Four college first basemen the Pittsburgh Pirates should keep on their draft radar

With the Pittsburgh Pirates needing first base help, they should keep these draft prospects on their radar this year.
Tennessee infielder Blake Burke (25) throws the ball during a game between Tennessee and Albany, at
Tennessee infielder Blake Burke (25) throws the ball during a game between Tennessee and Albany, at / Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA
2 of 4

Jared Jones

Not to be confused with the Pirates' right-handed pitcher of the same name, this Jared Jones is a first baseman for Louisiana State University. Jones has top-of-the-line raw power and the potential to be a 30-home run threat, but that also comes with some major concerns about his hit tool and ability to make contact consistently.

So far, in 199 plate appearances, Jones is slashing .299/.442/.758 with a 1.200 OPS in the SEC. Jones already has 19 home runs on the season. His isolated slugging percentage clocks in at .459. For reference of how high that is, Barry Bonds had a .450 ISO in 2004. Overall, Jones has 33 home runs in 101 college games. Jones also walks a ton and has an 18.1% walk rate this year.

There is one pretty obvious flaw in Jones' game, and that's the strikeouts. He has gone down on strike three 24.6% of the time. He also got overwhelmed with the K last year at the Cape Cod League, striking out 23 times in 67 plate appearances, resulting in a K% of 34.3%. Obviously, that's a major red flag, but there is one silver lining. That's the fact he cut his strikeout rate down from 34.2% last year for LSU.

Jones is an intimidating presence in the box. Not only does he pounce on mistake pitches, but he is 6'5"250 pounds. But that big frame also hinders his speed and overall range. Jones has displayed a well-above-average arm, so a team could try him in left field, but knowing the risk of his range, it might not be a great idea. Jones also caught in high school and has crouched behind the plate for a few games. Although he hasn't caught much, the Pirates have tried something similar with Garret Forrester this year, so a team could also see if he can handle himself well as a backstop.

Jones has a long swing, which is where many pitchers take advantage of him and get him to strikeout. From the video I've seen, there might be a slight hitch on pitches higher in the zone. But even though he has a longer swing, he moves the bat through the zone very quickly. That, along with his large frame, could lead to elite raw power in the big leagues someday.

But Jones has intense raw power. He's the kind of prospect that, if he develops even a 45-grade hit tool, could hit 30+ homers regularly. It is a high-ceiling/low-floor toolset, but Jones is arguably the third-best college first baseman in this year's draft class. He might go sometime during the third or fourth round.