OK, Neal Huntington has been trying to calm the Bryce Harper storm, at least until the June meat market opens. Who might he be looking at right now?
Well, doh, Bryce Harper, despite Huntington's cool as a January dip in the Mon attitude. The kid's 17, hits a ball 500 feet, and has four tools (a roadrunner he ain't.)
In his favor: he's a lefty bomber. Also, the suits seem to favor plucking a position player (Pedro Alvarez, Tony Sanchez) with their first pick. And while he's mainly catching now, he projects as a corner fielder (he throws righty) and could be Pedro's infield bookend down the road or a big bat in right field.
Drawbacks: Awfully young, still jumps at the ball, and is represented by the piledriving Scott Boras, so he'll be a tough sign. But give the devil his due; he's the only reason Pittsburgh may sniff Harper.
After last year's dealing with the Boras Corporation, who was representing Stephen Strasburg, the Nats may let young Mr. Harper drop to the Pirates. They didn't sign Strasburg until the deadline (hey, they had a minute left), which was less contentious than the Pirate's dealings with Boras and his 2008 client, Alvarez.
The Bucs have also been associated - and this is very early - with RHP Jameson Taillon of The Woodlands HS, Texas. The 6'-5" hurler throws a low to mid-90s fastball and a power 12-to-6 curve.
Another name that's a blip on the Pirate radar is RHP Anthony Ranaudo of LSU. His fastball hits 93, he works the inside half of the plate, misses bats, and owns a plus hook and change up. He's 6'-7", and the Bucs love those big guys.
Other highly ranked players are:
-- A.J. Cole, a RHP from Ovedia HS, Florida. He features a low 90s heater and is reputed to have the best arm in this year's high school class.
-- RHP Cameron Bedrosian of East Coweta HS, Georgia. The son of former MLB vet Steve Bedroisian, he throws in the low 90s and has a nasty power curve.
-- Drew Pomeranz, a LHP from Ole Miss. The junior was taken by the Rangers out of high school but wasn't signed. His fastball was clocked at 94-90 and his curveball darts at 78-80.
-- Christian Colon, SS, from Cal-State Fullerton. He was taken out of high school, but didn't sign. Colon was a freshman All-American and started every game for a Team USA team that went undefeated over the summer. He hit .352 as the sophomore shortstop for the College World Series-bound Titans, and projects as a second baseman.
-- Deck McGuire is a RHP from the Ramblin' Wrecks of Georgia Tech, the ACC's Pitcher-of-the-Year for 2009 and was named to several All-America teams. He shows a sinking 90-93 mph fastball that runs into righthanded hitters, a hard, upper-70s slurve, and a changeup.
Baseball America has their preliminary ratings here.