Found January 28, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
    Read the previous installments in this 6-part series for 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008. Before disussing the 2012 draft, it’s essential to recap the forces at work that led to the 2012 draft being the first under the new draft cap sanctions imposed by Major League Baseball. Bud’s man; Image credit daylife.com 1.  Prior to the Pirates hiring Frank Coonelly as President, he served in Commissioner Bud Selig’s front office.  During this time, Coonelly led the charge to “recommend” a draft slotting system, whereby clubs did not exceed signing bonus dollar amounts for each pick in the draft.  The highest picks in the draft- particularly picks in the first half of the 1st round- were assigned the highest slot recommendations, with the amounts declining from there. 2.  The Pirates hired Coonelly, who quickly about-faced, and fell in line with the franchise’s own policy under GM Neal Huntington and owner Bob Nutting, which was to offer higher-than-recommended slot signing bonuses to draft picks, in particular to lure high-profile prep arms away from commitments to major college programs. 3.  On the whole, teams ignored MLB’s recommended slotting system, especially small market clubs- which is this author’s assumption as to why draft slotting originally became an issue.  Like any business, Major League Baseball is driven by its most powerful, influential members.  For years, small market teams- who didn’t stand a chance competing with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies of the sport for marquee free agents- realized that they could acquire *potential* marquee talent by offering substantially higher signing bonuses during both the June draft, and also the international signings period. The only time fans will get to see Sano wear such a hat. Sigh… 4.  While it might take hundreds of millions of dollars to be the top bidder for an established free agent, small market teams could reign supreme during the draft, often times by only spending a few hundred thousand to a few million tops extra.  For example, the top bidders for primo international signing Miguel Sano were the Pirates and Minnesota Twins (neither ever mentioned in pursuit of major MLB free agents)- and he ended up signing for a little over $3,000,000, which is less than half of what the Pirates will be paying SP Francisco Liriano to post ERAs and BB/9 above 5 this season. 5.  Large-market clubs were furious about this, because they were often forced to spend the majority of their wad on the Major League payroll, and could not afford to be shelling out millions of dollars for 16-21 year olds that were still years away from contributing, and had a much higher failure rate than the marquee free agents and MLB contract extensions, on which the majority of their resources was spent. 6.  The major franchises in Major League Baseball continued to lean on the commissioner’s office hard enough that in 2012, the draft slotting system became reality.  Teams had specific, limited ceilings of dollars to spend on each pick, and if they exceeded that amount, faced stiff penalties for doing so, including losses of draft picks. 7.  Unforunately, the Pirates became the first true casualty of this stringent system, when they drafted…   1st round (8th overall):  SP Mark Appel 8th is the lowest that the Pirates have picked during GM Huntington’s tenure, which shows how poorly the MLB club has performed during that time.  Still, the franchise lucked into the potential #1 overall pick when Appel- a 6’4″ righthander from Stanford- fell down to them, largely over signability concerns.  Appel was represented by uber-agent Scott Boras, whom not only have the Pirates tangled with in the past, but also has a habit of testing MLB’s policies like a Jurassic Park velociraptor checking for weaknesses in the electric fence.  Worse still, Boras has no qualms about sacrificing a client to prove a point. (Keep in mind, Boras announced that the Pirates’ agreement with client Pedro Alvarez came after the 2008 signing deadline.  Had MLB not granted the Pirates a get-out-of-jail-free card there, Alvarez would’ve been stuck playing independent ball for a year, until he could be re-drafted the following year.) Appel compiled an impressive 10-2, 2.56 ERA, 9.5 K/9 during his junior year at Stanford.  Unlike 2011 1st round choice Gerrit Cole, Appel had improved each season in the NCAAs, though possessing less of a power arsenal than Cole.  Some analysts believed Appel was not worthy of the #1 overall selection, yet this could have been largely due to the overhype surrounding the draft, rather than any shortcomings in Appel’s repertoire.  Still, to luck into Appel the whole way down at #8 was a huge blessing for the Pirates. Or was it? The Pirates quickly learned that Boras and Appel were not remotely interested in signing for the club’s $2,900,000 slotted amount at 8th, which represented a huge drop from the Houston Astros’ $7,200,000 provided for the first overall selection.  In fact, some rumors surfaced that Boras expected the Pirates to lump their draft allotment for the first TEN picks combined- to have a serious shot at signing the Stanford righty! Appel; Image credit yahoo.com Place yourself in GM Huntington’s shoes.  Are you willing to miss out on 9 other players to sign 1?  It’s a more difficult question to answer than it originally appears.  Keep in mind that the talent dropoff from the first round to the remaining rounds is substantial.  Further, the Pirates landed a player that, were the signing restrictions not in place, would’ve easily gone #1 or #2 overall.  So do you sacrifice 9 players that have a lower shot at reaching the Major Leagues for 1 that not only should reach quickly, but could also blossom into a marquee top-of-rotation starter? In the end, the threat of losing future draft picks (including their 2013 1st rounder) for greatly exceeding Appel’s $2,900,000 slotted amount was too great, and the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team casualty of the MLB slotting regime.   So could the club overcome the loss of the best player on the board with savvy picks in rounds 2-10?  Stay tuned for part 2, and thanks for reading.    
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #5 – Luis Heredia

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...

First Pitch: The FanGraphs Reports, and Luis Urena as a Sleeper

Over the last month, Kiley McDaniel has been posting some great reports over at FanGraphs. I’ve been retweeting them on Twitter, but keep forgetting to link to them in the nightly First Pitch column. So here are links to all three reports, with some thoughts on each one. Gerrit Cole The first report was specific to top prospect Gerrit Cole. Overall it was a great look at Cole....

Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #4 – Alen Hanson

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 Could Be on a Minor League Deal

Tom Singer has an article on the Pirates.com homepage about the non-roster invitees for Spring Training. In the article he has an interesting note about Francisco Liriano. The Bucs’ NRI list currently includes 17, and there is at least one more on the way: Indications are that Francisco Liriano — when all the roadblocks to formalizing his signing are cleared — will wind up...

John Sickels Rates the Pirates as the 5th Best Farm System

John Sickels at Minor League Ball has released his farm system rankings, and has the Pittsburgh Pirates ranked fifth. Sickels started ranking systems last year, and had the Pirates 12th in his original rankings. He noted in a disclaimer that he takes a balanced approach, considering high-end impact and overall depth. Last year the knock on the system was the lack of depth. This time...

Pirates sign RHP Waldrop to minor league deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed reliever Kyle Waldrop to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. The 27-year-old Waldrop went 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 17 appearances for Minnesota last season. Waldrop was initially selected with the 25th overall pick of the 2004 first-year player draft. He made his big league debut on Sept. 5, 2011 and has a career...

Bible containing 31 signatures from 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates discovered in Sacramento

A Bible signed by 30 players from the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates, and manager Fred Haney, was recently discovered in California.The historic book was among the many items donated to the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library last year. However, it took until one week ago for Joanne Murphy, a book repairer, to open it up and peek inside.The first page of the Bible included 31 different...

First Pitch: How Can the Pirates Catch the Cardinals?

Earlier today, John Sickels released his farm system rankings and had the Pittsburgh Pirates fifth overall. He also had the St. Louis Cardinals first overall. The Cardinals seem to be the consensus top farm system this year. I haven’t received my Baseball America 2013 Prospect Handbook yet, but I’ve already seen that the Cardinals ranked first in their preliminary rankings. A...

Winter Leagues Recap: Australian League Season Wrap-Up

In action from the last day of the Australian Baseball League’s regular season today, Stefan Welch went 1-for-3, with a double, two walks and two RBI’s. Adelaide lost their third straight game to close the season. They came into the weekend needing to sweep the four game series just to give themselves a chance at the last playoff spot. Welch was named to the 2013 WBC Team Australia...

Arbitrary end points

Over at SB Nation today, Grant Brisbee has a good piece up about the Pirates' "perfectly whelming" offseason that addresses something I've wanted to talk about for a while: the perception that the Pirates have mostly been sitting on their hands over the winter.  The Pirates haven't done a lot over the winter, of course, but as Brisbee points out, their...
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
Help
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.