In 2005 the Pirates drafted 11th overall and took a high school centefielder from Fort Meade, Florida who is obviously one of the top players on the current team, Andrew McCutchen. Just five years later I thought I’d take a look at what happened to the other 49 players taken that day and what ever became of them. The pick of McCutchen was obviously a success but other than him the only other player who has actually played for the Pirates in the majors is Steven Pearce and considering he was taken in the 8th round out of college. Pearce cost the team just $40 K to sign and they still have an option left on him, he was still a pretty good pick. Unfortunately, he is the only other player left in the system which shows you how poorly the Pirates picked that year. However, Brent Lillibridge was also picked, and he has played parts of three seasons in the majors and was the minor leaguer included in the Adam LaRoche deal.
As for the rest, the list of players who never appeared in the minors is a relatively short one considering how bad the top went. You have to go all the way down to Michael Klindt taken in the 33rd round to find a player without minor league experience. The others are 34th pick Gary Bucuren, 37th pick Eric Marshall, 39th pick Jason Brock, 40th Kenneth Weida who was also taken in the 48th round in 2006 by the Pirates, 41st round pick Nick Beghtol who the Bucs took in the 34th round in 2004, 43rd rounder Scott Kuhns who was taken in the 41st round in 2006, 45th pick Philip Riley, 48th pick Paul Dickey and 50th pick Stephen Merino. They seem to like drafting lower round guys twice who don’t want to sign.
That still leaves 37 players and tops among them was Brad Corley, the 2nd round pick who never saw a pitch he didn’t like. He posted 193 RBI’s his first two full seasons but as many predicted,without the ability to take a pitch, he wouldn’t get past AA pitchers who would expose his weakness. After showing no improvement in 2009 and 2000+ AB’s with just 77 walks, the Bucs let him go. He played briefly in the Rockies system to end 2009 but did not appear in a game in 2010.
James Boone looked like a talented player taken in the 3rd round but he was injured more often than he played and by the time he reached AA the missed time caught up with him. He averaged just 62 games per year in his five seasons in the organization, showing brief glimpses of his talent but was an overall bust. He also was let go during the 2009 season from Altoona and he went on the play Indy ball to finish the year.
Fifth rounder Jeff Sues didn’t throw a pitch until 2007 due to injury but in 2008 he had made it up to Altoona striking out over a hitter per inning and was named the minor league pitcher of the year. He was also added to the 40 man roster but his success was fleeting. He struggled in 2009, was upset over how he was used in 2010 and was released in August, signing with the White Sox organization but got in just 7 total innings with them.
Sixth rounder Cameron Blair looks like a pretty big overdraft. He didn’t hit well in short-season ball in 2005, didn’t hit much for Hickory in 2006, returned in 2007 and looked worse and has been playing Indy ball since then. Seventh rounder Justin Vaclavik actually looked good in Hickory in 2006 posting a 3.16 ERA with a good strikeout rate so they decided to challenge him by jumping him to Altoona the next year. To say he got hit hard is an understatement. He posted an 8.39 ERA and a WHIP over 2.00 and it was enough to force him into an early retirement less than a year after showing well, and 2 years after being drafted.
Ninth rounder Derrik Moeves basically followed the Vaclavik model, pitched well in 2006 in Hickory, got promoted, then got hit so hard in 2007 he was out of baseball by the end of the season. Only difference with him was the fact he ended up back in Hickory to take his last beatings. He had very poor control and was strictly a reliever, not a good combo. To round out the top ten the Bucs took another pitcher, Derek Antelo who really never pitched well but he lasted until 2008 in the system finishing in Altoona with a career 5.09 ERA in 101 games, 22 as a starter. In total the Bucs spent approximately $3.7 M in the first ten rounds.
Chris Jones was taken in the 11th round, about 20 rounds too soon. He was almost immediately made an organizational catcher playing just 113 games total before his release in 2008. For as bad as the Bucs picked with some of these guys they seemed to have made a good pick in the 12th round with Jason Delaney who couldn’t field much but he could hit line drives all day. Seeing him play a lot in person, I thought he had a good chance for a bench job in the majors at some point but the Pirates gave up on him in 2009 and this past season he struggled badly in AA with Florida making his release the previous year seem like perfect timing.
The Pirates took huge (6′ 8″ 240 lb) RHP Matt Swanson in the 13th round. He pitched well, albeit as a college pitcher in relief, with Williamsport in 2005. He pitched okay with Hickory in 2006 and a little worse with Lynchburg in 2007 to round out his career. Fourteenth rounder Albert Laboy broke a string of twelve straight college players picked. The 18 year old outfielder didn’t hit much his first two years but was pretty good for Hickory as a 20 year old in 2007 hitting .287 with 6 homers in 63 games. They must not have thought much of him because he was back at the level in 2008 after struggling to open the season with Lynchburg, was released at age 21 and he hasn’t played since.
Jarred Bogany didn’t sign out of high school in 2005 but has played the last three years in the Cardinals organization, currently in high-A ball hitting .248 in 196 games so far. He was the highest pick not to sign that year. Eric Krebs, signed in the 16th round is still in pro ball, currently in the Dodgers system after being sent to them in the Delwyn Young deal. He spent two seasons in rookie ball for the Bucs despite having a year of college ball already and then in three seasons in full season ball he posted an ERA over 4.00 as a reliever. He has a high strikeout rate in his career but walks a lot of batters as well. Darren Newlin, 17th pick, signed and went to short season ball pitching okay as a reliever but never pitched again in the pros.
Ryan Searage, 18th pick, is the son of current pitching coach, and then Hickory coach, Ray Searage. It was obviously a favor done for dad as Ryan had little business in pro ball hitting just .124 with a high strikeout rate and little skill in two years at Williamsport. Just to jump ahead a little but for good reason, the Bucs took Juan Mesa in the 23rd round, son of then closer for the Bucs, Jose Mesa. Juan spent two years in the GCL without much to show for it before being released. Daniel Rios, 19th round, wasn’t the son of Armando Rios but he played like a son of a Pirate, spending three years in short-season ball with poor results. He went to Japan to play in 2008 and lasted just 11 games getting just one hit.
Ryan Lollis, 20th round, has been drafted three times, most recently with the Giants in 2009 spending this past season in low-A ball hitting .288 while playing full-time but he is 24 already.
Elias Otero, 21st pick, didn’t sign until 2008 with the Rays. He is now 23 and has played three years in short-season ball with little to show for it.
David Dinatale, 22nd pick, didn’t sign out of high school but was picked by the Rockies in 2009 in the 28th round. He has hit just .185 in 51 rookie league games since signing.
Jared Brown, 24th round, signed with the Bucs and went to the GCL as a 23 year old lasting 7 games. He was released, then pitched poorly in 2 seasons of Indy ball and hasn’t been seen in a boxscore since.
Michael Wanamaker, 25th round, hasn’t played pro ball yet but he pitched this past season in College for Penn State so I didn’t write him off yet, but his stats were not that good so a career in the minors seems unlikely at this point.
Tony Mansolino, 26th pick, signed as a 22 year old and went to the GCL which is almost never a good sign. He did last 4 seasons in the Pirates system but never hit anywhere he went. He played briefly for two Phillies teams,hit a little less than normal and has been recently seen hitting under .250 in Indy ball.
Nash Robertson, 27th pick, was a college senior who went right to the GCL (see Mansolino to see if that’s a good sign). He pitched just 6 games, one less than college draftee Jared Brown, and hasn’t pitched anywhere of note since.
Clayton McMillan in the 28th round was probably a pretty good pick because the Braves took him in 2006 in the 17th round. He pitched up until 2009 and posted a 3.27 ERA in 66 games but was released just prior to the 2010 season.
I lied earlier about guys who didn’t go pro, but when I saw how 29th pick Iain Sebastian did in college I just had to give him more than a passing reference. He pitched 3 years in college, two different schools, pitched in 20 games, 4 as a starter but lasted just 24 innings total giving up 33 earned runs! He also had just one career hit but amazingly it was a home run. His lowest ERA you ask? 8.83.
Chad Povich didn’t sign out of the 30th round but inked with the Red Sox after being taken in the 42nd round in 2007. He lasted three seasons posting a 5.01 ERA in 75 games, 16 as a starter.
Jason Herman, 31st round, went to the GCL as a 23 year old after signing, need I say more? He lasted till the end of the 2006 season before moving onto a career in Indy ball.
Matt Acors signed as a 22 year old out of the 32nd round and tied Jared Brown with the most appearances by a college pitcher for the GCL Pirates who didn’t last past the 2005 season. Like Nash Robertson, his career was over when the season ended.
Lyndon Estill didn’t sign out of the 35th round but the White Sox took him in the 8th round in 2007. It wasn’t as bad of a loss as it seems by not signing him as he lasted just two seasons and had a horrible time making contact striking out 208 times in 448 AB’s.
The Pirates liked Justin Byler, 36th round, to draft him two years in a row and he looked like a good hitter, especially after hitting .312 with some power in 2007 at State College. He then he missed all of 2008 with an injury and didn’t hit as well in 2009 as a 24 year old in short-season ball so they released him.
Carl Uhl didn’t sign out of the 38th round but was drafted two more times, most recently by the Phillies in 2009 who kept him just one season. He did get to play for Williamsport though, three seasons later than he probably would’ve been sent there by the Pirates.
Kyle Sweat, 42 round, didn’t sign and was never drafted again but he got into one game of Indy ball in 2009 narrowly avoiding the list of guys who never played pro. He might want to forget that game as he gave up 4 runs in 2 IP.
Jordan Latham didn’t sign out of the 44th round but was taken 15 rounds higher by the Cubs in 2006 and is still in their system. He has pitched strictly as a reliever posting a 3.17 ERA in 109 games.
Kody Hinze, 46th round, didn’t sign and wasn’t drafted again but signed with the Astros in 2008 and this past season he hit 19 homers and drove in 97 runs in low-A ball. He’s 23 already but it’s possible he’s a late bloomer, he strikes out a lot but takes his share of walks as well.
Ryan Lormand, 47th rounder also didn’t sign but was taken in the 2008 draft by the Giants and has played as high as AAA already. He is a light hitting middle infielder with some speed. Bucs didn’t do too bad with these last two late picks except for the signing them cheap part.
Last but almost not least, the Bucs took pitcher Francisco Ortiz in the 49th round. He didn’t sign in 2005 but they took him in the 18th round the following year and signed him. He pitched three season in the GCL, possibly a record. He finished the 2008 season pitching poorly for Hickory to finish the year. He was released following the season but has recently appeared in Indy ball and he’s still just 23 years old.