Going As Planned
Pirates spend money to bring in amateur talent
PITTSBURGH—The Pirates' draft wound up unfolding just as they hoped when they signed 23 picks, including their first 14, for bonuses totaling $8.9 million.
"Our goal was to flood the system with as much pitching as we could," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We ended up with a nice mix of high school pitchers, college pitchers, high school position players and college position players. We feel we strengthened our organization with this draft."
The Pirates wound up going over the slot bonuses recommended by Major League Baseball on four high school pitchers: fourth-round pick Zach Dodson, sixth-rounder Zach Von Rosenberg, seventh-rounder Trent Stevenson and eighth-rounder Colton Cain. Von Rosenberg received a $1.2 million bonus, while Cain signed for $1.125 million, Dodson got $600,000 and Stevenson received $350,000.
A major part of the Pirates' approach was to stay close to the slot recommendation with their first-round pick, the fourth choice overall, and they signed Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez for $2.5 million. The Pirates were criticized by many draft analysts for taking Sanchez so high, but he hit .324/.421/.563 in his first 142 at-bats with low Class A West Virginia.
"We're extremely pleased with the way Tony has played and it's been beneficial for him to have signed soon after the draft and get his career started," Huntington said. "With his mental makeup, outstanding defensive skills and the way he's swung the bat so far, there is a lot of reason to be excited about his future."
It marked the second straight year the frugal Pirates spent heavily in the draft after they shelled out $9.8 million in bonuses last year, including a club-record $6,335,000 to Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the second overall selection.
• Righthanded reliever Jeff Sues was able to partially salvage a disappointing year with a late-season promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, after going 2-6, 4.58 with two saves in 79 innings at Double-A Altoona. Sues, 26, was the Pirates' minor league pitcher of the year in 2008.
• The Pirates' Venezuelan Summer League team had the best record in the league at 48-22 before losing to the Rays in the league championship series.