While things did not go the way the Pirates would have liked at the Major League Level, Ben Cherington and co. continued to do what they have done since Cherington took over as the team’s general manager nearly two years ago. Through the draft and trades, the Pirates added more young talent to a farm system that is building its way into one of the top systems in the league.
It began with the draft in mid-July when the Pirates were on the clock with the first pick. With that selection, the Bucs chose Henry Davis, a catcher from the University of Louisville. Davis got off to a hot start in his first taste of professional baseball, combining for a .308/.387/.808 slash line with three home runs in eight games between rookie ball and a handful of games in High-A Greensboro. Davis’ season ended after eight games due to an oblique injury, but the first pick of the 2021 MLB Draft showed flashes of what the Pirates saw in him immediately.
Henry Davis. Pittsburgh Pirate. pic.twitter.com/GFQICg9XIP
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 12, 2021
Things weren’t done with Davis as the Pirates used their next three selections to take three more highly-regarded prospects, giving them what is considered to be one of if not the top draft hauls in the season. The Bucs used their second round selection on prep left-hander Anthony Solometo out of New Jersey. The Pirates went the high school route on their next two picks too, taking outfielder Lonnie White Jr. and two-way player Bubba Chandler. Both White and Chandler were big-time college football commits in addition to baseball, as White was set to play wide receiver at Penn State, and Chandler was going to be a quarterback for Clemson.
All four draftees found themselves ranked inside the upper-half of the Pirates’ Top 30 according to MLB Pipeline – Davis (1), Solometo (7), Chandler (8) and White (11). In addition to those four, the Pirates were able to add a couple more prospects that caught the eye of scouts, including infielder Jackson Glenn and outfielder Braylon Bishop.
July was a busy month for the Pirates front office, as Cherington and his staff quickly had to shift their focus from the draft to their plans for the trading deadline. Through a series of trades, the Pirates continued to add talent by trading players from their Major League roster. The biggest haul came from the Padres in the Adam Frazier trade, where the Pirates landed three prospects, including infielder/outfielder Tucupita Marcano, ranked ninth in the Pirates system, and outfielder Jack Suwinski, ranked 29th.
In total, the Pirates made six trades leading up and to the trade deadline and landed several notable prospects, including infielders Hoy Park and Diego Castillo (Yankees), catcher Carter Bins (Mariners), catcher Abrahan Gutierrez (Phillies), right-hander Ricky DeVito (Braves) and more.
When Cherington was introduced as the Pirates’ GM in a press conference, he talked about four aspects that the Pirates would focus on to get back to winning baseball in Pittsburgh – identifying, acquiring, developing and ultimately deploying players. Since he took over, and in 2021 specifically, the Pirates have been focused on the first two parts of that plan. They are currently working to develop this new crop of prospects and deployment is quickly coming for a number of these farmhands as they work their way up the Pirates’ system.