Pirates Notebook: Field is open for top pick in draft

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There are two certainties with the Pirates' first overall pick in Major League Baseball's amateur draft June 6.

First, it is not a two player choice.

There are many more prospects in addition to the consensus No. 1- and No. 2-ranked Rice infielder Anthony Rendon and UCLA right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole. The field is very much wide open, with indications that the Pirates are strongly considering upward of a dozen prospects for what could be the greatest one-time expenditure in franchise history.

"It is not unanimous, I can tell you that," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Greg Smith is our scouting director and he's going to take all opinions into consideration. I'm not a power play type guy. Greg Smith is our scouting director and I have complete faith and trust in him. ... We're going to get a very good player, but it's a deeper draft than it is top-heavy."

Secondly, Huntington said, "the advisor of anyone we consider will have no impact on whether we select them or not."

Super agent Scott Boras represents Rendon and Cole, who both would command more than $10 million if taken with the first pick. Boras is also the agent for Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who was selected in the first round in 2008 with the second overall pick and went through a tenuous negotiation before agreeing to a contract just minutes before baseball's signing deadline.

Alvarez avoids DL

Alvarez didn't start Sunday against the Astros but was available if manager Clint Hurdle needed him. There are no plans to put Alvarez on the disabled list.

Alvarez has been out since he was removed in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game in San Diego with tightness in his right quadriceps. He went through a strenuous round of infield practice before Sunday's game, which came after a running session. During the infield work, Alvarez came in on ground balls at full speed and threw them to first time and again, showing no visible lingering impact from the injury.

Inside Veras

Relief pitcher Jose Veras, in his first season with the Pirates, has been largely successful in his role as one of the late-game bullpen arms.

He has also been one of the more animated Pirates pitchers in recent memory. He is never afraid to show his personality on the field.

But, there is that one gesture he does at the end of every outing, when he takes his cap off and uses a moment to point to the sky and look upward.

What is that all about?

"I thank God," Veras said. "My family is very Catholic and every time I do something, I realize this opportunity I'm given."

But his spirituality also goes a little deeper.

"I pray every day," he said. "At my house, in the bullpen, in the clubhouse, on the way to the park. I pray that my teammates will stay healthy, that we will all have the mentality to control what we can control. I never pray and say, 'Let me get a 1-2-3 inning' or anything, I just pray and think about this opportunity."

Buried treasure

• Right-handed relief pitcher Evan Meek, on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, continued his rehabilitation efforts by throwing from 60 feet on flat ground Sunday. He said he felt fine afterward.

• As has become tradition on Mother's Day around Major League Baseball, several Pirates players used pink bats to raise awareness for breast cancer. In addition, Joel Hanrahan and Neil Walker wore pink spikes and a few players wore pink batting gloves.


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