Pirates' Expensive Drafts Still Look Weak

I enjoyed Dejan Kovacevic's rant about the draft on his new radio today. I see the Pirates' draft issues not so much as a problem with this year's team, as Dejan does, but as a problem that will haunt the Pirates in the future. But I agree with his basic point that the Pirates haven't gotten nearly enough out of the draft beyond the first two picks, and as we evaluate the Pirates' situation this offseason, that needs to be a huge consideration.

After Pedro Alvarez, Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole -- all blue-chip young players, for sure, but all selected in the first two picks, where getting a potential impact player really shouldn't be that difficult -- here are all the players in the 2008 to 2012 drafts who got bonuses of at least $100,000.

2008: Jordy Mercer, Chase d'Arnaud, Justin Wilson, Robbie Grossman, Benji Gonzalez, Jeremy Farrell, Wes Freeman, Quinton Miller

2009: Tony Sanchez, Victor Black, Brooks Pounders, Evan Chambers, Zack Dodson, Nathan Baker, Zack Von Rosenberg, Trent Stevenson, Colton Cain, Brock Holt, Joey Schoenfeld, Jeff Inman, Zac Fuesser

2010: Stetson Allie, Mel Rojas, Nick Kingham, Tyler Waldron, Brandon Cumpton, Drew Maggi, Ryan Hafner, Jared Lakind, Casey Sadler

2011: Josh Bell, Alex Dickerson, Colten Brewer, Tyler Glasnow, Dan Gamache, Jake Burnette, Jason Creasy, Clay Holmes, Taylor Lewis, Candon Myles, Jordan Cooper

2012: Barrett Barnes, Wyatt Mathisen, Jon Sandfort, Adrian Sampson, Eric Wood, Kevin Ross, Chris Diaz, Max Moroff, Hayden Hurst, John Kuchno

(Let me know if I forgot anyone.)

We don't know much about the 2012 guys, of course, and there are plenty of players from 2010 and 2011 who could make good, like Kingham, Bell, Dickerson, Brewer and Glasnow (although, frankly, other than Glasnow and Cole, the 2011 class didn't have a very good season). And, of course, no one should have ever expected most of these guys to make a serious impact in the big leagues.

But still -- my eyes are burning. When you spend all that money over the course of several years, and it's looking like the best player selected after the first two picks might turn out to be Robbie Grossman, there's a problem. And there are a ton of guys who were drafted several years ago and now don't even resemble prospects, like Freeman, Stevenson, and Schoenfeld, who are all out of the organization, or Miller, Baker, Hafner and Lakind, who are still hanging around.

Kovacevic is right, I think, to separate what's going on in Latin America from what's going on in the draft. Rene Gayo and the Pirates' Latin American operations appear to be doing very well, and the breakout seasons from Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco (as well as Starling Marte's strong season in Indianapolis and a good season from Luis Heredia) went a long way toward salvaging the Pirates' minor-league season this year. But the draft has not gone well at all -- by all appearances, the Pirates have shown plenty of guts and commitment, but little in the way of judgment. One would hope that, as the Bucs plan for next season, they take a close look at their drafting. They've already promoted Greg Smith, who was in charge of their first several drafts under Neal Huntington, to assistant general manager, though, so one wonders how much soul-searching the current baseball operations staff will be willing to do.

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