The Pittsburgh Pirates secured the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft on Tuesday, during Major League Baseball’s first draft lottery. The next five picks, respectively, went to the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.
MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed to a draft lottery in the new collective bargaining agreement, whereby the 18 teams that did not reach the postseason would vie for the first six selections. Odds, based on 2022 winning percentage, ranged from 16.5% (for the Pirates, Nationals and A’s) to 0.2% (Milwaukee Brewers).
It will be the sixth time the Pirates pick first and the second time in three years. They took Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 pick in 2021.
“Every once in a while in this game, as we all know, it helps to get a little bounce — and we got one tonight,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said during an interview on MLB Network.
The A’s went in tied for the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick and finished with the No. 6 selection. The Twins took an even bigger step in the other direction, starting with the 13th-best odds and ultimately picking fifth.
The Nos. 7 to 18 picks in next year’s draft — slated for July from Seattle, site of the next All-Star Game — will be slotted by reverse winning percentage, followed by how teams finished in the postseason (the World Series-champion Houston Astros, for example, will pick 30th). Rounds 2 through 20 will navigate entirely in reverse order of winning percentage and postseason finish.
We will select 1st overall in the 2023 MLB Draft! pic.twitter.com/fHNpobdFGM
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) December 7, 2022
“When you’re picking up high in the draft, we know that that’s really important. Whether it’s 1 or 3 or 5, we’ve got to get those picks right and bring good players in,” Cherington said. “So I don’t feel like it’s more pressure. We’ve had practice with it obviously recently. I anticipate and certainly hope we will not be sitting in this seat in future years. But we’re going to take advantage of this one.”
MLB placed more picks up for grabs than any other major spot in its first draft lottery. Only the first four picks of the NBA draft are attained through the draft lottery. In the NHL, it’s just the first two.
The bottom three major league teams were all given the same odds for the No. 1 overall pick in an effort to disincentivize tanking for the worst record. Large-market teams (defined as those who do not receive revenue sharing) are prohibited from entering the draft lottery in back-to-back years; small-market teams can’t enter it for three straight years.
MLB Network announced the results of the lottery inside a ballroom from the Hyatt hotel in San Diego that is staging this year’s winter meetings, with executives from the 18 eligible clubs sitting at nearby tables and outfielder-turned-MLB-executive Raul Ibanez reading the results. But the process took place hours later, when a collection of sealed balls arrived in a suitcase and 1,001 four-number combinations were assigned to the 18 teams (the higher the odds for the No. 1 overall pick, the more combinations assigned to the team). Bill Francis, who helps run the MLB draft, selected the six four-number combinations that determined the order. PricewaterhouseCoopers oversaw the process.
This will mark the sixth time the Pirates select first overall.
Among the options they could look at with the top pick, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, are LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford and Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.