First Pitch: The Pirates Have Had a Rough Time with Second Round Draft Picks, But How Do They Compare with Other Teams?

Yesterday we looked at the first round draft results for the Pittsburgh Pirates compared to the other 19 teams that were in existence when the MLB Amateur Draft began in 1965. It showed that the Pirates have had great results from their draft picks, placing second only behind the Oakland A’s.

When we did our look at the results from the Pirates in each of the first five rounds, it showed that the Pirates did much better in the third round than they did in second round. That’s obviously an odd result, so I wanted to take the next two days to look over second and third round results to see how the Pirates stack up against the rest of the original 20 teams.

As with yesterday’s list, I’m going to only used qualified picks for this exercise. That means only players who signed, and no one drafted in the last five years, since a majority of them are still in the minors. I don’t know the other teams well enough to see if their recent drafted players are still active (and this is already time consuming), so I’m leveling the playing field by getting rid of the last five years for everyone.

The Pirates received an average of 1.4 career WAR from their qualified second round picks over the years, so now we will see the average of the other 19 teams in comparison.

Phillies, 7.5

A’s, 5.2

Cubs, 5.0

Red Sox, 5.0

Braves, 4.6

Reds, 4.4

Angels, 3.7

Orioles, 3.4

Twins, 2.7

Tigers, 2.6

Mets, 2.4

Cardinals, 2.3

Indians, 2.0

Yankees, 1.5

Pirates, 1.4

Giants, 1.4

Dodgers, 1.1

Astros, 0.9

White Sox, 0.9

Rangers, 0.1

While the Pirates are near the bottom here, as you might expect with their lack of success, the second round clearly doesn’t provide a ton of value on average. On average, these 20 teams are getting less than 3.0 career WAR per second round pick. There have obviously been some great second round picks over the years (see some examples below), which is what you hope for occasionally, but you’re going to get a lot more complete misses and cup of coffee big leaguers than key players and stars.

One oddity here is that the Chicago Cubs were awful on yesterday’s chart, but they’re near the top here. In fact, they have received more value per pick from their second round picks 5.0 WAR vs 4.8). You may wonder how that happened. The two word answer is Greg Maddux (2nd rd, 1984).

The Phillies were pretty good yesterday, but even better today. Their main sources for second round success: Mike Schmidt, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins.

The Rangers have received 6.6 WAR total from their second round picks, and that’s even including the recent players and others they failed to sign. That’s unbelievably awful.

The Reds did fairly well while failing to sign Barry Larkin out of high school. They obviously eventually signed him, which was the second time they took him in the second round. They also got Johnny Bench and Joey Votto as second round picks.




If you liked the last two videos, here’s another one from the same guy, featuring backroad towns in Oklahoma. I’m hooked on this series and I wanted to give a little break from Pirates highlights.


By John Dreker

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Chance Sanford, infielder for the 1998 Pirates. He was a 27th round pick of the Pirates in the 1992 draft, signing with the team two days after his 20th birthday. Pittsburgh had originally taken him 17 rounds earlier in the 1991 draft. Chance worked his way slowly through the minors, spending three seasons at High-A ball, while also missing most of the 1995 season. In 1997 he was in Double-A for a third season, when he began to hit his stride, batting .262 with nine homers and 36 RBIs in 44 games, earning a promotion to Triple-A. He did even better a level up, hitting .292 with 60 RBIs in 89 games for Calgary. In 1998, Sanford started the year in Triple-A, earning a promotion at the end of April. He batted just .120 in 11 games before returning to the minors, but he was quickly back in Pittsburgh when Lou Collier got hurt at the end of May. After being sent down two weeks later, Sanford played until late June, when a shoulder injury landed him on the DL. It was described as just shoulder soreness, but he never returned that year. After the season ended, he was released by the Pirates. He signed with the Dodgers in 1999, playing five Major League games in June, before finishing his playing career in independent ball the following year.

Darnell Coles, right fielder for the 1987-88 Pirates. He was a first round pick by the Mariners in 1980, taken sixth overall. Coles made the majors in September of 1983, playing parts of three seasons with Seattle before being traded to the Tigers. He had a breakout season in 1986, hitting .273 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs, but his success didn’t carry over into the next season. In 1987 for the Tigers, he hit .181 through 53 games, even spending a short stint in the minors in June. He was playing mostly third base at that time and having troubles there as well, making 17 errors in 36 games. Detroit dealt him to the Pirates on August 7,1987 in exchange for veteran third baseman Jim Morrison, who was upset about losing playing time, mostly due to the emergence of Bobby Bonilla.

Coles hit .227 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 40 games for Pittsburgh in 1987, spending most of his time in right field. In 1988, he was the Pirates regular right fielder until July, when he was traded to the Mariners for outfielder Glenn Wilson. At the time, Coles was hitting .232 with five homers and 36 RBIs through 68 games. Two years after the Mariners reacquired him, they would again trade him to Detroit. Coles played in the majors until 1997 and later coached, including four years of managing in the minors. In 957 Major League games, he hit .245 with 75 homers and 368 RBIs.

Jeff Schulz, pinch-hitter for the 1991 Pirates. He was a 23rd round draft pick in 1983 by the Kansas City Royals. He spent seven seasons in their system before making his Major League debut in September of 1989. Schulz was rewarded with that September call-up for playing four full seasons at Triple-A for the Royals, with his best season there being his first in 1986, when he hit .303 with 61 RBIs. In 1990, he had three different stints with Kansas City, hitting .258 with six RBIs in 30 games. Schulz was released by the Royals that December and signed with the Pirates in January. He spent most of 1991 in Triple-A Buffalo, where he batted .300 with 54 RBIs and 55 runs scored in 122 games. His big league time that seasons consisted of three pinch-hit appearances over a two-week stretch in May. Schulz went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before returning to the minors. He became a free agent after 1991, signing with the Reds. He finished his career in the minors in 1992, ending up in the Cubs organization before the year was over.

Gene Michael, infielder for the 1966 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in 1959. His minor league career started off slow, batting .227 in his debut, then .203 the next season. Michael hit well in 1961, but he was playing Class D ball (low minors). When he was promoted two levels higher the next year, his average dropped to .215 in 138 games with one homer and 92 strikeouts. In 1963, the Pirates moved their shortstop to the mound, which was a failed experiment. He went 1-3, 6.79 in 16 games. The position change was also a temporary move because his bat started to come alive that season. Michael was in A-ball, where he hit .304 in 125 games.

He was promoted to AAA Columbus in 1964 and spent three seasons there as the team’s shortstop. He hit .289 during the 1966 season and the Pirates called him up for his Major League debut in July. Michael started three times during his first week, then just once more the rest of the year. In 30 games, some as a pinch-runner, he hit .152 with nine runs scored. On December 1, 1966, the Pirates traded him, along with Bob Bailey, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for All-Star shortstop Maury Wills. Michael played one season in L.A. before being sold to the Yankees, where he spent seven seasons. He finished his playing career in 1975 with the Detroit Tigers. Following his playing career, he held many positions with the Yankees, including manager and general manager.

Tom Leahy, outfielder for the 1897 Pirates. He spent four seasons in the minors, playing for the Springfield Ponies of the Eastern League, before getting his first big league chance with the 1897 Pirates. Leahy played his first game in the majors at the catcher spot, coming off the bench on May 18, 1897. It was said of his first game that his throws to second base were weak, but he showed great patience at the plate. For Pittsburgh, he was used in a utility role, getting six games at catcher, another six at third base and 13 in the outfield, spread out between all three positions. Leahy hit .261 in 24 games for the Pirates, with 12 RBIs and ten runs scored. In late August, he was sent to the Washington Senators, where he finished the season hitting .385 in 19 games. Leahy started off slow the following season, returning to the minors until 1901, when the American League became a second Major League. He played for two AL teams that year, then after another three seasons in the minors, returning for one last big league season as a catcher for the 1906 St Louis Cardinals. He ended his 15-year pro career in the minors in 1908.

Jack O’Connor, catcher for the 1900-02 Pirates. He had a 21-year Major League career that began in 1887, spending time with seven different teams in three different leagues. The Pirates purchased his contract in May of 1900 from the St Louis Cardinals. During that 1900 season, Pittsburgh used a three-man platoon behind the plate of veteran catchers during a time when not many catchers lasted past 32 years of age. O’Connor was 34 years old at the time, plus they also had 39-year-old Chief Zimmer and 34-year-old Pop Schriver. O’Connor’s best season in Pittsburgh was 1902, when he hit .294 with 28 RBIs in 49 games. His time in Pittsburgh though is marred by the fact it ended with his release near the end of the 1902 season after the Pirates learned that he was trying to convince teammates to jump to the American League. He played 1,452 Major League games, hitting .263 with 738 RBIs and 718 runs scored. Mostly known as a singles hitter, his only home run during the last nine seasons of his career was an inside-the-park homer. There have been two played named Jack O’Connor in Major League history. The other was a pitcher in the 1980’s for three different teams and he was also born on this date, 96 years after the original Jack.

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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