It is far too early to make any final judgments, but let us revisit some of the players that the Pirates drafted in June 2006.
1st Round – Brad Lincoln RHP
Lincoln, being the team’s first round draft choice, naturally received the most media coverage of any player selected in the 2006 draft. After the fourth overall pick was signed, the Pirates assigned Lincoln to their rookie league affiliate in Bradenton. He was good in two short starts and was promoted to Single-A. Upon his arrival in Hickory, Lincoln struggled. He allowed 12 earned runs and 26 hits in 16 innings, and eventually was shut down with an oblique injury. Things got worse in the spring of 2007, as Lincoln battled an arm injury. Eventually, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season. The Pirates expect Lincoln to be ready for the 2008 season, but he remains a huge question mark at this point.
2nd Round – Mike Felix LHP
Felix began his professional career with Williamsport of the New York-Penn League in 2006. He was decent in 13 starts, producing a 3.56 ERA with a K/9 of 9.19. However, his 33 walks in 48 innings was far too high. Felix started 2007 with Hickory, and, pitching mostly out of the bullpen, he allowed 35 earned runs and 44 hits in 35.2 innings. His K/BB ratio was just as ugly at 37/46. When the New York-Penn league began, he was demoted to the Pirates’ State College affiliate. He was relatively better at that level, posting a 5.26 ERA in 25.2 innings. His strikeout numbers rose to 10.87 per nine innings, but his control was still a huge issue. With his 23 walks at State College this past year, he has walked 102 batters in 109.1 professional innings. That number will need to be drastically reduced for Felix to have any impact on the organization.
3rd Round – Shelby Ford 2B
After the draft, Ford was assigned to Williamsport. He was red-hot from the beginning and earned a promotion after hitting .400/.483/.520 in 25 at-bats. He was not nearly as productive at Hickory, batting .269/.333/.448 in 223 at-bats. Ford slumped for the first two months of 2007 at Lynchburg, but was stellar beginning in June. His line was up to .281/.360/.433 when he went down with a back injury in July. He also stole 14 bases on the season without being caught. Defensively, he reduced his error total in 2007. After finishing with 11 errors in 60 games in 2006, he had only five in 90 games at Lynchburg. Ford should start 2008 with Altoona.
4th Round – William Hughes RHP
Hughes began 2006 at Williamsport, and was good in his five starts. He allowed only seven earned runs and 14 hits in 23 innings, and walked only seven. However, he only struck out 11. When he was promoted to Hickory, his walk total ballooned. His BB/9 jumped up to 5.77, and he only struck out 4.66 per nine innings. Unsurprisingly, his ERA leaped up to 5.77. Hughes spent 2007 at Hickory, and was somewhat better the second time around. His walk and strikeout numbers improved and his ERA dropped over a run to 4.64. He is a marginal prospect at best.
5th Round – Patrick Bresnehan RHP
Bresnehan spent 2006 at Williamsport and was effective. He had a 2.25 ERA in 68 innings as both a starter and out of the bullpen. He had a BB/9 of 2.25 and a K/9 of 7.81. He finished strong, allowing zero earned runs in his final 30 innings. Bresnehan began the 2007 season in Lynchburg and was decent, posting a 4.18 ERA in 60.1 innings while working exclusively out of the bullpen. His K/9 jumped to 9.40, but his BB/9 also rose to 4.77. He allowed only three home runs and finished with a WHIP of 1.43. Late in the season, the Pirates promoted him to Altoona. He made only three appearances, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings. Bresnehan should be in the Altoona bullpen in 2008.
Other notable picks
10th Round – Charles Benoit LHP
Benoit posted a 2.71 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 79.2 innings with Hickory in 2007. He is 23.
The Pirates continued their tradition of poor drafts in 2006. Lincoln still has a chance to make an impact at the Major League level, but his injury issues have stalled his development. He could be another first round bust for the team. Ford is an interesting player that could someday find a home at PNC Park. Bresnehan and Benoit may be mediocre relievers some day. Other than those few players, the Pirates have very little talent from this draft.