Pittsburgh Pirates: Five College Outfield Prospects to Watch

Mississippi State OF Colton Ledbetter (10) takes a swing during the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State
Mississippi State OF Colton Ledbetter (10) takes a swing during the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State / Hannah Mattix/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY
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Kemp Alderman

If the Pittsburgh Pirates want to add a big-time power bat to the system, Kemp Alderman would be their guy. Alderman is an interesting player. An outfielder with light-tower power, Alderman made significant improvements to his game to the point he showed he's not just a one-dimensional power hitter.

Alderman has batted .376/.440/.709 throughout his junior season. He's demolished 19 home runs in just 243 plate appearances, which puts him on pace for about 47 throughout 600 plate appearances. Power is clearly Kemp's calling card. The 6'3", 230 pound outfielder has posted multiple 115+ MPH batted balls this year. You're talking about a guy who has the potential to reach 80-grade raw power.

Many were concerned about Alderman's hit tool going into the year. He struck out 58 times in 240 plate appearances during Ole Miss's College World Series run, which is a K% of 24.2%. However, Alderman has significantly cut down on the swings and misses this year. After striking out nearly a quarter of the time in 2022, he's cut his K% down to just 16.9%, a 7.3% decrease.

Alderman is pretty much limited to left and right field. He has a cannon of an arm, as he's pitched a couple of times and has shown off a 94 MPH fastball (though you probably don't want him pitching outside of blowout games). Alderman has below-average speed, so centerfield is far from a reliable option for him. Interestingly, MLB Pipeline mentions his days as a catcher in high school and being asked to catch a game for Mississippi. However, asking him to do anything more than emergency duty would likely be a tall task. Alderman DH'd for most of 2023, but MLB Pipeline is bullish on his defensive ability, giving him a 50 grade (average).

Many have drawn comparisons to Pete Alonso, as Alderman's swing is a carbon copy of the New York Mets' star, so much so he's gotten the nickname "The Oxford Polar Bear":

Alderman's massively improved strikeout rate and batting average are both very promising for a guy whose hit tool was by far their worst tool. While it's still college ball, you still don't see too many batters hit over .370 with a strikeout rate below 18% with a hit tool that's so bad it's concerning, especially considering it was against SEC pitching.