The Pittsburgh Pirates went with a very pitcher heavy draft this year, but is this a good strategy for the long run and for the future of the team?
The Pittsburgh Pirates went with a very pitcher-heavy draft this year. Of their 21 total picks, only six were position players. That includes Termarr Johnson, Jack Brannigan, Tres Gonzalez, Tanner Treadway, Josiah Sightler, and Nick Cimillo. In comparison, only 11 of their 21 picks were pitchers. It is an interesting strategy, but could it work out long-term?
The three top pitching prospects the Pirates got from this draft were Thomas Harrington, Hunter Barco, and Michael Kennedy. Harrington and Barco were two college selections. They both provide arms that could be ready in the near future. However, Barco will take an extra year, as he’ll be out until next season because of Tommy John surgery.
Kennedy was an over slot pick but arguably has the highest ceiling of any of the pitching prospects the Bucs drafted this year. At just 17 years old, Kennedy was ranked as the 89th best prospect in this year’s draft, per MLB Pipeline, but went 110th overall. The lefty signed for $1 million, an over slot amount.
Kennedy and Barco gave the Pittsburgh Pirates two talented southpaws. But they drafted a few more lefties who could be productive for the team. Dominic Perachi may have been an 11th-round pick out of a Division III college program but showed improved velocity with high spin secondary offerings. Julian Bosnic may have been the biggest steal of the draft. Projected to go within the first few rounds of the 2021 draft, Bosnic returned to college this year and was drafted in the 14th round. 13th-rounder Miguel Fulgencio is another potential left-handed bullpen option.
While the Pirates went heavy on lefties, they selected a handful of right-handers. Aside from Harrington, sixth-round pick Derek Diamond has some intriguing stuff, despite a lack of results in college. JP Massey, the Pirate 7th round pick, is ranked as the team’s 55th best prospect per FanGraphs list. Cy Nielson was an over slot selection who put up quality numbers in his last year at college and at the Cape Cod League. Mike Walsh was another Cape Cod standout.
Developing pitchers is hard for any team. There’s a reason the saying “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” has sprung up. Going into this year’s draft, the Pirates needed some pitching in the farm system, and this draft brought precisely that. They took a handful of high-risk/high-reward guys this year, but others like Kennedy, Harrington, and Barco have a reasonably high floor.
The Pirates added a ton of new pitchers to the farm system with their 2022 draft, and it should work out in the long run. There are at least one or two quality arms among this large group of talented players. Of course, they’re not going to all turn out to be productive MLB players, but they could find a starter or two along with a few relievers in this year’s draft class.