Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look at the Best Draft Prospect Tools

Alabama starting pitcher Connor Prielipp delivers the ball to the plate as the Crimson Tide opened the season against McNeese Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Sewell-Thomas Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Mcneese
Alabama starting pitcher Connor Prielipp delivers the ball to the plate as the Crimson Tide opened the season against McNeese Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Sewell-Thomas Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Mcneese /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
BOSTON, MA – JUNE 12: Ben Cherington, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, leaves the field before a game with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on June 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates will have an early round selection in this year’s draft, so who brings the best tools to the table?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 4th overall pick in the draft. That means they could get a top 100 prospect and highly talented player off the bat. The Pirates will need to use their draft pick wisely, as it could be an essential draft for the organization’s long-term future.

Luckily for the Pirates, there should be a whole lot of talent available in this year’s draft. There are more than enough highly talented players the team could select and find an all-star. Their last few drafts have been phenomenal, especially last year’s, where they got four players who were considered top 100 picks.

However, based on what tools each player brings to the table, who owns the best abilities? For this, I am looking at FanGraphs’ and MLB Pipeline’s grades. Their grades are based on the 20-80 scale, where 20 is the worst, 50 is average, and 80 is the best-of-the-best.

Best Hit Tool – Infielder Temarr Johnson

Temarr Johnson is considered a consensus top 2 prospect across most sources. FanGraphs has him at #1, while MLB Pipeline has him at no. 2. Although many see him going within the first three picks, it’s not out of the question if he can fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates at no. 4. If one or two of the teams ahead of the Bucs goes under slot, Johnson could be available. It wouldn’t be the first time a no. 1 or no. 2 top draft prospect fell outside of the top 3.

Johnson’s hit tool is arguably the best in this year’s draft, with MLB Pipeline grading it at a 70, while FanGraphs has it as a 55-projected. But Johnson isn’t a contact-only batter, as he has well-above-average power. Johnson has 60+ grades for his game power and raw power, by both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline.

Johnson is a shortstop right now, but many project him as eventually shifting to the right-side of the keystone. His reflexes and arm aren’t the best and are better suited for second base rather than shortstop. He isn’t a bad runner, just not the kind of speed you want at shortstop.

Last year, Marcelo Mayer fell to the Boston Red Sox at #4. In 2020, Austin Martin fell to the Toronto Blue Jays at no. 5. Both were considered top 3 or better prospects going into the draft. So while Johnson is a top 2 prospect going into this year’s draft, there’s still a chance he falls to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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