The Pittsburgh Pirates have been actively strengthening their farm system today, especially by adding pitchers. In the 7th round, the Pirates at pick no. 236 selected Georgia left-handed pitcher Jaden Woods.
His fastball was clocked in the upper 80s in high school, but he regularly hit 92-96 mph when he reached college. Although his velocity dipped slightly when he transitioned from a reliever to a starter, his fastball still consistently hits the low 90s, peaking at 94 mph. His breaking ball, a hard slurve, is considered a plus pitch with total depth. However, his changeup needs refinement, as it currently sits in the mid-80s with modest action.
Despite his potential, there are concerns about Woods' ability to maintain his quality stuff and control as a starter. His control has been inconsistent, and his stuff could have been more sharp when he transitioned to a starting role. However, his athleticism and lack of glaring flaws in his delivery suggest he could still be a valuable asset as a lefty reliever, potentially delivering two-plus offerings in shorter stints.
The Pirates' decision to draft Woods is a calculated risk. His performance at Georgia, as well as his physical attributes, suggest a pitcher with significant upside. However, his inconsistency and the questions surrounding his ability to thrive as a starter mean that he will need careful development. The Pirates are willing to invest in their farm system, and Woods represents another puzzle piece. Only time will tell if this investment will pay off, but we have another exciting pitching prospect to watch for now.
Pittsburgh Pirates 8th Round Selection (Pick no. 227)
In the 8th round of the 2023 MLB Draft, the Pirates once again grab a college pitcher-selecting right-hander Austin Strickland out of Kentucky with pick no. 227.
In 2021, Strickland made significant strides in his career. He appeared in 16 games with one start, went 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA, and struck out 34 in 23.1 innings, walking only 11 and holding opponents to a .221 batting average. His debut on Feb. 26 vs. Milwaukee was a standout performance, where he struck out three in two perfect innings. He allowed zero or one earned runs in 14 of 16 appearances, showcasing his consistency and reliability as a pitcher.
In 2022, he appeared in 18 games with two starts, recording a 6.85 ERA in 23.2 innings. Despite the challenging ERA, Strickland's performance against No. 1 Tennessee was commendable, where he pitched seven combined innings, allowing only three runs on six hits and striking out 10. His strikeout rate was impressive, with 32 strikeouts in 23.2 innings, translating to 12.17 K/9 innings. Over his career, he has achieved 66 strikeouts in 47.0 IP.
The Pirates' decision to select Strickland is a testament to his talent and potential. His journey from high school to college to professional baseball is marked by consistent improvement and resilience. With his impressive strikeout rate and ability to maintain control on the mound, Strickland is poised to impact the Pirates' pitching lineup significantly if he continues to grow.