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When Will The Pirates Have A Late Round Find?

Max Moroff represents the only quasi-success for the Pirates in the late rounds of the draft.

In the June Draft, every Major League team gets 40 rounds of picks (some get more with supplemental and competitive balance picks) to stock their farm system. Prior to 2012, each team had 50 rounds of picks.

As far as the Pirates are concerned under Neal Huntington, they’d be better off letting a computer randomly select names from the eligible entry list after the first 10 rounds are over. Here is the sum totality of all players drafted after the 10th round (and signed) by the Pirates to even appear in the Majors, with Baseball Reference WAR totals for their time with the Pirates:

  • Phil Irwin (2009, 21st round) — 1 G, 4.2 IP, 7.71 ERA, -0.3 bWAR
  • Casey Sadler (2010, 25th round) — 7 G, 15.1 IP, 6.46 ERA, -0.2 bWAR
  • Max Moroff (2012, 16th round) — 58 G, 142 AB, .197/.298/.320, 63 OPS+, 0.6 WAR
  • John Bormann (2015, 24th round) — 1 G, 1 AB, .000/.000/.000, 0 OPS+, 0.0 WAR

That’s it. Four players in 10 years of drafting. That’s 4 guys out of 340 picks. I’ll even be generous and say 4 out of 280, shaving off the players from the 2016 and 2017 drafts. These four guys are barely a blip of production. Frankly, it’s pathetic and speaks to both the lack of drafting ability and developmental concerns in the minor league system to not even get a bench/bullpen guy.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, plenty of other teams are getting not only contributors, but key starting players in the 11-40 (50) rounds. Here’s a look at some current players in the NL Central:

St. Louis

  • Matt Carpenter (2009, 13th round) — 871 G, 3098 AB, .277/.377/.460, 128 OPS+, 20.9 WAR
  • Tommy Pham (2006, 16th round) — 271 G, 786 AB, .281/.379/.492, 131 OPS+, 7.6 WAR
  • Ryan Sherriff (2011, 28th round) — 16 G, 17 IP, 3.18 ERA, 0.2 WAR


  • Brent Suter (2012, 31st round) — 38 G, 113.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 2.3 WAR
  • Jacob Barnes (2011, 14th round) — 104 G, 104.2 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.0 WAR


  • Sal Romano (2011, 23rd round) — 17 G, 93 IP, 4.45 ERA, 0.4 WAR
  • Amir Garrett (2011, 22nd round) — 18 G, 73.1 IP, 7.12 ERA, -1.9 WAR

Chicago doesn’t currently have any late draft picks, but their 25-man roster currently has a staggering five 1st round picks on it. That’s hitting on your picks.

I’m not trying to be greedy and say that the Pirates should get a Matt Carpenter-type in these later stages. But is it too much to ask for a solid, Jacob Barnes-esque middle reliever ? Or a decent bench piece?

Max Moroff will be up and down through the course of the year, so he’ll contribute a little bit, but there’s not much else on the horizon. Relievers Brett McKinney (2013, 19th round) and Tate Scioneaux (2015, 39th round) are in AAA and AA, respectively, and with the way the bullpen shuffle is in effect this year, it’s not out of the question they see Pittsburgh. Neither is on the 40-man roster, though.

Jerrick Suiter was a 26th round pick back in 2014 and he’s made steady progress through the system. Last year was his best season, when he put up an OPS of .800 over two levels, primarily at Double-A Altoona. He’s on Indy’s roster to start the season, but is also not on the 40-man roster as of yet.

Last week, I referenced the relatively unheralded Mason Martin (17th round) from the 2017 draft. The high schooler put up staggering power numbers in the Gulf Coast League and was aggressively assigned to Low-A West Virginia to start 2018. He’s probably 3 years away at the earliest, but a power hitting corner outfielder would be nice to find from the 17th round.

Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “Why does it matter where they get talent from ? I’ll take it in the 4th or the 24th round.” And while you’re right, one thing to remember is that now every team has a draft pool that they slavishly stick to for fear of repercussions with tax overages and/or loss of future draft picks. Every player drafted after the 10th round that signs for more than $100,000 has that amount above $100,000 deducted from the draft pool. So if the Pirates can find some players in these later stages (that typically sign for far less than $100K), then in essence the Pirates are getting a ‘free’ player and getting more value from their draft pool.

Kyle Stark and Larry Broadway have been the two main Farm Directors under Neal Huntington’s tenure. Stark was rewarded for his work as the Farm Director with a promotion to Assistant GM back in 2012. I’m not sure what metrics the Pirates use to internally evaluate their management, but for me the lack of talent flow from non-elite rounds is something that needs more attention on it than it currently receives.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

10 Comments on When Will The Pirates Have A Late Round Find?

  1. Lee Young // April 16, 2018 at 8:42 AM //

    Once you get past the 1st round, historical odds of finding a starting player, even for a year, starts dropping. By the time that you hit the 10th round it is less than 10%.

    I am not concerned one bit.

  2. Charles Vine // April 16, 2018 at 9:24 AM //

    The Pirates hideous draft performance speaks for itself…and it’s not good, to say the least. Even this team’s top level picks have a difficult time making anything more than a “serviceable” impact. Where are the “difference makers”?

    • Pirates drafting is at least average, might even be above average. You need to compare to other teams.

      Latin America has had a lull since Polanco and Osuna, but there are a bunch of prospects in Low A and lower about to make another impact.

  3. I’d focus less on draft round and more on signing bonus size. In new system a 10th rounder can get $1M while the 9th rounder got $100k.

    Gage Hingz was an 11th rounder but got $800k

  4. Bob Stover // April 16, 2018 at 11:52 AM //

    I have, for a long time, been a vocal critic of the Pirates player development staff, and in particular that of Mr. Stark. I really don’t have the resources or time to try and research this issue thoroughly, but it is my understanding, from discussions with guys on other blogs who are draftniks and stats geek like you guys, that the Pirates developmental is to philosophy flush guys drafted after the 8th round or so much quicker than other organizations. If they haven’t made their presence known by the end of their 2nd year in the organization, with few exceptions they are simply no longer around. I would venture to say that there is no one left in the Pirates system drafted before about 2012.

    • Kevin Creagh // April 16, 2018 at 12:31 PM //

      If you’re using 2012 as the cutoff, then no. That’s because by now most of those guys would be minor league FA’s and if they’re toiling in AA still, then they’ll be moving on anyway. (2010 draftee Nick Kingham still in the system and yet to debut, but he’ll be here this year.)

      To go on your “2 years and out theory”, here’s the 2014 draft register:

      Of the 30 guys that signed, 4 guys were used in trades by my quick count (Joe, Supak, Gushue, Duncan). The strong majority of the rest are still kicking around the system after 3+ years.

  5. Bob Stover // April 16, 2018 at 1:36 PM //

    I used 2012 precisely for that reason, they become minor league FA’s after 6 years. I note that you went back as far as 2009 to show that other teams have gotten late round players that have performed well at the major league level.

    • Kevin Creagh // April 16, 2018 at 2:17 PM //

      I simply looked at all the rosters of teams in the NL Central. Those are players drafted during The Huntington Years (2008-present) by other teams in the same time frame, after the 10th round.


    Among other things, this has the Bucs drafting record compared to all other teams since 2008.

  7. The draft history under this management group has been pathetic. Seems to mostly be a player development issue. I just feel bad for the young guys who have to start their careers with this sad sack organization. An organization that seems to reward personnel based on how much they fail.

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