An Early Look at the Results From the 2009 Draft

Back in February, Tim took at one-year-too-early look at the league-wide results from the 2008 draft.  Yesterday, he took a look at the results of the same 2008 draft after four full seasons of development.  Today, we’ll take a look at the early results of the 2009 MLB draft.  For ease of research, WAR totals are obtained from Baseball Reference and the Baseball Reference Draft Results section.

2009 first round pick Tony Sanchez

Round One

Players in Majors: 16 (out of 49 drafted)

Players Selected by Pirates: Tony Sanchez (drafted 1-4, not in majors yet) and Victor Black (1-49, not in majors yet)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Mike Trout (11.3 WAR)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Mike Leake, Mike Trout

3.o to 4.0: None

2.0 to 3.o: Drew Storen, Aaron Crow, Rex Brothers

1.0 to 2.0: None

The most successful player has been Mike Trout, drafted 24th overall.  The story of why Trout lasted to the 25th spot has been well-documented by Baseball America and involved a multitude of factors, such as level of competition and his cold-weather climate in New Jersey giving him a short season.  And before everyone praises the Angels for getting a sure-thing like Trout, keep in mind that they had back-to-back picks at 1-24 and 1-25 and selected Randall Grichuk before they drafted Mike Trout.

For the Pirates, Sanchez is looking more like a job-share candidate at catcher, rather than a full-time starter.  His bat has not progressed since his excellent 2010 season.  As for Black, the early part of his career was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness while masquerading as a starter.  Now that he is a full-time reliever and healthy, his fastball reaches the upper 90’s and he is becoming a legitimate set-up/closer candidate.  Black is a darkhorse to make the Pittsburgh bullpen out of Spring Training in 2013, but he should at least see some time in Pittsburgh at some point during the season.


Round Two

Players in Majors: 4 (out of 31 drafted)

Player Selected by the Pirates: Brooks Pounders (drafted 2-4, traded to Royals for Yamaico Navarro)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Jason Kipnis (4.8 WAR)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: Jason Kipnis

3.0 to 4.0: None

2.o to 3.o: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

The Cleveland Indians’ Jason Kipnis has fared well for the Indians, but otherwise there has been little return from the 2nd round yet for the teams.

Navarro, acquired for Pounders, had a -0.2 WAR in limited playing time with the Pirates in 2012. Pounders returned to low-A ball with the Royals, posting similar numbers as last year, then jumped to high-A with a 4.32 ERA over 15 starts.


Round Three

Players in Majors: 3 (out of 31 drafted)

Player Selected by the Pirates: Evan Chambers (drafted 3-4, not in majors yet)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Kyle Seager (3.2 WAR)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: Kyle Seager

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

Kyle Seager provided some decent value for the Mariners in 2012, playing mostly 3B and hitting 20 HR’s and providing a 738 OPS.  The other two players in the majors, Joe Kelly (Cardinals) and Josh Spence (Angels) have both aided their clubs in 2012.

Chambers looks to have stalled in high-A. He’s always hit for power with a high walk rate, but also has had a low average and high strikeout rate. The way the organization treated him in the second half (moved him up to Double-A with poor numbers, didn’t give him a lot of playing time) suggests he’s moving more toward an organizational player.


Round Four

Players in Majors: 1 (out of 30 drafted)

Player Selected by the Pirates: Zack Dodson (drafted 4-4, not in majors yet)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Adam Warren (-0.3 WAR)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: None

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

With only 1 player in the majors, and that player not having a positive WAR, there’s no need to have a breakdown.

Dodson has some upside, with some saying earlier in the year that he had the potential to be a number three starter. That was before he struggled in his repeat at low-A, and was suspended for 50 games for failing a substance of abuse test. He’ll return next year, but needs to show improvements in high-A after an all around disappointing year. The number three upside has probably been lowered.


Round Five

Players in Majors: 3 (out of 30 drafted)

Player Selected by the Pirates: Nate Baker (drafted 5-4, not in majors yet)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Brandon Belt (3.5 WAR)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: Brandon Belt

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: Louis Coleman

Brandon Belt played 1B for the Giants in 2012 and has been moderately successful for them.  Louis Coleman is a reliever for the Royals and has accumulated 1.8 WAR for the Royals.  The only other player to see the majors has been Ryan Wheeler for the Diamondbacks (-0.1 WAR).

Baker struggled with his control in Double-A, then was moved to the bullpen and had better results. He looks like he could make it to the majors as a left handed middle reliever.


Rounds Six to Ten

Players in Majors: 11 (out of 150 drafted)

Players Selected by the Pirates: Zack Von Rosenberg (not in majors yet), Trent Stevenson (retired), Colton Cain (traded to Astros in Wandy Rodriguez), Brock Holt (debuted in 2012 from 9th round), Joey Schoenfeld (released)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Paul Goldschmidt (3.4 WAR, drafted in 8th round)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: Paul Goldschmidt

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

Paul Goldschmidt is a young slugging 1B for the Diamondbacks that hit 20 HR’s and put up an 850 OPS in 2012.  The Pirates had their first player debut from the 2009 draft in the form of Brock Holt (9th round) when Neil Walker went on the disabled list.  Aside from Goldschmidt, there have been no significant contributions yet from these rounds.

For the Pirates, Von Rosenberg and Cain were two of the key players from this draft. Cain has been dealt in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. Zack Von Rosenberg has struggled with his fastball command, leaving the ball up too frequently and being prone to the long ball. Von Rosenberg can still make the majors as a starter, but the dreams of him potentially becoming a number one starter are gone, and even his chances of being a starter in the majors are far from guaranteed.


Rounds Eleven to Twenty

Players in Majors: 5 (out of 300 drafted)

Players Selected by the Pirates: Aaron Baker (traded to Orioles for Derrek Lee), Jeff Inman (minors), Walker Gourley (minors), Marcos Reyna (did not sign), Peter Bako (did not sign), Mat Den Dekker (did not sign), Jordan Cooper (did not sign, re-drafted in 2011 and signed), Ryan Beckman (minors), Josh Urban (did not sign), Sam Spangler (did not sign)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Matt Carpenter (0.8 WAR, drafted in 13th round)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: None

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

J.D. Martinez of the Astros has received the most significant playing time of players in this grouping, but to-date has only put up -0.4 WAR due to his spotty defense and below-average bat as a LF.  Most players drafted in this sector are fall back plans to Top 10 round selections or are considered organizational players.

The Pirates’ best hope for a major league player from this grouping is probably Ryan Beckman, who was progressing well through the minors until an elbow injury shelved him in 2012.  Jeff Inman has been too injury plagued to be counted on to reach the majors, but his potential and his arsenal of pitches keep him in the discussion. He has hit 98 MPH with his fastball in the last year, and made the jump to Double-A this year, but didn’t have the best results.



Rounds Twenty One to Thirty

Players in Majors: 4 (out of 300 drafted)

Players Selected by the Pirates: Phil Irwin (minors), Carmine Giardina (did not sign), Jose Hernandez (released), Jason Erickson (released), Aaron LaFountaine (did not sign), Matthew Dermody (did not sign), Paul Luquette (did not sign), Kyle Hooper (did not sign), Matthew Heller (did not sign), Ty Summerlin (released)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Mike Fiers (1.4 WAR, drafted in 22nd round)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: None

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: Mike Fiers

Mike Fiers provided the Brewers with 22 starts and 127 innings that they were in need of this year.  His long term place is probably as a #3 or #4 starter, but that’s tremendous value for a 22nd round pick.

Phil Irwin is the Pirates’ lone hope for success from this grouping.  Irwin greatly improved his stock in 2012, ascending to AAA by the end of the year.  Irwin will be 26 in 2013 and is most likely the 8th option for the rotation, but he has turned himself into a back-of-the-rotation candidate.  Like Fiers, that would be great value for a pick after the 20th round.


Rounds Thirty One to Fifty

Players in Majors: 1 (out of 600 drafted)

Players Selected by the Pirates: Zach Taylor (did not sign), Niko Spezial (did not sign), Pat Irvine (released), Zachary Fuesser (minors), Christopher McKenzie (did not sign), Bobby Doran (did not sign), Zachary Nuding (did not sign), Jake Lamb (did not sign), Kiefer Nuncio (did not sign), Brett Lee (did not sign), Tyler Cannon (did not sign), Marc Baca (did not sign), Teddy Fallon (did not sign), Dexter Bobo (did not sign), Kevin Gelinas (did not sign), Parker Bangs (did not sign), Justin Earls (did not sign), Blake Brown (did not sign), Yasser Clor (did not sign), Matt Taylor (did not sign)

Highest Cumulative WAR to-date: Josh Edgin (-0.1 WAR, 50th Round for Braves).  Note — A.J. Griffin (2.0 WAR, did not sign in 34th round 2009, signed in 2010 in 10th round and does not apply to the 2009 draft tally)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: None

3.0 to 4.0: None

2.0 to 3.0: None

1.0 to 2.0: None

This group is primarily reserved for organizational players with some long shots to sign and back up plans sprinkled in to the mix.  For the Pirates, Zach Fuesser has some limited potential to reach the majors as a lefty specialist, but does not possess an overpowering pitch to lend much hope. 37th round pick Zack Nuding didn’t sign, but signed with the Yankees one year later. He had a 3.89 ERA in 85.2 innings in high-A this year, mostly as a starter.


Overall Results

Players in Majors: 48 (out of 1521 players drafted — 3.2%)

WAR Breakdown

4.0 or better: 5

3.0 to 4.0: 3

2.0 to 3.0: 3 (*A.J. Griffin would be the 4th, but was re-drafted in 2010 and does not count for the 2009 draft tally)

1.0 to 2.0: 2

The 2009 draft has been (and will continue to be) debated hotly over the years.  The Pirates felt the talent level after Strasburg and Ackley was equivalent, so they selected Sanchez as a “safe” pick and decided to allocate additional dollars for the draft to potential high-upside pitching.  At the time of the draft, my personal choice for the 1-4 pick was Tyler Matzek (who has terrible control problems in the Rockies minor-league system) or Zack Wheeler if the Pirates wanted a “signable” pick.  The early trends from the draft show that aside from Strasburg and Trout, there are not a lot of other potential stars in this draft, but rather more solid contributors.

I don’t fault the Pirates for their selection of Sanchez once you see how the rest of their strategy played out.  The problem is that none of their high-upside arms (Von Rosenberg, Cain, Dodson, Stevenson, Fuesser) are developing at a rate that gives much hope.  At this point, if the Pirates can get a part-time catcher (Sanchez), utility infielder (Holt), back of the rotation starter (Irwin), and a setup guy (Black) out of the 2009 draft, it would be disappointing based on their draft position each round.  However, as per the maxim ‘if you can get 1 starter and 2 bench/bullpen guys out of each draft then it’s a good draft’, then the Pirates will at least salvage some value.




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Rich Westerfield

So if DL had drafted Wieters, there would be no need to draft Sanchez, thus Bucs could’ve had Wheeler (who ended up getting the Giants Beltran) and thus having Wheeler, they could’ve picked Machado over Taillon.

DL will haunt this team for years to come..


Not exactly a good return on the money they poured into it, but it is still early.


This was the first draft I really followed closely. I remember thinking that the Evan Chambers pick was going to be a steal for us. Boy was I wrong. I really can’t see a saving grace to this draft, I really try to still think that ZVR has a shot due to him being effective in the second half both of the last 2 season’s, but in reality it is just hoping beyond hope. The best player we will have that will he in any way associated with this draft will likely be Wandy. The best prospect out of this group is looking like it will be Phil Irwin.

Lee Young

Kevin….agree on Black. Irwin might be a good middle man at best.



Lee Young

Tim…like you, I applaud them for trying to make the best of what was a bad draft.

The amount of players from this draft shows how little certain Pgh writers know when they opined that we should be getting ‘depth’ from this draft by now.


The problem is that people think that drafting all the high school arms guaranteed that one would hit. No, not at all.

It’s like the idiot that keeps buying lottery tickets thinking that eventually he’d hit the lottery. Odds say no.

Unfortunately the Pirates still will have to draft high school pitchers since they do have the highest upside, but be prepared for 97% failure rates.

Lee Young

The more you buy the better your odds, but your thinking is correct. It is almost a crap shoot at times.

My buddy used to say “Outta 10 young pitchers, one of them might ‘hit”.

That’s just making the majors, let alone being a star.

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