For the past couple of season, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington’s drafting has been called into question.

This comes after years of Huntington seemingly stockpiling the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system with several stars that would make big impacts at the MLB level for years to come.

One thing the 2017 MLB Playoffs have shown is that the league is littered with young stars and many of them are helping their teams win meaningful playoff games.

Unfortunately none of them are wearing Pirates uniforms and it has proven to be another example of how far the Pirates still need to come as an organization in terms of drafting and developing talent.

2017 MLB Playoffs

If you have watched any of the playoffs this season, it’s hard not to take notice of the young studs still in the postseason.

I’m not talking any young players, I’m talking about guys under the age of 25 who you look at and just see a future star. In most cases those young studs are already stars and are only going to get better.

Why should the Bucs be any different?

One common theme around the league is that young players help your team win games. Successful teams get these guys through their systems and get them onto the MLB roster where they can make an impact.

That’s also not the Pittsburgh Pirates’ philosophy when dealing with young players as they prefer a slower approach with promoting young players.

But it is hard to argue with the success that the postseason teams have had with young players.

Rafael Devers (20 years old), Andrew Benintendi (23) and Mookie Betts are all under 25 years old and making major contributions in Boston.

As are guys like Carlos Correa (23) and Alex Bregman (23) in Houston. Let’s not forget about the likes of Luis Severino (23), Gary Sanchez (24) and Aaron Judge (25) in New York and Francisco Lindor (23) and Jose Ramirez (25) in Cleveland.

The Minnesota Twins also have a nice young core in Jose Berrios (23), Byron Buxton (23), Miguel Sano (24) and Max Kepler (24). The National League playoffs are also littered with stars under the age of 25.

Twenty-two year old Cody Bellinger was a fourth-round pick of the Dodgers and teammate Corey Seager (23) will form a tough middle of the lineup for years to come.

The Nationals have Trea Turner (24) and a future stud in 20-year old Victor Robles to add to a lineup that already features twenty-four year old Bryce Harper. The Pirates actually drafted Turner in the 20th round of the 2011 draft, but were unable to sign him.

You also have to wonder that if they had signed Turner, would he be making the same kind of impact in Pittsburgh that he is in Washington? Would he even be up to the majors?

Like it or not, those are fair questions to ask. Who can forget about the division rival Cubs, who are littered with young guys including: Ian Happ (23), Addison Russell (23), Javier Baez (24), Kyle Schwarber (24) and Willson Contreras (25).

There is one common theme amongst all the players I have listed so far. Most of them were drafted by their current clubs. A couple were amateur free agents and a couple were acquired by trade, but for the most part, all were drafted.

That goes to show that the good teams are not whiffing on their first-round picks. They aren’t selecting guys who could project to be a platoon player or a middle of the rotation starter. They are taking guys who become stars and they are winning because of it.

That is one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates are lacking big time.

Pirates young ‘stars”

By comparison, let’s look at the Pirates current roster to end the season.

It featured 24-year olds: Tyler Glasnow, Dovydas Neverauskas, Max Moroff, Chris Bostick, Jordan Luplow and Jose Osuna.  There were also plenty of 25-year olds in: Steven Brault, Chad Kuhl, Edgar Santana, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, Josh Bell and Adam Frazier.

I’m not talking any young players, I’m talking about guys under the age of 25 who you look at and just see a future star.

Bell and potentially Taillon may have future All-Star appearances in front of them, but while the Pirates have had a lot of their youngsters make it to the majors, they aren’t producing much legit talent out of the crop. A lot of these guys will turn out to be solid major league players who could play many years in the league.

But the common theme is that the Pirates are missing out on producing difference makers throughout their farm system.

A lot of people raved about the job Huntington and his staff did in rebuilding the farm system and they have done a solid job. They just haven’t been able to hit a home run with many prospects during the Huntington era. Given that the philosophy of the organization is to draft and develop instead of spending money on the free agent market, it is almost inexcusable.

They either aren’t spending enough money on their scouting department or they are doing a poor job in developing young players.

Something has to give.

Eventually the Pittsburgh Pirates will have to start hitting with their first-round draft picks.

The list of first-round picks under Huntington includes: Pedro Alvarez (2008), Tony Sanchez (2009), Taillon (2010), Gerrit Cole (2011), Mark Appel (2012), Austin Meadows (2013), Reese McGuire (2013), Cole Tucker (2014), Kevin Newman (2015), Will Craig (2016) and Shane Baz (2017).

Will Meadows, Tucker, Newman and Craig become the difference makers the Pirates so desperately need or will they become just good MLB players?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot of work to do if they want to win a World Series.

Given their philosophy they can start by doing a better job evaluating young players.

Everyone else seems to be having success with young players.

Why should the Bucs be any different?

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.

  • Lee Foo Young

    The article says that Bell is a future all star. I guess you haven’t looked at all the really good 1bmen in the NL. Heck, Bell was the WORST 1bman just in the NL Central.

  • JPksu

    Great article Matt. You really can’t be shitty at drafting players AND not spend money in FA. That’s why NH never should’ve been extended.

  • Bobby Ewing

    Excellent article Matt and I second what jpksu said