Greg Smith completed his second season as Pittsburgh's Director of Scouting after being named to the position on November 7, 2007. In 2008, Smith selected Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez who was rated by Baseball America as the "No. 1 prospect" in the draft with the second overall pick. Alvarez had a breakout year in his first professional season in 2009 after being named the organization's Minor League Player-of-the-Year while also playing for Team USA in the World Cup this past September.

Smith tabbed Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez as the club's first round selection in this past year's draft. Just three days later, Sanchez agreed to terms with the Pirates and went on to hit a combined .309 with 18 doubles, seven home runs and 48 RBI in 48 games between State College, West Virginia and Lynchburg. Smith sat down with Pirates recently to talk about his first two drafts as a member of the Pirates organization and what he and the rest of the Pirates scouting department do as they plan and work toward the 2010 draft.

Q: Now that the season is over, have you had a chance to reflect back to this past year's draft and see how the players have progressed in their first year in the Pirates system?

A: I think it's something that is basically automatic once we get through the playing season and we have some end of the season meetings down at Pirate City where we bring in all of our scouts and gives us a chance to go through the 2009 draft year and talk about the process, talk about the selections, talk about the players and talk about some of the dynamics with some of the guys we were able to sign and get into our system and onto the field and get them playing and to also talk about some of the guys that we weren't able to come to agreements with and those guys chose to go on to college or to go back to college. So I think it's an important time to be able to sit back and evaluate how we did as a group, how our guys did individually, collectively, and talk about some of the strengths that we felt some things that we did well in 2009 and also to be very mindful and very aware of some of the things that we need to improve on, enhance, upgrade and certainly do a better job of going into 2010. It's always something that you need to take time to sit back and reflect and say "you know what here are some areas that we need to make sure that we are on top of, make sure we improve on and you know what here are some things that we did well and let's make sure we continue to do those things and get better."

Q: The club selected Tony Sanchez with the first pick and this past year's draft and he responded with a solid professional debut. What was it about Tony that made you know he was the right person for the Pirates?

A: There was a lot written and a lot said about our selection with him with our first pick this year. As we have said consistently, Tony is a guy that we felt was a very good selection for us for a variety of reasons. Obviously catching is a premium position. In this draft class there was obviously a lot of strength in high school pitching and we took some of those guys with the depth of our draft. With Tony we are very excited about his first year. He had a full taste of his collegiate season, going through the draft, signing early and then getting out and playing at the different levels and even coming down to instructional league so it was quite the year for him and I'm sure he has a lot to build on coming into spring training next year.

Q: Looking back at your first draft with the team in 2008, how excited are you to see how quickly some of the players have made an impact in the Pirates system?

A: It's always exciting and gives our scouts a very good feeling when their players that we've signed and brought into the system go out and have performances that they do well and put their teams into a position to win and have good consistent days in and days out on the field performing both offensively, defensively and obviously the pitchers that do well. Our scouts are very mindful of how their guys are doing and how our guys are doing. As a scouting group and as a department it's the biggest thing that we do. We always talk about the impact that we can have on an organization and how we have to bring in good players on a consistent basis year in and year out where we're bringing in talent into the organization and upgrading the type of players that we bring in.

Q: As you get ready for the 2010 draft, what are some of the things you are doing as the scouting director this time of the year?

A: There are scout cycles and draft cycles between each year and each draft class. One of the things as a scouting director and as a scouting department you are always mindful of is that next group and next class. You eventually go through the 2009 draft this past year and you are having a chance to see some of the better players possibly for the 2010 draft as you go watch the big college programs and some of the school's out there that have the guys we're watching. They have sophomores for example that you know are going to be guys for the following years and the same holds true for some of the high school guys that you go to see.

Q: How has the Pirates approach changed in how the team scouts players since you were hired by the Pirates?

A: Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington's support has been a huge part of our dynamic since they have provided the resources and support to our scouts and scouting department and our entire operation. Scouts see and experience first-hand that we are making an impact on the amateur market in that landscape of being able to go out, scout the player that we identify with Major League ability and in some cases regardless of their financial expectations that if we have done our work and our process is solid and our process is sound and we've put ourselves in a position to make the best decision that we can make that we're going to be a competitive force in every area that's out there throughout the country.

Q: Even though it's months away, what is the early strength of the 2010 draft in regards to the kind of players available?

A: I think each draft is different. I think similar to last year there is a lot of high school talent coming into the 2010 draft. There are some college guys that are trying to make a push but I would say that the early returns are that it's high school at this point. But you know every given year that when the games start being played that some of the better players step up like Tony Sanchez from last year. He wasn't a guy on everybody's radar but as we went through the process and went through the spring of scouting the guys and being at the parks and the games that he was a guy that kept rising and rising so I'm sure there are going to be guys that step up in 2010 and we're excited to get the ball rolling.