A prophetic warning from Cam Bonifay

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

This isn't the most topical story right now, but, while working on my book, I just found an interesting quote from Cam Bonifay.

"We're not going to take a more polished pitcher who has a chance to be a middle reliever or No. 5 starter if there's a more raw high school kid out there who could be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. I don't care if that player takes longer to develop. I might not be here to see it happen, but I want the next general manager to be able to see it. It's my job to get the best players in our system."

Bonifay said that in October 2000, months before the Pirates dismissed him. This wasn't just empty talk, either. In 2001, literally days before Bonifay was fired, the Bucs took college players with their first five picks, but they drafted 25 high school players, including Stephen Drew and Zach Duke. Also, they took John VanBenschoten out of Kent State with their first pick. Picking VanBenschoten as a pitcher might have been a dubious decision, but it was one made with upside in mind. It wasn't the baseball equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme, the way Dave Littlefield's selection of Daniel Moskos in Littlefield's final draft in 2007 was. That draft didn't produce a single high school player who made the majors. And so, compared to what Littlefield would later do on his way out the door, Bonifay's words are downright eerie.

Other picks from that last Bonifay draft: Jeremy Guthrie (who also didn't sign), Jeff Keppinger, Chris Duffy, Jonathan Albaladejo, Chris Shelton, Rajai Davis and Shane Youman. Littlefield reportedly allowed negotiations with Stephen Drew to fizzle after he took over.

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