Could the Pittsburgh Pirates take a power-hitting outfielder with the seventh overall selection in the first round? It looks like that could be a possibility.
The 2020 Major League Baseball Draft is going to happen. It sounds like the draft is going to be held during the second or third week of June based on the most recent updates about a potential season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the seventh overall pick, which is the highest pick the organization has had since 2012, when they had the eighth overall selection.
What could the team do with the seventh pick? Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted prep pitcher Quinn Priester with their first-round pick. Then, this offseason, the team acquired right-handed pitching prospect Brennan Malone. Malone was also a first-round pick in 2019 out of a Florida high school. In the same deal that acquired Malone, the Pittsburgh Pirates also acquired 19-year-old shortstop prospect Liover Peguero, who is now a top 10 prospect in the organization.
With that being said, could Ben Cherington look to add another outfield prospect? Maybe one that projects to be a potential power-hitting outfielder? If the draft goes based on Fangraphs’ current rankings, then the team could have a shot at getting a potential power-hitting outfielder. Right now, Fangraphs has University of Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad ranked as the seventh best player in the draft.
Kjerstad would be a different type of hitting prospect than fans are used to seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates draft. Under the previous regime, the team looked to take athletic, well-rounded players like Travis Swaggerty, Will Craig, and Kevin Newman. Hjerstad would be an aggressive prospect to draft because he has the potential to be a game-changing, middle of the lineup type bat. He stands at 6’4” and weighs around 215 pounds, giving him plenty of projectable power. Plus he is a switch hitter, which is always an added bonus for a lineup. Here is more on Kjerstad from FanGraphs:
"“Prototypical college corner bat with plus raw power that looks like he’ll hit enough to be an everyday guy. Played a lot of 1B in the fall but likely stays in RF this spring and in pro ball.If there are concerns about Kjerstad’s cut, I’m not hearing them, they’re drowned out by how well he’s performed. He may have been about to have a year like J.J. Bleday’s 2019 in which he clearly establishes himself as the most reliable tier 2 college hitter in the draft, and teams in the top 10 may view him as such.”"
Kjerstad has the potential to be a 30 homerun corner outfield one day. Furthermore, being considered an advanced college hitter, that day would come sooner rather than later. This is something that the Pittsburgh Pirates offense could use after finishing in the bottom five for home runs hit in 2019. Also, being a switch-hitter would set him up for success at PNC Park being able to use his raw power with the short porch in right and the big outfield in left field.
While Kjerstand is not the highly athletic outfield the Bucs normally take, the front office has proven they want to add players who will make a big impact. The team does not have a lot of top projectable power prospects outside of Oneil Cruz and Cal Mitchell, so he would add a much-needed power bat to the farm system as well.