Ryan Leaf Effect: The Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Story Part Two
Welcome to Part two of our three part special.
Today, we will explore the Pirates' first round draft picks from 2003 to 2005.
Journey with me through these rough years for the Battlin' Bucs, and you might be well entertained.
This time, the picks don't look so bad after all. These players are turning out to be stars.
David Littlefield, however bad he was, made some good decisions.
2003: Eighth overall selection, Paul Maholm
The Bucs, with the eighth overall selection, went with an LHP from Mississippi State named Paul Maholm. In college, Maholm was a three time letterman.
In his first major league start, Maholm pitched an impressive eight shutout innings, instantly making an impression on the team.
He has slowly become arguably the Pirates go-to starter, along with Zach Duke.
Through 2008, Maholm was 34-37 with a 4.21 era. This year, he is 6-4 with a 4.60 era. He also struck out Billy Crystal.
Maholm will go down as one of the only sensible picks by David Littlefield.
Notable Players passed up: Conor Jackson, Chad Billingsley, and Carlos Quentin.
2004: 11th overall selection, Neil Walker
Walker, the son of former pitcher Tom Walker, is a Pittsburgh boy, playing his high school ball at Pine-Richland High School.
Neil was drafted as a catcher, but was transformed into a third baseman.
Walker has a sufficient amount of power and played in the 2006 All-Star Futures game in Pittsburgh. He is currently with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Walker is coming off of a knee injury, and unnamed sources say that he has resigned due to the fact that he will be traded.
Notable Players passed up: Jered Weaver, Phil Hughes, Hunter Pence, and Dustin Pedroia.
2005: 11th Overall Selection, Andrew McCutchen
This kid is for real.
He can flat out play.
Drafted out of high school, McCutchen recently made the team after the Nate McClouth trade.
In 2006, he was named Pirates Minor League Player of the Year. In a little over a month played, McCutchen has made a name for himself, batting .292, hitting two home runs, 23 RBI, and a .798 OPS, while scoring 24 runs himself.
McCutchen is making a strong case for Rookie of the Year. If he continues to play as he has, he will be a superstar by the end of the 2009 season.
This was the best pick (so far) of the decade.
Notable Players passed up: Jay Bruce, Colby Rasmus, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Matt Garza.
Come back next time as we finish up the draft picks from 2006 to 2009.
We will look at these draft picks as well as the team of the future.
Thanks, and come back soon.