returns out of the draft.
Again, I don't want to take away from Tony Sanchez. I can't emphasize enough that he was the top guy on our board when it was our turn to pick at number four.
When you look at the first round, is it a case that once you got past the first two picks, there really weren't a ton of guys that would merit above slot type of bonuses?
That is a great question, and I've said publicly that this would be an ideal year to be in the NFL. Different people like different things and place different values on different players. Just because a player asks for $8 or $6 or $4 million doesn't mean he's worth it. We place an internal value on every player in the draft and when the draft value, ask value and our internal value are so exponentially apart, it's not going to make a lot of sense for us to use a high pick on that player.
There may be some guys later in the draft that we take shots on and maybe their asks come down, which would allow us to get even a deeper and talented draft class. In this situation it would have been a great year for traded draft picks to occur, like the NFL, because one team may covet one player more than another team with a higher draft pick.
That being said, All-Stars come out of all rounds of the draft. If you look at last year's All-Star team, there were players taken in the 20th round or later. And certainly in the 3rd-10th rounds. The draft is, without question, not a science but an art. We have organizational philosophies and a vision on how we want to go about evaluating players and what types of players we believe fit in the Pittsburgh Pirates We're going to draft the players that we believe fit those criteria and can help up the most in every single pick.