The Pittsburgh Pirates Low-A affiliate is seeing a lot of production from a 2017 draft pick. Catcher Deon Stafford is off to a strong start.
If one glances over at MLB Pipelines’ top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates list, catcher Deon Stafford can be found at number 30. Stafford was not a preseason top 30 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, but has seen himself sneak onto the list recently. With certain players graduating off the list, prospects like Stafford are able to get some recognition. So who is he?
Stafford was drafted in 2017 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a fifth round pick, one which followed up a fourth round pick who was also a catcher in Jason Delay. Although he was taken a round after Delay, Stafford was viewed to have more upside. The catcher attended St. Joseph’s University, a school in Philadelphia. Stafford was a stand out there batting .348/.459/.586 with 28 home runs in 143 games. His worst season came during his junior year when he batted under .300 for the first time in his collegiate career. This led to a drop in his draft stock which allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to grab a better talent than normal in the fifth round.
Last year after the draft, Stafford played in Short-Season A ball for the West Virginia Black Bears. The affiliate is typically where college draftees end up playing. Stafford played 45 games for the Black Bears, starting 39 of the games at catcher. His slash line for the season was .280/.332/.418. He had four home runs, 11 doubles, and 28 RBIs, but one downside is that Stafford did strikeout over one time per game with 53. Behind the plate he caught 11 attempted base runners out of 46 total attempts.
This year he is impressing even more and getting back to his prime college form. Right now he is playing for the Low-A West Virginia Power, his first taste of full season ball. So far in 22 games he is batting .302/.358/.477. The righty has two home runs, seven doubles, and a triple, which gives him 10 extra base hits in just 22 games. The one down side is that he has struck out 28 times while only walking five times. Still, he is putting up strong offensive numbers, but he needs to cut down on strikeouts as he works his way up the levels. Furthermore, he has played behind the dish in all 22 games.
Stafford is considered the top catching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization according to MLB Pipeline. His bat is his strong suit, and if he continues to produce those kinds of extra base hits, it will most definitely make up for his mediocre defense. He has long way to go before he is considered a prospect with a legit shot at being a MLB player, but he definitely has the tools to do so.