Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Early Look at Potential College Player to Watch

2022 Division I Men's Baseball Championship
2022 Division I Men's Baseball Championship / Blakeway Worldwide Panoramas/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the number one pick of the draft, but LuJames Groover could be an interesting college player to watch, and could end up as a player on the team's second-round radar.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the no. 1 pick in this year’s draft, and while everyone is going to be arguing about Chase Dollander and Dylan Crews and who goes no. 1 overall, I want to take a look at some other players that could be available later in the draft. Today, I want to take a look at North Carolina State infielder LuJames Groover III. He’s a prospect who could be on the rise next season and potentially end up in the early second round. 

Groover put up some impressive hitting numbers during his 2022 campaign. In 274 plate appearances, the infielder hit .364/.440/.568. The right-handed hitter swatted ten home runs but hustled out 16 doubles. He ended the year with a .204 isolated slugging percentage, but he also displayed solid plate discipline. Groover walked 28 times with 44 strikeouts, leading to a 10.2% walk rate and 16.1% strikeout rate.

The issue is that Groover is positionless. He’s mostly played first base in college but has logged plenty of games at second base, left field, and right field. Groover has also seen a game at third base, and it is the position he’ll play next season. But he’s not displayed any defensive prowess at any of the positions over his college career.

But Groover draws major praise for his approach to the plate. He works counts, and he makes quality contact quite often. MLB Pipeline emphasizes his feel for contact and ability to hit lasers across the diamond. He easily has enough bat speed to generate 20+ home run power. If he adds more leverage to his swing, he could add even more pop.

Groover is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s 65th-best draft prospect. If the draft were to happen tomorrow, there would be a definite possibility he goes to the Pirates with their no. 62 pick. But he is a player who is trending upward. According to Joe Doyle of Prospects Live, he’s made some noticeable improvements to his defense and “looked pretty darn good” at the hot corner.

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For Groover, it’s going to come down to if he can display defensive and athletic improvements next college season. There’s little question about his offensive potential, but if he can show he can handle the corner infield, he may end up going in the early second round. It’s a major flaw in his game and the most significant thing holding him back from climbing the rankings. However, if he shows those improvements, he could potentially end up on the Pirates' radar for the second round.