Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Pick Number 86

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

The 2018 MLB Draft is underway. The Pittsburgh Pirates 86th overall pick in the third round has come and gone.  The Pirates have selected Connor Kaiser with their first selection of the second day.

The Pirates selected an athletic collegiate outfielder from South Alabama in Travis Swaggerty with their first pick of the draft, and followed that pick up with high school arms Gunnar Hoglund and Braxton Ashcraft in with their next two picks, both fitting the traditional mold of Pirates prep pitchers.  Their third round selection and first pick of the day is Connor Kaiser, a shortstop from Vanderbilt.

The slot value of the third round pick is $673,200 so the Pirates will likely save from their draft pool to spread out to Hoglund, Ashcraft, and/or a prep arm selected later.  The Vandy shortstop bats from the right side and stands at 6’4″ and 205 pounds.  He’s listed as a college hitter on Fangraphs The Board, ultimately making him a college bat who will sign below slot.

On Baseball America, the shortstop ranks 211th and it is noted that,

"“he’s a reliable shortstop who has average range and an above-average arm with a long track record of modest success while playing in the Southeastern Conference, which makes him a useful day two pick.”"

For the Commodores, Kaiser is hitting .298/.397/.452 with a 19.4 percent strikeout rate and 12.1 percent walk rate while homering six times.  There’s value in a player like this, save money for higher end talent while getting a safe collegiate bat who can play and stick at shortstop.

Kaiser probably projects best as a backup middle infielder and won’t crack any top 30 lists, but Baseball America notes he hits the balls on the ground more than in the air.  Make a swing adjustment to get more under the ball, and perhaps there’s more power in the 6’4″ frame than he’s currently shown.

Next: Recapping The Pirates Day 1 Draft

College bats this early who are ranked so low usually sign below slot, and that should be the expectation for Kaiser.  What this allows the Pirates to do is get creative and spread money around while adding another shortstop into the fold in the minor leagues.