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, Connor Uselton, and Dylan Busby’s seasons.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted four straight prep players with their first four picks. They followed it up with an upside college player in the third round. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates knew that they would need to save some of their bonus allotment to use toward signing the four prep players. So after going to to the college ranks in the third round, the club went back to it in the fourth round. They also went to a position that teams should always look to draft in catcher.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Vanderbilt University catcher Jason Delay. The former college catcher is expected to stay behind the plate throughout his career. Some scouts believed Delay possessed the best arm in this year’s draft class. He is currently listed as 6’0” and 210 pounds, and throws and bats right-handed. The Pittsburgh Pirates are kind of light in terms of catching prospects. Delay had a solid career at Vanderbilt, and he seems to have solid tools. So how did he do in his first taste of professional ball?
The Pittsburgh Pirates originally assigned Delay to Short-Season A Bristol to start his professional career. He appeared in 29 games for Bristol and had 107 at-bats. He then was promoted to Short-Season Advanced ball with the West Virginia Black Bears, where he appeared in five games and registered 16 at-bats. His slash line for the year in his 34 games was .228/.345/.301. He did a good job of controlling his strikeout rate, sitting down 15 times in his 34 games, and he also walked 13 times. He had a low BAbip at .275 suggesting he received some tough luck. Also, his biggest issue was his lack of power, as his ISO was well below average at .072 between the two leagues.
Delay will likely get bumped up to Low-A West Virginia next season. Hopefully he adds some strength this offseason, and if he can start hitting the ball with more authority and raise his ISO, Delay will likely start seeing an increase in his batting average. Meanwhile, his defense should translate fine. This past year he threw out 15 baserunners and had a 38 percent caught stealing rate. All in all, last year was a very small sample size, and Delay will get more of a chance to develop next season.