Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: The Five Biggest Busts since 2002

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Pedro Alvarez was the number two overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft.  This was Neal Huntington’s first draft as general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  Alvarez was considered the top power bat in the draft and many scouts considered him the top prospect on the board. The Tampa Bay Rays passed on him however, due to drafting third baseman Evan Longoria the previous year.  Instead the Rays took a prep shortstop by the name of Tim Beckham.

This got fans excited.  Neal Huntington seemed to be in a position to draft a corner stone, franchise player who would be Major League ready quickly.  Alvarez was represented by Scott Boras who, as many baseball fans know, is difficult to negotiate with.  Because of this Alvarez and the Pirates did not finish a deal until around midnight of the draft signing deadline.

Upon further investigation it was found out that Alvarez never officially signed, thus putting him on the restricted list by Major League Baseball.  However, after working with the league and the player’s union the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to sign Alvarez to a four-year 6.4 million dollar deal. This deal essentially was paying him what he would have received for his signing bonus.

Alvarez tore through the Minor Leagues in 2009 and early 2010 and received a promotion on June 16th of 2010, and it appeared that the future star of the Pittsburgh Pirates had reached the Majors. He enjoyed a lot of early success in 2010 playing in 95 games and hitting .256 with 16 home runs and 64 RBI.  He did strikeout out 119 times in those games though which was a red flag, as well as a sign of things to come.

However, Alvarez did not build upon his rookie year success in 2011.  He played in 74 games that year and only hit .191 with a .561 OPS and 80 strikeouts. He was demoted back to Triple-A that season and many viewed it as though he just needed more time to develop.

Alvarez did put together a few good years in Pittsburgh.  He was the National League’s Silver Slugger third baseman in 2013 and an All-Star.  He also had back-to-back 30 home run seasons in 2012 and 2013.  The biggest issue came in 2014 when he acquired a throwing accuracy issue which many attributed to his lack of confidence.  If he was struggling the plate or made a mistake earlier in the field he would let it affect him the rest of the game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates management tried to move him to first base in 2015.  His offense improved some, hitting 27 homers and a .243 batting average, but he continued to cost the Pirates runs at the first base position. Without a DH in the NL and his arbitration likely raising his salary to 8 million dollars the Pirates cut him in the 2015-2016 off-season. Ending his rocky career with the Pirates and never turning into the franchise player he was believed to be when he was taken number two overall in 2008.

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