Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Looking for Ben Cherington’s Trend
The Major League Baseball Draft is less than one week away. Let’s take a look at Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington’s time in Toronto.
This is a big draft for Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates. At this time next week, we will already know who the team selected with their first-round pick. The draft itself is five rounds and starts on Wednesday, June 10th, and will end on June 11th.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the seventh overall pick in the first round of this year’s draft. They have picks 31, 44, 79, 108, and 138. Those are a lot of high picks giving Ben Cherington a real opportunity to have an impact first class.
What can we expect to see from Ben Cherington with his six total selections? Recenct former contributor and currently a busy student with some public research, David, and myself have been researching Ben Cherington’s draft trends in Toronto. Both Cherington and new Pittsburgh Pirates Assistant General Manager Steve Sanders were in charge of the Blue Jays drafts over the past few seasons.
Cherington’s first season with the Blue Jays was in 2017 and of course, he was there in 2018 and 2019 as well. Overall we looked at three draft classes. One trend that Cherington shares with former General Manager Neal Huntington is finding projectable pitchers. The Blue Jays drafted five pitchers during Cherington’s tenure and four of them stood at 6’4” or taller. One can argue this approach did not work for Neal Huntington so why would it for Cherington? The difference is drafting the right pitchers and developing them the right way, which Cherington’s claim to fame comes in player development both in Boston and in Toronto.
Overall, Cherington seems to focus on two primary spots with his draft picks: the infield and the pitcher’s mound. During his three drafts in Toronto, the Blue Jays had 16 picks inside the top five rounds; 13 of the 16 picks were infielders or pitchers. More specifically, the Blue Jays selected five right-handed pitchers and not a single left-handed pitcher (sound familiar?)
There were several other trends that the Blue Jays seemed to follow with Cherington on board. Two of those areas were middle infield and catcher. During his three year’s three years, the Jays selected eight infielders, with five being middle infielders (four shortstops and one second baseman), and three catchers. Lastly, of the 16 players drafted, 11 of them were college players, clearly showing a preference.
This is all good news for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team is well stocked in terms of outfield prospects right now. Just to name a few, they have former first-round pick Travis Swaggerty, second-round pick Cal Mitchell, and breakout prospect Jared Oliva.
Cherington has made it clear that he wants to add caching to the system, and he showed in Toronto that he will likely be selecting at least one, if not two. He targets college players which means they will get to the big leagues quicker, and hopefully giving Pittsburgh Pirates fans a better product on the field sooner rather than later.