Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Outfielders Who Can Build Off a Strong 2023 Season

While outfield may be the shallowest part of the Pirates' minor league system, they do have some outfield prospects who could build off of a good last season.
Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates
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Lonnie White Jr.

Lonnie White Jr. is arguably the highest touted among the players we will discuss today. He is the highest drafted among those taken from the draft. White Jr. definitely showed the potential of being a future outfielder for the Pirates in 2021 and 2022 but couldn’t stay healthy. Although he opened the ‘23 season on the injured list, he returned strong and had a great end to the year.

Through 276 plate appearances at the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate and A-Ball Bradenton, White Jr. batted .276/.400/.476 with a robust .417 wOBA, and 139 wRC+. White provided both power and speed, hitting nine home runs with a .200 isolated slugging percentage while also swiping 18 bags in 21 attempts. White walked at a 15.6% rate but also had a poor 27.2% strikeout rate.

White hit very well at Bradenton, owing a .883 OPS, .413 wOBA, and 140 wRC+. But his strikeout rate went from an already worrisome 25% to 28%. Granted, while he hit for more power and drew more walks, there have always been some questions regarding White Jr.’s hit tool.

The former second-round competitive balance pick was an over-slot draftee, given he was a high schooler but he was also considered one of the better high school outfielders in the draft. He has a lot of athleticism, is probably the best outfield defender in the system, and has the potential to be a 20/30 candidate. But again, there are still questions about his hit tool. He struck out well over a quarter of the time in 2023, and this was a question when they drafted him.

Still, it’s not as if White Jr. is some 23-year-old who has to get it together now or flame out. He just turned 21 on the very last day of December. I want to believe he has the athleticism and potential to improve his game as he moves up the Pirates’ system. Only time will tell, but he’s just one improvement away from being a five-tool prospect.