74.5 F

Grading Neal Huntington’s Drafts


This is just for fun.  It’s strictly my opinions, so feel free to add your own.  What should come across is that drafts are going to vary wildly in what they produce.  Even the best drafting teams (which certainly wouldn’t include the Pirates) have bad drafts.  Check St. Louis’ 2010 draft, with three first round picks, for an example.

As always, I give no credit for players the team didn’t sign.  And as you’d expect, these become more speculative as the drafts become more recent.  I’ve mostly assumed that players will continue more or less along the lines their current performances suggest.

2008:  B

Pedro Alvarez’ disappointing career makes this draft look worse than it was.  Alvarez had his moments.  Jordy Mercer was a solid starting shortstop for the better part of six years.  Justin Wilson has been a good, sometimes very good, reliever.  And Robbie Grossman has had some success as a fourth outfielder.

2009:  F

Taking Tony Sanchez fourth overall was a blunder and the numerous above-slot prep pitchers the team signed produced no value whatsoever.  The only one who reached the majors, Brooks Pounders, has put up negative bWAR.  The only player who produced anything was Brock Holt.

2010:  C

Jameson Taillon has shown the top-of-the-rotation ability the Pirates expected, but health issues have prevented him from taking advantage of it.  Otherwise, this draft was a wipeout, with Nick Kingham looking more and more like he has no business in the majors.

2011:  A+

Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow are a phenomenal haul for one draft.  (I’m assuming what Bell and Glasnow have done so far this year is at least partially for real.)  Too bad the Pirates will see so little of the benefit.  Alex Dickerson could also still produce some value.

2012:  F

The Mark Appel draft was a complete wipeout, producing just a few very marginal players like Adrian Sampson, Max Moroff and Jacob Stallings.

2013:  A-

Austin Meadows is looking like a star . . . in Tampa.  Adam Frazier is a starter, although he may be slumping his way out of the role, and Chad Kuhl could reclaim his rotation spot when he returns from Tommy John surgery.  Reese McGuire, JaCoby Jones and Shane Carle have also produced a little value.

2014:  A-

This is still very speculative, of course, but Cole Tucker and Mitch Keller could make this a very good draft.  Trey Supak is having a big year in AA for Milwaukee and Jordan Luplow looks like a good fourth outfielder.

2015:  B

Ke’Bryan Hayes is the Pirates’ top position prospect and Kevin Newman is looking a lot better than he did two months ago.  Kevin Kramer and J.T. Brubaker remain solid prospects.

2016:  C+

This is a tough one because a lot of the remaining value is prep pitchers — Braeden Ogle, Max Kranick and Travis MacGregor — who’ve been hampered by health issues.  Will Craig is having a nice year, but AAA hitting stats are very suspect this year and there’s some risk that Craig, who turns 25 this fall, is just doing what Colin Moran did in AAA two years ago.  Blake Cederlind looks like he could make it as a reliever and Geoff Hartlieb already has, although he can’t find the plate.

2017:  A-

Once again, the top talent from this draft — Shane Baz, who’s off to a great start in low class A for the Rays — is somewhere else.  Cody Bolton and Cal Mitchell are still around, though, and having strong seasons in high class A.  Blake Weiman is having little trouble in the Altoona bullpen and Mason Martin is a high-risk prospect with big power potential.  Quite a few others from this draft are lurking along the prospect/suspect border.

2018:  D

As I’ve already chronicled, a large number of early-round picks from this draft are struggling badly at an alarmingly early stage.  Travis Swaggerty is having a very mediocre season with Bradenton.  Things could very quickly boil down to a couple of prep pitchers — Braxton Ashcraft and Michael Burrows — both of whom are in extended spring training now.

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Wilbur Miller
Wilbur Miller
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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