The Pittsburgh Pirates are accustomed to picking first or thereabouts in Major League Baseball's draft, so they've already succeeded in 2012 in at least one regard: They're picking eighth.
"That's a good sign just because it means we're improving at the major league level," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We've said all along we'd like to be that team picking last."
Be that as it may, Huntington added that the team's approach to its top pick, which it will make Monday night in the first round, isn't changing.
"In our mind, the worst idea is drafting for need," Huntington said. "You take the best player available. With each pick, you take the best player on the board. Now, between two players of equal standing, you can factor in depth. But you never pass on a better player just because you need someone at a different position."
The thinking that the Pirates will draft by need has led some to project that they would take Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero. The franchise has been utterly bereft of shortstops since the trading of Jack Wilson three years ago. However, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported last week that the Pirates don't intend to take Marrero.
Some outlets suggest the Pirates could be leaning toward University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino. That would be a little unusual, since they just invested their 2009 first-rounder in catcher Tony Sanchez, but Sanchez has performed below expectations in the system.
History is kind to the Pirates either way: The last time they picked this low was in 2005, when they invested the 11th overall choice in All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen. That was easily the franchise's best pick of the past two decades.