First Pitch: Later Round Draft Results for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Over the last five days, we have looked at the draft results for the Pittsburgh Pirates in each of the first five rounds since 1965. The results showed a decline in success rate for getting players to the majors, dropping down a little each round. First round picks made it to the majors 64% of the time, while fifth round picks had a 17% success rate. However, the value that those players provided in the majors didn’t have the same decline per round. Third round picks have added more value than second round picks, and fifth round picks did better than the fourth rounders.

There was talk this year that the draft could be ten rounds. It was decided a few weeks ago that it would be five rounds, which is why our draft articles over the last nine days have been looking at just those rounds. I thought I’d do something a little different today and see what the Pirates could be missing out on in the 6-10 rounds.

For each round below, you will see the success rate of picking an MLB player, along with the average WAR per pick, plus the best pick in that round. The average WAR per pick is based on the players they signed only, and doesn’t include guys still working their way through the minors.

SIXTH

Success Rate: 27% (10-for-37)

Average WAR: 4.1

Best Pick: Ed Whitson, 21.2

SEVENTH

Success Rate: 26% (11-for-42)

Average WAR: 7.0

Best Pick: Willie Randolph, 65.9

EIGHTH

Success Rate: 12% (5-for-43)

Average WAR: 9.5

Best Pick: Tim Wakefield, 34.4

NINTH

Success Rate: 16% (8-for-50)

Average WAR: 2.9

Best Pick: Tony Watson, 11.7

TENTH

Success Rate: 17.5% (7-for-40)

Average WAR: 1.0

Best Pick: Stan Belinda, 5.3

As you can tell by those percentages, in an average year you’re probably getting one MLB player from the group of 6-10 round picks, and the average WAR between those five rounds is 4.9 WAR.

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THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

By John Dreker

Just two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and no major transactions, so it is a light day for Pirates history.

Kenny Lofton, center fielder for the 2003 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Astros in 1988, taken in the 17th round. He made it to the majors by the end of 1991, then was dealt in a one-sided trade to the Indians that December. Lofton emerged as a star right away, leading the league in stolen bases four straight years and batting over .300 each season from 1993 until 1997. He made the All-Star team six straight years (1994-99) and won four straight Gold Glove Awards (1993-96). Lofton was a run scoring machine during his early years with the Cleveland Indians, averaging 106 runs scored per season during his nine full years with the team. Throughout his career, he was a constant in the post-season, reaching the playoffs in 11 of his 16 full seasons in the majors. Another constant in his career was the changing of teams. He played ten seasons in Cleveland, but even that was over three different stints. He also played part or all of one season with ten other teams, among them being the 2003 Pirates.

After hitting .261 with 72 walks, 98 runs scored and 29 stolen bases in 2002, Lofton became a free agent. He went all winter without signing a deal, finally settling for the Pirates at a discounted rate in March of 2003. He hit .277 in 84 games for the Pirates, scoring 58 runs and stealing 18 bases. In late July he was included in the Aramis Ramirez deal to the Cubs in exchange for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Brubaker. Lofton played until 2007, finishing his career with a .299 average, 2,428 hits, 1,528 runs scored, 622 stolen bases, 781 RBIs and 945 walks in 2,103 games.

Joe Orsulak, outfielder for the Pirates from 1983 until 1986. He was drafted by the Pirates out of Parsippany Hills HS in the sixth round of the 1980 draft. Orsulak began his pro career the next year with Greenwood of the South Atlantic League. As a 19-year-old, he hit .315 with 80 runs scored and 70 RBIs in 118 games. Moving up to the Carolina League the next year, Orsulak hit .289 with 14 homers, 28 stolen bases and 92 runs scored. He jumped to Triple-A for 1983 and continued the strong play, hitting .286 with ten homers and 38 stolen bases. He actually had more triples (13) than doubles (12) that season. In September, the Pirates called him up and he went 2-for-11 at the plate in seven games. He began 1984 back at Triple-A, but was recalled after just a week when Brian Harper was placed on the DL. The Pirates had a lot of injury problems early in the year and Orsulak bounced between Triple-A and the majors three times the first two months. After being sent down in early June, he returned in September when the rosters expanded, finishing the year with a .254 average in 32 games.

In 1985, Orsulak was with the Pirates the entire year, playing 72 games in center field, 41 in left and 16 in right field. He mostly batted lead-off, hitting .300 on the season, with 24 stolen bases and 54 runs scored. He had a huge home/road split, batting .370 at Three Rivers and just .239 during away games. In 1986, he played 138 games, seeing the majority of his playing time as a right fielder. He hit .249 with 60 runs scored and again stole 24 bases (he also had 11 times caught stealing in both seasons). The next year Orsulak was back in Triple-A and he had a rough season, twice missing time with foot injuries, which led him to play just 39 games all year. That December he was traded to the Orioles for Terry Crowley Jr and Rico Rossy. While neither of those players made it to the majors with the Pirates, Orsulak went on to play another ten seasons in the majors, a total of 1,196 games played after leaving Pittsburgh. He was a .273 career hitter with 93 stolen bases and 559 runs scored.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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