Friday, February 4, 2011

Pirate Draft - Bucs To More Or Less Miss A Round

The Pirates have that coveted #1 pick in the 2011 draft for the first time since 2002 when they selected Bryan Bullington. So far the betting line is that 3B Anthony Rendon from Rice will don a Pirate cap. Goodness knows another bat in the lineup would be a most welcome sight.

Then again, college pitchers Gerrit Cole and Matthew Purke may be the apples of the FO's eyes. One of those two could be the finishing touch to a dynamite staff in, oh, 2014 or so: Jameson Taillon, James McDonald, Ross Ohlendorf, Rudy Owens, and 2011's choice, with Brad Lincoln, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and company also in the mix.

But we'll deal with the who-to-pick issue later. This is just to alert the loyal Pirate fandom that thanks to compensation, the Pirates pick first - and then don't have another selection until #58. They miss virtually an entire round.

There are three teams that were awarded extra first round picks in 2011 because they didn't sign their top pick in 2010. And the sandwich round, where compensation for free agent signings is given, stretches from #34-57. The Pirates even shot themselves in the foot somewhat; San Diego got pick #56 as compensation for Kevin Correia's Bucco deal.

It's jumped a few slots this year; the sandwich round ended at pick #50 last year and #49 in 2009, when the Pirates drafted Tanner Scheppers and Victor Black in the sandwich round.

Now its no surprise that Pittsburgh isn't in the compensation round - you have to lose talent to free agency to get there, and the Pirates dumped all their veteran pieces long ago. It's sorta self-regulating; the lesser teams get the higher impact players, while the more loaded teams make up in quantity what they lose in quality.

Still, having 56 picks fall between Pittsburgh's first and second selection makes it awfully hard to load up on difference makers.


WilliamJPellas said...

Well, ya can't have it both ways in baseball, at least not given the structure that's in place at the moment. And anyway, baseball of all sports is the one in which it is still more than possible to draft and develop impact players far down in the draft. To my mind, the real issue here is not that the Pirates lose a second round pick for signing Kevin Correia, who was obviously badly needed for our, ahem, "major league rotation". The REAL issue, as I've been saying for years, is that the Pirates' front office may want to be Tampa Bay North, but the jury is out on whether they have the brains to pull it off.

So, I respectfully disagree with you here, ol' buddy. If the Pirates were any good at talent evaluation, drafting, and minor league development, losing the occasional sandwich pick or high second rounder would not be nearly as critical. I mean, we could list examples of middle-to-lower round draft picks who have become not just starters, but All-Stars in the big leagues. Nate McLouth was a 26th round pick. Mike Piazza is going to Cooperstown and he was chosen as a 60th round afterthought (or something close to that; he was picked as a personal favor by someone in the Dodgers' organization who knew Piazza's dad). How about all the undrafted free agents who have gone on to productive big league careers? The Pirates have had more than a few of those over the years.

Ron Ieraci said...

Hey Will - here's another aspect to look at, along the evaluation line you brought up.

The picks in the comp round are for free agent signings; the Pirates deal vets with decent slash lines for prospect packages virtually every deadline, preferring that mode to the draft.

That's how J-Mac and Tabata got here. Of course, that's how a long litany of wanna-bes passed through the organization, too.

And yes, it's nice to find a mid-round gem. The Pirates will have a few thanks to their high-school selections. But the stat man in me thinks that the more high picks you have, the better off you are.

And I'm not saying there's a major flaw in the Bucco draft process; it's just the way it's set up now that gives them a little boot in the rear this year.

The larger problem will be if the new CBA sets up a hard-slotted system. The overslot pick has been the FO's bread-and-butter; they'll new a new strategy if they lose that tactic.