Pittsburgh Pirates: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round
The Pittsburgh Pirates have truly built their team the proper way, through the MLB draft and acquiring young talent in trades. Though it has taken some time for the Pirates to become relevant again, Pirates scouts and management have truly gotten it right when drafting players. Here is a look at the last 10 first round draft picks for the Pirates.
2013- Austin Meadows, OF Grayson High School (9th overall)
There are many people in the baseball world who believe Meadows was the best bat selected in the MLB draft this past year that came straight out of high school. Meadows has the combination scouts dream of, power, defense, speed, and an ability to hit for an average. Meadows is currently in the Gulf Coast League for the GCL Pirates and is hitting .308 with 4 home runs, 18 RBI, to go along with 11 doubles and 5 triples in 38 games. He also comes with a good arm from the outfield making Meadows a player to keep an eye out for as he is destined to fly up through the Pirates minor league system. Oh, and he is is still just 18 years old.
**2012- Barrett Barnes, OF Texas Tech University (45th overall- Supplemental)
Barrett Barnes was taken in the supplemental round for the Pirates in 2012 and there is good reason to see why Barnes was drafted in the first round. Barnes is strong and extremely athletic which will allow for him to patrol any outfield position when he reaches the majors but he is built and made for center field. However, the Pirates do have a guy named Andrew McCutchen in center and with Barnes being 22 years old, when he’s ready for the major leagues, McCutchen will still be manning center. Barnes does come with power and the hope is he can develop a good all around bat. If his bat becomes more consistent and he hits for a good average, Barnes will be a very good player.
**Mark Appel was taken higher (8th overall) by the Pirates but he spurned them and did not sign
2011- Gerrit Cole, RHP UCLA (1st overall)
What a pick this was. Gerrit Cole is already in the Pirates rotation and making an impact as the 2013 Pirates are making there way to the post-season. Cole is expected to be the horse and future ace of the Pirates for years to come and with his stuff it is easy to see why. Despite having overpowering pitches, Cole actually does not strikeout a lot of batters. He does pitch more to contact which is why in his 78 major league innings this year, opponents are hitting .259 against him. The thing that makes Cole successful is being able to strand runners. He does an excellent job of leaving men on base and getting ground ball outs at key points in an inning.
2010- Jameson Taillon, RHP The Woodlands High School (2nd overall)
Taillon is the 2nd ace the Pirates expect to have alongside Cole at the top of the Pirates rotation for years to come. Taillon pitched for Team Canada at the 2013 WBC and personally, I was drooling in excitement for the arrival of Taillon at the big league level. He can get his fastball up to 96-97 MPH and he has the ability to strikeout batters at just a shade under 1 K per inning he throws. He has struck out 106 batters in 110.1 innings for the Altoona Curve in AAA. Taillon is 6’6 so he will look like a giant on the mound and have the ability to intimidate hitters with his size. Taillon could end up being even better than Gerrit Cole.
2009- Tony Sanchez, C Boston College (4th overall)
The Pirates drafted Tony Sanchez and he was quick to live up to his hype of a defense first type catcher with the ability to hit for power. He has a great arm behind the plate and fields his position extremely well. Sanchez is currently backing up Russell Martin and when Martin’s contract with Pittsburgh is up, the Pirates do hope Sanchez will take the job and run with it. He has all the tools and skills necessary to be a good major league catcher and it is now a matter of putting it together and running with the job.
2008- Pedro Alvarez, 3B Vanderbilt (2nd overall)
What more can you want through the 2013 season from Alvarez? He has the power to strike tons of fear into opposing pitchers. He is living up to his reputation as a power hitter when he was drafted but currently, Alvarez still struggles to hit for a good average and he strikes out a ton. However, his 30+ home run power has made Pirates fans very happy and after some up and down years between the majors and the minors, it looks as if Alvarez is here to stay.
2007- Daniel Moskos, LHP Clemson (4th overall)
The Daniel Moskos pick by the Pirates has not worked out as they had hoped. Moskos came from Clemson with the reputation of having a big arm which can run his fastball up to 96 MPH when necessary. However, it took Moskos until 2011 to reach the big leagues and he did not stick around for long. Moskos had some trouble staying healthy and just never truly lived up to his potential which caused the Pirates to dangle him and he was ultimately claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox. Moskos was then released on June 23rd this year and remains a free agent. It appears his career has hit a standstill.
2006- Brad Lincoln, RHP University of Houston (4th overall)
Brad Lincoln was extremely hyped by the Pirates and scouts around the majors. Lincoln has a very good breaking ball but often struggles to get it in for strikes and hitters have learned to lay off of it which causes his fastball to get mashed by opposing hitters due to it being flat and misplaced. Lincoln has dealt with injuries and wacky mechanics during his tenure in Pittsburgh. He was regarded to be a great starter for years in Pittsburgh but it never panned out. He became a reliever and had his best season in 2012 with Pittsburgh in 28 games posting an ERA of 2.73 but was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Travis Snider. The Brad Lincoln experiment in Pittsburgh did not go as according to plan.
2005- Andrew McCutchen, OF Fort Meade High School (11th overall)
Andrew McCutchen has since become one of the best players in the game since his name was called in 2005. The Pirates saw what they thought could come true with McCutchen, which was him turning into a star. Cutch can hit for average, has speed, a great arm, glove and ever since he was drafted, really developed a power stroke. McCutchen is one of the few major leaguers who have an impact in every offensive and defensive aspect of the game of baseball and the Pirates have their franchise superstar for many years to come. The team has been built around him ever since he made the major leagues. The 10 other teams that passed on him in the 2005 draft must wish for a do over.
2004- Neil Walker, C Pine Richland High School (11th overall)
The Pirates 2nd basemen has gone through being converted from catcher to 3rd base to 2nd base and Walker has adjusted and done everything asked of him. Walker is a fan favorite in Pittsburgh as his was born in Pittsburgh and has truly given solid production offensively and defensively since his arrival to the big leagues. Walker has a career .276 average and still has the potential to raise hisaverage over the next few seasons. He does have some power but is mainly regarded for coming up clutch in tough situations. He should be on 2nd for the Pirates for as long as they want him around for.
2003- Paul Maholm, LHP Mississippi State University (8th overall)
Maholm burst on to the scene for the Pirates in 2005 as a starter and went 8 shutout innings in his major league debut. However, the road to success didn`t come easy for Maholm as he struggled to get things together for some weak Pirates teams in the mid 2000`s. He does change speeds on all of his pitches well and in 2012 he signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs but was later dealt to the Atlanta Braves where he still is currently a part of the rotation. Maholm`s less than average career in Pittsburgh could be attributed to the bad Pirates teams but he has turned himself into a solid middle of the rotation type pitchers with the Braves.
BHC Pick of the Litter: Andrew McCutchen
BHC Franchise Flop: Brad Lincoln
Analysis: The Pirates have been pretty good with their drafting. Many of the players drafted have a good role with the ball club in 2013 like McCutchen, Walker, Sanchez, Cole, and Alvarez. Jameson Taillon is expected to join the Pirates and be just as good as Cole so their is even more reason for optimism in Pittsburgh with their drafting. Moskos didn`t end up being much, Victor Black can still turn into a decent reliever and Brad Lincoln is easily the biggest disappointment considering guys like Clayton Kershaw, Brandon Morrow, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy, and Max Scherzer were drafted after Lincoln. The Pirates front office should be pretty happy with what they have assembled in Pittsburgh through the draft and continue to be spot on with their draft picks.