Mock drafting the first three picks Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2024 draft

The Pittsburgh Pirates will have three picks in the first 50, so who could they take with these three selections?
Big 12 Baseball Tournament
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JJ Wetherholt
Big 12 Baseball Tournament / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

Round One

JJ Wetherholt

When it comes to position players, Ben Cherington always loves to take the best pure hitter it seems. This year, that looks like it could be JJ Wetherholt. The West Virginia University infielder has been great throughout his college career. His injury from earlier this year could bump him down in the draft just far enough to still be on the board when the Pirates are selecting their first pick.

At the time of writing this, Wetherholt has 599 career plate appearances in college, batting .375/.472/.627. He has hit for decent power with 24 home runs and a .252 isolated slugging percentage, but most his his extra-base hits are doubles. He has 46 two-baggers. Wetherholt is an above-average runner who has been an aggressive base stealer in college. He's attempted 70 steals and has been successful 54 times.

So far this year, he's only been limited to 85 plate appearances because of a hamstring injury, but when healthy, he's slashing .328/.506/.569. He already has three home runs and five doubles, as well as going 3/3 in stolen base attempts. But the most impressive part of this small sample size has been his plate discipline.

Wetherholt has drawn 20 walks in 18 games. Even better is that he's only struck out eight times. He missed a good chunk of the season, but that still amounts to a 23.5% walk rate and 9.4% strikeout rate. This isn't the first year he's drawn more walks than strikeouts, as he had a 26:23 BB:K ratio in 2023 with WVU.

Wetherholt has mostly played shortstop this year but has more career games logged at second base and third base. He also has some experience in the outfield corners but hasn't played any innings in the grass since 2021. Defensively, there's a chance he could stick at shortstop, as he has the speed and arm to do so. But if he had to move to another position, he could definitely play wherever needed.

Wetherholt has a smooth left-handed swing. He should, at the very least, hit for fringe above-average power with a strong chance to hit for well above-average power. Wetherholt hasn't had much trouble hitting for pop in wood-bat summer collegiate leagues like the Northwoods League or Cape Cod League. He has played in 20 games between the two leagues with a dozen XBH. He's been able to drive the ball all over the field and make contact at an extremely high rate. It also helps that he's displayed a fantastic eye at the dish.

Many have Wetherholt going somewhere between the 10th and the 8th pick in the first round. Given the Pirates have the 9th overall selection, it's very possible that Wetherholt is still on the board when the Bucs are on the clock. Adding Wetherholt gives the Pirates the big college hitter this system needs, plus he'd easily be the best player available, assuming something crazy doesn't happen, like Braden Montgomery, Nick Kurtz, or Jac Caglianone are somehow still on the board.