Now that their first professional action is over, let’s take a look at how the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 draft class fared.
The pride and joy of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 draft class is expected to be the number 12 overall pick Shane Baz. Baz comes in as the Pittsburgh Pirates number two pitching prospect in the system, so the expectations for him are high. How did he fair in his first professional action?
The prep right hander from Texas signed relatively quickly with the Bucs and was he able to join the organization soon after. The Pittsburgh Pirates top draft pick got off to a bit of an up and down professional début. Pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast affiliate, Baz claimed a record of 0-3 in 10 starts. However, he was not eligible for a win in any of the starts, as he only pitched a max of three innings, and you need to pitch at least five innings if you start a game to qualify for a win.
In his 10 starts, Baz compiled just 23.2 innings and 19 strikeouts. This averages out to be just 7.23 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Meanwhile, his walks per nine innings pitched was at 5.23, and this, obviously, is something that needs to go down in 2018. One could attribute this to him transitioning to professional baseball and having some nerves. He did produce a solid ground ball rate of 48.3 percent, and Baz did finish the year with an ERA of 3.80.
Next year, more than likely, will be a rather limited year for Baz. In previous years, the Bucs have sent their highly touted prep draft pitchers to Short Season A Ball, second them to Bristol and not Morgantown. Mitch Keller and Trey Supak (both second round picks) did this in 2015, while Travis MacGregor and Braeden Ogle were at Bristol this year. Between the four they made an average of around 10 starts. So Baz likely will follow a similar track.
The Pittsburgh Pirates do this for multiple reasons. First, they like to use this level as one of the biggest development stages, as there is less stress of game performance compared to other levels. Secondly, these are young pitchers who will be throwing a lot of innings in the years to come. By having them pitch in Short-Season ball, it keeps the stress on their arms down. Baz will likely spend all of 2018 at Bristol.