Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Termarr Johnson or Brooks Lee

DENVER, CO - JULY 10: Termarr Johnson points to a fellow contestant during a break in the action in the Major League Baseball All-Star High School Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 10, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kyle Cooper/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 10: Termarr Johnson points to a fellow contestant during a break in the action in the Major League Baseball All-Star High School Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 10, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kyle Cooper/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
SOUTH YARMOUTH 08/02/21 Brooks Lee is greeted by his Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox teammate Kody Huff (26) after hitting a two run homer against the Chatham Anglers. Cape League baseballY D Chatham Cape League /

Brooks Lee

Brooks Lee is coming out of Cal Poly. The infielder has torn up pitching in the Big West conference since his college debut in 2020. 2022 has been no different, and he’ll likely be selected in the first five picks, whether or not that is the Pirates.

Lee has been nothing short of phenomenal this year. In 286 plate appearances, Lee is slashing .357/.462/.664. He has nearly double the amount of walks to strikeouts. Lee has drawn 46 base-on-balls while striking out just 28 times. That leads to a 16.1% walk rate and 9.8% strikeout rate. He also has shown off above-average power. Lee has 15 home runs and 25 doubles. He is currently on pace for 34 home runs and 56 doubles in a full season’s worth of plate appearances.

Between his phenomenal plate discipline and outstanding power, Lee has put up a .492 wOBA this season. With those kinds of hitting stats, you’d think that a college shortstop would probably go in the first three picks rather than the first five picks. However, the chances are that Lee sticks at shortstop long term are not very likely.

Lee definitely has the arm to play the left side of the infield. However, like with Johnson, his range isn’t great. Lee will likely have to shift over to third base or, more likely, if the Pirates were to draft him, an outfield corner. Lee is a fine runner, so an RF/LF role long-term might be in his future.

Lee’s ability to hit for contact and get on base, as well as hit for power, make him one of the draft’s best players. Shortstop might not be his long-term home, but he’s still athletic enough to play anywhere else on the diamond that isn’t catcher. Many have the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting Lee, which makes him a potential player for the Pirates.

My Verdict

Between the two, I think Johnson is the better player. Johnson has a way better hit tool and decent power. Lee does have the edge in power, but it’s very slight. Johnson has the higher ceiling, but Lee is the safer bet. There are pros and cons in multiple facets.

The Pirates have gone with the college bat the last two seasons, and it would be nice to see them change it up. Johnson has a ton of talent and, in my opinion, is a top-three player in this year’s draft. The risk in drafting a 17-year-old is worth the potential reward.

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Johnson would likely be an over slot draft pick, meaning they would have to go under slot later on (cough, cough Ivan Melendez, please). It would be worth the efforts of the Pittsburgh Pirates to get a high school pick and mix things up after focusing on college players in the first round for the last two drafts.

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