General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates Ben Cherington, recently made a comment about Mitch Jebb's potential to play center field. This has sparked intrigue, particularly because it deviates from expectations when the team selected him and announced him as an infielder. Many anticipated the Pirates to target outfield prospects like Dylan Crews or Wyatt Langford. Thus, Jebb's selection initially seemed like a curious choice. Jebb was primarily a second baseman while playing some other infield positions in his collegiate career.
However, Cherington's statement suggests that the organization had a specific plan in mind, looking to acquire an outfielder through the draft, and Jebb may be the player they identified for that role. Jebb is a plus athlete with a great feel for the game, meaning he should be able to transition to an outfield position.
The decision to invest such as a high pick in Jebb was somewhat confusing at the time. Instead of pursuing established outfield prospects as many expected, the organization appears to be investing in a player with untapped potential. The floor for Jebb is a utility player, being able to play multiple positions. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates might view him as a potential everyday centerfielder, something needed in the Organization.
This decision by the Pittsburgh Pirates front office reflects their willingness to try and get who they believe is the best player with their picks.
Not drafting based on need, but who projects to make an impact on this club down the road. While it may have caught some fans off guard initially, it demonstrates the team's belief in their development system and in Jebb's athletic ability to make the move. The fact that he is working with former long-time MLB outfielder Adam Eaton is super encouraging and suggestive as well.
The belief in the bat comes from two places, his Sophomore season and Michigan State and his Cape Cod League numbers. Jebb finished his Sophomore year with a .356 batting average with a .959 OPS. Then he performed even better in the Cape Cod League. He posted an impressive slash line of .339/.442/.532 which is good for a .974 OPS. This Front Office places a lot of stock in the Cape Cod results and Jebb clearly was a top performer there.