The Pittsburgh Pirates could enter the draft with these two unique relief prospects on their radar.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter the 2022 draft with the 4th overall selection. While most teams don’t usually select a relief prospect early in drafts, it has been done before. Most of the time, it’s an under slot pick, or they bring a unique skill set to the table that makes them stand out among other relief prospects.
This draft has a few of those unique names. In this year’s draft, two very intriguing prospects are relievers but bring more to the table than your typical arm. Their skillset has a higher floor than what you usually see with arms that end up in the bullpen. The Pirates have consistently built strong bullpens, so maybe we see them pick a future bullpen arm in the draft.
LHP/1B Reggie Crawford
Reggie Crawford is a two-way relief prospect. He’s a power lefty who is also a power-hitting first baseman. Crawford is a guy who could go within the first three rounds. MLB Pipeline currently ranks him as the 32nd best player but could fall a bit further because of Tommy John surgery. He’s also a reasonably local product, hailing from Landsdale.
Crawford has hit .309/.362/.546 with 14 homers in 290 plate appearances as a batter. That puts him on pace for about 28 home runs in 600 trips to the plate. The downside is his patience at the plate isn’t a strong suit. He’s struck out 24.8% of the time while only having an 8.2% walk rate. Neither are awful, but neither are great either.
Although Crawford has only tossed eight innings, he’s looked great as a pitcher. He’s struck out 17 of the 36 total batters he’s faced while only allowing 4 to reach via free pass. Crawford can run it up into the high-90’s and has touched 100 MPH before. His slider sits in the low-to-mid-80’s range with movement. His command isn’t a strong suit, but it’s average.
The University of Connecticut product stands at 6’3, 235 pounds. His limited experience on the mound, combined with his arm surgery, could let him fall to the third or fourth round. But that kind of power fastball from a lefty doesn’t come around that often. Whether or not his long-term future as a two-way player is set in stone, he’s got the stuff to be an elite left-handed closer and possibly make a few starts here and there at first base and DH.