How can you look at his most recent draft and not be impressed? Ben Cherington’s 2021 draft was phenomenal by any measure you use. The Pittsburgh Pirates had the first overall selection and Cherington used it to the fullest of his ability and then some. The team selected Henry Davis first overall. While at the time, it was a bit questionable to go under slot with the number one overall pick in the draft, Cherington showed why he picked Davis there.
The Pittsburgh Pirates then selected Anthony Solometo with their second-round selection. Going into the draft, Solometo was arguably the best left-handed prep arm available. With outstanding command and a funky delivery that helps his already good offerings play up, Solometo went for over slot money.
The Pirates got another over-slot deal with their second-round competitive balance pick in Lonnie White Jr. White Jr. is a very high-ceiling high school outfielder. He showed plenty of power throughout his amateur career with good speed and a plus glove out in center. Though he has some swing-and-miss concerns, he didn’t have any major red flags when the Bucs picked him.
But what sealed the deal for this being such a good draft class was the organization’s third-round pick. With the 72nd overall selection, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up two-way high school star Bubba Chandler.
Arguably the best high school prospect up there with Jordan Lawlar, Marcelo Mayer, and Kahlil Watson, many had Chandler as a top 20-15 selection. After all, he’s a powerful and athletic shortstop with four offerings that project as average or better. But he fell all the way to the Pirates at #72. So how were the Pirates able to sign him? The team did have to go way over slot to sign him, giving him a $3 million bonus even though his slot value was less than $900,000. That was enough to pry him away from his Clemson football commitment, which was the main reason he dropped to the 72nd spot.
But to get four players that were projected to go in the first 50 picks is an outstanding use of the draft. The team also got some other notable names such as Owen Kellington, Jackson Glenn, Mike Jarvis, and even some of their late-round picks have performed well so far in their first taste of professional action.
While Cherington went over their allotted draft money to sign the players they did, it was 100% worth it. The amount of talent they added in just a few days was impressive, which is a major understatement.