In 2009 the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of money on prep pitchers in the middle rounds. The hope was that one of those pitchers could one day emerge as a top of the rotation option, which is something the Pirates hadn’t seen in their system for a long time. So far none of those pitchers have emerged as anything close to top of the rotation guys. Here is a rundown of what the Pirates have from each pitcher.
2nd Round – Brooks Pounders: Traded for Yamaico Navarro, who was traded for Jhondaniel Medina.
4th Round – Zack Dodson: Struggled in low-A last year. Still has the potential and stuff to reach the majors, but he has 4th starter upside.
6th Round – Zack Von Rosenberg: The highest paid player at $1.2 M. He was supposed to have the best chance of breaking out. Has been hit hard the last two years due to an elevated fastball. Today he was throwing 80-83 MPH.
7th Round – Trent Stevenson: Retired last year.
8th Round – Colton Cain: Traded with two other players for Wandy Rodriguez.
That’s not an impressive result, especially when the draft was focused around those prep pitchers. So far the result is a third of the price it took to acquire Wandy Rodriguez, plus two guys who might make the majors but have been struggling in A-ball, and a small right-hander in rookie ball. If you’re making an argument against the Pirates drafting skills, the 2009 draft would be the center of that argument.
One thing I noticed today is that the 2011 draft is shaping up to be the exact opposite of the 2009 draft. The Pirates went crazy with their spending in 2011, adding Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell with their top two picks. But they also spent on the middle round prep pitchers, and the early results have been more encouraging than the 2009 class.
4th Round – Colten Brewer: Was hitting 95 MPH with his fastball today.
5th Round – Tyler Glasnow: Consistently hits 96 MPH with his fastball, and has touched 98.
7th Round – Jake Burnette: Had a minor elbow injury last year, but is healthy now. Was topping out at 90-93 before the injury, with a good curveball.
8th Round – Jason Creasy: Hasn’t shown the velocity of the other pitchers, and was hit around in State College.
9th Round – Clay Holmes: He throws 90-93 MPH with a slider that looks like a plus pitch at times.
Right now a lot of the 2011 guys are still more potential than results. None of them have pitched above short-season ball, which isn’t a negative since last year was their first full season. They’re graded on potential and stuff, and what we do know is that none of the guys in 2009 had the stuff that we’re seeing from the 2011 group. The 2009 group didn’t have one person hitting 95 or higher, let alone two. Colton Cain, Zack Dodson, and Brooks Pounders all worked in the 90-93 range, but never on a consistent basis. So far there’s only one player from the 2011 draft who hasn’t hit 93 or higher, and that’s Creasy.
The 2011 prep pitchers also have an advantage. They’re just a bonus. The key to that draft was Cole and Bell. If one or more of the prep pitchers makes it, that’s just icing on the cake. The 2009 prep pitchers were the key to the draft. The whole draft was focused on them. They also didn’t have Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Luis Heredia in the system. For a year, they were the only hope of having a top of the rotation starter one day, and they were pretty much the only pitching prospects the Pirates had. That’s not the case at all with the 2011 group.
The 2011 guys are still more stuff and potential than results. But so far that potential has definitely been encouraging, to the point that they’re off to a much better start than the 2009 class.
Here are a few photos from Pirate City today.
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