While it’s a bit different this year than it has been in the past, the Pittsburgh Pirates had four prospects attend the Rookie Career Development Program earlier this month. Unlike many years in the past, all of these players had previous big league experience already. This year’s group for the Pirates consisted of JT Brubaker, Jared Oliva, Cody Ponce and Nick Mears.
Here’s what I wrote about the program last year, which seemed like a perfect summary up until this year:
Every team in baseball sends some of their prospects to the RCDP each year around this time to learn what it’s like to be a Major League player, covering all aspects of the journey, from finances, to travel, to handling media and anything else you can think of that seems important. There is no guarantee that the players who go will make the majors and not every prospect goes to the event, so you can’t look at the group and make assumptions. Players are asked to go, but not required to go if asked. Players usually go the year before they make the majors, though you get the occasional players who have already debuted.
Obviously that last line doesn’t apply to this group. All four debuted with the Pirates during the 2020 season. This year was a bit easier for the players to attend because it was done virtually and not as a four-day program in person like usual. The event used to be held near Washington DC until it moved to Miami two years ago. There is no minimum amount of players that need to be sent, as you can see in the list below. I know of a few examples of players in winter ball, who decided not to leave their team during the playoffs to attend the program, so that led to smaller groups for the Pirates in two years.
In the recent past, the Pirates have sent the following players:
2020: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Will Craig and Blake Cederlind
2019: Mitch Keller, Nick Burdi, Pablo Reyes and Kevin Kramer
2018: Austin Meadows, Jordan Luplow and Kevin Newman
2017: Clay Holmes, Edgar Santana, Max Moroff and Dovydas Neverauskas
2016: Elias Diaz, Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow
2015: Nick Kingham
2014: Jameson Taillon