Each season, every team drafts a bevy of players who never pan out quite like the front office envisioned. But there are also those years when a team gets a young player who goes on to exceed expectations, and the Pirates have had their fair share of those in different areas of the Draft. With the 2014 version of the First-Year Player Draft less than two weeks away, here's a look at the top players drafted by the Pirates in each of the first 15 rounds since 1965.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Round 1: Barry Bonds, 1985
With the sixth pick of the 1985 First-Year Player Draft, the Pirates selected a speedy outfielder from Arizona State who could also hit for some power. Of course, Bonds went a long way from just being a first-round pick and the son of a Major Leaguer.
Pirates fans remember a player who came into the league in 1986 and broke out four years later with a 1990 campaign that featured a .301 average, 33 homers, 114 RBIs, 52 stolen bases and the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He repeated as the NL MVP two years later in his final season with the Bucs, and he won the award five more times with San Francisco, where he spent the final 15 seasons of his career.
With the Giants, Bonds hit 586 of his Major League record 762 home runs, though they did not come without questions and controversy. Bonds returned to the Steel City for Opening Day this season when Andrew McCutchen -- the Pirates' first-round selection in 2005 -- was presented the 2013 NL MVP Award.
Round 2: John Candelaria, 1972
A 6-foot-7 lefty, Candelaria was a key part of the Pirates' rotation for a decade, beginning in 1975. Candelaria had his best season in '77, when he won 20 games, compiled an NL-best 2.34 ERA and was named an All-Star. He also won 14 games in '79, when the Pirates won the World Series.
Candelaria spent more time with the Pirates than any other team in his 19-year Major League career, but he pitched for eight clubs. "The Candy Man" came back to Pittsburgh to end his career during the 1993 season, and he finished with a 3.33 ERA in 2,525 2/3 big league innings.
Round 3: Richie Zisk, 1967
Zisk started consistently contributing to the team's lineup in 1973. He stayed with the Pirates through the 1976 season and was an All-Star selection in 1977 and '78 when he was with the White Sox and Rangers, respectively.
During a 13-year career, Zisk twice drove in at least 100 runs, and completed it with 207 homers, a .287 average and an .818 OPS.
Round 4: Jeff Keppinger, 2001
The Pirates haven't had much success with their fourth-round picks, as only 10 of 49 players they've picked in the round since 1965 have made it to the Majors. One of those players was Keppinger, who has played in more than twice as many big league games as any other Pirates fourth-rounder.
Keppinger never played a game for the Bucs, however, and he debuted for the Mets in 2004 -- three years after he was drafted. Currently a free agent, Keppinger played for seven teams in his career, most recently with the White Sox last season. The utility infielder has a .282 career batting average and has struck out just 214 times in 2,882 at-bats.
Round 5: Dave Cash, 1966
A second baseman, Cash was a three-time All-Star and World Series winner in his 12-year career. He debuted in the 1969 season with Pittsburgh, and two seasons later, helped the Bucs win a World Series title with a .289 average and a .349 on-base percentage.
Cash went across the Keystone State to Philadelphia in 1974, where he spent three seasons and was selected as an All-Star for each of them.
Round 6: Ed Whitson, 1974
Whitson spent the first three of his 15 seasons in the Majors with the Pirates, and he was a part of the 1979 trade that brought Bill Madlock from the Giants to the eventual World Series champions.
Whitson was an All-Star selection with San Francisco in 1980, when he won 11 games and had a 3.10 ERA.
Round 7: Willie Randolph, 1972
In the past 20 years, Randolph has been better known as a Yankees coach and Mets manager, but Randolph was a seventh-round selection by the Pirates in 1972. Randolph played just one season with the Pirates -- his debut campaign in '75 -- but went on to make six All-Star squads and had a 65.5 career WAR.
Randolph played his final big league game in 1992 for the Mets, the franchise he managed to a 302-253 record from 2005-08.
Round 8: Tim Wakefield, 1988
Before Wakefield was a fixture in Boston's rotation, he debuted with the Pirates and had the first 14 of his 200 Major League wins with the Bucs. The knuckleballer helped the Red Sox break an 86-year World Series drought in 2004, and he won another championship in '07.
Wakefield last pitched during the 2011 campaign, finishing with a career ERA of 4.41 and logging an impressive 3,226 1/3 innings in 19 seasons.
Round 9: Tony Watson, 2007
The only current Pirate on this list, Watson's left arm has been a welcomed addition to the bullpen since he debuted in 2011. Watson pitched his best season a year ago, when he put together an 0.879 WHIP and 2.39 ERA. Watson is working another reliable campaign in 2014, as he was 5-0 with a 1.16 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings through Monday.
Round 10: Stan Belinda, 1986
Belinda, a right-handed reliever, spent 12 seasons in the Majors. He first appeared for the Pirates in the 1989 campaign, and he had 61 saves in five seasons for Pittsburgh before landing in Kansas City. Belinda went on to play for six teams, and he set a career high in strikeouts in '97, when he recorded 114 as a part of the Reds' bullpen.
Round 11: Milt May, 1968
May first played for the Pirates as a 20-year-old late in the 1970 season, just two years after his selection. May, a catcher, played in 49 games and hit .278 with six homers the following year, when Pittsburgh won the World Series. He stayed in the Majors for 15 seasons, and bookended his career with the Pirates by rejoining the team for the '83 and '84 seasons.
Round 12: John Smiley 1983
Smiley was a 20-game winner for the Pirates in 1991 and was 60-42 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP in six seasons with the Bucs. The southpaw was an All-Star twice in his career, and he also pitched for Cincinnati, Minnesota and Cleveland.
Round 13: Brian Shouse, 1965
Only two picks the Pirates have made in the 13th round since 1965 have made it to the Majors: Shouse and Kane Davis. Shouse, a left-handed relief pitcher, had the more successful career of the two. In 10 seasons, just one with the Pirates, he had a 3.72 ERA in 350 2/3 innings.
Round 14: Dave Parker, 1970
The biggest steal the Pirates ever got in the Draft, Parker went on to win 1978 NL MVP Award honors eight years after his selection. Parker hit .334 with 30 homers, 117 RBIs and a .979 OPS that season, but he was left off the All-Star roster.
The right fielder did make an All-Star team seven times, was a two-time World Series champ, and he was also a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and Silver Slugger Award winner. Parker spent his first 11 seasons with the Pirates and went on to play for eight years afterward. He finished his career with a .290 average, an .810 OPS and 339 homers.
Round 15: Rick White, 1990
One of three Pirates 15th-rounders to reach the Majors, White was a journeyman who played for 11 teams in 12 seasons. Three of those seasons were in Pittsburgh (1994-95 and 2005), and the right-handed reliever had a 4.45 ERA in 613 career appearances.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less