The 2024 MLB Draft order was set during the Winter Meetings and mock drafts have already been published. Which player do these drafts have the Pittsburgh Pirates taking?
The Pittsburgh Pirates landed the 9th overall pick in the MLB draft during the Winter Meetings earlier this month. The Pirates will end up selecting right around where they’d end up if the old rules were in place. But with the draft order being set, multiple mock drafts have already been made.
Of course, we are still over six months away from the MLB Draft. It will take place next year at the All-Star break. It shouldn’t have to be stated that a lot can change between now and then. Last year around this time, the talk was Dylan Crews vs. Chase Dollander, not Crews vs Paul Skenes as to who would go number one overall. So, it’s apparent most of these mock drafts are made with hindsight in mind. But if the draft were to happen tomorrow, who do some outlets have the Pirates taking?
Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline has the Pirates taking a high school outfielder in the form of Konnor Griffin. Griffin hails from Jackson Prep Flowood, Mississippi, with a commitment to Louisiana State University. Griffin has four tools that project as plus to plus-plus. That’s his power, speed, fielding, and arm. He is one of the fastest runners, best fielders, and power hitters in this year’s draft class. His hit tool is the weakest part of his game, as his timing at the plate can get inconsistent. Griffin will more than likely go in the first round and potentially in the top ten picks, especially if he can show some improvement with his hit tool during spring and summer.
Carlos Collazo of Baseball America has the Pirates taking a different approach. He has the Bucs taking two-way player Braden Montgomery ninth overall. Montgomery originally attended Stanford, but is transferring to Texas A&M. Last year, Montgomery batted .336/.461/.611 with 17 home runs in 310 plate appearances. While he walked in 16.5% of his plate appearances, his 20.7% strikeout rate wasn’t super promising. But what was promising was his numbers in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .340/.429/.472. He still struck out 16 times in 63 plate appearances and drew nine walks.
Montgomery only threw 14 innings and allowed 19 earned runs, 11 walks, and 19 strikeouts. The switch-hitter projects to hit for above-average power with a solid glove and powerful arm. He can run it up into the upper-90s on the mound and also throws a slider and changeup. But his control gets in the way. Montgomery has some risk but a ton of upside.
Perfect Game is very bold with their mock draft. They have the Pirates taking Jac Caglianone ninth overall. Caglianone was a major player in the Florida Gators' college playoff run. In 319 plate appearances, Caglianone batted .323/.389/.738. He went yard 33 times with an isolated slugging percentage of .415. When Barry Bonds broke the all-time single-season home run record in 2001, he had an ISO of .429. That’s how much power Caglianone hit for. He had an 18.2% strikeout rate, but more worrisome was his 5.3% walk rate.
On top of that, he also pitched 74.2 innings, working to a solid 4.34 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 1.58 K:BB ratio. However, while he had a 25.4% strikeout rate and a home run rate of 0.72 per nine innings, he also handed out a walk to 16.1% of the batters he faced. Caglianone can throw hard, sitting in the mid-upper-90s with his fastball, and can even hit 100 MPH. His slider, cutter, and changeup are all average offerings, but his command has obviously been his weak point.
His plate discipline has led to some questions about his long-term hit tool, and his command has also led to some questions regarding how well he would fare as a pitcher. He also lacks defensive versatility. He projects as an above-average defensive first baseman, but his below-average speed may limit him to just first. A team could try him in left field to take advantage of his arm, but there’s yet to be a modern two-way player who has played anything beyond just designated hitter.
I’d love it if Caglianone would fall to the ninth spot. But I don’t think it’s too likely. If he improves his game even a little, you’re talking about one of the best players in the draft this year. If everything goes right next year, he may end up as the number-one pick. Caglianone is listed as a top-five pick on both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline’s mock drafts. He has true two-way potential, and an improvement in control and swing selection could shoot him up draft boards, beyond where the Pirates will pick.
There is still a lot of time between now and the draft, nearly six months. A lot will likely change between now and then, but it is interesting to see what evaluators currently see as the best draft prospects in this year’s class. Only time will tell who the Pirates will take, but there are definitely some talented names here.