The Pittsburgh Pirates could secure a good under slot player in Brandon Sproat during this year's draft.
Earlier this week, we looked at a few potential prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates could take as an over slot pick. But if the Pirates take a player who signs over slot, they’ll need to draft and sign a player under slot at some point in the draft. One player that could go under slot is Brandon Sproat, a pitcher from the University of Florida.
So why would Sproat go under slot, and why would he be worth the pick? The reason he’d go under slot is that next year is his senior year at Florida. Sproat was previously selected in the seventh round of the 2019 draft as a high schooler by the Texas Rangers, and then again this past year by the New York Mets in the third round. The Rangers, nor the Mets came to terms with the right-hander.
Sproat is also talented. He’s considered a top 100 draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. The right-hander typically works in the mid-to-high-90s. He also throws a slider and curveball. Of his two breaking pitches, his slider is the better, but both are distinct and unique enough for him to use them as two separate offerings. He’ll occasionally throw a mid-80s change-up, and while he has a feel for it, is a pitch that needs fine tuning.
Sproat also had a decent junior season. In 89.2 innings, Sproat worked to a 3.41 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Sproat had a so-so 8.6% walk rate and 21.5% strikeout rate, but his biggest strength was limiting the long ball. On average, he allowed just 0.50-per-9 innings. In total, he allowed just five in nearly 90 innings of work.
The next reason that Sproat would be worth the pick is that the Pirates could move him up through the system with some authority. He is a senior and 2023 will be his age-22 campaign. He’d also be 23 years old by the end of the season. The Pirates could get him action in the upper levels of the minor leagues at the start of 2024 and potentially have him make his Major League debut.
Of course, the Pirates likely aren’t the only team interested in Sproat for the same reason. Getting a player who is still a top 100 draft prospect and under slot is an attractive profile. But the Pirates do have the 72nd overall pick, a spot where Sproat could reasonably go for underslot value, especially if the Pirates have a potential over slot player lined up later on in the draft.