So, About The 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft


Back in January we jotted down some notes regarding the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates draft.   We take a quick look back at that post and highlight how they are performing this season.

The Bucs GM often says it’s not about the stats the players put up in the minors.    Thank baby Jesus for that, because this would be a bit concerning to the fan that strictly looks at numbers as being an indication of a young players development.

You remember 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Tony Sanchez their first round pick, but the big news would come in later rounds. The Pirates started an aggressive draft strategy that hadn’t been seen in Pittsburgh. Owner Bob Nutting signed checks that, in the end, would add up to five high school pitchers receiving $3.93 million.

The ball club selected each of the arms between the second and eighth rounds. Second round pick Brooks Pounders passed on USC. Zach Dodson skipped Baylor, Zack Von Rosenberg was LSU’s lost crown jewel.

Like Josh Bell did last year, Colton Cain told The University of Texas thanks, but no thanks. Trent Stevenson skipped out on his scholarship to Arizona. It was a big splash for a Pittsburgh franchise that typically didn’t go big in the amateur draft.

But three years later, the most important question is this one: Did the Pirates invest the money wisely?

In a Chuck Finder article in the PG at the time, an AL scout had this to say about the Pirates strategy: “The players’ performance, however, will be the ultimate determination of whether the investment was made competently.”

Pirates fans are still waiting for one of the young arms to have a break out season. Actually, none of the draft class has really had a breakout. We certainly realize that there is still time, but with Tony Sanchez having his first down season, it points to 2012 being a huge year for the Pirates first draft class.

It certainly didn’t help the progress of the prep arms that they didn’t sign until mid August. Nevertheless, keep an eye out for one of these players to have a bust out 2012 season. It’s time for a Robbie Grossman-like breakout.

The checks are cashed – it’s “Go!” time.

Here were the Pittsburgh Pirates selections in each of the first ten rounds of the 2009 draft. [Kudos to Pirates Prospects 2012 Prospect Guide]

Catcher Tony Sanchez was taken with the fourth pick. He received a bonus of $2.4 million. Sanchez has flashed his bat in 2009 and 2010, but struggled in his first season at the AA level. Sanchez will be 24 years old in May.

After an 0-for-4 last night, Sanchez is hitting .196 with one double among his seven hits in his last 38 at-bats.  He has 13 strikeouts and just two walks.

RHP Victor Black was a supplemental first rounder who received a bonus of $717,000. Black has battled injuries, pitching just 71.2 innings since being drafted out of Dallas Baptist. He will turn 24 years old in May and will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December 2012.

Black has put up 41 strikeouts in 31 innings while walking 15 for the Altoona Curve.

RHP Brooks Pounders was the second rounder and the first prep pitcher selected by the Bucs. He received a bonus of $670,000. In December, he was traded to the Royals for 24-year old Yamaico Navarro.

Pounders has dominated A ball and is now pitching in high A.   The strikeouts are back which was my concern with the right hander.  Always good to hear, right?

OF Evan Chambers was the third round pick, and received a bonus of $423,000. He has struggled in three years of A level ball for the Bucs, striking out 31 percent of the time, but he does flash some power. Chambers will turn 23 in March and will be Rule 5 eligible this December.

Chambers didn’t start off well (.202 batting average??) as he repeated a year in Bradenton, but since his promotion to Altoona he has put up a .286/.333/.536/.869. 

LHP Zack Dodson was the fourth round pick who got a bonus of $600,000. Dodson was the second prep pitcher and, despite an injured hand, put up some nice numbers in his age 20 season. He has a lively fastball and can be the breakout pitcher of the draft class with continued development.

Dodson is repeating the season in West Virginia where he has pitched 69.1 innings and allowed 84 hits with 45 strikeouts.  He is only 21 years of age.

LHP Nathan Baker was the fifth round pick signed from The University of Mississippi who received a bonus of $176,000. Baker repeated high A this year, throwing 148.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 6.4 K/9 while walking just over three batters per nine innings. You might remember Baker pitching in the Arizona Fall League this year, where he struckout 16 in 15.1 innings pitched, but walked twelve while allowing 24 hits.

The strikeouts have fallen off in AA, but the walks persist for Baker.   He has pitched 70.1 innings and allowed 68 hits.

RHP Zack Von Rosenberg was the sixth round pick, the third prep pitcher signed by the Bucs, who received a bonus of $1.2 million. The two-time “Mr. Louisiana” in baseball struggled last year in his first full season, but seemed to figure it out toward the end of the year. He has pitched 185.2 innings with 7.5 K/9 with 1.7 BB/9 , but the long ball has been his enemy.

ZVR has made four starts in West Virginia and has pitched 18.1 innings, allowed six walks, 22 hits and struckout 13.

RHP Trent Stevenson, the fourth prep pitcher and the seventh round pick, received a bonus of $350,000. The lanky Stevenson pitched 85 innings last year, and just couldn’t put hitters away when we saw him. He has made 14 starts, pitched in 51 games, and has struckout just 4.4 batters per nine innings. He turns 22 years old in June.

Stevenson pitched in six games, allowed 24 hits, struckout nine, and walked two, he then retired.  Yeh. 

LHP Colton Cain was the fifth prep pitcher and the eighth round pick and received a bonus of $1.125 million. Cain will turn 21 in February, and showed the best promise of the pitchers in the draft class. In 154.2 innings he has struck out 7.4 batters per nine innings. A closer look at Cain’s numbers show the whiffs dropping as he has moved up the levels: Cain posted 9.4 K/9 in the GCL. He posted 8.5 K/9 in A- and 6.9 K/9 in 106.1 innings at the A level. On the plus side, he has also reduced his walks per nine.

Cain has pitched 50.1 innings for Bradenton with 35 strikeouts and 16 walks.  He has given up 46 hits.

Infielder Brock Holt was the ninth round pick, receiving $125,000. Holt played at Rice and has moved quickly through the Pirates system. He has a .368 OBP in 959 at-bats.

He has played 67 games at shortstop for the Curve and is hitting .321/382/433 with an 815OPS.  In 282 plate appearances he has struckout 30 times and walked 25.

Catcher Joey Schoenfeld was the tenth round pick who received $195,000. He was released from the Pirates in July of 2011.

Three later round pitchers of note are 12th rounder Jeff Inman who received a bonus of $425,ooo. Injuries have crushed the one time hyped Stanford fireballer. He has pitched just 40 innings with the Bucs before making a surprise (to us at least) appearance in the Arizona Fall League. Inman gave up six runs in 7.1 innings while striking out three in the AFL.

Inman has pitched in Altoona this season logging 16.2 innings and 12 strikeouts.

In Spring Training last year, we saw Kevin Correia get knocked out of the game early.

The 6’4″ Ryan Beckman was called to the mound. He surprised us with a solid effort. The 18th rounder in 2009, he didn’t impress for the Spikes in 21 games, but the Bucs liked him. The right hander proved them right as the closer this year at high-A with 8 K/9. Beckman is 22 years old and Rule 5 eligible in December.

Beckman pitched at Bradenton and earned a recent promotion to Altoona.  While with the Marauders he threw 52 innings chalking up 46 strikeouts with 18 walks and 44 hits allowed.    He has appeared in one game for the Curve and got a strikeout.

Filthy Phil Irwin is a favorite of ours, signed in the 21st round out of Mississippi. Irwin will turn 25 next month. He put up nice numbers in 14 starts at AA after pitching well in 53 innings at Bradenton. Irwin was also sent to the AFL, but injured his forearm and appeared in just one game. He is Rule 5 eligible in December.

Irwin has pitched 46.1 innings for the Curve giving up 56 hits, striking out 35 while walking just nine.

Lefty Zachary Fuesser was a 34th round pick who has thrown 177 innings. He has improved on his strikeouts and walk ratios each season. Fuesser will be 21 in July and Rule 5 eligible this year.

Fuesser is pitching in West Virginia again where he has struckout 51 in 60.2 innings and allowed 68 hits.

So now that you’ve read all that, who will be the breakout player?    Holt?

We can only pray to sweet baby Jesus a few of these players can start a breakout year in the second half of the season.

Tony Sanchez and Chase d’Arnaud have been considered some of the better talent in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.  Sanchez was the first round pick out of Boston College in the 2009 draft.

A draft that is becoming more and more forgettable under Neal Huntington.