After battling injuries in 2022, outfield prospect Lonnie White Jr. could be in line for a breakout minor league campaign in 2023
Despite selecting Henry Davis, who is one of the top catching prospects in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 draft is one that was known largely for their over-slot selections. These over slot selections led to the Pirates having one of the best draft classes in all of baseball in 2021.
One of these over slot selections was outfielder Lonnie White Jr. White Jr. was an in-state prospect that the Pittsburgh Pirates selected out of Malvern Prep High School in Malvern, PA. After being selected 64th overall in the draft, White Jr. spurred commitment to play wide receiver at Penn State to sign with the Pirates.
The plan for White Jr. was to make it to Low-A Bradenton during the 2022 season. However, injuries slowed his season down and ended it before he was able to make it to the Low-A level. He had just seven plate appearances in two games played in the Florida Complex League, going 2-for-7 with a home run and a double.
White Jr. has a very high ceiling as an outfielder. FanGraphs gives his raw power a future value (FV) of 45, while rating his speed as a 70 FV and his fielding a 45 FV. MLB Pipeline gives White Jr. a 45 grade hit tool, 50 grade power and arm tool, and a 70 grade speed tool.
The ability is there for White Jr. to develop into not just an above-average hitter, but an above-average hitter with plus power. While he does have some swing-and-miss concerns, he has a short swing that can help clean this up. This swing can also help him to generate power at the plate.
White Jr.'s best tool is his speed and athleticism. Due to his borderline elite speed and athleticism, he should be a terror on the base paths while also developing into a Gold Glove caliber outfielder. These traits alone can make White Jr. a very valuable MLB player one day.
Looking ahead to 2023, getting White Jr. to Low-A Bradenton would be a massive success. Getting him healthy and a large volume of at-bats with the Marauders is what all parties will want to see in 2023. Assuming this happens it would not be a surprise to see White Jr. put together a strong season and begin to shoot up prospect boards.