People love to scream this at me on social media and they puff out their chests so proud of themselves for having example after example of the Pirates failures over the years to get prospects across the finish line.
Problem is, nobody including me has an example of this management team failing or for that matter succeeding to develop anyone.
I have to be honest, when you immerse yourself into covering a team as closely as I have, some things that you consider common knowledge just aren’t for everyday fans. For instance, to me its impossible to know how the changes to the development system will take effect because we didn’t get to see one pitch in MiLB last year, yet I still have fans frustrated a player hasn’t moved up a level since 2019.
You just don’t think about the fact that not everyone is as into the minutia the way you are and perhaps for that reason we tend to not mention some of these things and the sad thing is there is little of more importance.
Every bit of Ben Cherington’s plan is to bring in prospects and build up the system to eventually become damn near self sustaining. Nobody is going to bat 1000 on prospects, but suffice to say he has to do better.
I mean, we haven’t seen a single player improve in any way really but we also just got our first taste of an acquired player talking about the team’s analytics guys and staff working with him, Wil Crowe.
Make no mistake, Crowe is a bonus if he gets right, Yean was the prize in that Josh Bell trade. But I found this noteworthy because I can’t remember the last time a player was traded to Pittsburgh and they mentioned being worked with before pitchers and catchers even reported.
The specific mention of the analytics guys is important too, because it means for the first time, well, ever, the Pirates are letting analytics lead the charge on development.
That’s a good thing, I’ll go further, that’s what any other competent organization does. Best case we’ve seen players come here and say ‘they’re working on some things with me’ or the like but we never hear something as specific as the analytics guys have identified some things in my game.
For a team that has little choice but to build by developing prospects one would think they’d have found a way to excel at the task over the years but as we often say, there is a reason Neal was fired along with literally everyone else who had anything to do with player development in the franchise.
As the season unfolds and we start to gain an understanding of how these changes will affect players up and down the organization, we’ll be able to start critiquing this staff, but right now any criticisms are based on the past, and the only holdover, Nutting himself isn’t teaching guys how to hit to the opposite field.