The Pirates could draft two Tennessee baseball players in the first two rounds

2024 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship
2024 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship / Peter Aiken/GettyImages

The MLB Draft is quickly approaching, and the Pirates have a tough task ahead of them of figuring out who will be available with the ninth overall pick. Players like Nick Kurtz and Braden Montgomery are both players that the Pirates would take if available, but it seems more unlikely by the day that either will make it that far. One standout player from Tennessee could be available, but that is not the only Volunteer that the Pirates could select on Day 1 of the draft.

The Pirates should consider Tennessee infielder Christian Moore with the ninth overall pick.

Although the Pirates have selected a high quantity of middle infield prospects over the last few years, they could find themselves another one with their first round pick. Christian Moore led the Tennessee Volunteers to a College World Series championship in mid-June. MLB Pipeline has ranked Moore as the 13th best prospect for this year's draft.

The Pirates need to prioritize offense in this draft, as they do not have many hitting prospects in their minor leagues. You never draft for need, but...still.

Termarr Johnson is the top-ranked position player in the Pirates' minor-league system and is a middle infielder. Adding Moore is not necessarily a positional need, with Nick Gonzales establishing himself as the team's long-term second baseman, with Johnson behind him.

Scouts do not believe Moore has a long term future at shortstop, though, as his arm is not great. It is rated a 50, but scouts believe that he could end up in center field or remain at second base. The big thing he brings is his bat. His hit tool is grades out at a 55, but his power is even better, with a 60 grade. His run and field tools are both a 50, which overall makes him a 55-graded prospect. His bat is great and it would be tough for the Pirates to pass him up.

This season, Moore had a batting average of .375 with 34 home runs and 74 runs batted in. He also had an OPS of 1.248, which includes an on-base percentage of .451 and a slugging percentage of .797. He added 19 doubles and two triples, which equates to 55 extra-base hits in 2024.

His bat is already great, and he could develop as an outfielder through the Pirates' minor leagues. No matter where he plays, this is a bat that would be very difficult to pass up if he falls to them. He set the all-time home run record at Tennessee, but was in a battle for the lead with his teammate, Blake Burke. The record was originally broken early in the season by Burke, but Moore overtook him in May. This duo could be dangerous in the Pirates' minor-league system, and Pittsburgh might have a chance to reunite them.

The Pirates could secure another Tennessee Volunteer on Day 1 with slugger Blake Burke.

Burke is one of the best first basemen in the draft, but it is not uncommon for players anchored at that position to drop. First base prospects often only have a hit tool with no room to grow at other positions, which makes them lose value in comparison to other players. We are seeing the draft stock of Nick Kurtz fall for this reason. Burke is the 65th overall prospect for this year's draft.

Getting Burke would help the Pirates establish more offense in their farm system. Burke is an elite hitter with great power tools. His power is rated a 60 and his hit tool is rated a 50. His fielding and arm is rated a 40, while his run grade is just 30. His fielding is not great, but his bat is excellent. He has power to all parts of the field and great plate vision.

This season, Burke posted a .379 batting average with 20 home runs and 61 runs batted in. He also had an OPS of 1.151, which includes an on-base percentage of .449 and a slugging percentage of .702. Burke led Division 1 baseball with 30 doubles and stole 11 bases.

This duo of sluggers from Tennessee could be great selections for the Pirates with their first- and second-round picks. Both would help a Pirates farm system that lacks bats, so getting these two as a package deal would make a lot of sense. We will see who the Pirates select with these picks on July 14, which is the long-awaited Day 1 of the draft.