Today is one of the most important days on the Major League Baseball calendar, especially for small-market teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, things have changed.
New Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington and his staff got off to a great start with the organization. He has already added multiple top talents via the Starling Marte trade, bringing in Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone. Cherington also just finished up his first draft class, which has received high grades thus far. He was also able to add one of the best hitters in the draft class in Nick Gonzales, who is already considered a top 100 prospect in baseball.
However, there have been two questions that have popped up so far regarding Ben Cherington’s strategy. First, when will he address bringing in a top catching prospect? Secondly, why did he use five of his six total draft picks on pitchers?
While Cherington and his staff have given the generic responses about taking the best available player on their boards, there could be more to it. A few weeks ago I posted an article looking at Baseball America’s outline of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 International signing class. One thing I noticed right away was that there were a lot more hitters than pitchers on the list. In fact, this could be why Cherington focused on bringing in more arms via the Amateur Draft.
All in all, Baseball America listed the eight top prospects they know are signing with the Pirates; six of these players are hitters. This could make sense as to why Cherington was able to stick to taking the arms he wanted in the draft.
Unfortunately, we will not have an exact answer for some time. Today, July 2nd, is normally when the International Signing Window opens and prospects officially sign with teams. Beyond the eight known players signing with the team, there likely would have been at least another handful of notable prospects signed along with many others.
It would have been interesting to see if the overall class would have continued to be hitter heavy or not. The top prospect the team is expected to sign is outfielder Shalin Polanco. He ranks as a consensus top 10 available prospect. Obviously, it will be very important for him to get officially signed when the signing period opens back up.
As of now, the International Signing Window has been pushed back until January 15th, 2021. This has been a date that they have considered moving the window to in the past. However, this could also be setting up a potential month to complete an international draft if one is implemented in the next CBA. Regardless, Ben Cherington will have to wait a few more months to complete his first overall amateur class with the Pirates.