Pittsburgh Pirates Early Draft Preview: Outfield

Previously, we took a look at some infield draft prospects that could be available to the Pittsburgh Pirates with the no. 4 overall pick. But what outfield prospects could the orgnaization consider?

There’s still a whole lot of time between now and the 2022 MLB Draft. But there are plenty of rankings and mock drafts already being put out there based on what we currently know about the draft. Last time, we looked at a handful of infield draft prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates could consider at the no. 4 pick. This time, we’ll take a look at some potential outfield prospects that will be available when the Pirates are up for selecting.

One of the most popular names entering the draft is Elijah Green. The high school outfielders has one of the highest ceilings in the draft but also has one of the lowest floors among the top prospects available. Green has a great power/speed combo. He’s considered a 60-grade power hitter with 80-grade raw power. He’s also very fast with a 70-run grade. Defensively, you couldn’t ask for much better. He’s a great defensive center fielder with an even better arm.

The issue arises about his ability to hit consistently. Green has a huge question mark about his swing-and-miss concerns. FanGraphs currently only projects his hit tool to be a 30-grade weapon. Now granted, he’s 18-years-old. But even for an 18-year-old, he has a lot of strikeouts. According to FanGraphs, he swung and missed more often than he put the ball in play during the 2021 summer/fall circuit. Though if he ends up being a Joey Gallo with high-end speed, nobody would complain all that much.

Arguably the best player in the draft looks to be Druw Jones. Son of former Atlanta superstar outfielder Andruw Jones, junior looks to be one of the top picks in the upcoming draft. Like his father, Druw has the prowess to win the center field Gold Glove on a year-in-year-out basis. MLB Pipeline sees him as a 70-grade defender with a 65-grade arm. He, like Green, is one of the draft’s fastest runners. He’s a plus power hitter with a solid hit tool that rounds out his skillset. He’s a five-tool prospect with 30/30 potential.

The top college outfielder currently is Chase DeLauter. DeLauter is attending James Madison University and is their best power hitter. So far, he has 205 plate appearances under his belt while posting a video game-like .385/.488/.657 line with a .487 wOBA. DeLauter has 34 walks to oppose just 24 strikeouts.

Despite a small sample size, he already has racked up 19 doubles with 7 home runs. DeLauter is one of the better power hitters in the draft with FanGraphs giving him 60-projected grades for both his game and raw power. His hit tool also comes in at a 55. On the defensive side of the ball, he projects as a corner outfielder long-term. He can play centerfield but will be much better off in left or right field. DeLauter has pitched some innings, displaying a low-90’s fastball, so his arm shouldn’t be a worry. For his size, he can run quite well, giving him some sneaky athleticism.

The next highest-ranked college outfielder is Gavin Cross. Cross is a product of Virginia Tech. Cross posted some strong numbers last year. In 234 trips to the plate, Cross slashed .345/.415/.621 with a .441 wOBA. The lefty-hitting slugger has a ton of raw power with FanGraphs projecting him to reach a 65-grade. His hit tool is average given that he had a solid, albeit unimpressive 20.5% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. In terms of speed, he’s very slightly above average. He’s a solid defensive corner outfielder, but he has played some first base where he has shown a phenomenal glove.

The outfield isn’t as deep as compared to the infield draft prospects. However, it has two of the most talented names in Green and Jones. The Pittsburgh Pirates realistically could see one of them fall to the no. 4 spot. Between the two, Jones would be the more favorable option based on talent right now. However if Green is available, they should still keep an open mind about him despite his strikeouts.