PITTSBURGH -- Everyone except the Los Angeles Angels missed on Mike Trout in the 2009 draft. That was intensely documented earlier this month in an excellent piece by ESPN's Keith Law.
Within the piece, Eddie Bane, the Angels' scouting director, is strikingly quoted as saying, "There were teams that didn't even cross-check him."
So naturally, I started asking some questions related to the Pirates, who held the No. 4 overall pick that year and wasted it on Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez, who'd log a grand total of 144 at-bats in the bigs. Sanchez was chosen principally because Frank Coonelly wanted to save slot money for later picks in an attempt to bolster the pitching depth. (We're still waiting on that.) Regardless, Sanchez was an abysmal pick, even aside from Trout being available.
But were the Pirates even aware of Trout?
I couldn't confirm if they were among the teams who didn't cross-check him, but two slices of info did emerge:
1. Trout and Sanchez were in the Pirates' same northeast scouting region, so the same scout was responsible for both. His name was Chris Kline. He'd just been hired away from writing for Baseball America for six years, so he went from doing what I do for a living to whiffing on Trout a year later. That's quite a career swing.
2. Another of the Pirates' scouts, one who definitely saw Trout, put a 48 grade on him, I was told. On the 20-80 scouting scale, that's projecting a big-league bench player. You know, Sean Rodriguez.
That scout has since been promoted by Huntington and Kyle Stark to scouting director: Joe DelliCarri.
But yeah, let's talk some more about payroll.
• Some fans get really rattled when I share stuff like this. It's been that way for years. I won't apologize for it. I'm not here to fortify existing perceptions. I'm here to get real answers to real problems.
The payroll's a problem, but it's one problem, and it wouldn't crack my top-10 list as it relates to the Pirates.