One draft prospect at each position that should be on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ radar

Going position by position, who are some players that should be on the Pittsburgh Pirates' draft radar from this year's class?
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First base

Blake Burke

First base has been an issue for the Pirates since Kevin Young retired. But the Pirates might find their next first baseman in this year’s draft as there is a plethora of corner infielders in this year’s class. One is University of Tennessee first baseman Blake Burke who could also land in the early second round.

Burke is currently slashing .422/.483/.859 through 151 plate appearances in 2024. Burke, known for his big-time power, already has 13 home runs on the season with a massive .437 isolated slugging percentage. His 10.6% walk rate is slightly below the SEC average, but he has struck out in a mere 13.5% of his plate appearances so far.

Burke arguably has the best power potential in this draft. The 6’4”, 240-pound first baseman has both muscle and bat speed that help him launch moonshots. His career isolated slugging percentage in college is .351. Burke played in the wood bat California Collegiate League in 2022, and while he wasn’t putting up the gaudy power numbers he has throughout college, he still had an impressive .233 ISO while slugging .544 when the league average was .378.

Burke has made some major strides with his plate discipline. In his 2022 freshman year, he struck out just over 30% of the time. In his following season, he cut that down to 17.3%. Now, he’s below 15%. His walk rate, however, has moved in the wrong direction, from 15.8% to just around 10% now. 

Burke’s primary position is first base, but he has some experience in left field. He doesn’t have good arm strength and while he’s also a below average runner, he has displayed fine defense at first base. He could end up as an average to slightly above average defender at first.

If the Pirates wanted to add some major power to the system, Burke would be the best selection. He’ll have just turned 21 when the draft rolls around, so he’s still a fairly young player. His swing decisions on off-speed and breaking stuff need to be sharpened up, but he has definitely made progress.