Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Draft Previews: A Catcher to Consider at Pick 37

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

The Pittsburgh Pirates will once again have an opportunity to add much needed prospect talent.  Could that include a catcher?

The 2021 Draft is just a few weeks away and with it, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have a great opportunity.  The team not only has the top selection in this year’s Draft, but they also have the largest amount of money to spend at $14,394,000.  The team has traditionally spent to or over the bonus allotment each year.  Under the league’s new rules they are able to spend up to 5 percent over their bonus allotment before forfeiting future draft picks.

Because of this, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have a real opportunity to secure some really good upside talent.  Everyone knows they are going to get a top caliber prospect with the first selection.  However, the team can use their big bonus amount to grab other upside prospects with higher bonus demands in later rounds.

This could start with their second round pick at number 37 overall.  The team could grab a tough to sign prep player at pick 37 if they are able to save some of their bonus pool with the first pick.  Or they could go the college ranks and a get a closer to slot deal.  For a few years now, Pittsburgh Pirates fans and media have been pushing the organization to acquire catching talent.  The Pittsburgh did that this offseason acquiring Endy Rodriguez from the Mets in the Joe Musgrove deal.

However, we all know that one prospect does not ensure anything.  The fact is that Rodriguez is their only notable catching prospect.  There are some intriguing younger catchers further down the pipeline, but they have a lot of progress to show before being “notable”.  So could the team look to the Draft to secure another high upside backstop?

Right now looking at FanGraphs’ updated big board they have Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson at 35 overall.  Nelson was originally ranked as a potential late second or early third round pick.  Over the last few months he has changed the conversation about him, showing the ability to hit for power as well as being adequate behind the plate.  It is always a challenge finding a catcher who can do both, Nelson may represent one.

So what would the Pittsburgh Pirates be getting in the Florida State Seminole?

Here is what FanGraphs has to say about the rising prospect:

"Then, in his junior year, Nelson slugged .773 and hit 23 bombs while posting a more manageable strikeout rate and doing an acceptable job behind the plate. Nelson is a palatable receiver (one knee, then squats w/ two strikes and rummers on) who can post sub-two-second pop times from his knees, though not often with precise accuracy."

There are a few things to like about Nelson here.  First the power potential.  The Pittsburgh Pirates lack power, not just at the Big League level, but also throughout their organization.  Ben Cherington has made it a point to add some power to the system, but like pitching you can never have too much. Nelson led the NCAA in home runs this past year, so that is a good starting point.

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It is also good to see that Nelson will stay behind the plate.  Obviously he is not a sure thing, if he was he would be going in the first round.  Still, in the Bucs situation they are not in a position to quickly need a prospect who is major league ready.  They will have time to continue to work with Nelson as a backstop and continue to grow him defensively.