Found January 24, 2013 on
(Opening image Josh Bell; image credit bellsandwhistles) Here are the previous draft reviews in this 6-part series:  2010, 2009, 2008 After an excellent 2008 draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates and GM Neal Huntington had sub-standard drafts in 2009 and 2010 that netted them SP Jameson Taillon and little else.  Could the organization turn the tide in 2011?  Due to the club’s continued losing ways at the Major League level, the Pirates had the coveted 1st overall draft choice, meaning that in 4 years until Neal Huntington’s leadership, the club drafted 2nd, 4th, 2nd, and 1st (but maybe that’s an article for another time).   1st round (1st overall):  SP Gerrit Cole With previously-rumored top choice 3B Anthony Rendon’s injury-filled season at Rice, the Pirates’ main decision came down to Cole, or UCLA rotationmate Trevor Bauer. It was an interesting dilemma.  Cole- who scouts universally considered to have the better raw tools, complete with a 100mph fastball- had an excellent sophomore year in 2010 before struggling with control and secondary pitches his junior season, and then declaring for the draft.  Bauer had slightly less ceiling, but had one of the most dominant performances in the NCAA in 2011, and was the best arm on the Bruins’ squad that year. The future of the Pirates’ rotation? Image credit In the end, the Pirates went Cole (for a record $8,000,000 signing bonus!), and it’s difficult to fault the team for choosing pure tools and upside, when the club failed to do so on multiple previous occasions- often leading to wasted picks.  Bauer ended up going 3rd overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and skyrocketed through their system.  He reached AA by the end of 2011- a shock for such a high pick, who often don’t even play pro ball in the remaining summer after they sign- and made his MLB debut the following season, after compiling an outstanding 12-2, 2.42 ERA, 10.6 K/9 in 2012 between AA-AAA. The Pirates have taken a more conservative approach with Cole.  The 6’4″ righty reached AA a season after Bauer, and made one start for AAA Indianapolis at the end of 2012.  While he hasn’t posted the dominant (10+) K/9 that you’d like to see from a top prospect like he or Bauer, Cole has an impressive 9-7, 2.80 ERA, 9.3 K/9 statline.  He was Baseball America’s #12 prospect at the outset of the 2012 season (Bauer was #9), and should crack the top-10 in 2013. Due to an apparent velocity drop that the Diamondbacks suddenly deemed irreparable, Arizona dropped the 21-year old Bauer like a hot potato this offseason, moving him to the Cleveland Indians as part of the 3-team Shin-Soo Choo trade.  If the 3rd overall pick really is an 89-92 mph fastball pitcher, then clearly the Pirates made the right choice in Cole, even though his progress through the minor leagues has been a step slower than Bauer’s Pirates’ fans should see Cole make his MLB debut no later than September of 2013.  And when he arrives, he should stay.   2nd round:  OF Josh Bell A year before a harsh MLB financial draft cap was imposed, the Pirates made the most of their last chance by signing Bell away from a Texas Longhorns’ scholarship with an impressive $5,000,000 signing bonus.  (Although owner Bob Nutting can certainly be criticized for bottom-dwelling Major League payrolls, until these MLB sanctions hit in 2012, the Pirates laid out more in draft signing bonuses in 2011 than any other team in baseball.) Bell was considered the top high school bat in the draft, with plus-power more than accounting for moderate defensive projections.  The 19-year old was rated Baseball America’s #60 prospect heading into 2012, but a partial meniscus tear only 15 games into the season sidelined him for the rest of the year.  If Bell has a healthy, productive 2013, he’ll easily be the most high-ceiling bat in the Pirates’ system.   3rd round:  1B Alex Dickerson In a round usually plagued by the Pirates drafting so-so all-around players with no plus tools, the Pirates broke serve here and drafted a powerhitting firstbaseman from the University of Indiana.  Compiling OPS of 1.046, 1.284, and .979 through his junior season, Dickerson cruised through Short-Season State College (Rookie) with an .886 OPS to finish 2011.  In 2012, the 6’3″ lefty dropped to an .803 OPS at High-A Bradenton (after skipping A-ball), but still batted .295. Dickerson; Image credit drunkonsports For a power hitter, Dickerson has kept his strikeouts in check (93 in 2012, compared to 39 walks).  But expectations for minor league 1B are so high that not yet slugging over .500 is a concern.  By leapfrogging A, Dickerson is now relatively age-appropriate for his level, assuming he starts 2013 at AA Altoona, turning 23 in late May.  The Pirates’ system is so bereft of pure power hitters that if Dickerson can maintain his production, he should factor into the Big League team’s plans by 2015 at the latest.   4th round:  SP Colton Brewer With the Pirates spending large on Cole ($9MM), Bell ($5MM), and Dickerson ($380,700), the remainder of the top-10 featured affordable players, dominated by low-profile high school pitchers with some projection.  Brewer debuted in 2012 with a 1-3, 3.24 ERA record as a 19-year old for the Short-Season State College Spikes.  The 6’4″ righty’s fastball had improved from high school, clocking 91 on the gun.  But Brewer had a high flyball ratio, and missed part of 2012, after failing to debut in late 2011 due to back issues.   5th round:  SP Tyler Glasnow Also receiving his first taste of pro ball in 2012, this towering 6’7″ California righty posted a 1.88 ERA, 10.3 K/9 between rookie teams in the Gulf Coast League and short-season State College.  Some prospect reports may feature the surprising Glasnow among the Pirates’ Top Ten prospects in 2013, after flashing a 96 mph fastball as a starter, and working in the low-90′s with improving control.   6th round:  3B Dan Gamache (Quick FYI Note:  The preferred site for baseball statistics is generally considered  However, if you wish to see how an NCAA player performed in college prior to being drafted, check out Much like Dickerson, Gamache had excellent freshman and sophomore NCAA seasons, before slumping as a junior prior to being drafted.  The 6′ lefty had a mediocre pro debut in 2011, before improving in all categories with a .780 OPS campaign at Low-A West Virginia in 2012.   7th round:  SP Jake Burnette Emerging in 2011 was a definite strategy on the part of Huntington and the Pirates to draft tall high school pitchers with promising fastballs in the middle rounds.  The 6’4″ Burnette made one appearance in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in 2011, before 5 starts for Short-Season State College in 2012, compiling a 1-2, 4.71 ERA statline.  Of early concern is the low number of bats Burnette missed (only 8 K in 21.0 IP), but it’s difficult to assume too much over such small sample sizes.   8th round:  SP Jason Creasy Similar story to Burnette, but possibly more significant concerns.  Creasy debuted with 2 starts in the GCL in 2011, but was knocked around at State College in 2012.  Compiling an 0-5 record with a 5.63 ERA, Creasy also posted a middling 4.8 K/9.  Already 21 this May, if he continues to struggle at the Pirates’ lowest levels, Creasy could be yoked with the stigma of full-time minor league reliever.   9th round:  SP Clay Holmes Holmes; Image credit Probably the most well-known of the later-round arms (FYI Note #2:  Keep in mind the MLB draft is 50 rounds long, but it’s so rare to find MLB talent after the first few rounds that I’m referring to anything past the 5th round as “later”, when in reality, it’s technically still early in the draft.), the Pirates set a 9th round record by signing the 6’5″ righty for $1,200,000 on deadline day.  Ranked the 140th best prospect in the draft, Holmes was considered a steal in the 9th round, and responded with a solid 5-3, 2.28 ERA campaign in 14 starts for Short-Season State College in 2012.   10th round:  OF Taylor Lewis Unlike 2010- in which the Pirates failed to sign 4 of their first 10 picks- Pittsburgh was 10/10 in 2011, although it’s unlikely Lewis will be part of the franchise’s long-term plans.  Taking a gamble on the 21-year old after a huge 20-year old season at Maine, it looks more like Lewis’s sophomore year was a statistical outlier, as he posted OPS of .587 and .677 through 2 years of pro ball.  If anything, it shows fans just how much more difficult even the lowest levels of the minors are, compared with Division 1 NCAA baseball.   Late round surprise:  … It’s hard to say there really is one at this point.  The Pirates failed to sign 8 of their next 10 picks, and the sample sizes from their remaining selections are too small for any prospect to distance themselves from the pack as of yet. Missed opportunity:  (FYI note #3:  For overall looks at MLB draft classes of previous years, is really an excellent, easy-to-read resource.)  It’s difficult to criticize the Pirates here, when the team dropped $9,000,000 on the high-ceiling #1 overall pick, then $5,000,000 on the top high school bat in round 2, followed by a big swinging 1B in round 3.  Although Pirates’ fans are certainly happy to have Josh Bell in the system, one early candidate emerging from round 2 is Cubs’ 1B Dan Vogelbach.  Although the 6′ lefty is defensively limited, he’s absolutely raked through 2 levels in 2012, and owns a career 1.038 OPS to date.   Overall Draft Class Recap This is probably Neal Huntington’s strongest draft class since his own debut as GM in 2008.  And when you consider that the strength of the Pirates’ 2008 class was a high number of MLB role players (outside of 3B Pedro Alvarez), the 2011 class may be better, as it potentially has more impact talent.  Cole is the one near-lock to be an above-average MLB contributor.  Josh Bell has the highest ceiling of the remaining picks, but is far less certain.  The hit and power tools are there, but will they be affected by his knee injury in 2012?  And can a questionable minor league development system help the 19-year old fulfill his potential? Beyond Bell, fans should keep an eye on 1B Alex Dickerson trying to tame AA Altoona, with SP Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes hoping to build on their debuts at Low-A West Virginia, with shots at High-A Bradenton by season’s end.   Thanks for reading.  One draft class to go, and then a recap of the lot!

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett breaks window playing catch (photo)

A.J. Burnett is coming off a pretty good season on the mound. The pitcher started 31 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 16-10 in a campaign that saw him pitch over 200 innings and finishing with a more-than-respectable 3.51 ERA. It appears that Burnett must have been initiating the early stages of loosening up his arm in anticipation of spring training recently, perhaps by tossing...

First Pitch: Where Will All of the 1B/OF Options Fit?

The Pirates have a lot of 1B/OF options, but plenty of room for all of them. — Image Credit: Mark Olson The Pittsburgh Pirates have added a lot of 1B/OF options for their major league squad in the last year. They traded for Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez at the trade deadline. They acquired Clint Robinson in a minor trade with Kansas City. Starling Marte made the jump to the majors...

Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #8 – Tyler Glasnow

The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on...

Liriano broke arm in bathroom fall

Recently signed Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano reportedly broke his non-throwing arm in the Dominican Republic.

Pirates Add Two More Non-Roster Invitees

I was checking the transactions page tonight, and noticed that Carlos Paulino was assigned to the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is the wording used when a player receives a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Paulino is a catcher who has never caught above high-A, but has some strong defense highlighted by a cannon for an arm. With all of the pitchers in Spring Training, teams...

Winter Leagues Recap: Two Homers For Welch

In Australian Baseball League action from today, Stefan Welch belted two home runs, leading Adelaide to a 4-3 victory during the last week of the ABL regular season. Welch homered to lead off the bottom of the second inning, giving Adelaide an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the eighth inning, he came up with the score tied 2-2 and Quincy Latimore on first base. Welch hit the second...

Winter Leagues Recap: Johnson Brings Home Title, Marte Keeps Hitting

In playoff action from the Dominican tonight, Kris Johnson once again pitched his team to a huge victory, throwing six shutout innings last night, as Escogido swept Aguilas Cibaenas in the DWL championship series. Last week, Johnson pitched the clinching game of the round-robin series that got his team to the finals and almost four weeks ago, he also won the game that sent his team...

Francisco Liriano reportedly fractured his arm in a bathroom fall

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed pitcher Francisco Liriano to a two-year, $12.75 million deal this offseason. Liriano was once one of the most promising young pitchers in the game, but his inability to stay healthy has led to an overall disappointing career thus far. To make matters worse, not all of the injuries he has suffered are baseball related. Liriano suffered an undisclosed...

Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #6 – Josh Bell

The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on...

Francisco Liriano broke his humerus 'falling in the bathroom'

With Francisco Liriano officially signing with the Pirates yesterday, details about his mysterious "non-pitching arm" injury were bound to emerge and today we have some thanks to Bill Brink at the PG, via El Caribe, a Dominican newspaper. The report is that Liriano broke his humerus by falling in his bathroom and that his arm was in a cast after the injury. Falling in...

First Pitch: Some Poor Roster Management by the Pirates

In minor news today, the Pirates lost Zach Stewart through waivers to the Chicago White Sox. It was the second time this off-season that the Pirates completed a string of moves where they traded down from a prospect and eventually arrived at next to nothing in value. In this series of moves they dealt Kyle Kaminska for Stewart, then lost Stewart for nothing, essentially giving Kaminska...

Pirates, Liriano agree to revised deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have revised their two-year agreement with left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Francisco Liriano's Arm Issue Reportedly Resulted From a Broken Arm

When the Pittsburgh Pirates began working on their multi-year deal for Francisco Liriano, they had no idea he was injured.  The injury to Liriano's arm was revealed during a physical, the contract was put on hold, and eventually the two sides worked out a deal that protects the Pirates.  Now, we may know what happened to Liriano's arm. Liriano's arm injury may have...

McCutchen looking to get better in 2013

Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen had an outstanding year in 2012, batting .327 with 31 home runs and 96 RBI. Never one to be satisfied McCutchen told's George Von Benko that he is looking for more production in 2013.
Pirates News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.