Pittsburgh Pirates: 2020-2021 International Class will be Hitter Heavy


The Pittsburgh Pirates new Front Office just completed their 2020 draft class.  The new regime drafted five pitchers and only one position player.

This was a big draft for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  The team, now led by General Manager Ben Cherington, had three top draft picks among their six overall picks to set a solid foundation for the future.  They did a good job with the draft by getting one of the best pure hitters in Nick Gonzales, one of the highest upside college arms in Carmen Mlodzinksi, and a big upside prep arm in Jared Jones.  The first three picks of the draft were a really impressive haul by Cherington, Assistant General Manager Steve Sanders, and Scouting Director Joe DelliCarri.

However, I was a bit surprising to see the Pittsburgh Pirates new Front Office use their next three draft picks on right-handed pitchers.  Since the draft, DelliCarri noted that the team took so many pitchers because they happened to be at the top of their board each time they were up to pick.  This should make fans happy, as it is never okay to draft based on need in the MLB.

While some fans were frustrated the team did not add more power or a top catching prospect, it is hard to be mad for the team taking the top player on their board.  Often times Neal Huntington would take fringe catching prospects with his day two and three picks, and really only Jacob Stallings has worked out, and catchers are one of the harder positions to project, so there is no need to reach on one.

The other good news is the team was able to focus a little more on pitching with their 2020 draft class because their 2020-2021 international free agent class looks to be hitter heavy.  Right before the draft, Baseball America released their International Previews for all 30 MLB teams.  They listed several players that the Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to sign this July 2nd.

The top prospect the team is signing is outfielder Shalin Polanco.  This was reported earlier this winter, but the left-handed-hitting outfielder is expected to receive around $2.5 million, which will be the team’s largest bonus given out.  Polanco ranks as MLB Pipeline’s 10th best player available for signing.  The other top prospect that they note is outfielder Ruben Vizcaya, a toolsy right-handed-hitting outfielder from Venezuela.

Overall, Baseball America is projecting six of the organization’s top eight international signings to be position players.  They are also projecting the team to add a right-handed pitcher in Darlin Diaz and a left-handed pitcher in Ruben Lebron.

Next. Grading the Draft. dark

While the Pittsburgh Pirates may have grabbed a lot of right-handed pitching in this year’s draft, it seems they had many reasons to do so.  First off, if they were the top players on the board, and based on some of the spin-rates these pitchers possess, they very well could have been.  Beyond that, the team seems to be adding a lot of hitters in their 2020 international class.