Given that the Washington Nationals will likely take power-hitting junior college catcher Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a bit more of a dilemma when it comes to their selection.

Even though Harper will be gone, the Pirates still have the cream of the crop to work with—they can choose the best pitcher or the second best position player in the draft.

So who will the Pirates take?

The two best players in the draft, after Harper, are high school shortstop Manny Machado and high school pitcher Jameson Taillon.

Machado has earned comparisons to Alex Rodriguez. The Miami prospect, also a shortstop, hits for power and will likely move to third base if his 6’3″ frame fills out.

Additionally, Machado has nice plate discipline and a compact swing. His approach is the main reason he hits for power. In high school, he batted .639 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI’s in 29 games. His short swing allows him to make hard contact with the ball consistently, and his plate discipline allows him to swing at good pitches.

Machado is also a superb fielder. He has smooth footwork at shortstop, and nice, soft hands.

Machado is well-deserving of comparisons to Rodriguez. He has the potential to turn into a big league superstar, and the chances of him doing that seem high.

The Pirates haven’t had a great power-hitting, Gold-Glove caliber shortstop in the team’s history. Machado could fulfill that role, and could possibly bring back greatness to the once-proud Pittsburgh franchise.

On the other hand, Taillon may be one of the best pitching prospects since Stephen Strasburg. At 6’6″ and 220 pounds, Taillon already has the physical tools Strasburg possesses at an older age. Taillon’s frame is major league ready.

His stuff is pretty good, too.

Taillon’s fastball reaches 99 mph, and he has a nasty knuckle curve to go along with a nice changeup. From Texas, Taillon has earned comparisons to Josh Beckett, Roger Clemens, and Nolan Ryan.

Yes, I did say Nolan Ryan. He is that good.

Taillon also has a wonderful mental makeup. He is a strong student, so strong that he considered graduating from high school a year early so he could pitch at Rice.

The Pirates don’t have any starting pitchers that can bring it over 95 mph with regularity. Taillon could be that starter in a few short years. His mental makeup and physical tools are off the charts—he’s the best high school pitching prospect I have ever seen.

Picking between Machado and Taillon will be a very hard decision for the Pirates’ upper management. You either have a future All-Star shortstop who would be the first in franchise history to hit the long ball regularly, or you have a future All-Star pitcher who very well could mold into the next Nolan Ryan.

The Pirates have been noted for completely screwing up drafts, but when you have two future franchise players to pick from, it’s a bit difficult to screw up.

So who do the Pirates pick?

I say Machado. The Pirates don’t have any future All-Star shortstops in their minor league system, and in a few short years, many Pirates fans would like to see a high-caliber infield consisting of Pedro Alvarez at third, Machado at short, Neil Walker at second, and Garrett Jones at first.

Not a bad infield if you ask me.

Plus, the Pirates have been lacking offense for a while and Machado could supply that, along with Alvarez and Walker, for years to come.


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