MLB Draft: Where Pirates pick in new scenario

The 2020 MLB Draft is going to feel strange. But it's still happening, beginning June 10 — virtually — and that's good news for the Pirates.

This year, the Pirates own three top-45 picks — No. 7, No. 31 and No. 44 overall — giving them an opportunity to significantly bolster their farm system with high-potential prospects. That No. 7 overall pick also represents the team's highest selection since 2011, when they took Gerrit Cole first overall. Last season, the Pirates had the 18th overall pick, taking pitcher Quinn Priester, who went 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.194 WHIP with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.

And while the Pirates will benefit this year from those three early picks, the overall depth in the 2020 MLB Draft won't be there, as the event has been shortened from the usual 40 rounds down to just five rounds due to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on MLB as a whole.

With this new-look virtual draft, teams will make their picks remotely, as the NFL did during the 2020 NFL Draft from April 23 – 25, and the following changes will apply:

• Teams can utilize allotted money at their discretion
• Undrafted signing period begins June 13; teams can sign an unlimited amount of undrafted players
• Those undrafted players can receive a maximum $20,000 signing bonus
• Signing deadline for draft picks is Aug. 1
• Signing bonuses for drafted players can be delayed, with $100,000 at the most paid within 30 days of signing, 50 percent of the remainder by July 1, 2021, then the remaining amount July 1, 2022

The Pirates will need to keep these changes in mind as they make their six picks throughout the draft. Those selections are as follows:

• Round 1, No. 7 overall
• Competitive Balance Round A/Round 1, No. 31 overall
• Round 2, No. 44 overall
• Round 3, No. 79 overall
• Round 4, No. 108 overall
• Round 5, No. 138 overall

The Pirates had eight consecutive top-10 picks from 2006 to 2013 but have picked outside the top 10 in each draft since then. Some notable selections from that top-10 grouping include Cole (2011), Jameson Taillon (2010), and Austin Meadows (2013).

June 10, the Pirates and their new general manager, Ben Cherington, get their first opportunity to re-introduce top-10 talent into the Pirates' system.

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