Now that their first professional action is over, we started to take a look at how the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 draft class fared. So far we have recapped Shane Baz’s season.
There is plenty of excitement around Shane Baz and for good reason. He was the Pittsburgh Pirates number 12 overall pick in the draft, and he is expected to be a future ace of the staff. However, for as much as Pittsburgh Pirates fans should be excited for Baz, they should also be pumped about their other top pick from 2017.
Steven Jennings was the Pittsburgh Pirates second pick in the 2017 draft. He was the number 42 overall pick. The Pittsburgh Pirates received the pick after they failed to sign prep left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo with the number 41 pick in the 2016 draft. Jennings was drafted out of DeKalb County High School in Tennessee. He was originally viewed as a potential first-round pick. However, a tear of his ACL during the fall football season hurt his stock. However, he returned to action earlier than expected. He showed the plus stuff that made him a legitimate draft prospect. The Pittsburgh Pirates got him at number 42, and they may get significant value being Jennings was originally viewed as a first-round talent. Steven Jennings signed for $1.9 million, an over the slot deal of $1,635,500.
Here is what MLB Pipeline had on Jennings in terms of his draft day scouting preview:
"“Jennings has a loose, quick arm that delivers fastballs regularly in the 89-92 mph range. He can touch 95 mph and should add velocity in the future as he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame. He’ll touch the mid-80s with his hard slider, which could be plus in time, and his curve gives him another solid option as well. While he didn’t use his changeup much, he has shown a feel for it, giving him the chance to have four at-least-average offerings.”"
After signing, the Pittsburgh Pirates assigned him to their Gulf Coast League affiliate. He made ten starts and compiled 26.1 innings. Jennings had an earned run average of 4.10 while striking out 13 and walking 10. His strikeouts per nine innings rate was very low at 4.44. With that being said, he did have a really impressive groundball rate of 55.6 percent. Also, opponents had a batting average of .281 off of him, giving him a relatively high WHIP of 1.56.
Like Baz, Jennings most likely will play in Short-Season A ball next season. He likely will make about ten starts in Bristol. They likely will try to keep his innings limited in his second professional season. The expectations are very high for him going forward. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the Pittsburgh Pirates number 10 overall prospect. Meanwhile, here at Rum Bunter, we have him ranked at number 11. Hopefully Jennings can transition to Short-Season next year and get the work in that he needs to continue to develop and prove he is going to be a top of the rotation caliber prospect.