First Pitch: Third Round Draft Results for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The past two days we have looked at the results from the Pittsburgh Pirates draft picks in the first and second rounds since the beginning of the MLB Amateur draft in 1965. Today we move down to the third round.

As with the last two days, I won’t include players still in the minors without MLB experience, or third round picks who didn’t sign. The Pirates have made a total of 56 third round picks. Four are still in the minors, while eight didn’t sign. That leaves 44 players to look at here.

Of those 44 players, 15 have played in the majors. As a side note, the eight who didn’t sign have a much better success rate, with five of them making the majors. That being said, three of those five had a combined -4.6 career WAR.

Of the 15 signed picks in the majors, just two of them posted a negative career WAR, Matt Reubel and Steven Lerud.

Of the other 13 picks, Fred Cambria had the lowest WAR at 0.3. Right above him is three players tied at 1.6, Barry Jones, Alex Dickerson and JaCoby Jones. The latter two are still active on different teams, while Barry Jones and Dickerson were both taken out of Indiana University. Jordan Luplow, another active player on a different team, ranks right above them with a 1.7 WAR.

Here are the top eight players:

  1. Richie Zisk, 25.1
  2. Bronson Arroyo, 23.4
  3. Chris Young, 17.5
  4. Don Robinson, 17.4
  5. Jose De Leon, 15
  6. Mitchell Page, 8.1
  7. Jordy Mercer 6.6
  8. John Grabow, 1.9

The 44 third round picks have averaged 2.7 WAR each in their career. That is nearly twice the average of second round picks (1.4 WAR). It’s about 38% of the production that they have received from first round picks (7.1 WAR). First round picks have a 64% success rate of reaching the majors. That drops down to 46% for second round picks, and 34% for third round picks.

The comparison here shows that the Pirates have had more success getting second round picks to the majors, but they get nearly twice as much production from their third round picks.





By John Dreker

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one one trade of note.

The Trade

On this date in 1960, the Pirates traded minor leaguers Julian Javier and Ed Bauta to the St Louis Cardinals for veteran pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell and infielder Dick Gray. Mizell was 29 years old at the time of the trade, coming off a season in which he went 13-10, 4.20 in 30 starts for the Cardinals. He pitched over 200 innings that season for the third time in his career. Before the trade, he made nine starts for the 1960 Cardinals, going 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Gray was a 28-year-old infielder with three years of Major League experience. He hit .233 in 57 games in 1959, spending most of his time at third base. Javier was 23 years old, in his fifth season in the Pirates system, and second year at Triple-A. He was a light-hitting second baseman, who had a .274 average, with 17 walks and 103 strikeouts in 135 games in 1959. Bauta was 25 years old, a relief pitcher, who just like Javier, was in his fifth season in the Pirates system and second year at Triple-A. He had an 0.95 ERA in 12 appearances at the time of the trade

Both Javier and Bauta went right to the majors with the Cardinals. Bauta was seldom used, relegated to the back of the bullpen, and he spent part of his time with St Louis back in Triple-A. They traded him to the Mets near the end of the 1963 season. He pitched 97 games in the majors, throwing 149 innings, with a 4.35 ERA. Javier became an All-Star player with the Cardinals, helping them to the World Series three times during the 1960’s. He played a total of 13 seasons in the big leagues (12 with St Louis) and twice made the NL All-Star team. Gray never played in the majors again, spending the last three years of his career at Triple-A with the Pirates. Mizell served his purpose by helping the Pirates get to the 1960 World Series with his 13-5 record in 23 starts. His production began to drop of the next season and his Major League career was done by the end of the 1962 season. The Pirates traded Mizell to the Mets on May 7, 1962.

The Players

Alex Hernandez, first baseman/outfielder for the 2000-01 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1995, signing right away and reporting to the Gulf Coast League. He was in high-A ball by 1997, hitting .290 with 68 RBIs and 75 runs scored for Lynchburg. He had a very poor walk to strikeout ratio (27:140) but he also hit 37 doubles to go along with his high average. Hernandez then spent two full seasons in Double-A, starting a third season there in 2000. That year he broke out, hitting .337 with 34 RBIs in 50 games. He moved up to Triple-A, hitting .275 in 76 games, earning a September call-up to the Pirates. He played twenty games for Pittsburgh, getting 60 at-bats, in which he hit .200 with one homer and five RBIs. In 2001, Hernandez got called up in August and played his last seven Major League games. He was released after the season, signing with the Reds for 2002. After spending all of 2002 in the minors, he played independent ball in 2003 and then again in 2006, his last season of pro ball. The low walk rate in the minors was a sign of things to come with Hernandez. He did not draw a single walk in his 71 plate appearances while with the Pirates.

Kirk Gibson, outfielder for the 1992 Pirates. He was signed as a first round pick in 1978 by the Tigers. He would make it to the majors by the end of the following season, but it took five seasons in the majors before he reached his potential. During the 1984 season, Gibson helped the Tigers to the World Series by hitting .282 with 91 RBIs, 92 runs scored and just missing out on the 30/30 HR/SB club. He hit .417 in the ALCS, then followed that with a .333 average and seven RBIs in the World Series. After three more strong seasons in Detroit, Gibson moved on to the Dodgers, where he forever became part of baseball history. After having an MVP regular season, an injured Gibson hobbled to the plate in game one of the WS and hit one of the most memorable homers in baseball history, a walk-off shot against Dennis Eckersley.

Gibson played two more injury shortened years in Los Angeles, then moved on to Kansas City for one year. He played 132 games, hitting .236 with 16 homers, 55 RBIs, 69 walks and 18 steals. On March 10, 1992, the Pirates traded Neal Heaton to the Royals in exchange for Gibson. His stay in Pittsburgh was a short one, just 16 games with a .196 average and .541 OPS before being released. He retired, but it was only temporary as he came back for three more seasons with the Tigers before his playing career ended. He had a lifetime average of .268 with 985 runs scored, 255 homers, 875 RBIs and 284 steals in 1,635 games. Gibson was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for five years, including winning NL Manager of the Year award in 2011.

Bob Kuzava, pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. He originally signed with the Indians as an 18-year-old in 1941. The next year in the minors he won 21 games, posting a 1.72 ERA in 235 innings. After two seasons in the minors, Bob served in the military during WWII, missing three seasons before returning in 1946. He went back to the minors, going 14-6, 2.36 in 217 innings before getting called up to the majors. Kuzava was also a September call-up in 1947, before spending the entire 1948 campaign in the minors. He was traded to the White Sox after the 1948 season and was able to get his first real shot at pitching full-time in the majors. The Indians at the time were a much better team than Chicago and Kuzava made 18 starts and eleven relief appearances for the White Sox during his first season. He went 10-6, 4.02 in 156.2 innings that year. In 1950 he started off slow, then was dealt to the Senators at the end of May. He caught a big break in the middle of the 1951 season, getting traded to the New York Yankees. While there, Kuzava was able to collect three World Series rings in his first three seasons.

Between the 1954-55 seasons, Bob was a member of four different organizations. He then spent the entire 1956 season in the minors, going 10-8. 3.57 in 169 innings. The Pirates signed him prior to the 1957 season and he made the Opening Day roster. Kuzava made four relief appearances before being sent back to the minors. In the middle of September, the Pirates sold him to the Cardinals, where he pitched his last three Major League games. Kuzava played three more years in the minors, the last as a player/manager, before retiring.

Steve Nagy, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942, but after one season in the minors, he spent three years serving in the military during WWII. Nagy returned to baseball in 1946, going 17-4 for the Montreal Royals of the International League. Right after the season ended, the Pirates purchased his contract from Brooklyn. He made three relief appearances over the first month of the 1947 season for the Pirates, allowing runs in all three games. After spending three months in Triple-A, Nagy returned to Pittsburgh in September, making another three appearances. In the next to last day of the season, he got his only start, going eight innings in a 3-1 loss to the Cardinals. He pitched two years in the minors for the Pirates before they traded him to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. Just months after the trade, Nagy was picked up by the Washington Senators in the 1949 Rule 5 draft. He would make nine starts for the Senators, going 2-5, 6.58 before being sent back to the minors. He pitched another eight years in the minors before retiring, finishing with 121 minor league wins.

King Brady, pitcher for the 1906-07 Pirates. Brady made his debut in baseball with the 1905 Phillies, making two late season starts. In 1906, he went 14-24 in 39 games for the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association. The Pirates took him in the 1906 Rule 5 draft and brought him right to the majors. He got two late season starts, both during a six-game series in Brooklyn. On September 28th in the first game of a doubleheader, King (first name was James, sometimes referred to as “Jeems”) went seven innings, allowing five runs on 12 hits in a 5-4 loss. He won his second game, throwing a complete game in a 5-1 win. The papers said he pitched well and the run was only because of an error by Honus Wagner. However, he gave up 12 hits for the second game in a row and he also walked three batters, leaving Brooklyn with 14 runners left on base.

For the 1907 Pirates, Brady pitched two innings in relief in his only game played that season. He was with Johnstown in 1908, going 20-10 in 41 games. In the 1908 Rule 5 draft, he was chosen by the Boston Red Sox. In his only start for Boston, he threw a shutout over the New York Highlanders. Brady spent the next three years in the minors, finally getting another shot in the majors during the 1912 season with the Boston Braves. In his only outing, he allowed six runs in 2.2 innings. After four more years in the minors, Brady retired. Despite the fact he played five years in the majors for four different teams, he appeared in just eight Major League games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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