Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Previous #1 Overall Picks

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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FORT MYERS, FL – MARCH 04: Pitcher Bryan Bullington #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Boston Red Sox on March 4, 2008 at City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL – MARCH 04: Pitcher Bryan Bullington #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Boston Red Sox on March 4, 2008 at City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

2002

The 2002 draft was not a very pretty one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team took Bryan Bullington with top pick in the draft passing up players who would eventually become MVP and Cy Young contenders/winners such as Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto, and Brian McCann, just to name a few.

Bullington’s solid numbers in the minors never translated into big league success. The right-hander would only pitch 81.2 innings throughout his big league career, spending time with the Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals. But at the very least for Bullington, he found success overseas, pitching in 5 productive seasons in Japan.

The most productive player the Pittsburgh Pirates got out of the 2002 draft ended up being right-handed closer and now color commentator Matt Capps. Capps spent 8 years in the big leagues, racking up double-digit saves in 6 of those seasons.

As a Pirate, Capps had a pretty solid 3.61 ERA, 3.84 FIP and 1.17 WHIP through 217.2 innings of work. Capps had his best season in 2010 with the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins, going to the All-Star Game and racking up 42 saves. Though Capps never appeared in a major league game again after 2012, he bounced around with the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and Arizona Diamondbacks up until 2016. The former All-Star joined the Pirates’ booth this year as their newest color commentator.

One last name worth going into detail about was outfielder Nyjer Morgan. Morgan was definitely a character to say the least throughout his MLB career. He spent 7 seasons in the bigs batting .282/.343/.366 with only 12 home runs, but 120 stolen bases and a 93 wRC+/.317 wOBA. Morgan was also a really good defender with +30 DRS, 14.4 UZR/150 and 41.5 range runs above average throughout his major league career. The Bucs traded Morgan to the Washington Nationals in 2009, which ended up being the trade that got them two-time Al-Star closer, Joel Hanrahan.

Only 6 players from this draft ever made it to the big leagues. The three other draft picks, Dane Davidson (10th round), Chris Demaria (17th round) and Brad Eldred (6th round) all ended up putting up a negative bWAR. Only Morgan and Capps were the only ones to play at least 100 games in the Major Leagues.

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