Pittsburgh Pirates: 2020 Draft Picks to Keep an Eye on This Season

Mar 1, 2021; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Nick Gonzales (81) poses during media day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports
Mar 1, 2021; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Nick Gonzales (81) poses during media day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 draft picks will be able to play a mostly full minor league season, giving us a good look at each of them.

Last year, due to COVID-19, MLB decided to postpone the minor league season, opting to let teams send prospects and other minor league players to alternative sites to keep warm in case the Major League team needed to pull them up. Because of this, if any prospect that was drafted in 2020 didn’t get placed on a MLB roster, they didn’t get any professional playing time. This cost fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates the opportunity to see their new prospects.

Last year, the draft was also shortened to just five rounds. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates did very well in the draft. In total, they selected six players and it’s not out of the question if they had the best draft out of any team. Regardless, while the minor league season is delayed, teams will start playing in May. This will definitely be a season to watch the Pirate 2020 draft picks.

Nick Gonzales was their first-round pick and the seventh overall selection in the draft. He hit for a Barry Bonds like line of .399/.502/.747 with 37 home runs, 39 doubles and a .510 wOBA in 596 plate appearances. He also walked more than he struck out with an 89/79 BB/K ratio. Gonzales hit well in the Cape Cod league as he posted a .340/.439/.610 line, .400 wOBA and solid 20/25 BB/K ratio in 190 trips to the plate. The second baseman can also run well and worked on his defense over the winter. If he can shw why he was the 7th overall pick and display improved defense up the middle, Gonzales could turn out to be an easy consensus top 50 prospect.

Gonzales ended up being the only position player the Pittsburgh Pirates selected. Their next five picks were pitchers, starting with Carmen Mlodzinski. Mlodzinski didn’t put up that great of numbers in college. He posted a 4.29 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 1.53 WHIP through 81.2 innings of work. However, he proved himself in the Cape Cod League where he had a 2.15 ERA, 1.53 FIP and 0.64 WHIP in 29.1 innings. He issued just four walks while striking out 40 and letting up a single long ball. He’s also projected to have at least three average or better offerings in the future.

In the second-round the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Jared Jones, a high school product who will be going into his age-19 season. Jones has a fastball that averages out in the mid-to-upper 90s while pairing that with a low-80s curveball and mid-to-upper 80s changeup. Like Mlodzinski, all three of his offerings are considered potential average plus pitches.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected one of the most underrated arms in the draft by picking right-hander Nick Garcia with their third-round pick. Garcia was flatout dominant in college posting a 1.19 ERA, 1.44 FIP and 0.83 WHIP through 83 innings. While having a 35.7% strikeout rate and 6.3% walk rate are also impressive, nothing beats the fact he gave up zero home runs. The top pitcher in the draft, Asa Lacy, didn’t even pitch this well as he had a 2.07 ERA, 2.65 FIP and 1.01 WHIP, albeit in 152 innings. Still, being able to put up those kinds of numbers shows Garcia has the talent to become a very underrated arm. He served as both a closer and starter in his time in college, but the Bucs will likely try him out as a starter to at least begin his pro career.

Their fourth-round pick, Jack Hartman, sadly won’t be at all in 2021. The relief pitching prospect had to undergo Tommy John surgery in December. But even their 5th round selection will be an interesting player to watch in 2021. Right-hander Logan Hofmann was picked out of North Western State University of Louisiana. In his final 28 innings at college, Hofmann allowed no earned runs. He had a 36.1% strikeout rate and outstanding 4.8% walk rate.

While Hofmann averages out in the low-90s, both his fastball and curveball have a ton of spin. His change-up is another offering he has a feel for. Obviously, he doesn’t need overpowering to get outs. Putting up 28 straight innings without allowing  a single earned run is very impressive and he has the talent and skill to potentially be one of the Pirates’ more notable prospects.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 draft picks all have plenty of talent and could be productive Major League players. They all have a high floor to say the least. With the minor league season starting in May, and the youngest of the six picks being Jared Jones at 19 years of age, they’ll all get a good, full season of playing time as well.