Yesterday we posted an article with two links from Baseball America. In one they ranked the top ten drafts of the last decade. The other ranked all 30 teams according to WAR produced by their draft picks.
We have a bunch of top ten posts coming up this month from the 2010-2019 seasons, but we moved this article up due to the timing of the BA links. This is a ranking of the last ten drafts from the Pirates as voted on by myself and Wilbur Miller. We almost submitted the exact same lists, so there wasn’t much to discuss about the rankings.
We only considered the players signed by the Pirates in each draft and then looked at their overall performance, so even if they were traded elsewhere, that doesn’t hurt/help their value. We are ranking the drafts against each other, not grading them based on what the Pirates got from the players. They don’t get credit for trading guys who didn’t make the majors and don’t lose credit for trades that sent draft picks away, such as the Chris Archer deal.
Now that you know the criteria we used to ranked these 1-10, here is the list rated from best to worst, along with some highlights for each year. I included the draft tracker (linked to each year), starting in 2012, which was the first year we posted it.
2011: This was fairly obvious for the top spot since BA had it as the third best draft of the entire decade. Pirates hit on six future MLB players: Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes, Alex Dickerson and Colten Brewer. As a side note that didn’t factor in, the Pirates also got a minor league coach (Jonathan Schwind) and a front office member (Matt Benedict) from this draft.
2014: Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker and Jordan Luplow all look like they have long MLB futures ahead of them, while Alex McRae, Conner Joe and Montana DuRapau also made the majors already. Trey Supak and Gage Hinsz could also make the majors in the future, so this has potential to produce the most big league players.
2013: The Pirates only signed 28 players this year, but just like the top two years on this list, six players made the majors. Adam Frazier, Chad Kuhl, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire, JaCoby Jones and Shane Carle all have multiple years in the majors. Blake Taylor (traded long ago for Ike Davis) has battled injuries, but had a strong 2019 season and could be an MLB reliever one day.
2015: For only being four years old, this draft has seen a lot of players make the majors already, including one of the best stories we ever covered on this site. Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, James Marvel, Tanner Anderson, Daniel Zamora and John Bormann all made the majors already. Bormann’s one day in the majors was a great story, but his real value to the team is now as a coach, assuming he sticks around in 2020. That group doesn’t have huge MLB value yet, but they will soon be joined by Ke’Bryan Hayes and possibly JT Brubaker, making this draft quite a haul for one season. They also have seven other players still in the system.
2019: It’s obviously too early to put a real grade on this draft, so I’ll explain why I had it rated here. They signed six prep players with legit upside, along with a large group of college players who could make the majors. It will be a few years before we really get a good idea with this group, since so much of the value could come from high school players, but there is plenty of potential.
2017: No MLB players here yet, but the Pirates went the high school route with their first four picks. Shane Baz has a huge arm, though control issues could keep his value down. Cody Bolton has already made it to Double-A and he has a nice four-pitch mix with velocity and control. Those two have the most upside. Jared Oliva, Mason Martin and Calvin Mitchell are highly ranked prospects in the system. Guys like Chris Sharpe, Robbie Glendinning and Shea Murray have potential. There are plenty of others with shots at the big leagues as well.
2010: This draft was hurt by MLB. They used to hold off on approving high bonus deals until late so other players couldn’t use those bonus numbers to their negotiating advantage. The Pirates drafted six high school pitchers in the top 19 rounds who were rated high/somewhat high, but didn’t sign. Players had to commit to their school or lose eligibility, so sometimes the players panicked over the process and chose school. That really limited this class. Jameson Taillon was the prize, but numerous major issues (two Tommy John surgeries, hernia surgery, cancer) have limited his production. This class also saw Nick Kingham, Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler make the majors, though all three of them were also limited due to major injuries. The potential of a healthy Taillon keeps this from ranking lower
2018: The Pirates signed a total of 33 players and 27 are still in the system. Except for ninth round pick Logan Stoelke, who retired, the released players were all from the late rounds. They have three of our top ten prospects in Travis Swaggerty, Braxton Ashcraft and Michael Burrows, along with three other top 50 prospects in Jack Herman, Aaron Shortridge and Colin Selby. There are some other interesting players among the rest, but it’s not a huge upside potential group.
2016: This draft has a chance to move up a lot, but there are no guarantees in the group. The only MLB player so far is Geoff Hartlieb, which was a nice get in the 29th round from a small school. Will Craig, Travis MacGregor, Braeden Ogle, Max Kranick, Blake Cederlind are all top 50 prospects in the system, plus five other players are still in the system at the upper levels.
2012: The Mark Appel draft. He didn’t sign, so it limited what the Pirates could spend on over-slot picks as well, because they lost his slot amount and the 5% overage that comes along with it. Fourth round pick Brandon Thomas didn’t sign either. Three players from the draft have made the majors, so it wasn’t a total bust. Jacob Stallings, Max Moroff and Adrian Sampson have each seen big league time in multiple seasons. Wyatt Mathisen hasn’t made the majors, but he earned a 40-man roster spot with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so a fourth MLB player from this group is possible. That’s not bad from your worst draft of the decade, but the hope here would be that it remains the worst as we see how the more recent drafts play out.