The Pirates have that coveted #1 pick in the 2011 draft for the first time since 2002 when they selected Bryan Bullington. So far the betting line is that 3B Anthony Rendon from Rice will don a Pirate cap. Goodness knows another bat in the lineup would be a most welcome sight.
Then again, college pitchers Gerrit Cole and Matthew Purke may be the apples of the FO's eyes. One of those two could be the finishing touch to a dynamite staff in, oh, 2014 or so: Jameson Taillon, James McDonald, Ross Ohlendorf, Rudy Owens, and 2011's choice, with Brad Lincoln, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and company also in the mix.
But we'll deal with the who-to-pick issue later. This is just to alert the loyal Pirate fandom that thanks to compensation, the Pirates pick first - and then don't have another selection until #58. They miss virtually an entire round.
There are three teams that were awarded extra first round picks in 2011 because they didn't sign their top pick in 2010. And the sandwich round, where compensation for free agent signings is given, stretches from #34-57. The Pirates even shot themselves in the foot somewhat; San Diego got pick #56 as compensation for Kevin Correia's Bucco deal.
It's jumped a few slots this year; the sandwich round ended at pick #50 last year and #49 in 2009, when the Pirates drafted Tanner Scheppers and Victor Black in the sandwich round.
Now its no surprise that Pittsburgh isn't in the compensation round - you have to lose talent to free agency to get there, and the Pirates dumped all their veteran pieces long ago. It's sorta self-regulating; the lesser teams get the higher impact players, while the more loaded teams make up in quantity what they lose in quality.
Still, having 56 picks fall between Pittsburgh's first and second selection makes it awfully hard to load up on difference makers.