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
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Blake Burke

While Jones might be the third-best college first baseman in this year's draft, Blake Burke is arguably the second-best between Jones and Nick Kurtz. The University of Tennessee prospect has steadily improved his game each year and is putting together a promising season this year.

Through 189 plate appearances, Burke is batting .388/.450/.759. Burke has already topped his 2023 total bases amount in nearly 100 fewer plate appearances. He's gone yard 14 times with an isolated slugging percentage of .371. One thing that does standout in his numbers are his 21 doubles. He's never hit more than six in any previous year.

Burke's 10.1% walk rate isn't outstanding, but it's not bad either. When he first got to college ball, he was striking out about 30% of the time (30.8% to be exact). However, he's steadily cut that down to 17.4% last year and now currently sitting at 14.8%. His swing decisions have improved, but he can still get thrown off by off-speed.

Burke's raw power is up there with Jones. He's also a physical in the box at 6'3", 240-LBS. But he can also swing the bat very fast. A combination of bat speed and physical strength gives him the potential to have plus game power in the future. But his hit tool has more potential than Jones.

He is definitely a first baseman through and through. He's a well below-average runner with limited range in the field. Plus, his arm definitely plays best at first base. Burke did play some left field in 2022 in the California Collegiate League, but he's best at first, where he's a solid 45-50 defender.

Burke steadily cutting down his strikeout rate puts him on track to potentially be a late second or early third-round pick this year. He'll likely be the second college 1B off the board after Kurtz. There's a chance for plus power and an average hit tool here with Burke.