Is it just me, or does it seem like the Pirates can’t catch a break in the first round of the MLB draft? A quick review of their recent history:
-In 2008 Pedro Alvarez was the number one prospect. The Tampa Bay Rays took Tim Beckham first overall, giving Alvarez to the Pirates. The Pirates had an easy choice, but the choice hasn’t performed as expected. So far Alvarez has disappointed, while a few players below him have produced well.
-In 2009 the top of the draft was dominated by Stephen Strasburg and Dustin Ackley. After those two were off the board there was no consensus best player when the Pirates picked fourth. Rather than deciding between Shelby Miller, Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Zack Wheeler, Matt Purke, Alex White, and Aaron Crow, the Pirates reached for Tony Sanchez in the first round, then went over-slot on guys like Zack Dodson, Zack Von Rosenberg, and Colton Cain in the middle rounds.
-In 2010 the top draft prospect was Bryce Harper. For the second straight year a “once in a generation” talent came around. This time the Pirates picked second. They got Jameson Taillon, which wasn’t bad, but their choice between Taillon and Machado wasn’t as easy as Washington’s choice to take Harper first.
-In 2011 the Pirates had the first overall pick. For the previous two years there was a consensus number one talent on the board. This time the consensus number one talent was Anthony Rendon. However, Rendon dealt with a shoulder injury all year, causing him to slip to 6th overall. The injury also left the Pirates with another clouded situation. They selected Gerrit Cole, which wasn’t a bad choice. But the choice of Cole wasn’t as easy as the number one choice the previous two years.
With the eighth pick in the 2012 draft, the Pirates weren’t going to see a hands down favorite this year for their first overall selection. There was one player who really stood out in the 2012 draft class, and that was Victor Roache. Part of the appeal was that Roache was ranked in the bottom half of the top 10 by Baseball America and MLB.com, which is right where the Pirates pick. The other part is that Roache is a power hitter — leading division I baseball in home runs last year — and the Pirates could use one of those.
Roache got off to a great start this year, hitting for a .412/.600/.765 line in his first 25 plate appearances. He also had a 28% walk rate and a 6% strikeout rate. But Roache’s 2012 season, and likely his draft stock, was dealt a crushing blow on Saturday. The outfielder broke his wrist, and will likely be out for the season.
A lot can happen between now and the draft in June. Someone like Mike Zunino or Devin Marrero could fall to the Pirates at eighth overall. Someone currently in the bottom half of the first round could have a huge season and move to the bottom half of the top ten. So Victor Roache going down doesn’t mean the Pirates have lost their chance at a good player. But it was a good fit on paper. If the draft went in order of the Baseball America rankings, Roache would have been the easy choice for the Pirates prior to this weekend. But if recent history has told us anything, the Pirates rarely get the easy choice.
Links and Notes
**Between the Victor Roache news this morning, a short day at Pirate City, and recovering from the 15 hour drive to Bradenton, I didn’t get much of a chance to grab some content my first day down here. Then again, there wasn’t much going on. I watched Pedro Alvarez and Jake Fox rotate taking grounders at third base. I watched Jordy Mercer and Matt Hague take batting practice. I watched Yamaico Navarro and Chase d’Arnaud working in the batting cages, going up against breaking balls. That was about the height of the excitement today.
**Here is the minor league camp schedule, which is useful if you’re heading down to Bradenton this year.
**The Pirates placed five prospects in John Sickels’ top 120.