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Pirates' draft retrospective: 2011

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Draft rounds are in parentheses, positions are as announced at the draft.

Who's Left

Gerrit Cole, RHP (1): The first overall pick is showing signs this year of becoming the ace the Pirates hoped for.

Josh Bell, OF (2): The Pirates drafted and signed Bell after he wrote to every team and said he wouldn't sign.  He's positioned now to be their first baseman in a couple years and is hitting for a high average in AA, but the fact that he's hit only one HR in nearly a year is a concern.

Alex Dickerson, 1B (3): Dickerson put up good, but not overwhelming, numbers for the Pirates up through AA, then was traded to the Padres for Miles Mikolas and Jaff Decker.  He's coming back from a serious foot injury this year and hitting well in AAA.  In retrospect, that trade doesn't look so good.

Colten Brewer, RHP (4): A projectible prep pitcher, Brewer missed much of 2013 with an injury, then was throwing in the mid-90s in spring 2014 only to spend the entire season on the restricted list for unknown reasons.  He was recently activated at West Virginia.

Tyler Glasnow, RHP (5): The Pirates may have hit the jackpot with Glasnow, who's now their top prospect and one of the top pitching prospects in the minors.

Jake Burnette, RHP (7): Like Brewer, Burnette has had trouble staying on the field, pitching only 71 innings in all or parts of five seasons.  He's currently in low A and was walking a batter an inning until an excellent outing today.

Jason Creasy, RHP (8): Creasy has advanced steadily and put up solid numbers despite very low K rates.  He went unselected in the Rule 5 draft and is currently performing BABIP magic in AA.  He could grow into a Brandon Cumpton/Casey Sadler sort of role.

Clay Holmes, RHP (9): Holmes got the biggest, above-slot bonus of the five prep pitchers the Pirates signed out of the first nine rounds and, other than Glasnow, has the highest ceiling.  He had a strong second half in 2013 after struggling in the first half, then missed 2014 due to Tommy John surgery.  He's expected back very soon.

Other Signees

Dan Gamache, 3B (6): Currently struggling as a utility player in AA.

Taylor Lewis, OF (10): Released before this season.

Candon Myles, OF (12): Released before this season.

Josh Poytress, LHP (18): Released after 2012.

Alex Fusilier, OF (21): Released after 2012.

Mike Jefferson, LHP (22): Released after 2012.

Jordan Cooper, RHP (23): The Pirates drafted Cooper out of high school in 2009 but didn't sign him, then signed him as a sophomore-eligible draftee from the University of Kentucky.  Cooper had never lived up to scouts' expectations and didn't with the Pirates.  They released him after he struggled badly in low A in 2012.

Brian Sharp, SS (24): Retired during the 2011 season.

Ryan Hornback, C (27): Showed some defensive ability, but had injury problems and didn't play after 2012.

Kirk Singer, SS (29): Settled in quickly as utility player, then moved to the mound in 2013.  The Pirates released him after the season and he pitched for the Giants in 2014.  He hasn't played in 2015.

Matt Benedict, RHP (30): Has served as a swing man and moved up despite generally bad numbers.  He's now back in high A after struggling last year in AA.

Derek Trent, C (31): Released after 2012 season.

David Jagoditsh, RHP (32): Released after 2013 season.

Chris Lashmet, 3B (33): Released after 2013 season.

Rodarrick Jones, OF (37): Intriguing, very raw player who seemed interesting due to power potential.  Released during 2012 season.

Jonathan Schwind, C (41): Has settled in as organizational utility player who catches and plays the outfield.  Currently injured.

Did Not Sign

Erik Skoglund, LHP (16): Signed with the Royals as a 3rd round pick in 2014.  Didn't pitch especially well in rookie ball, but Baseball America rated him Kansas City's 14th best prospect after the season.  He's currently pitching well in high A.

Trea Turner, SS (20): Signed with the Padres as the 13th overall pick in 2014.  He's currently having a strong year in AA and is widely known to be the player to be named later going to Washington in the three-team Wil Myers trade.  Ranked by BA as the 65th best prospect in the minors and will probably move up next year, possibly by quite a ways.

Zech Lemond, RHP (50): Signed after being drafted in round three by the Padres in 2014.  BA ranks him 26th in San Diego's system.  He's currently in high A.

Summary

If Glasnow and Bell come through (which of course never happens), this could be a huge draft for the Pirates.  In fact, that'd be true if just Glasnow came through, giving the Pirates two top-of-the-rotation starters out of one draft.  And that's not accounting for the fact that Holmes could still turn into a mid-rotation starter, and the Pirates could still get some value out of Creasy, Brewer and/or Burnette.  It's tempting to wonder what could have happened if they'd signed Trea Turner, but that'd wouldn't be realistic, as Turner was probably Plan B in case they couldn't sign Bell.  But . . . damn, what a draft it would look like if they'd signed Turner.

Of course, the key to the draft was the Pirates' willingness to blow through any remaining barriers to spending bonus money.  They paid a team-record bonus to Cole and set MLB records for 2nd and 9th round bonuses.  I remain convinced that the Pirates' spending on this draft, and especially the bonus they gave Bell, was the final straw that convinced Commissioner John Henry Bud Selig to make it his top priority to change the draft spending rules to keep the Pirates from abusing their financial muscle.  The Pirates also spent the money wisely and/or luckily, as all of their significant, over-slot signees are still around.  Apart from the bigger names, Creasy is doing well in AA, and Brewer and Burnette have shown some ability, only to be held back by injuries.