Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Prospect to Watch at Pick No. 36
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a competitive balance pick at no. 36, and this Florida Gators outfielder might be on the team’s draft radar.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have an early-round draft pick yet again. They have the fourth overall selection, but they also have a competitive balance pick. That is the 36th overall selection, and there is an outfield prospect who stands out as a potential selection. That’s University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian.
Fabian has demolished SEC pitching, posting a strong .239/.414/.598 line, leading to a wOBA well over .400. Fabian has made several improvements to his offensive game from 2021 to 2022. Last year, he struck out in 29.4% of his plate appearances but slimmed that down to 22.3% this year. Not only did his strikeout rate move in the right direction, but so did his walk rate, upping from 14.9% to 20%.
One thing many teams love is the power/speed combo, and that’s something Fabian brings to the table. Fabian has hit 20 or more home runs in the last two seasons. This year, he had an isolated slugging percentage at .359. It was also the second season in a row his ISO peaked over .300. In 2021, his ISO clocked in at .311. Although Fabian doesn’t steal much, he runs extremely well. FanGraphs has him as a 60-grade runner while receiving good praise from all sources for his ability to round the bases.
Fabian has played center field for the Gators for the last two seasons. While his bat might not be typical for centerfield, his glove is. Fabian is a phenomenal defensive outfielder with a cannon of an arm. It also helps that he’s fast and can track down balls in the gap. He runs good routes and has the quick reflexes you like to see from the most defensively-heavy outfield position.
The question many had about Fabian going into the year was his ability to avoid K’s and make consistent contact. Although his strikeout rate still isn’t great, he did make a noticeable amount of improvement. At the very least, he offsets that strikeout rate with a great walk rate. He had a 62:69 BB:K ratio this year, which is great in any context.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates go with a high school bat with the fourth overall pick, there’s a decent chance that Fabian is on their radar. Ben Cherington loves his college bats, and they’ll likely get at least one in the first round. Fabian is ranked as the 38th best prospect per MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs. It’s hard to pass up a guy who could stick in centerfield long term and hit 35 home runs from the position.