There isn’t much that can be written to show the Pirates have changed the way they develop talent, Even if the 2020 season had been normal the club made minimal changes to the development system because of how late in the game Cherington was brought in.
We’ve been writing in this space for most of the season that many more changes were on the way for the development system this off season and sure enough the Pirates announced yesterday that Larry Broadway was out as the Farm Director. Because it’s the Pirates, of course people wanted to see a list of 20 names so that fans could pretend they knew all these guys and had been calling for their heads.
Reality is, even people who closely cover the club don’t have much clue as to what all these moving parts do. Broadway is the head of the snake when it comes to player development, he get’s a special announcement because it’s a big enough role that they need to actively job search to fill the seat. That new hire will have input on how the rest of the dominoes fall and much of the pool of potentials are actively with their clubs right now in the playoffs.
Development has been an issue for quite some time in Pittsburgh, paired with struggles in the talent acquisition side of life, it was a match made in hell.
This wasn’t an organization finding many diamonds in the rough, in fact if anything they were holding their breath hoping a diamond they brought in wouldn’t get nicked up to the point it no longer shined by the time it was brought to market.
In short, don’t get frustrated you haven’t heard a laundry list of Pirates brass hitting the unemployment line, those changes will come and again, you won’t know most of them.
The point of optimism really comes from a devastating reality truth be told. Out of the Pirates top ten prospects Ben Cherington has brought in 4 or them. Nick Gonzales (1), Liover Peguero (5), Brennan Malone (7), and Carmen Mlodzinski (8).
Two from a trade, and two from the draft. That’s great news that they’ve been able to add four players to the top end of their talent pool so quickly, but it’s also frightening it got so bad.
When you look at the other members of the top ten you find players who are prospects in name only such as Jared Oliva (10) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (2), both clearly already in the plans for the MLB squad. We don’t know what will happen with O’neil Cruz (3) as of right now but he too is probable for 2021 if he somehow escapes whatever is going on in DR right now.
It’s bittersweet news. This means that he’s at least done a better job at bringing in top talent but he’s also had the benefit of having an earlier pick than they’ve had since the 2011 selection of Gerrit Cole.
2021 will obviously bring an even higher level pick and based on the very short track record we have to go on it should be an exciting infusion of talent and I don’t just mean whomever they choose number one overall.
Think about this for a moment, two players who have already made appearances in MLB for the Pirates, Kevin Kramer (21) and Will Craig (22) are ranked below 3 of Cherington’s 7 draft picks. They also rank below his 2 trade acquired players. That’s a second round and a first round pick, and it’s hard to imagine either cracking even the lineup we just wrapped up watching.
It’s not that you discount the possibility they could improve and I certainly don’t, but this is evidence that either the development or identification was broken, probably both in reality.
Fans have a picture in their head of what change looks like when a new GM is brought in, they expect big visible moves and brash statements, but sometimes the biggest statement is in the results themselves.
Ben Cherington is actually remaking this system, and the results are already starting to show. This is where the team’s foundation get’s built and the future spawns from.
In 2021 the Pirates will most likely have ten rounds of selections plus compensation choices, if Ben can have even close to the same level of quality he achieved in 2020 the entire system starts to look different.
If you believe all of this good news is superseded by Bob Nutting standing behind Ben waiting to stab him in the back, I’d say perhaps the system being built correctly will become the reason players move, rather than the near constant effort to get something for someone we’ve lived with.