MLB Draft 2012: Pirates Seem to Have a Plan with Appel, Cole and Taillon

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJune 5, 2012

Jake Roth - US PRESSWIRE
Jake Roth - US PRESSWIRE

Throw all of those mock drafts and predictions in the toilet.

The Houston Astros answered the question "Will Mark Appel or Byron Buxton go first?" with "neither." Carlos Correa went first and Appel, the consensus No. 1 pick, fell to No. 8.

According to Jerry Crasnick of Baseball America, Appel was not happy about how far he slipped. But he might be happy when he realizes that he may have fallen into a very good situation.

With Scott Boras as his agent, he will undoubtedly leave college as a millionaire and a job. That is not bad in this economy.

But he will also be inserted into an organization that would not look to Appel as a savior but rather as a piece of a carefully constructed puzzle.

In one of my previous Bleacher Report posts, I broke down several of the Pirates dreadful drafts and who was still available when they picked. In the past few seasons, however, the Pirates have picked the top college pitcher in the draft.

In 2010, Jameson Taillon was picked second behind Nationals sensation Bryce Harper. Last year, UCLA's Gerrit Cole was the No. 1 overall pick by the Pirates. This year, Appel was considered the top pitching talent and he is off to Pittsburgh as well.

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With an influx of talent like that, the Pirates could be constructing a homegrown and controlled one-two-three punch for their rotation, the idea being to create a deep rotation from within.

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Gerrit Cole #75 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 26, 2012 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Certainly the cost to signing Appel will be high. But consider the cost of top starting pitchers today. The cost of signing Appel would be about the same as a solid middle reliever today.

Taillon is only 20 years old, and Cole is 21. Both are pitching well for Bradenton, a high A Florida State League team. No doubt they will be in AA by season's end with an eye on the big league club some time in 2013.

By 2014, Appel, Cole and Taillon might all be in Pittsburgh and be in a position to head the Pirates rotation, provided they are not being pitch-counted to death.

Pitchers like James McDonald, Brad Lincoln and Jared Hughes might still be on the squad in 2014. Prospects like Luis Heredia, Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens could develop into back end starters or relievers.

If it all works out, the pitching could develop, if not as perfectly as the Braves in the 1990s, then certainly like the 2010 Giants, where homegrown starters and relievers lay the foundation for a World Series title.

Will it work? Nothing is guaranteed, but at least the Pirates seem to have a plan.

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