Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Report: Jordan Luplow


Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The first position player to be featured in our scouting reports of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top 30 prospects is Jordan Luplow, the Pirates’ 3rd round draft pick in 2014. At Fresno State, Luplow played the majority of his games in the outfield and played the corner outfield spots for Jamestown in 2014 but in 2015, Luplow made the transition to third base and with the recent loss of Neil Walker, his versatility could allow Luplow a more rapid rise through the minors.

The fact that I’ve already mentioned three positions tied to Luplow – he also was used as the DH 20 times in 2015 – should tell you that his bat is the main reason he’s made it this far. He’s not an overwhelming power threat but he has a very quick swing, allowing him to make solid contact which should translate into power as he becomes stronger and more familiar with professional pitching.

Ironically, his success with the bat is heavily influenced by his ability to not swing it. Luplow came out of college with a very disciplined eye and has only improved since being drafted. His walk rate increased from his first year to the second while his strikeout rate declined.

His increased plate discipline caused him to see improvement in other areas as well. Going from 259 plate appearances to 465, his home run total doubled from 6 to 12, his on-base percentage improved and his slugging percentage shot up by over 40 points.

There’s even something for those of us who like the analytics involved in today’s game:

  • His Isolated Power (essentially a measure of average extra bases per at bat) reached .200 last season which is a number most major leaguers would be happy with. In fact, only 39 had a higher mark than .200 in 2015.
  • His Weighted On-Base Average (based on linear weights, with home runs having more weight than triples, triples more than doubles and so on) increased from .364 to .379, reinforcing the fact that he has shown more power.
  • His wRC+(runs created per 100 plate appearances; 100 is average) increased from an already impressive 132 to 135 in 2015. This may not seem like a huge leap but again, he is becoming a more efficient batter and his production has proved that.

Jordan Luplow belongs in the outfield as he runs well and has a very good arm but his bat will force the manager to find a spot for him somewhere. He struggled at third base this season, making 21 errors in 233 chances, but the sample size is still too small to judge. If he improves his infield defense and continues to hit at all levels, the lack of infield depth could benefit Luplow but even then, I can’t see the Pirates using him in the majors any time before September call ups in 2017.

There are a few infielders ahead of Luplow in the farm system but his bat shouldn’t keep him down too long. I’d imagine he’ll start next season in Double-A Altoona and spend the entire year there sharpening his skills in the field.