The Pittsburgh Pirates held the #1 Overall Pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, as well as picks 42 and 67. In this recap, we'll get a brief look into what Pirates fans have to look forward to as these young men move through the system and hopefully onto the big league roster.
1st Round, 1st Pick - Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
2023 College Stats: 122.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 12-2 W-L, 209 K, 20 BB,
0.750 WHIP, 15.3 K/9, 10.5 K/BB
With the 1st overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, the Pirates selected Paul Skenes. There was a ton of speculation by fans about who would be selected in the top spot, but there has been a positive overall reaction to the selection of the 6'6, 235 pound righty pitcher out of LSU. Simply put, Skenes has the potential to be a generational pitcher. His fastball touches three digit speeds with ease, he has a knack for striking out batters (209 strikeouts in 122.2 innings), and he can hit the ball if the team needs him to (slashed .367 BA /.453 OBP /.669 SLG with 24 HR and 81 RBI in 2 seasons at Air Force). He's got Division 1 experience playing catcher, first base, and in the outfield. Many experts are saying he's got MLB stuff right now, and that his stint in the minors shouldn't last very long before he's pulled up to make his big league debut and hopefully start immediately contributing to a Pirates squad that desperately needs depth in the starting pitching rotation. His size and hype have led to comparisons to Stephen Strasburg, but his velocity at this point reminds me more of a young Justin Verlander, who also has a large frame and throws gas off the mound.
MLB Comparison: Justin Verlander
2nd Round, 3rd Pick (42nd Overall) - Mitch Jebb, SS, Michigan State
2023 College Stats: .337 BA /.438 OBP /.495 SLG, 1 HR, 36 RBI, 14 SB
Michigan State's star middle infielder Mitch Jebb was selected by the Pirates with the 42nd overall pick in this year's draft. There was some buzz among fans that this may not have been the right pick for the spot, but I personally like the selection, let me tell you why. Jebb isn't a guy thats going to give you 30+ home runs a year, his strength is his ability to get on base and steal bases when he does get on. He stole 40 bases in 88 games between the 2022 Cape Cod Summer League and his 2023 season at Michigan State. His speed makes him a value at the top of the lineup, it gives him the ability to turn line drives into extra bases and put himself in the position to score a run. Yes, the Pirates' farm system is deep with middle infielders, but with Jebb's ability to play 2B, 3B, and SS, he isn't someone to sleep on in the next couple of years. His lack of huge power but ability to run the bases makes him comparable to CJ Abrams and Tommy Edman in my opinion.
CB Round B, 6th Pick (67th Overall) - Zander Mueth, RHP, Belleville East HS (IL)
2022 + 2023 HS Stats: 43.1 IP, 1.78 ERA, 77 K, 24 BB, 1.021 WHIP, 15.2 K/9, 3.2 K/BB
The Pirates took another pitcher with a big frame and a great ability to strike batters out, selecting Zander Mueth with the 67th overall pick. Zander is 6'6, 205 pounds and just turned 18 on June 22nd. He's got three pitches so far, with his fastball being his strength (mid-high 90s) and his slider being deadly when he can get it under control. He is an interesting prospect who will need time in the minor leagues to continue growing his game, but his size and current pitch portfolio give him a good foundation for growth in professional baseball. His high strikeout & walk rate per 9 innings along with his pitch mix reminds me a lot of a taller, more wiry version of Blake Snell.
MLB Comparison: Blake Snell