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, Steven Jennings, Cal Mitchell, and Connor Uselton’s seasons.
So far we have looked at the top picks of the Pittsburgh Pirates draft. The four listed above are the type of players that the Pittsburgh Pirates rely on to turn into top-notch prospects and eventually legitimate MLB caliber players who will make a true impact. This should be any team’s expectations for first-day draft picks. When day two comes around, the team looks to draft prospects who may not have superstar potential, but they view as potential MLB players. The Pittsburgh Pirates decided to try to fill another organizational need with their third-round pick. In the previous two articles, we looked at two outfielders and how the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect depth has really thinned out over the last few years.
Third base has been a relatively weak position in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization since Neal Huntington took over as General Manager. With their third round pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates went with Dylan Busby, Florida State University’s third baseman. He is listed at 6’3” and 185 pounds and throws and bats right-handed. He led the Seminoles in home runs in 2016 with 14, and he had 15 in 2017. Entering the draft he ranked as Baseball America’s 129th best prospect. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed him for $575K, which was under the slot value of $626K.
The Pittsburgh Pirates assigned the former Seminole to the Morgantown Black Bears of the Short-Season Advanced League. Busby, like most college players transitioning to professional wooden bat baseball, struggled in his first taste of pro ball. He played in 41 games and accumulated 179 at-bats. In those at-bats, he batted a meager slash line of .188/.266/.256 (batting average/on-base/slugging). Busby only had one home run and 14 RBIs, though he did have eight doubles and seven stolen bases. The root of his issues can be found in his high strikeout rate of 26.8 percent and a very low walk rate of 6.1 percent. He also had a low BABip of .261, suggesting he had some bad luck working against him and his average should have been higher.
In the past, most hitters who have had success at the collegiate level struggle when they first transition to professional baseball due to switching to wooden bats. College pitchers who transition do not have any change, the mound is the same, the ball is the same, and so is their stuff. With this being said, pitchers normally do better in their first season in professional ball. We have seen former top picks like Kevin Newman and Will Craig both get off to slow starts at Morgantown in previous years. Busby was Florida State’s best hitter last year, he has talent and likely will do better next season at Low-A West Virginia.