The Pirates' spread-the-wealth strategy for the 2009 draft appears to be working, with a handful of their top-10 picks on the verge of signing contracts.
No. 2 selection Brooks Pounders, a 6-foot-6 pitcher from Temecula Valley (Calif.) High School, reportedly is set to sign today in Pittsburgh, after flying in for a physical and meetings with team officials. Pounders, a USC recruit, constituted the type of teenage pitcher with upside whom the Pirates aimed to snatch in a draft rife with them.
Meantime, Nos. 4 and 8 selections from Texas high schools, left-handed pitchers Zackry Dodson (Baylor) of Medina Valley and Colton Cain (University of Texas) of Waxahachie said they were in a two-week holding pattern before the Pirates -- working through major league channels for approval -- may extend them what might amount to above-slot contract offers. And No. 7 selection, pitcher Trent Stevenson (Arizona) of Scottsdale, Ariz., said he and his family are scheduled to meet with a Pirates representative Monday.
To date, the Pirates have announced the signing of first-round choice Tony Sanchez, a Boston College catcher who reached agreement Friday, and five players selected between Rounds 23 through 42.
"We are making steady progress with a number of our drafted players and are optimistic," general manager Neal Huntington said in an e-mail last night. "While getting players out playing this summer is important, we are not going to rush the process. We will work methodically through a large number of options to return the best quality and quantity of talent."