Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Back in January I took a look at the early results of the 2008 draft. At the time, only eight players from the entire draft had a career 2.0 WAR or better. I pointed out that the 2012 season should start to see results from this draft, especially for the Pirates, who had some poor results heading in to the year. Pedro Alvarez managed to turn things around, and the club traded Robbie Grossman as the key piece in the Wandy Rodriguez deal. A few other middle round guys made their major league debuts, such as Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson, and Matt Hague. I wanted to take another look at the results from around the league, getting a feel for how the Pirates’ draft stacks up compared to what the rest of the league has produced. The following is a breakdown of the early results from the 2008 draft, with round-by-round results, and comparisons showing what the Pirates did in each round. Credit to Baseball-Reference for the WAR numbers. Pedro Alvarez has a -1.4 WAR so far in his major league career. Round One Players in Majors: 25 (out of 46 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: Buster Posey, Brett Lawrie, Ike Davis 3.0-4.0: Gordon Beckham, Wade Miley 2.0-3.0: Lance Lynn 1.0-2.0: Yonder Alonso, Logan Forsythe, Lonnie Chisenhall Last year there were 22 players who made the majors, so three more were added this year. The WAR list was populated this year. Last year Posey, Davis, and Lawrie were the only players with a 2.0 WAR or greater. Now they’re all on the 4.0 or greater list. Pedro Alvarez has a 0.8 WAR to date. He’s hurt by his 2011 season, when he posted a -2.2 WAR. His 2012 WAR was 2.6, which was a huge improvement. As long as he keeps playing like that, he’ll be among the top producers in this group. Round Two Players in Majors: 13 (out of 31 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: Robbie Ross The second round didn’t look good last year, and it hasn’t picked up much this year. The only player with a WAR over 1.0 so far has been Robbie Ross, a left-handed reliever for Texas who made his debut this year. The Pirates didn’t sign their second round pick, Tanner Scheppers. Round Three Players in Majors: 13 (out of 35 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: Craig Kimbrel, Danny Espinosa, Vance Worley 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: N/A All three players in the 4.0 or better group were on the list last year. No new players have been added, although a few more players from the third round made their major league debuts in 2012. The Pirates drafted Jordy Mercer in the third round. He made his debut this year and put up a 0.3 WAR as a bench player. Round Four Players in Majors: 6 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: Jason Kipnis 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: Brandon Crawford 1.0-2.0: N/A Jason Kipnis was on the list last year, and moved up to the 4.0 or better category with a big 2012 season. Brandon Crawford also moved up this year. One of the bigger names from this round has been Dee Gordon. Gordon has a -0.8 WAR so far, after putting up a -1.3 WAR in 2012. Chase d’Arnaud is one of the six players to reach the majors. He had a -0.8 WAR last year, and brought that up with a 0.2 WAR this year. Like a lot of the fourth rounders, he hasn’t done much in the majors. Round Five Players in Majors: 7 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: Alex Avila, Daniel Hudson 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: Collin Cowgill Last time I mentioned that the fifth round had two of the biggest steals of the draft in Hudson and Avila. That remains the case this year. Hudson went down with an injury, but his 2011 season was enough to push him over the 4.0 WAR mark. Avila looks like one of the better young catchers in the game. The Pirates drafted Justin Wilson in the fifth round. He made the majors at the end of the year and had a 0.1 WAR. Round Six Players in Majors: 5 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: Josh Harrison There hasn’t been much of an impact in the majors from the sixth rounders. Last year Josh Harrison had the highest WAR and playing time of the group. That remains the case this year, as he cracked the 1.0 WAR mark, with a career 1.2 WAR. The Pirates acquired Harrison from the Cubs in the Tom Gorzelanny trade. The Pirates drafted Robbie Grossman and traded him as the main piece in the deal for Wandy Rodriguez. Round Seven Players in Majors: 4 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: N/A Jordan Danks is one of the highlights of this group, although he hasn’t done much in the majors, with just 67 at-bats. The Pirates drafted Benji Gonzalez, who probably won’t make it out of A-ball. Round Eight Players in Majors: 4 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: Andy Dirks 1.0-2.0: N/A Last year Andy Dirks was the only player from this group to reach the majors. He followed up with a good season with Detroit this year. The Pirates took Jeremy Farrell, who has stalled in Double-A. Round Nine Players in Majors: 4 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: N/A The ninth round hasn’t produced much. Matt Hague was drafted in this round, and is one of the four players to reach the majors. He has a -0.3 WAR so far. Round Ten Players in Majors: 6 (out of 30 drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: Tommy Milone 1.0-2.0: N/A Tommy Milone made the majors last year, and jumped up to a total 2.4 WAR after being traded to Oakland and spending time in their rotation. Milone really benefitted from that trade, as you can see by looking at his home/road splits and his strong numbers at home in Oakland. The Pirates took Drew Gagnon. He didn’t sign, and was drafted again in 2011 in the 3rd round by Milwaukee. This year he had a 2.83 ERA in 149.2 innings between low-A and high-A, with a 6.9 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9. Rounds 11-20 Players in Majors: 14 WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: David Phelps (14th) 1.0-2.0: Nathan Eovaldi (11th), Tony Campana (13th), Louis Coleman (14th) Last year only eight players had made the majors from this group. Six more were added in 2012, and two more to the WAR list (Campana and Coleman were both in the 1.0-2.0 range last year). Players the Pirates Signed: David Rubinstein (11th), Calvin Anderson (12th), Mike Colla (14th), Chris Aure (15th), Wes Freeman (16th), Jarek Cunningham (18th), Quinton Miller (20th) The only players who have a shot at the majors are Colla (middle reliever), Cunningham (has raw power, but lacks plate patience), and Miller (good arm, poor results, could still make it as a reliever). Rounds 21-30 Players in Majors: 8 WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: Ryan Cook (27th) 1.0-2.0: N/A Two players were added to the “majors” list, and Ryan Cook became the only player on the WAR list, with a 2.4 WAR. He’s another player who found an opportunity after being traded to Oakland. Players the Pirates Signed: Brent Klinger (21st), Brian Leach (25th), Edwin Roman (27th), Kyle Saukko (28th) None of these players remain in the organization. Rounds 31-50 Players in Majors: 7 WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: N/A 3.0-4.0: N/A 2.0-3.0: N/A 1.0-2.0: N/A Four players from rounds 31-50 were added to the majors this year, but no one has made a significant impact. The Pirates drafted Matt Curry in the 37th round this year, but he went to TCU. Players the Pirates Signed: Mark Carver (33rd), Matthew Payne (34th), Tyler Cox (35th), Kyle Morgan (36th), Alan Knotts (38th), Albert Fagan (39th), Chris Simmons (41st), Cole White (42nd), Mike Williams (44th), Allen Ponder (45th), Owen Brolsma (48th), Zach Foster (49th), Craig Parry (50th) Zach Foster is the only player who remains in the organization. He’s an organizational arm. Overall Results Players in Majors: 116 (out of 1504 players drafted) WAR Breakdown 4.0 or better: 9 players 3.0-4.0: 2 players 2.0-3.0: 6 players 1.0-2.0: 9 players Comparing this to last year, 37 new players from the draft were added to the majors (the Pirates added three with Mercer, Wilson, and Hague). Six players were added to the 4.0 or better range, with most of those players moving up from the lower ranges. Last year there were 16 players with a 1.0 WAR of better. This year that number is up to 26. The Pirates added one of those players in Josh Harrison, although Harrison wasn’t drafted by the team. Last time I pointed out that the Pirates should have had one of the 16 players with a 1.0 WAR or better. They didn’t, mostly due to the lack of success from Alvarez. He’s still not on the 1.0 WAR or better list, but that’s not as disappointing this year considering the season he just had. As long as he keeps that up, the Pirates are fine in that department. In the middle rounds, a few more players have emerged around the majors. The Pirates haven’t had any of those players. They have a few guys with the potential to play a bigger role in the majors. Jordy Mercer could have a shot at being a starting shortstop. Justin Wilson could still make it as a starter, or a power left-handed reliever. The guy with the biggest potential impact was Robbie Grossman. The Pirates paired him with Rudy Owens and Colton Cain to get a more immediate impact in Wandy Rodriguez. Typically you want to see three players from each draft make the majors and have an impact. Alvarez is number one. You could count Wandy Rodriguez, although that gets tricky, since that trade also involved a 2007 draft pick and a 2009 draft pick (though Grossman was the key piece). The Pirates need at least one more player to emerge. The best bets are Mercer and Wilson. Considering how MLB is set up, and how small market teams need to build through the draft, you’d like to see the Pirates do more than that. Their chances of the 2008 draft producing more than three regular producers don’t look good. Right now the field is down to Alvarez, Mercer, d’Arnaud, Wilson, Hague, Colla, Cunningham, and Miller. Mercer, d’Arnaud, Wilson, and Hague all have major league experience, but haven’t stepped up yet. They’re also getting a little old. The upside with Colla and Miller doesn’t suggest that they’ll be impact players. Cunningham is a wild card because of his power, but it’s rare for players to go from “good power, low average, high strikeouts” in the minors to being a productive all around player. Right now it looks like the best bet is that Alvarez becomes the impact player they envisioned, one of Mercer or Wilson becomes a regular producer, and the Pirates benefit from Wandy Rodriguez for a year or two (if he opts out in 2014, they’d be assured of a compensation pick, since he’d be turning down more than he’d possibly receive with a qualifying offer). That’s not a horrible draft, and it’s not a great draft. It’s about what’s expected. Most of the funds in this draft went to Alvarez, Grossman, and Miller. They didn’t start spending like crazy on middle rounders until 2009. All things considered, the 2008 draft is looking like an average to above average draft right now. That’s if we went on a simple five point scale of “poor, below average, average, above average, and great”. There’s still time for things to play out, but by this point we’re starting to get a strong feel for where the results will end up. They won’t drop to below average, but they also won’t jump up to “great”.
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