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Dodgers sign Jarek Cunningham

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

This one is probably too obscure even for Bucs Dugout, but whatever -- it's been a slow day, so I'm going with it. The Dodgers have signed former Pirates prospect Jarek Cunningham to a minor-league deal, officially ending his tenure with the Pirates.

This is noteworthy, to me, because Cunningham reminds me of a time -- around 2010 -- when the Pirates' farm system still wasn't very good, but was starting to improve. The Bucs picked him in the late rounds of Neal Huntington's first draft in 2008, alongside fellow late-round, high-upside guys like Quinton Miller and Wes Freeman. After missing the 2009 season with a knee injury, Cunningham had a good season at West Virginia, then hit well for a 2011 Bradenton team that also featured a number of solid hitters in Ramon Cabrera, Robbie Grossman, Elevys Gonzalez, Aaron Baker, Calvin Anderson and Evan Chambers.

A little more than three years later, it looks like none of those guys will ever play for the Pirates. Cunningham is gone. Cabrera was with the Tigers organization for awhile, returned to the Pirates, and then got released. Grossman headed to the Astros in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. Gonzalez played sporadically in the Dodgers organization in 2013 and didn't play organized ball last season. Baker went to the Orioles for Derrek Lee late in the 2011 season and now seems to be out of baseball. The Bucs released Anderson before the 2012 season; he turned up briefly in the Frontier League (the same league that hosts the Washington Wild Things) in 2013, but that was it. And Chambers, of course, died late in 2013 at age 24.

All of these guys, with the possible exception of Anderson, did look like prospects at one point, and yet only one, Grossman, played in the big leagues, and not for the team that drafted him. It's a reminder of why prospect depth is so important, especially at the lower levels.