Every year I always purchase a copy of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. I only cover the Pirates’ farm system, and while that does give me a chance to see prospects from other systems, my focus is usually on the players with the Pirates. I like the BA handbook because it shows what other teams have in their system, which gives you some perspective on how the individual Pirates players stack up to players on other teams. It also gives an outside look at some of the aspects of the Pirates system.
The Pirates write up is usually done by a Pittsburgh writer, but there are other sections in the book that are done by BA writers. One of those sections I check out each year is the draft analysis. Baseball America reviews the previous year’s draft, giving the usual individual awards for “Best Pure Hitter”, “Best Power Hitter” and so on. They also give grades to each of the previous drafts, which can change over time.
When I checked out the draft grades in this year’s book, I noticed some strong results. This year’s book includes all of the draft recaps under Neal Huntington (next year’s book will cut off the 2008 results). Jim Callis does the previous year’s recaps, and had three of the four drafts graded as a B+ or better. The 2008 and 2010 drafts received a B+ grade, while the 2011 draft received an A. The 2009 draft was on the other end of the spectrum with a D grade.
Each year you expect the draft results to fluctuate. Some players will wash out, and some players will see improvements. So I wanted to see how the drafts have progressed over the years. I turned to my previous copies of the BA Prospect Handbook to see the grades each year. The grades started two years after the draft, so we don’t have a grade for the 2012 draft, and we only have 1-2 years respectively for 2011 and 2010.
The 2008 Draft
The 2008 draft started out strong, and has seen a slight drop off, but the results are still there. The short write-up notes that the rest of the top five picks, plus Matt Hague (9th round) have made the majors. One of the players mentioned was second round pick Tanner Scheppers, even though he wasn’t signed. I’m not sure if he is considered when giving the draft a grade. Also, the “made the majors” requirement is a bit shallow, since most of the other players either haven’t gotten established, or don’t look like they will become established. For perspective, the goal of most drafts is to get three players to the majors. Right now the players with the best chances to stick are Pedro Alvarez, Justin Wilson, and Jordy Mercer.
The 2009 Draft
The 2009 draft didn’t start out very well, and slowly dropped off the last two years. When looking at the ratings from this year’s book, the 2009 grade clearly sticks out. Across the league the 2009 draft was the worst on average. It had the lowest average league-wide. The Pirates were among the worst of the worst with their D grade. The Dodgers, Marlins, and Rays all got D grades, while the Orioles and Mets received F grades.
The 2010 Draft
This one has stayed the same, even though Stetson Allie’s stock took a huge hit in 2012. Again, I’m not sure if un-signed players count to the total. Jason Hursh and Kent Emmanuel both received high ratings in Baseball America’s 2013 draft coverage, and both went un-signed this year. Jameson Taillon probably plays a big role in this rating, and Nick Kingham probably has a big impact as well.
The 2011 Draft
We’ve only seen the 2011 guys for one season, but the results were strong. Aside from Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell fueling this ranking, the 2011 group also includes Clay Holmes, Tyler Glasnow, and Alex Dickerson. The Pirates were one of seven teams to get an A for the 2011 draft.
After looking at the Pirates grades, I went through to get the averages for every other team from all four years. The Pirates finished in a three-way tie for 12th. The 2009 draft really sunk their rating. If that draft would have been graded a C instead of a D, they would have been tied for fifth. They finished above-average every year except the 2009 draft.
Overall the draft grades look pretty good. That 2009 draft is the exception, and doesn’t look like a draft that could produce an impact player. It’s probably still too early to give any hard grades to the 2010 and 2011 drafts, since most of the middle round guys are still in A-ball. At any rate, it was good to get an outside opinion on the drafts, and to see how the Pirates stacked up against other teams.
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. The 2013 Annual is also available for pre-sales. Go to the products page of the site and order your 2013 books today!