Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pirates clinch No. 1 pick in 2011

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Pirates may have defeated the St. Louis Cardinals last night, but the Seattle Mariners won as well, handing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft to the Buccos.

Kris Benson's wife. Wow. 
During the Pirates 18 consecutive seasons, they've had the No. 1 overall pick twice. Both picks resulted in arm surgeries and busts. So don't get too excited yet.

In 1996, the team took Kris Benson. In the Pirates' defense,lots of teams missed in the first round that year. Still, when you have the overall pick fans expect that player to help turn the team around. Instead,Benson was injury plagued and was mediocre at best. For his career, Benson is 70-75 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.393 WHIP. Despite his pitching ineptitude, he did land Anna Benson, so he's not doing too poorly for himself. He's also better than the next guy.

With a new ball park and a promise to bring a winning team to the city, management used the first overall pick in 2002 on Bryan Bullington. Because of multiple major arm surgeries, Bullington didn't make a start for the Pirates until 2007. He lost all three starts that year and didn't play another game with the team. After similar failures in Cleveland and Toronto, Bullington got his first, and only, major league win this season with the Kansas City Royals. Bullington is 1-9 in his career with a 5.62 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

What makes the Bullington fiasco so much worse is all the talent the Pirates passed up that year. Unlike the 1996 draft class, 2002's first round was filled with future all-stars. I get that hindsight is 20/20, but how the heck could the scouting department think Bullington would help the team more than Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and B.J. Upton?

I bet he wishes he was Kris Benson.
Actually, a lot of guys probably do.
But that was then. Cam Bonifay (1996) and Dave Littlefield (2002) were the general managers of those teams. The current regime, although their trades haven't really worked out, has been drafting well. Maybe the team will actually use the No. 1 pick on a No. 1 caliber player. Am I crazy for thinking it's going to happen?

Depending on how his ankle heals up, third baseman Anthony Rendon is the leading candidate to be the first player selected in June. Rendon has torn it up at Rice University the past two seasons. With 26 homers and a .394 average in 2010, he could be a power bat the Pirates need. Right now, Garret Jones is their big bat, and he only has 21 home runs this season. Another positive about Rendon is that he's not a high school project. Unlike 2010 draftees Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, Rendon won't take three to four years to reach the big leagues.

Rendon looks like he's 14.
Another highly touted youngster, Pedro Alvarez, is currently manning the hot corner for the Buccos, but there is already talk that he will have to move to first base because of his defense. Scouts say that Rendon is a very good defender, so it doesn't appear as though drafting him would cause a logjam for the organization.

Alvarez and Rendon project to be big time players with big time pop. A corner infield of that duo could definitely assist the Pirates in ending two decades of misery.

Of course, this is the Pirates we're talking about. Even though their recent drafts have shown they will spend big money to sign legit talent, fans have a hard time forgetting years of being cheapskates. Until the Pirates actually ink Rendon (Assuming he remains the top draft prospect), don't expect fans to be too excited about the No. 1 pick.

Georgia Satellites - Keep Your Hands to Yourself


  1. Does anybody else remember hearing that Anna Benson used to film naughty videos of herself to give to Kris to help him make it through long road trips? Please somebody tell me that is true.

    Rendon, from everything I read from scouts, has a fantastic swing, and some videos I have found of him, his swing is really fluid. Him at 3B and Pedro at 1B would be a legit home run threat.

    The other two 1st round picks were frustrating because it was pretty clear that they weren't the top talents. Benson was supposed to be good, but they tried to draft safe, and then he got hurt anyway. The general consensus was that BJ should've been the top pick over Bullington, but Littlefield liked that Bullington had less risk of failure (Ha!) and projected to be "no more than a #3 SP".

    And for the record, yes, I'm pretty excited about Rendon.

  2. I remember the Anna Benson story. Fun stuff.

    I thought Bullington was projected to be a No. 4 starter. I could be wrong.

  3. As seen in "Where are they now? Part II," Bullington was projected to be a "third or fourth starter" so you both get a cookie.

  4. HA! I was going to link to your post as my source. Can I get another cookie for it? Or maybe just one if it's one of those massive Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies.

  5. Mike, what do you want another cookie for? Saying you were going to link Greg's post? How do any of us know you were actually going to link it? -1.

  6. Oh so you're implying I'm not trustworthy? Friendship -1