One of the questions we get here most often after the draft is wondering when certain players will debut.
Seeing the brand new players in action adds to the excitement of the draft. Everyone will want to follow along to see how first round pick Termarr Johnson does in his debut, but all of the picks bring some level of intrigue because they are new to the system. This is a look at what we can expect from the new players this year.
First off, you shouldn’t expect these players to get a lot of time this year. The most obvious reason is the remaining time in this season. Maybe they can get more with playoff action, which happened in Bradenton last year, but as far as regular season games, Jackson Glenn played the most out of anyone with 30 games split between the FCL Pirates and Bradenton. You shouldn’t expect anyone to surpass that mark. It’s already late July and the regular seasons in full-season ball end in 51 days (longer for Triple-A, but no one is going there).
The shortest we could expect to see anyone would be a few days after signing, and that would happen with players who were playing either summer ball or independent ball. Some players have been inactive from game action for two months, and will need to build back up. Position players used to average about a week after signing before seeing games, but that was with the earlier draft.
Some of these players won’t even get into game action. The Pirates signed 19 of their picks from last year. Anthony Solometo, Owen Kellington, Sean Sullivan, Owen Sharts, Carlos Lomeli and Drew Irvine didn’t appear in a single game. All six of those guys are pitchers.
We only saw three drafted pitchers appear in games last year, and Bubba Chandler wasn’t one of them. He only appeared as a hitter last year. The Pirates picked 16 pitchers this year, so if you’re excited about following the draft picks outside of Termarr Johnson this year, prepare to be disappointed.
I mentioned that Jackson Glenn played 30 games last year, which is a decent sample size of action. What I left out is that the second highest total was Mike Jarvis with 18 games, followed by Luke Brown with 17 games. As for the three pitchers who appeared in games, they threw a total of 29 innings combined. Things are a lot different than they were pre-2020, with the earlier draft.
The main question is going to be when do we see Termarr Johnson in games and where will he play?
Lonnie White Jr was a highly rated as a high school hitter last year and he only got into nine games. Bubba Chandler also came out of high school and he played 11 games. Braylon Bishop signed at the end and got into eight games. AJ Graham played four games. The thing is that last year’s draft started six days earlier and these players all saw limited action out of the high school ranks. They all played only FCL games. They are the best comps for Johnson in terms of experience.
Johnson is going to report to Pirate City, and he’s going to start his career with the FCL Pirates. He’s extremely advanced as a hitter, so possibly the Pirates promote him, but new high school draft pick promotions in the past were to other short-season teams, not full-season teams. None of those four players I just named got promotions. The FCL season ends on August 23rd. Not including today’s game, The FCL Pirates have 23 games left. Johnson isn’t even at Pirate City yet, so any game action he sees will be minimal, making it seem more unlikely that he gets promoted to full-season ball to finish the season. I’m not saying it’s not possible, just doesn’t seem likely based on what we saw last year.
The summary is that the sample size for all prospects will be small this year. Gone are the days of guys playing 60+ games after signing. With the amount of pitchers the Pirates picked, we might see about ten draft picks in action this year. The ones who should see the most action are the college bats, all five of them. They will probably all appear in FCL games before reporting to either Bradenton or Greensboro, so their season continues on to September 11th.
Counting today’s game, the full-season clubs have 45 games left, so if they sign quickly and they are in close to game shape, they could play about 30 games before we are done. Just don’t expect multiple players to see that much action. Last year showed us that we won’t see much in 2022 from the 2022 draft picks.
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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.