The Pittsburgh Pirates had an outstanding 2021 draft, but who have been their best performing draft picks so far?
The Pittsburgh Pirates had an outstanding 2021 draft. Their first overall pick saw them select Henry Davis. Davis was the best power-hitting college hitter available and while it was an under-slot deal, it ended up paying off.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to select Anthony Solometo and Lonnie White Jr. in the second round, both on over-slot deals, but their third-round selection, Bubba Chandler, signed for $3 million even though his slot value was under $900K.
A handful of their draft picks got their first taste of professional action earlier this year. While many only had a small sample size, I think it’s worth taking a look at how some of their best-performing prospects did.
Davis performed very well, but only appeared in 8 games with 31 trips to the plate. He suffered an oblique strain that kept him out the end of the 2021 season. But those 31 plate appearances were outstanding. He collected 8 hits with 3 home runs, and 2 doubles, as well as drawing 4 walks. Most of those plate appearances came at High-A Greensboro (24). Performing that well (although in a small sample size) is a promising start to his career, especially at a level considered just below the upper minor leagues (Double and Triple-A).
The aforementioned White Jr. also looked quite good at the Florida Coast League. The second-round competitive balance pick, White Jr. only appeared in 9 games with 33 total trips to the plate. White did strike out a decent bit with 14 strikeouts, but half of his hits went for extra bases. That included 2 home runs and 2 doubles. White is still pretty young though. He was a high school draft pick with some swing-and-miss concerns out of the gate. But next season won’t even be his age-20 campaign, so he has more than enough time to refine his approach at the plate.
The 5th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, infielder Jackson Glenn, arguably performed the best in their first look at professional pitching. 124 of his plate appearances came at Low-A Bradenton where he batted .337/.452/.475 with more walks (22) and strikeouts (21). While he didn’t hit a home run, he racked up 12 doubles which is a pace of about 58 across 600 plate appearances. Overall, he had an outstanding .439 wOBA and 158 wRC+. Glenn is already 23 and 2022 will be his age-24 season. So he may have a quick rise throughout the minors.
After Glenn was selected, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Mike Jarvis in the 6th round. Jarvis also looked quite good in his small sample size of plate appearances. He hit .333/.433/.596 with 3 doubles and triples, and 2 home runs, albeit on a small sample size of 67 plate appearances. Jarvis saw time at both the Florida Coast League and High-A. He also provided a ton of versatility as he played both middle infield positions as well as all three outfield spots. Like with Glenn, Jarvis will also be going into his age-24 season in 2022. He could also be a fast-rising prospect.
The final pick of the draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Brenden Dixon, had quite a good run down at the FCL. Dixon only had 43 plate appearances but racked up 10 hits, 2 of which left the park while also having a double, and triple. Dixon did have 10 walks, albeit with 12 strikeouts. He ended the campaign with a .494 wOBA and 184 wRC+. Not a bad first look for a 20th round selection.
One last late-round pick I want to highlight is left-handed relief prospect Tyler Samaniego. The Bucs picked Samaniego in the 15th round. He only pitched 7 innings with Low-A Bradenton, but only allowed 1 earned run on 2 hits (1 being a home run) and 2 walks. But he struck out 15 of the 28 batters he faced. Small sample size, but Samaniego showed off a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball in college. Samaniego will be 23 next season, so he may be a potential name to watch next year in the upper minor leagues.
Overall, it’s nice to see some of the Pirates’ draft picks get off to good starts to their professional careers. Again, most of these are small sample sizes. The most plate appearances coming from one player we’ve looked at today is 124. Plus neither Solometo, Chandler, or Owen Kellington have pitched an inning professionally. But to see even some late-round picks doing well is nice to see.