Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Draft Pick Shows Improvements in Key Weakness

DENVER, CO - JULY 10: Elijah Green is announced prior to the Major League Baseball All-Star High School Home Run Derby Finals at Coors Field on July 10, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 10: Elijah Green is announced prior to the Major League Baseball All-Star High School Home Run Derby Finals at Coors Field on July 10, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images) /
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Elijah Green is a potential draft pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates this year, and he’s shown massive improvement in his weakest ability.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will be going into this year’s draft with the fourth overall selection. It’s the third draft in a row they’ll have a top 10 pick, and the second time in a row they’ll have a top 5 pick. One of the many names fans have been focusing on is Elijah Green, who has shown massive improvement in a critical weakness this season.

Green has the best power in this year’s draft. The high school outfielder has been given a 70-grade for his current raw power ability and projects to reach an 80-grade once he becomes developed. He has the power potential of a 40 home run hitter in the future.

Not only is he extremely powerful, but he’s extremely athletic. He’s a 70-grade runner, giving him the kind of speed you love to see from a center fielder. He’s an outstanding fielder as well with a strong arm. His speed gives him a ton of range and the ability to help him be a Gold Glove finalist multiple times.

But the one downside that many evaluators have pointed out is his massive swing-and-miss issues. He struck out over a third of the time during 2021 and had more whiffs than balls put in play. That amount of swing-and-miss is a major red flag and seriously puts into question if his power ability could ever play well enough to matter because of his lack of making contact.

But this year has been a different story. According to Joe Doyle of Prospects Live, Green has significantly reduced his strikeout rate. This season, he has a very solid 17.8% K-rate. That’s a significant upgrade from 2021. Not only has he significantly cut that down, but he’s improved as his season progresses. Green has struck out just two times in his last 32+ plate appearances.

Many have Green going within the first five picks of this year’s draft. MLB Pipeline ranks him as their fifth-best draft prospect, and FanGraphs ranks him as their seventh-best draft prospect. That puts him in a prime position for the Pirates to select him fourth overall. Chances are, Termarr Johnson and Druw Jones go in the first three picks. One of the three teams ahead of the Pirates might decide to take a chance on Green as an under-slot selection, but there’s an extremely good chance of him still on the board when the Pirates are on the clock.

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Green’s massive improvement in the strikeout department is great news for two reasons. The first is pretty obvious. If he can make contact, even at an average rate, that massive raw power ability will play up. The second is that it shows he has the make-up to improve his game. This was an extremely glaring red flag for Green, and to see him able to improve it to the degree he has could say a lot about his work ethic and ability to take pointers and criticism to improve his ability.