Hey, the future just got a heckuva lot brighter for Pittsburgh. According to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, Neal Huntington signed top draftees Gerritt Cole and Josh Bell, making the 2011 draft perhaps the most productive on paper since the current FO took over in 2008. (Here's the Pirate release announcing the signings, including bios.)
And expensive. Say what you may about Bob Nutting, what he doesn't spend on the big league team is made up for with his draft bonuses. Heyman said Cole got $8M while other reports agree that Bell got $5M. The Bucs have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $16.5M on this years draft according to Tim William's Pirates Prospects draft tracker, and there still may be signings that haven't been announced yet because of the Machiavellian system used by MLB. They overpaid for some guys, but they did reel them in.
But it's money well spent. Gerritt Cole joins Jameson Taillon and Luis Heredia as future ace material, and Bell is the biggest bat signed since Pedro. And with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement threatening to hard slot signing bonuses, this was possibly the Bucs' last chance to haul in high school talent. Six of their top nine picks were prep players, and Huntington landed every one.
While the hard-slotting possibility played a factor in the spending spree, the Bucs also considered that they're not likely to be in the among the first ten selections next season, and the 2012 draft position will cut down the talent pool available and so allow them to throttle back on the draft budget in the future; maybe they'll shift some of the money to Latin America.
Give the management types some props. This may be the best draft they've had since taking over. Last year, the FO added Taillon and Heredia, who may become difference makers, and this year they added Cole and Bell. And that's the kind of players the Bucs need to break their decades of funk.