Even though the Pirates have built much of their current competitive team through the draft, the franchise is a perfect example of how development of players is not always a sure thing. Having many top five draft picks in the past 20 years, the Pirates have often struggled to turn these players into stars. Here is a look at some of the Pirates’ biggest early draft busts that slowed down the rebuilding process.
1996 Kris Benson #1 Overall Selection
In drafting Benson first overall in 1996, the Pirates drafted a seasoned college pitchers who had all the makings of a big league ace. But as a Pirate he never became anything more than an average pitcher. In his five year Pirate career, Benson battled injuries and was never able to have an ERA under four. Although he could eat up innings, his 43-49 Pirate record left much to be desired.
2002 Bryan Bullington #1 Overall Selection
Like Benson, Bryan Bullinton was drafted to become a star. The flame-throwing Ball State pitcher was expected to quickly rise to the major leagues, but that never happened. After average seasons in the minor leagues, Bullington received a call-up in 2005 where he appeared in one game. Instead of being a pitcher that could eat innings in the major leagues, Bullington made just three Pirate starts in his career, and pitched in just 18 innings with the club. Making this pick hurt even more players like Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, and B.J. Upton were selected just after Bullington.
2006 Brad Lincoln #4 Overall Selection
By drafting Brad Lincoln out of the University of Houston, the Pirates looked for another starting pitcher to add to the rotation, but that never happened. While he did make a few starts early in his career, Lincoln was later shifted to a middle reliever. After making 51 Pirate appearances, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He has continued to be a middle reliever in the league currently pitching for the Phillies. Taking a look back in selecting Lincoln, the club passed on several current top flight major league pitchers including Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Max Scherzer.
2007 Daniel Moskos #4 Overall Selection
Like many others, Daniel Moskos was a highly touted college pitcher. But injuries and on-field struggles hampered his development. After several minor league seasons, Moskos made only one career appearance in Pittsburgh. With all-star catcher Matt Wieters and superstar pitcher Madison Bumgarner taken after Moskos, this pick stings when looking back.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
Pirates First Round Draft History