Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Problem of Drafting Elijah Green

Top draft prospect Elijah Green could be avaiable for the Pittsburgh Pirates to select at no. 4, but there’s a whole lot of risk that comes with the outfielder.

The MLB amateur draft is still months away. However, there is already tons of analysis being done on prospects that are going to be in the draft. One of the highest-end prospects is outfielder Elijah Green. He’s currently a top 5 rated draft prospect, making him a prime player to go to the Pittsburgh Pirates at no. 4.

Now Green is highly talented. He has 40/30 potential. Green is a 70-grade runner with 80-grade raw power. He’s also a Gold Glove-caliber fielder in center field. His defense is a 60-grade item with a 60-grade arm. Based on that, it seems like the Pirates would be lucky if Green fell to #4. So what’s wrong with drafting Green?

Well, it’s his massive swing-and-miss concerns. Green swung and missed more frequently than putting the ball in play. That puts his future in real question. His raw power ability could be seriously hampered if he can’t make contact consistently. It raises massive questions for his future.

Granted, he is only 18-years-old. Many high school prospects have swing-and-miss concerns. However, the difference is that even for an 18-year-old, Green has massive questions about his ability to make consistent contact. His raw power ability could be squandered if he continues to strike out at a massive rate.

Right now, Green’s ceiling is a Joey Gallo-type hitter, but with enough speed to swipe 30+ bases. Since becoming a full-time player in 2017, Gallo has developed into one of the game’s best power hitters, as well as one of the game’s best outfield defenders. Gallo has posted a quality .208/.336/.497 line with a .352 wOBA, and 117 wRC+. He’s averaged about 40 home runs per 600 plate appearances. Sure, this comes with a .208 average and 36% strikeout rate. But it also comes with a 15.2% walk rate, +38 DRS (averaging +12 per 1000 innings), a +6.1 UZR/150, and +6 outs above average. Gallo has been in the top 85th+ percentile of OAA the last 2 seasons. If Green were guarenteed to replicate those numbers, he’d be an instant and guarenteed top 3 selection.

Clearly, that’s a very high ceiling for Green. A ~120 wRC+ hitter with top-of-the-line defense, 40 home run power, and 30 stolen base speed, albeit with a 30%+ strikeout rate is a lot to ask or predict for Green right now. But given the massive hole in his bat, that ceiling put into question. For every Joey Gallo, there are a dozen other players who couldn’t overcome their strikeouts and never developed into productive regulars.

Green is the definition of a high-risk/high-reward prospect. He’ll go early in the draft, but the massive strikeout problems could put his future in jeopardy. The Pittsburgh Pirates need to think twice about Green if he is available to them at the 4th slot.