The Pittsburgh Pirates have undergone a complete renovation over the last two years. Things are already looking up.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates hired Ben Cherington and staff the expectation was for the team to rebuild. While Cherington refused to call it a rebuild, that’s exactly what happened with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No matter what, Bob Nutting will continue to be this team’s owner. He is cheap and will not spend like a majority of the teams do around major league baseball.
So what can the Pittsburgh Pirates do about it? They hired Ben Cherington who has quickly assembled one of the best farm systems in baseball. The team needed to take on an identity much like other small market teams who have had success around the league. This means establishing a steady pipeline of major league talent coming from the minor-league system. The previous regime did do this but they got away from it after having some successful years. I expect Cherington to continue and stick to his plan of continuing to have one of the strongest farm systems in baseball year in and year out. This is just a start.
FanGraphs has released their 2021 pre-draft farm system rankings. The Pittsburgh Pirates have steadily been climbing up these ranking board since Ben Cherington has taken over the front office. When Ben Cherrington took over the team they were seeing their farms ranked around 15 to 20, so about middle of the road.
Well, this number has changed quite a bit over the last two years. Between last year’s draft class and a series of significant trades, the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system has really shot up the rankings. FanGraphs now has the Pittsburgh Pirates ranked inside their top five farm systems before the 2021 draft. So this is more or less a midseason update of what the teams already have in their system.
The Pittsburgh Pirates actually rank third overall in FanGraphs updated rankings. The only two teams in front of the Pirates both come from the American League and the Tampa Bay rays and Serano Blue Jays. This is significant for the Pittsburgh Pirates to have success as many believe they will have to emulate what the Tampa Bay Rays do. The Rays, who are a smaller market team than the Pirates, continue to be competitive year in and year out because they have established such a successful development pipeline.
Furthermore, the Toronto Blue Jays, who rank at number two, is the organization Ben Cherington previously worked for. Also, Steve Sanders, who heads the Draft for the Pirates came from Toronto. Team President Travis Williams knew what he was looking for when trying to find the right people to run this front office.
Obviously, this is super exciting. To see the Pittsburgh Pirates running the number three overall farm gives a lot of hope for this team’s future. On top of that, the Bucs have the biggest draft pool available this year and have some of the most intriguing trade deadline chips. The team very well could catapult themselves into the top spot a farm for some rankings.
Now it will be hard to pass the Tampa Bay Rays, who will once again have a very successful draft, but the fact remains the Pittsburgh Pirates have a real chance to add more significant talent to an already improved farm system. If Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders can have a successful draft on top of a successful trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates future is very bright.