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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

First Pitch: Explaining Why This Looks Like a Bad Draft For the Pirates

In our draft rankings earlier in the week, we wrote about how this was a talented draft class. It looked like the Pirates could get some impressive talent in the first round, landing someone who would have ranked higher than 24th overall in previous drafts. They might even have had a chance to land a first round talent in the second round.

What they ended up doing was drafting Cole Tucker with their first pick, and Connor Joe with the second pick. There’s nothing wrong with these two players. We had both in our top 100, and they would have been good picks in the second round. That’s the issue here. The Pirates didn’t get good value with their most valuable picks. They got some nice value with their second round picks, taking two projectable prep pitchers, but that didn’t make up for the drop in value in the first round.

After the dust settled with this draft, I started looking around at what other teams did, and noticed who the Milwaukee Brewers had drafted. They reached a bit with their first round pick, taking Kodi Medeiros with the 12th overall pick. Baseball America had him 32nd, MLB had him 29th, Keith Law had him 46th, and Scout.com had him 35th. There wasn’t a consensus on him, but there was a consensus that his best ranking was the back of the first round.

They will save some money with this move, and they’ve already put that to good use. Two picks after the Pirates took Connor Joe, the Brewers drafted Jacob Gatewood. That would have been my pick for the Pirates in the first round. We averaged all four rankings mentioned above, and Gatewood ranked 25th overall in the average rankings.

Then Milwaukee took Monte Harrison nine picks later in the second round. That would have been my backup pick in the first round, as you can see here before the first pick was made. Harrison ranked one behind Gatewood, coming in at 26th overall.

The Brewers essentially traded down in the first round to trade up with their next two picks. They had the 12th, 41st, and 50th picks, and got players ranked 25th, 26th, and 32nd in the average rankings. In other words, they traded a mid-first round pick and two early second round picks for three late first round picks. That’s a good trade-off. And they’ve already signed Gatewood and Harrison, going a little over a million over-slot to sign them both.

The Pirates didn’t get the same trade-off. As I said, they got some talented players in round two, but those players were drafted at their appropriate spots. Mitch Keller, who looks like at least the second best player in this draft, if not the best, went 64th overall. The average rankings had him 69th. Trey Supak went 73rd, while the average rankings had him at 82nd.

The Brewers traded down, and used the savings to get two guys at a great value with their Competitive Balance and second round picks. The Pirates reached, and in turn they got guys who were drafted right where they should have been drafted. There was no benefit on the other side like Milwaukee received.

On day two, the Pirates went almost exclusively with college players, and not many of those guys had big upsides. They definitely didn’t make up for the reaches in day one. On day three they took a few guys who have high upsides, and who might help to make up for the value loss. But none of these guys are close to first rounders. Instead, they were guys who were ranked around rounds 6-10 from a talent perspective.

If there’s a flaw in this logic, it’s that I’m using rankings of web sites to establish value, while the only rankings that matter to the Pirates are the ones developed from their scouts. The average rankings do have value. This isn’t the opinion of one person. This comes from everyone at Baseball America, plus Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis, and Kiley McDaniel. That’s a lot of people with a lot of connections to the amateur scene, and when you combine their rankings, they say that the Pirates didn’t get appropriate value with their first two picks.

This would all be different if the Pirates had a track record that said they knew better than the above sources. They have displayed this, but it’s more on the pitching side. Their best picks after the 10th round have been pitchers — Casey Sadler and Phil Irwin. Their biggest breakout from the high school ranks has been a pitcher, Tyler Glasnow. The biggest sleeper from the college ranks has been Brandon Cumpton, who was a ninth round pick with no hype. Not every pitcher works out (SEE: 2009 prep pitchers), but the success from this group has been strong.

That’s why the Pirates reaching in the first round is concerning. They reached for two hitters, who they liked much more than everyone else. And their track record in this case isn’t favorable. Consider the makeup of their top 50 prospects heading into the season.

Pitchers – 27

Pitchers via Draft – 19

Pitchers via International – 4

Pitchers via Trade – 3

Pitchers via Other – 1

Hitters – 23

Hitters via Draft – 12

Hitters via International – 9

Hitters via Trade – 2

The number for the hitters seems decent from the draft, but when you consider those hitters, you see that the Pirates aren’t exactly displaying a track record of finding sleepers. First or second round picks like Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire, Josh Bell, Tony Sanchez, Barrett Barnes, Wyatt Mathisen, and Stetson Allie (who was drafted as a pitcher) dominate the list. The only example of a guy taken as a reach was Sanchez, who doesn’t exactly display the Pirates’ ability to find sleeper hitters.

There isn’t a Tyler Glasnow in this group. There’s no Nick Kingham. There’s not a Brandon Cumpton or a Casey Sadler.

The Pirates entered the season with the best farm system in baseball. They didn’t just do this because they had high draft picks. They did this because they managed to find sleepers beyond just the first few rounds of the MLB draft. There was also a specific way they were doing this. They were very successful finding pitching talent in the draft, and extremely successful finding hitting talent on the international side.

If the Pirates had reached on two lower ranked pitchers with the first two picks, I’d defer to their rankings and judgement here. I’d probably give the draft a better grade than they’d get from the outlets that had those pitchers ranked lower. And that’s because the Pirates seem to know what they’re doing with pitchers. They just don’t have that same track record with hitters.

I didn’t have much time the last few days to look at the comments. I scanned through between rounds, and some of what I saw was the typical draft clichés.

“Maybe it will work out.”

“The draft is unpredictable.”

“Anything can happen.”

Two things about these types of comments. The first thing is that they’re absolutely right. The Pirates could be correct here. They could know something about these picks that makes them good selections in the first round. These could be the first hitters who display an ability for the Pirates to find sleepers, and go against the industry grain. I’m not saying that these guys are doomed to fail. Like I said, they’re good talents, just not appropriate value for the first round. It’s always possible that they might end up being really good value picks. That’s the beauty of the draft.

But here’s the other thing about those draft clichés. You never hear “maybe it will work out” or “anything can happen” when talking about a good pick.

Draft Links

**SALEGet 24% Off the 2014 Prospect Guide and Other Pirates Prospects Gear

**Prospect Highlights: First Look at Some Draft Picks From Day Two

**Draft Day Three Recap: Nine Players Who Stand Out in Rounds 11-40

**Rounds 11-15: Pirates Go a Familiar Route With First Pick on Day Three

**Rounds 16-20: Pirates Keep With the Trend of College Players

**Rounds 21-25: Pirates Break the College Trend; Take Three Interesting Prep Players

**Rounds 26-30: The Signability of Players After the 25th Round

**Rounds 31-35: Pirates Get a College Guy Who Was Projected in the Top 6 Rounds

**Rounds 36-40: Should MLB Shorten the Draft to 30 Rounds?

**2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

The Normal Links

**Prospect Watch: Kingham Looks Good in Trenton, Glasnow’s Outing Cut Short

**Gerrit Cole Has Shoulder Fatigue, Pirates Reshuffling Rotation

**Prospect Highlights: Lead-Off Homer From Gregory Polanco

**Minor League Schedule: Vance Worley Pushed Back to Sunday

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Lee Young

Bottom line with all this? We’ll know how well we did in 3-5 years…if not longer.

Spa City

Tucker seems to be a a good defensive shortstop with speed, and he is a switch hitter. According to the B/A, he is a talented hitter with a good eye, but he does not seem to have much power. However, at 17 years old he is 6’3″ 175. If he adds 15 lbs of muscle and generates any loft, he would start to look like a tremendous prospect.

Gatewood is huge. He is already 6’5″ 200 lbs, and by the time he reaches the majors he is likely to be much larger. He almost certainly will be a Right Fielder or 1st Baseman. He has a long, looping swing that will result in a ton of strikeouts. He seems like a Three-True-Outcomes player who will be limited defensively. He might have a decent career, but I am much more excited about Tucker than I would have been about Gatewood.

Generally, the Pirates selected 5 players who were ranked by B/A in the top 100… despite not having a pick until the 24th selection. That sure seems like a great draft to me, even if the first pick was a “reach.” How many other teams can say they got 5 of the top 100 draftees (as per B/A’s rankings)?


I’m like you, Tim, I am disappointed with the draft. But it’s not without hope – all of the top 5 picks were ranked in the top 100 by Keith McDaniel, and two others (Gushue and Welmon) were in the top 150. Since they only had 6 picks in the top 150, they came away with more than their “share” of those guys.

Nobody looks like they can be an all-star, and the guy with the most power is probably Fillibin, so it’s not a sexy draft. But hitting line drives and getting on base are valuable commodities (see St. Louis Cardinals), and they appear to have gotten quite a few of those guys.

Simon Weaver

Neil is outsmarting everyone, don’t worry lol. All the “experts” gave them credit and mocked them good players. Same old sucks


2009 BA Top 100 High School Prospects

1. Donavan Tate OF R-R 6-3 200 Cartersville (Ga.) HS

2. Tyler Matzek LHP L-L 6-3 185 Capistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejo, Calif.
3. Matt Purke LHP L-L 6-3 180 Klein (Texas) HS


36. Zach Von Rosenberg RHP R-R 6-5 196 Zachary (La.) HS Louisiana State
37. Bryan Berglund RHP R-R 6-4 185 Royal HS, Simi Valley, Calif. Loyola Marymount
38. Mark Appel RHP R-R 6-4 185 Monte Vista HS, Danville, Calif. Stanford

79. Jonathan Singleton 1B L-L 6-2 216 Millikan HS, Long Beach, Calif. Long Beach State
80. Reggie Williams OF B-R 6-4 190 Brooks-Debartolo Collegiate HS, Tampa Miami
81. Mike Trout OF/RHP R-R 6-1 190 Millville (N.J.) HS East Carolina

Lee Young

I looked at the first 10 rounds of that 2009 draft. Overall, really poor for every team, unless you were the Cardinals.

If Sanchez ever becomes even an average ML Catcher, our return will be top 5 or 7.

Kevin Anstrom

I think people are being far too harsh on this draft class. In particular I don’t get the criticism of the first two picks. Depending on which players sign I think this group has a chance to be better than the 2013 class.

I don’t have time to make a strong argument now but I’ll point out a few issues with the 2013 class.

Issue #1 – the bats

The top bats were Meadows, McGuire, JaCoby Jones, Frazier, Weiss, Buckner, and Arbet.

->Last year Meadows had a great season. However he K’d in about 25% of his ABs. This year he’s been injured and hasn’t played. Probably not a CF … lacks a RF arm … so what’s left? LF/1B/DH
->McGuire and Weiss have had strong starts to their pro careers. However they’ve combined for 1HR in roughly 700AB. I can’t think one above average MLB player with a similar history. Can you?
->Frazier was a quality college SS but he’s struggling in the pros. At this point he has 2x more errors and xBH. Of course no home runs for him either.
->JaCoby Jones has had a strong start to his pro career. This year he’s a SS for WV. Obviously he’s an above-average athlete. What’s not obvious is whether he can be an average SS.
->Buckner / Arbet – in WV by 2015? 2016? 2017?

Issue #2 – the arms

I’d argue that the Pirates didn’t sign the best two arms in the class.
->29th round pick Jake Stinnett emerged as the top college SR and was drafted in round #2 by the Cubs.
->33rd round pick Reagan Bazar was a freshman AA and was clocked at 100MPH with the Ragin Cajuns.

Kevin Anstrom

Regarding the 1st Round Pick

What should be expected from Cole Tucker?
What should we expect from any shortstop?

Using data as of June 5th, I’ve compiled a list of every MLB SS who met the following criteria …

a) played 100 or more innings at SS in 2014
b) had a WAR > 0.0 for the 2014 season (from baseball reference)

1) Troy Tulowitzki – 1st rd (2005) (WAR of 4.9)
2) Chris Owings – 1st rd (2009) (WAR of 2.0)
3) Brandon Crawford – 4th rd (2008) (WAR of 1.5)
4) Jimmy Rollins – 2nd rd (1996) (WAR of 1.3)
5) Jeb Lowrie – 1st rd (2005) (WAR of 1.0)
6) Andrelton Simmons – 2nd rd (2010) (WAR of 0.9)
7) JJ Hardy – 2nd rd (2001) (WAR of 0.9)

8) Brad Miller – 2nd rd (2011) (WAR of 0.4)
9) Cliff Pennington – 1st rd (2005) (WAR of 0.3)
10) Derek Jeter – 1st rd (1992) (WAR of 0.2)
11) Jordy Mercer – 3rd rd (2008) (WAR of 0.1)
12) Zack Cozart – 2nd rd (2007) (WAR of 0.1)
13) Clint Barmes – 10th rd (2000) (WAR of 0.1)
14) Ian Desmond – 3rd rd (2004) (WAR of 0.0)

A few take aways from this list …

No team has done a great job of finding shortstops in the draft. Not the Pirates, not anyone else.
The best SS in the 2009 draft was Chris Owings.
The best SS in the 2008 draft was Brandon Crawford.
The best SS in the 2007 draft was Zack Cozart.
Not sure who was the best SS in the 2006 draft … maybe Jonathan Diaz?
Incredible year in 2005 with Tulowitzki, Lowrie, and Pennington (and Yunel Escobar).

The 2014 draft had several highly regarded SS prospects (Nick Gordon, Trea Turner, Jacob Gatewood, Ti’quan Forbes, Cole Turner, Tate Blackman, etc.). How many of these guys will be better major leaguers than Chris Owings, Brandon Crawford, and Zack Cozart?

I’d guess one or two at most. Hopefully the Pirates were able to identify one of them in Cole Turner.

IMO finding a player at the level of Owings, Crawford, or Cozart should be considered a success.

Lee Young

Wouldn’t have minded much if we had signed Trea Turner last year. 🙂 🙂


My initial reaction was disappointment but the I saw Bleacher gave them a B grade for the first round picks . Who knows until 3 or 4 years down the road .


While I liked the draft as well, I wouldn’t use Bleacher Reports as my basis for liking/disliking something sports related. Those were the same people who were clamoring for the Pirates to trade Polanco and Glasnow for Rios last season


I don’t mind one reach in the first two picks but two is definitely a shaky practice. Only time will tell. Hopefully they will make a few big splashes with their upcoming Latin American signings.


We have one of the best FO in baseball, I defer to them on this issue, there is no way I know more about this draft than they do, after the pundits top 25 I did not know any of these guys. I do know that when Huntington talks nobody listens, he did say why they took Tucker where they took him. He said they did not think Tucker would be around when they took their 2nd pick, sounds like a simple answer that is too complicated for the normal mind to comprehend.

Lee Young

Leadoff…it definitely wasn’t a ‘sexy’ draft, but time WILL tell how successful it was. I love what Tim, John and WTM do for the draftniks, but I hope all 3 are wrong in their evals. 🙂 🙂

It’s scary, but, at this point, some of the folks we drafted before, like Trea Turner and Jake Stinnett sound better than the ones we picked.

But, like you, I am deferring to the Pirates’ scouts. Heck, who had Glasnow rated so high.


Tim, John and WTM are good with the Pirates prospects. They watch them A LOT in Bradenton and in the minors .

They ARE NOT high school and college baseball scouts. John compiles data and writes articles but they don’t have enough time to scout players. Wilber is a lawyer… he does this in his spare time. On the draft they just regurgitate what is out there. Tim was a scout but doesn’t anymore… other than our players in Bradenton and the minors.

This is not their area of expertise… And in reality the guys like Law/Badler etc. aren’t draft experts either. They scout the big names and make calls to real scouts but they scout minor league prospects and not potential draftees.


The pundits are looking at it one way and I am looking at it another way, they think they were the wrong picks for their draft slots. I don’t care about their draft slots, I care about how good they are and from what I read, most of them are talented players. Scouts and management have to take into account how these kids will look in 3-4 years down the road, in doing that they may see, Tucker as a better player than:example: Gatewood or similar is now, so they could get Tucker cheaper and have a better player in the long run, that scenario would be why you take Tucker where they took him.

David Darlington

From Kiley McDaniel at Scout.com:
24. Pirates – Cole Tucker
Here’s the first major surprise of the draft. I had Tucker #99 on my board but had heard some teams had interest about 50 picks higher than that. I feel fine with my projection as Tucker is a legit 6’4 and should add some weight, so an adequate shortstop becomes a third baseman, for me. Some clubs think he’s a long-term shortstop and he needs to be to justify this pick, as he has little power. He’s young for the class and a gifted switch hitter with a broad base of tools, but I thought he’d end up going to school and possibly becoming a 1st rounder in three years, I just can’t counting on that from what I see right now. Here is his scouting video
I’m writing this after the Pirates took Iowa prep RHP Mitch Keller in the 2nd round and a scout told me the Tucker pick could be signability related, as Keller’s asking price is $1.5 million and the slot at that pick is $886K. The Pirates second pick was Connor Joe at #39 and that should be under slot as well. The reasoning behind this is that Tucker may not have gotten to the 2nd pick and Joe may not have gotten to the 3rd pick but due to Keller’s demands, he would be at the third pick, so they had to take them in that order to make sure they got all three. I’m projecting about $500K saved at this pick and another roughly $500K projected to be saved at the Joe pick covers Keller with some money leftover.
Draft Pick Allotment: $1.92 million
Projected Bonus: $1.40 million


Albert Pujols was not drafted until the 13th round. (Okay, he probably shot roids, but still…)

I wonder if the Pirates are thinking about slowing down the supply chain here. They’ve added another team that needs to be populated and there is lots of talent high in the system. Maybe they’re trying to take good picks and lots of them to try to broaden the base of their talent pyramid?

I think I’ve read that many years, a certain number of picks don’t get signed. What if the Bucs are simply trying for decent quality / quantity with a chance of upside because more of these players CAN be signed and won’t need to be rushed along?

Look, I’m TRYIN’ here fellas. Still, I will be curious to see what this draft class looks like three years down the line. The top three picks here are interesting enough, strategy wise, but I’m thinking the beauty of this draft might be deeper.

“Okay then if YOU are a DUCK, how come you have such long ears?”

Lee Young

Wabbit…we be missin’ your carrots over at the Asylum.


I think Gatewood and Harrison are both “boom or bust” picks. I think Tucker is a “boom or meh” pick – his strengths are glove and speed, and they don’t go away. I think you are also underestimating Luplow – I think he has a lot more than the normal amount of upside for a 3rd rounder.


Idk, if he bulks up like NH thinks, and if he has another growth spurt (not unusual at 17) then it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he grows out of the position. How many 6’5″+ 190lbs+ shortstops do you see in the game today?


I agree on Gatewood. And boom or bust with the bat, he’s not going to be a SS for long, decreasing his value.

Harrison, OTOH, is a very gifted all-around athlete. I was thinking he dropped due to signability issues, and was very surprised the Brewers inked him almost immediately for not a lot over slot. Regardless of whether Tucker was a reach I would have much preferred Harrison to Joe.

I hope this Luplow has a better career than Al Luplow did 🙂

Nathan Swartz

Yep, if you switch Harrison for Joe, then I think many people would a totally different perspective on our draft.


Although, if you switch Harrison for Joe you’d also need to take out Keller and Supak who will want above slot to sign, too.

The Brewers didn’t take a single Top 100 guy after Harrison, according to Keith Law’s list. So they wound up with 3 Top 100 guys, whereas the Pirates got 4 (Luplow just snuck in).

The Brewers will need $1.2MM in extra slot money to make the Harrison and Gatewood signings work, they really put all their eggs in some risky baskets.

Lee Young

rburgh…agree…that is why those two dropped.


Tim, you make a great point about the evaluation and results and how that ties to our perception of their draft. Do you know if there have been any changes in the scouting department for the Pirates over the last year? Has there been a changes in personnel or the process to assessing players?


The draft looks bad because the Pirates drafted inferior talent at almost every single one of their first 10 round picks (with the exception of two). It also looks worse considering that the Pirates have yet to sign any of their picks while other teams have already had success signing multiple picks with “sign ability” issues. ALL of the Pirates top picks seem to be players you could sign for way under slot value…and the Pirates have yet to do that while other teams with even more successful drafts are signing over-slot deals with tough-sign players only a day after the draft.


Not having signed anyone yet a day after the draft ended doesn’t really make a draft class any better or worse. Now, if they haven’t signed anyone by July 15, then we can discuss that.


I think we will see guys signing faster than usual…especially the top two picks. Although McGuire signed really quickly last year.


Its more the fact that they went with lesser talent and passed up players with better talent (more highly regarded tools at this point) who also had signability concerns but have already signed. No, not having signed anyone after one day isn’t such a big deal…it is much more shocking, however, compared to what is happening right now around the game. The #1 pick has agreed in principle. Several other firsts have signed or agreed in principle…and the Brewers have signed both Gatewood and Harrison.

Jack Reddick

If the Pirates have the one minor league sytem why do their minor teams have such poor records?


The goal of minor league teams is not to produce the best records. They are tools used to develop the talents of the players on them. For instance, when Jameson Taillon was in High A, the organization had him working on his fastball, which meant he would throw the pitch almost exclusively. The result was that the team would struggle as well as Taillon’s stats, but overall it was necessary for his development.


They also have a freakish amount of injuries. Having Heredia and Meadows and 2-3 others healthy at W. Va would make a huge difference.


Especially considering how scary the offense is at WV. Look at the OPS rundown and you might puke.


To add to this point, however, the top Pirates prospects are doing very well. Polanco should already be in Pittsburgh. Glasnow has been good since returning from injury. Hanson and Kingham have both played well, especially as of late. I think Bell has been excellent and really is breaking out (for me at least). McGuire is showing he can hit as well as play excellent defense (although his sly % is not very good). The top prospects are playing like top prospects…

Jack Reddick

If the Pirates have the one minor league sytem why do their minor teams have such poor records?

R Edwards

Judging a draft, a day after it was completed, is really a silly exercise – as it will be at least 3-5 years until there is enough data to truly assess the outcome of a draft. With that all being said, on paper this does look to be a weak draft – largely due to what the Pirates did at #39 . Replace Joe with Gatewood, and today people would be almost giddy about the draft. My biggest problem with the Joe pick is that it cost Bryan Morris and that he plays a position that we are seemingly loaded at – outfield.

For this draft to become a productive one, in my opinion, will require the Pirates signing most of the high school kids they drafted, as well as a couple of the college kids that have remaining years of eligibility and higher ceilings. So, Keller, Supak, Hinsz, Brown, and the kid committed to Cal will all need to be signed. That may be more than can be achieved with their pool money.

Lee Young

agree on the Connor Joe comment. Pirates seem to think he can be a middle of the order player. Not sure why, tho.


The Pirates did not treat us to any of the big name, big bucks guys like they have since NH and company arrived. I agree it looks like a bad draft for that reason, but I also see enough in this group to make it a solid group. Tucker was a solid pick, Luplow had a break out year and is still only 20, Gushue is solid, but I disagree with part of your statement that we do not have a Brandon Cumpton or Casey Sadler in the group. I think the Pirates have some solid pitching draftees that have upside. Supak, Keller, and Hinsz are three HS kids who could come on strong, and we have drafted a solid group of college pitchers and any one of them could be a sleeper. Watch the Paula kid. I had hoped they would take a flyer on HS LHP David Peterson, but he went to the Red Sox with their 28th pick.


Let me ask you this emjay, do you see on paper any standout player from this draft? Also, honestly, do you see any way the Pirates reach their draft pool amount? Because I sure as hell don’t…unless they could really pull of a coup and sign some solid prep players from rounds 30+.


Jared: It is a crap shoot every year, and the team never fully knows what they are going to get after 2-5 years of maturation, instruction, and development. This year was definitely different, but how long has it been since the Pirates were not picking in the first 10 or near (I think ‘Cutch was the 11th overall pick). I hope I can get used to drafting in the mid- twenties or lower, but it is a very different feel. Right now we have so much pitching stockpiled that it is hard to keep them all challenged. Last year was heavily loaded with pitching that was doubtful to look at immediately after the draft, but got better looking once they were signed and started their journeys through the minors.


um gatewood and harrison both fell, so your point about them would make more sense if the teams right after the pirates pick in the first round had taken them. also how many innings or ab have pirates gotten from prep players in the 2008,2009 drafts or have a reasonable chance of getting from those prep players.


Well, maybe you don’t hear “anything can happen” when talking about a “good pick,” but you often hear that those “good picks” turn out to be busts a few years later.

I don’t watch amateur players, so I don’t have any opinions about them and am not disappointed that any particular player was or was not taken. What I know is that Huntington took a seriously bad system and turned it into one of the best in baseball. Not all of his drafts have been great, and this may be another that falls in that category. However, I am not going to despair over it until I give things a chance to play out.

Not that I fault you for giving us your educated opininons, Tim. That’s why we come here.


Tim, I do not understand how you can sit there and say this is a bad draft at this time?? How, based on rankings from Keith Law and other sources?? I could care less where they ranked these players. I personally am giving the Pirates the benefit of the doubt at this time. I don’t like the Connor Joe pick but who knows how it will turn out. It is WAY too early to call this a bad draft just because of rankings from so called experts who are wrong way more often than they are right!

Dean Manifest

Agreed. I don’t have any problem with post-draft anlaysis, provided it comes along with the caveat, “the organization knew all this and more, yet still chose to go in this direction.”


I agree, except that it will be a few years before we know whether this is a bad draft. Which shouldn’t stop you from giving us your thoughts, of course; we’re addicts, and we need you for you daily fix. However, I am holding out the hope that there is more to Tucker than was reflected in his pre-draft rankings.


The issue I have with this draft, Tim, is that I don’t quite understand what the approach was. It wasn’t “Best player available.” It wasn’t “signability and then over-slot.” It wasn’t “college heavy early to get fast-rising prospects to provide more immediate help.” It just seemed to completely lack focus.

Dean Manifest

It sounds to me like what our draft really lacked was a nice neat narrative. I don’t think that makes it “bad” though.


Do you know Cam Bonifay was once lauded for having one of the best systems in baseball ( after 1992) becuas of prospects like Wull Pennyefeather and Chad Hermansen?

Nh has done a decent job turning the minors over, and overall the talent in the m in ors is much, much superior to when he got here.

But the success of the Pirates organization is based on how well those minor leaguers perform in the majors. In his 8th season as GM, NH seems OK. But I do not know if he is or not, and will not.

What i do know was this did not work out when Littlefield took Moskos in 2007, nor has it seemed to work out in 2009 when he took Sanchez instead of a group of more promising pitcher. Both for “sign ability” reasons.

In general, to maximize your likelihood of getting the best players, you should take the best players, especially in the highest round when the most elite talent is available. But I agree we will not know if this was a failed draft for 5-6 years


McDaniel and Law both mentioning clubs being disappointed that Tucker was taken makes me feel like the rankings kind of need to be disregarded there. Seems like the industry was higher on him than the pundits.

Joe was a reach for sure, but both Harrison and Gatewood signed for like $350K above slot at #39 . Would’ve needed to give up both Keller and Supak in exchange for one of the bigger boom/bust talents in the draft. Or gone heavier on college seniors than they already did. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on if I’d have preferred what the Pirates did or what the Brewers did.

I didn’t like the draft until McDaniel and Law both mentioned teams picking right behind the Pirates being disappointed they took Tucker, that’s for sure. Considering where Harrison and Gatewood went, it seems like the industry wound up liking Tucker more than those 2. And that carries some weight to me.

And, to be fair, Law said he didn’t like what the Brewers did on Day 1 so I could have my perspective biased there.

Lee Young

Really really hoping Gatewood and Harrison are ‘busts’ rather than ‘booms’.

Not for the fact that it would make our draft possibly look worse, but that I HATE the bleeping Brewers!!!! lol


Agreed. Like Harrison a lot because he fits the mold of what the Pirates like and they could afford a guy that is several years away. Gatewood I couldn’t get a feel on, every time I warmed up to him somebody would come out with rankings that had him in the 50’s or a report that only a handful of teams had him as a possibility. He has a tiny chance of sticking at SS, too, which puts pressure on the bat to play up.


Those teams could be disappointed because they had Tucker circled as a guy they wanted in the 2nd round. So it doesn’t mean Tucker wasn’t a reach.


One team that was prepared to take Tucker was Oakland – with the next pick. That’s per Peter Gammons.


Maybe, but the way Law presented the comment was that it was teams right behind the Pirates and he was “apparently a favorite of several clubs”. Could’ve been teams that picked in the 2nd round but that didn’t seem to be how he was phrasing it and he usually isn’t one to mince words.

Regardless, the ballclubs themselves seemed to like him more than they did Gatewood and Harrison, for whatever reason.


I think that’s the point. The Pirates liked Tucker more than they did Gatewood or Harrison. A real shortstop who can hit is a pretty rare commodity.


I’ve thought about Gatewood a lot. He projects as an all-around power prospect — including SS. The problem I find is holes in his swing. If that was not true, I cannot image he would not have been Top 5, if not the #1 pick.
I don’t know if Tucker was a reach or not. They wanted him and didn’t think he’d be around at 39. I don’t think they just pulled that out of the air. 17-years old with great bat-improvement over the year.
I’ll definitely go with Connor Joe being an overreach.

Btw, in regard to the article — Sanchez showed a better bat during his cup of coffee earlier this season. I wouldn’t count that out, yet.


Jared is exactly right. Many outlets, including Baseball America, question his hit tool and proclaim it to project out as average. A defense only SS shouldn’t go 24th overall. Hell, I’ve even seen some sites question his defense as well.


An average hit tool isn’t a defense-only SS, though. The tool grades are taken on a macro level, so it’s not an average hit tool for a SS it’s an average hit tool for the MLB level — which would make for an above-average first division starter at short if he reaches that.


Fair enough with the first sentence. But the MLB average batting average is dropping to about .250. IF he reaches to his projection, he would be about a .250 hitter with good defense. That upside doesn’t sound like a 24th overall pick to me. And it’s still entirely possible he grows out of SS. He’s only 17, one more growth spurt isn’t out of the question. And the bulking up NH suggested could slow him down. If he does both, I don’t think he’ll stick. Most of his value comes from the idea is that he can stick at short.


That’s certainly a concern (growing out of the position), although between him, Gatewood, and Forbes most people seemed to like his ability to stick there the most as a result of instincts and reactions (which I definitely would have no idea how to evaluate from the short clips we’ve had) more than speed and agility. And I think just about everyone thought he could still bump to 2nd if need be, rather than Forbes and Gatewood who would need to go to 3rd.

Also, the projected value of the #24 pick is around 3.8 WAR for a career, which is a large drop-off from the 6.2 WAR projection for the 10th pick (relatively speaking, given how close they are in the grand scheme of things). Once you get past the first 10 or so guys things get really muddled in terms of expected return.

I liked Harrison and didn’t mind Gatewood, at this point though I’m to the point where nobody in the industry seemed to love those 2 as much as the pundits. Which makes me question if they were actually “best available” or just “most intriguing”.


“who can hit” is exactly the problem with Tucker. That will be his ultimate question.


I haven’t seen too many questions about his hit tool, more so the power. Most seem to have him in the 50-55 range for the hit, whereas with Harrison and Gatewood you have a lot of power but questions about whether they’ll hit enough to make it out of A-ball.

The power gives him a lower ceiling probably, but the better hit tool gives him a higher floor.

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