Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham. Glasnow was taken in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and given a $600,000 bonus. Kingham was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, signed for $480,000.

The new draft rules limited middle round spending, and for a team like the Pirates, it meant they would be limited in giving out those types of bonuses in the middle rounds, especially if they were spending the maximum amount on their early round picks. But the Pirates have still been drafting prep pitchers and signing them to over-slot deals. They just have had to take those pitchers earlier, lining up the expected bonuses with the suggested draft slots in the early rounds.

We saw this last year when the Pirates landed three prep pitchers to over-slot deals. They drafted Mitch Keller and Trey Supak in the second round, then landed Gage Hinsz in the 11th round. Keller and Supak signed for $1 M each. Keller’s bonus pool amount was $886,800, while Supak was at $772,000. Meanwhile, Hinsz signed for $580,000. Picks after the tenth round can sign for up to $100,000. Anything beyond that amount counts against the overall bonus pool. The Pirates paid Hinsz the maximum amount they could to get him signed without losing a draft pick, paying a $261,525 penalty in the process.

All three pitchers are your typical Pirates prep pitcher — tall, projectable starters with fastballs that touch the low 90s or higher out of high school. All three will start off in Bristol this year, after spending time in extended Spring Training. And the goal with prep pitchers is always to get as many as possible, and hope one of them pans out. It’s unclear which one will work out in the long-run, although all three have a good shot.

Keller is the best of the group right now. He sits 91-94 MPH with his fastball, touching 95. I saw him a lot last year, and he had some poor command problems at times. Other times he looked dominant. That has been a focus for him this off-season. The pitching coaches have been working on him staying back longer, and getting his hip engaged in the delivery.

“The velocity is there,” Keller said. “I just need to work on the command. Staying back will help me. Keep the arm ahead and not getting so late in the delivery will help it. Not have to speed up as much and be able to place it wherever I want to. They’re hoping that might work.”

Keller came down to Spring Training a week earlier than everyone else to get acclimated to the warm weather, and to get an early start. For that reason, he is already into games, while the others are only up to live batting practice. His command looked good in his first start, and he said it was working well in his bullpen following the outing.

One interesting scenario came up over the off-season when the Pirates traded Travis Snider. Keller’s brother, Jon, is a pitcher in the Orioles’ organization. The two worked out over the off-season back at home in Iowa at a Perfect Game facility. When the Player to Be Named Later rumors came out, one of the rumored players coming from Baltimore was Jon Keller. As it turned out, Mitch’s brother wouldn’t be uniting with his brother in the Pirates’ organization. Despite that, they both saw the rumors.

“I actually saw that somewhere, and I was joking with him about it,” Mitch said. “It was kind of funny.”

Right after taking Keller, the Pirates drafted Trey Supak. He can hit 94 MPH, but usually sits 88-92, working 90-92 in the early innings last year, and dropping to the upper 80s later in the game. He spent the off-season working out at the University of Texas with MLB pitchers Homer Bailey and Chad Qualls, along with minor league pitchers Kenn Kasparek and Taylor Jungmann. Supak and Bailey are good friends, coming from the same home town and the same high school.

“I was low on the totem pole, but I learned so much from those guys,” Supak said.

The focus this off-season was to get stronger, slimming down while adding muscle. That might help him maintain his velocity beyond the early innings. To get to that point, he focused on nutrition and eating right.

“I feel like working at UT really helped,” Supak said. “The pitching coach at UT is really good.”

There were rumors that Hinsz was approached by the Pirates in the second round, but turned down their offer. That would suggest they liked him more than Keller and/or Supak. Because he signed late, he didn’t get a chance to pitch as much as the other two during the season. He did get an opportunity to pitch during the Fall Instructional Leagues, and started making some changes at the end of the event.

“Trying to get me in a little more rhythm with throwing,” Hinsz said. “Just keeping everything going towards the plate.”

The focus is staying strong on the backside, and making sure that he is directed to the plate during the delivery.

“It was more about opening up my hips a little more, because I close myself off at some times,” Hinsz said.

The Pirates put a big focus on two things in the lower levels with their prep pitchers — fastball command and developing a changeup. The mechanical adjustments for the prep pitchers are aimed at helping them repeat their delivery and improve their command. As for the changeup, that’s something all three will focus on this year.

“It’s one of the best pitches you can have after your fastball, and I didn’t get to throw it much in high school,” Hinsz said. “There’s no reason to.”

Hinsz finally found a grip that worked for him this off-season, and said that he’s starting to get a feel for the pitch. Supak said that it took him awhile to get the grip and get familiar with the pitch, but that it is going better now.

“It’s really come along pretty good this off-season,” Supak said. “It’s really smooth, really nice out of the hand. Same arm action [as the fastball], pretty much. That was one of the things I tried to work on this off-season when it comes to pitching.”

The grip was an issue for Keller. He originally tried a circle change, but found that his hands weren’t big enough for the grip. He eventually found a grip that worked. Keller has a good curveball, but that won’t be a big focus this year as he focuses on the fastball command and the changeup. The latter has become his secondary pitch this year.

“It’s been a really good pitch so far this Spring,” Keller said. “I’m really confident in it now. I just keep throwing it time after time, and it’s coming along really nice.”

The prep pitcher approach relies on drafting in quantity, and hoping that at least one quality player emerges. The Pirates had success in that area in the past with Glasnow and Kingham. The 2014 trio will give them three good candidates for a future breakout. However, they’re going to need to continue this approach in the draft in the future, so that they can keep pushing top pitching prospects through the system.

  • Tim, I am wondering whether the signing of prospects that have been relative success stories (such as Glasnow, Kingham and others) are associated with a select few of the scouts on the Pirates’ staff? Or has success in identifying talent been widespread throughout the organization? In essence I am wondering whether there are a few “super scouts” within the Pirates’ organization that deserve recognition similar to the recognition that Ray Searage and Jim Benedict have received for their great work rehabilitating a number of MLB pitchers?

    • The Prospect Guide actually lists the signing scout, which is pretty cool if you ask me. No discernible trend that I can see, however.

      Would be a cool topic for Tim to cover.

      • Thanks NMR. I forgot that, if I ever noticed. I’ll go back and check the book.

  • Lee Foo Young
    March 30, 2015 8:27 am

    The Pirate on the left looks a lot like John Smiley, doesn’t he? In fact, that’s who I thought it was at first.

    • I know you’re out east, but Root played a couple games from the ’91 NLCS over the weekend. So much fun seeing those old faces.

  • Just for the record – I checked the top 50 ranked pitching prospects according to John Sickels. Of those, 7 were international FA’s, 31 were 1st round picks, 4 were second round picks, and 7 were drafted in the 4th round or later. To have two quality arms (Kingham is not in John’s top 50) in your high minors that were drafted after the 2nd round is remarkable, I don’t care how many drafts you had where you whiffed on such pitchers.

    • I just cannot see how the last point is the least bit true.

      Look at all the good pitching around the game today. Fact is that it’s not *that* hard to find pitching right now. Just isn’t.

      *Any* strategy *always* comes down to return on investment.

      • Look at all the good pitching around the game today. Fact is that it’s not *that* hard to find pitching right now. Just isn’t.

        ___________________________________________
        First off, there’s no way that statement is supportable by the evidence of just looking around.

        Second, I can find something to eat in a dumpster if I’m hungry enough and look hard enough– doesn’t mean I don’t want something better than garbage to eat.

        • You must be kidding.

          Really no sense in continuing this conversation if you can’t at least recognize how much the run scoring environment has changed in the last decade.

          • Lee Foo Young
            March 30, 2015 8:26 am

            NMR…I agree with Steve. It is VERY hard to find good pitching. Always has been and always will be. Your statement surprised me a bit.

            • Foo, come on my man. Enough with the dogma.

              Look around! There’s simply no question that there is more pitching than offense in today’s game. None.

              • Look around! There’s simply no question that there is more pitching than offense in today’s game. None.

                _________________________________________
                That doesn’t mean that good pitching is so abundant that it’s easy to find.

      • Easy to find good pitching how? Yeah, in FA its obvious you can find quality pitching but along with that comes the insane price tag good pitching gets. Moderately good pitching is getting rather insane money, which means if you arent willing to spend a premium on it you gotta draft it or trade for it. It may not be hard to identify good arms, but its pretty dang hard to get it without paying a premium.

    • FWIW, I think that’s an inherently flawed analysis since we know prospect lists have a healthy amount of bias towards top picks in the first place.

      For comparison, seven of the top 25 most valuable pitchers under age 30 in 2014 were drafted after the first round and three of them were 5th or later.

    • The publicly stated purpose of the over slot projectable prep arms &#174, was to find the Gerrit Coles and Strasbugs before they reach 1-1 status, with the ultimate goal of finding top of the rotation arms because top of the rotation pitching is expensive, in either draft picks/bonus money or free agent money. If we want to be binary in our evaluation, under the first condition Glasnow is a success, on the second there hasn’t been any success yet. Which is fine because the time frame is long and attrition rates high.

      On the discussion of good pitching, top of the rotation pitching is finite and fairly constant by definition, but I do think there is something to the idea that given the strike zone and run environment finding effective middle to back of rotation pitching is somewhat easier to do.

  • I think it’s funny that Keller’s hands are too small to throw a circle change, but he has a good curve ball. Usually, the bigger your hand is the easier it is to throw Uncle Charlie.

    • It depends, there are a lot of different ways to throw a curve, different seams and pressure points. I have small hands, had a great curve……..didn’t have much else though unfortunately!

  • Tim: An excellent summary of a very strong group of young pitchers assembled by the Pirates. It is true that none of the late round, over-slot, HS/JUCO pitching prospects has cracked our MLB Rotation, but that will happen soon enough, and in the meantime, we have the resource that almost any other MLB team would love to have. This is the backbone of the Pirates minor league system – sort of like gold – very valuable to hold and universally acceptable in the marketplace.

  • Obviously, guys like Glasnow and Kingham can reverse the trend in a big way, but you have to conclude that this approach has been pretty much a failure. Although I say that, I still do agree with the approach – but it is very high risk and reward. It goes to show how very far it is from HS to MLB, regardless of how good you are.

    • Failure is pretty harsh, the team has a good deal of depth in the minors where SP is concerned and you gotta give some credit to that to the process. I mean, you basically took the two best examples of why its a solid approach out and then said “it aint working”. Being very young and projectable means they wont shoot up the system super quickly, but having 2 mid to upper rotation arm types out of that system is solid. No prospect is a sure thing, but both those guys currently are on the path to being decent to great ML options.

      If ML success is the only bar for success of the process, PIT would fail overall in generating SP to this point. Problem with that is, it ignores the talent they have in the system. Like the way they are operating and i dont see it as a “failure” until the 3-5 solid arms they have in the system fail to a large degree. Kingham being a 3-4 type with Glasnow showing up and being a 2-3 type makes that process a big win, even if a few others flop (Heredia).

      • Luke – I think you need to re-read my post, because although I stated the obvious – that the first 3 years of this approach was a failure, I also said:

        (1) That Glasnow and Kingham can reverse that grade and trend significantly.
        (2) That I still agreed with the approach, despite the results to date.

        • And then i said that i dont think its logical to say its a failure to date unless you assume that only ML success is the way to judge it overall. When you draft really projectable options like they have, it takes longer to get that guy to the bigs. So 3 years later looking and going “well, no ML talent yet so its a failure” is dumb imo. I always thought, with this process, it would take at least 3 years for these guys to develop to AAA/ML level.

          You act as if its obvious this process has failed to this point, and i disagree. I think anyone who thought a highly projectable HS pitcher would be a ML option in 3 years isnt really listening to the process the team is using. They are going to get their time at each level, and many need work that requires more than a year at some levels. I think the jury is still out on how well/often it works, and the first 3 years cant be looked at as failures because no one went from HS to ML in that frame.

    • Obviously, guys like Glasnow and Kingham can reverse the trend in a big way, but you have to conclude that this approach has been pretty much a failure.

      ___________________________________
      As opposed to the guaranteed successes that they shoulda took in later rounds? The failure rate of 1st-rounders is pretty darn high and it goes up with each successive round. Calling it a failure without some context on what else they coulda done with the crapshoot dice they were required to throw is a pretty unfair and pointless criticism.

      • I respectfully disagree. Although I still agree with the high risk and high reward approach, the first three years were failures. Obviously, the goal was for at least one of these HS starting pitchers to progress and develop and contribute to the ML team. Not only has none of them reached that level, most are either out of the organization or out of baseball. How can you assess the first 3 years in any other way?

        • You can assess it by comparing the Pirates’ lack of success to other clubs’ successes/failures. So if there’s some club out there that is consistently beating the long odds on finding good players or prospects in the 2nd and later rounds, then I’d say the Pirates are failing. But if all the other clubs are just shooting the long dice same as the Pirates and hitting or missing just as much, then the failure is endemic to the system and not something inherent in the Pirates’ approach.

          • Why are some people so sensitive to even the slightest negative assessment of this team or its management? I’ve been a fan since 1970 and I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to this team, but I can at least try to be objective.

            Wow, and I wasn’t even being critical – just pointing out the obvious. What does other team’s results have anything to do with assessing the Pirates? But to appease you, 2008-2010 was a failure of this approach regardless.

            • I simply disagree that it’s a failure. I’m not sensitive about anything.

              OK. So the approach was a failure. So I assume you’ll back up this assertion by pointing out the other clubs who have multiple top-rated pitching prospects from the 2nd and later rounds? Because that’s what’s in the Pirates’ system and I’m not aware of any other organization that can say that. So if that’s a failure, I’ll take it.

        • No HS pitcher is drafted with the intent of getting to the major leagues in 3 years- ever. By any team. That being said, how can you conclude whether it has been a failure or not given that an average HS player takes 5 years to get to the majors and probably 7 to be worth a damn

          • This is my point above. When discussing a process involving HS pitchers, waiting just 3 years to judge how it went overall isnt wise, imo. Any HS pitcher is going to take longer than most.

            • Yep, I completely agree with you Luke. In our system, very few college players would even get here in 3-4 years

          • Your point would be valid, if all of those overslot pitchers taken between 2008 and 2010 were still progressing through the organization. But, they are not – only Kingham is still pitching for the Pirates organization. He looks very promising, but is still a prospect.

            • But the entire idea behind this approach is getting 1-2 ML arms from that situation. You are discrediting the huge winner in the process by saying because he isnt in the bigs in 3 years out of HS the process hasnt worked yet. Which is at best ignorant of the way the process works. You take a bunch of highly projectable HS arms beyond the 2nd round knowing many will never reach the bigs, but if 1-2 does its a huge win and it’ll take more than 2-3 years.

            • as one of the other guys already stated, 2008 has no bearing, we werent signing them in 2008, it started in 2009. And as such everyone would be a prospect because not enough time has passed to allow for our strategy as far as bringing guys through the organization. We have a ton of those pitchers at AA and Kingham and Taillon at AAA, so therefore you have to say its a success.

    • If the trend refers to producing high-quality pitching prospects from later round picks, then the Pirates have not failed with this strategy. The organization can suffer washouts like Allie, von Rosenberg, etc. because the strategy requires drafting these prospects in quantity. The organization needs only to develop a quality starting pitcher every few years to cash in on the strategic goals. From quantity the team can expect quality.

      • Again, for the 3rd or 4th time, I am not being critical of the approach – in fact, I agree with it. However, as far as the first three years of this approach (2008-2010), the results have been poor with no starting pitcher out of that group of over-slot HS pitchers making it above AA, let alone Pittsburgh. I was not assessing the entirety of this approach, over 5-10 years, etc – just those first 3 years.

        Sometimes, I think I must be writing in some other language other than English….

        • I get what you are trying to say but I think it’s still wrong. Let’s look at the three years you are talking about.

          2008: really the only prep pitcher here was Quinton Miller. Yes he failed but the fact he was alone kind of shows they weren’t using this strategy.

          2009: no direct help here but two of the prep arms were flipped in deals that brought back major league players. That’s value even if it’s not the kind we initially look for.

          2010: Taillon and Kingham were taken in this draft so it’s strange to call it a failure even though they haven’t made it to the majors yet.

          • Exactly- the average HS draft pick in 2009 was lucky if he signed early enough to play in 5 short season games: This is the absolute best case scenario you’d get no matter how good the player was, even the first pick in the draft. Typically even a successful pitcher would have an injury or a struggle which would set them back a year. Not sure how anything can be considered a failure given this time line below:

            2010- short season A
            2011- full season A
            2012 advanced A, AA
            2013 AA, AAA
            2014- AAA, ML callup

          • Taillon was not an overslot starting pitcher draft pick, he was a high first round pick and is not applicable.

            You are correct though, Kingham came in 2010 – I thought he an Glasnow both came in 2011. My bad!

            So, for the first three years of this approach, one pitcher made it to the AAA level. The others are all out of the organization or out of baseball. Still not what I would call a success.

            Kingham and Glasnow have the chance to change that dramatically.

            • 3 years, when discussing a process entirely made up of HS pitchers, is a really bad timeframe to start judging the process. Hell, 3 years is pushing it for 1st round picks in this organization. So it hasnt been a success yet, but calling it a failure seems to be jumping the gun on the timeline expected for success.

              • One last time….I was assessing the first three of this approach – 2008-2010 – only. During that time, the team drafted 6-8 of these overslot HS pitchers. Unless I am mistaken, only Kingham remains in the system. So, how am I jumping the gun, when none of the others drafted are with the organization?

                • gotcha, i think thats an extremely dumb way to approach it. Its taking a process that basically guarantees each guy will take more than 3 years to make the bigs and judging the 3 years and going “failure”. Im not even really arguing its a success at this point, but that the way you frame the years is nearly irrelevant to the success of the process. If 1 guy from those years makes the bigs, its a success. The first 3 years is a terrible timeframe to judge HS pitchers. Right now, the jury is out. By your logic, the first 3 years of this process will always be a failure because no one will be in the bigs and the majority will flame out (due to the nature of the draft and how lower picks turn out).

                  • Luke, do me a big favor and go back and read my original post.

                    • You keep acting like we dont get what you are saying, WE DO. I just have continued to say its a really dumb way to argue this. Its like looking at a 1st round pick 2 years into his track and saying “well the pick is a failure right now, but if he makes the bigs eventually it’ll change that”.

                      Yes, if the process works as it should and they get 1 big league pitcher out of it its a success. But roughly 2/3rds of the way into the process isnt really a fair time to judge if its successful yet or not. Its wasnt really ever expected to have a kid in the bigs in 3 years. They drafted HS kids.

        • Maybe people are caught up on the word failure, personally I think an accurate characterization is; not successful to this point with a lack of any early returns. With this strategy you are hoping for 2 or 3 of 10 to produce a return.

          And I completely agree that Glasnow and Kingham are currently carrying the torch. Also as John Decker commented in another thread, compared to 2008 the arms the Pirates have recently been drafting are better rated by most outside sources.

          • Thank you Andrew – and I agree, maybe failure was too strong of an assessment of the results of this approach spanning 2008-2010…..but the results were certainly less than stellar.

            • Not saying I’m immune, but discussions about the Pirates front office quickly become political.

              • Considering that my overall message was that I supported what they are doing with HS pitchers, I never would have thought I would get so much negative response, You would have thought I said that Cutch was the most overrated player in baseball, or some other nonsense.

        • Claiming that a strategy has failed means being critical of the strategy.

          Now, you could distinguish between the strategy as an idea and the implementation of the strategy. But that distinction would not help you much because the Pirates have found more than a few pitchers who can be considered potential ML starters. In fact, the Pirates found one pitcher who projects to become a number one or two starter. Getting a pitcher like Glasnow in the top of the first round would be considered a success. But the Pirates got him in a later round. They succeeded because they looked for the kind of player who would become a Glasnow. The strategy proved successful, and would remain so even if Glasnow and Kingham were to injure themselves and fail to make it as ML starters.

          • Now this is just silly.

            Is your goal to find *potential* ML starters or *actual* ML starters?

            It should be the latter, obviously. And if Glasnow and Kingham were to injure themselves and fail to make it as ML starters, it would be pure denial to still call the implementation of this strategy a success.

            Plain and simple.

            • No, it cannot, by definition be actual ML starters. If the goal were to find actual ML starters in a draft the draft pick would need to go directly to the ML rotation after he signs. By your criteria, Mike Trout would have been a draft mistake if had not made it to the majors, even if his lack of ML success was caused by a car accident. This kind of feasible outcome shows your criteria to be worthless when evaluating a player acquisition and development strategy.

            • Absolutely fair that if 5-7 years into the process if Kingham fizzles into nothing and Glasnow hurts himself and never makes it that the process isnt all that successful (though it still ignores the other guys that can still be fine regulars). But at this moment, calling it a failure seems premature and not really fair to the realities of the process. It was always gonna take highly projectable HS arms more than 3 years to make it and prove themselves ML regulars. Thats part of the process idea.

          • Steve – if you re-read my message, you will see that I was assessing the first three years of this approach – 2008 thru 2010. Glasnow was taken in 2011, so including him is irrelevant.

            • Glasnow is relevant because he provides a counter-example which rebuts your claim. Limiting the analysis to the first three years of the Huntington regime amounts to cherry picking the data to support your point.

              • I am VERY sorry I even started this whole thread, but I did find out which of you are struggling with dyslexia or just practicing for the debate team.

                For the LAST time:
                (1) I only stated that that I thought that the Pirates first 3 years (2008-2010) of the overslot HS pitcher approach was a failure – stating the VERY obvious, as only one pitcher (Kingham) remains in the organization who was drafted in that time period as an overslot HS pitcher. All others are gone.
                (2) I clearly stated that guys like Glasnow and Kingham could dramatically change this overall assessment of this approach.
                (2) I clearly stated that despite the bad results form the first 3 years, I still SUPPORTED and AGREED with the approach, although it is high risk and high reward.

                I think some of you just like to argue or have incredibly thin skin when it comes to any negative critiquing of the organization, even as mild as this.

                • I think you need to walk back your claim that the projectable pitcher strategy failed.

        • “Sometimes, I think I must be writing in some other language other than English….”

          You should use the English language to clearly state what counts as success and failure in this matter.

          • Unless I overlooked someone, from all of the overslot pitchers we drafted between 2008-2010 (there were 6-8??), we have one of those still in the Pirates organization and developing – Kingham. If he does NOT become a productive ML starting pitcher, I would definitely grade those first three years of this approach as a failure. Kingham can change that grade dramatically, if he makes it to Pittsburgh.

    • They haven’t failed at all with this strategy. You draft a bunch of guys hoping to find one guy like Glasnow or Kingham.

      Putting it in perspective, the Pirates paid about $8 M for all of their over-slot middle round prep pitchers. They also paid $8 M for Gerrit Cole because he was seen as a guy who could be a future ace. For the other $8 M, they got a guy who could be a future ace (Glasnow) and a guy who could be a strong middle of the rotation starter (Kingham). And that doesn’t include the other guys who could make it as starters, like Holmes or Creasy.

      • “Failure” might’ve been too strong, but at the same time, you also can’t at all say they’ve succeeded.

        Glasnow, and to a lesser extent Kingham and Holmes, represent the only chances the club has to make good on this strategy until the ’14 HS arms come around. Edwards is most certainly correct in that regard.

        I’ll also contend that given the opportunity costs involved, Glasnow is really the guy that can objectively make this whole initial process a success. If he were to flame out and become no more than a good bullpen arm, would we really consider one mid-rotation starter (Nick Kingham) a successful result of more than six years worth of drafting and development? And if so, why the hell is this a good idea again?

        • If he were to flame out and become no more than a good bullpen arm, would we really consider one mid-rotation starter (Nick Kingham) a successful result of more than six years worth of drafting and development? And if so, why the hell is this a good idea again?

          _________________________________________
          Yes, you should consider that a success, when you consider that getting a middle-rotation starter from the 2nd round or later is a heckuva lot better than getting someone who, like most later-round picks never sees, let alone makes a difference in, the majors.

          • This just reeks of dogma.

            If you are correct, then why exactly is it a good idea to expend so much time and energy on such a poor return?

            • You know, calling something dogma doesn’t really address its merits or lack of merits.

              The time and energy is gonna be expended one way or another– on one player or another– and the odds say it’s gonna be wasted because the odds of a later round player making MLB at all are not very favorable. Assuming the Pirates have hit on a way to identify late-round pitchers with potential to start at the MLB-level, then I’d rather have them take that kind of pitcher than anyone else, because the odds say that the “anyone else” they coulda took is probably not gonna amount to anything ever.

              The odds against both the late-round pitcher and the late-round everyone else are still pretty high; but at least with the pitcher they seem to have hit on a way of identifying decent starter potential.

        • I agree that you can’t say they’ve succeeded.

          Right now I think you can only say that it’s too early to judge the results. But right now the early results look encouraging.

        • We aare talking about two different things here. The critics are talking about major league success. The prospect guys are talking about value. The VALUE of a first round pick used on a high-school pitcher in 2010-11 is a current top-50 pitching prospect ready to take a major league rotation spot. There are a bunch of those guys, including Taillon.

          The point that we prospect guys are trying to make is that Glasnow and Kingham are lower-round guys who have attained that level of value due to the hard work of their minor league coaches (and of course their own hard work). There is no guarantee that any single top 50 pitching prospect will turn out to be even a mid-rotation starter. But in the aggregate, somewhere between 20 and 25 of them will do so. So having Glasnow, Taillon, and Kingham lurking on the fringes of contributing to the major league team is a good thing, and to have only one of those 3 as a first round pick is rather remarkable.

          The Pirates have very definitely learned to create VALUE out of later round prep pitchers. Time will tell if that value equates to major league success.

          • Interesting.

            Here I was all along thinking the Pirates strategy of drafting projectable arms was to turn them into big league pitchers, since that’s the exact reason the organization itself has given every step of the way.

      • Tim and others…..I made my assessment on the first three years (2008-2010) of this approach, so guys like Glasnow, Holmes are irrelevant. I did make the mistake of thinking Kingham was also taken in 2011, like Glasnow, but he was drafted in 2010 – my mistake.

        So, for the first three years – 2008-2010 – of this approach, we have one starting pitcher (Kingham) still pitching and progressing in the organization, reaching AAA last year. Alll of the other overslots taken in the same time period are out of the organization and/or out of baseball. That sounds a lot more like a failure than a success.

        Obviously, guys like Glasnow, Kingham, Holmes, etc. can change this very dramatically.

        • They didn’t really draft many prep pitchers in 2008. Most of the guys they drafted in 2010 didn’t sign and went to college. So basically what you’re saying is that they had a bad 2009 draft, the one guy they got in 2008 didn’t work out, and the one big guy they got in 2010 has been good.

          It sounds more like a bad draft than a three year problem.

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