Lonnie White Jr.
Lonnie White Jr. was one of the Pirates’ multiple top high school draft picks from their 2021 draft class. Although White Jr. showed plenty of potential in both 2021 and 2022, he only stepped to the plate 40 times. But White Jr. has finally been able to get an extended look as a pro player, and he’s made the most of it.
White started out the year at the Florida Complex League, where he hit .317/.434/.444 with a .426 wOBA, and 136 wRC+ through 76 plate appearances. Although he didn’t hit for much power with a .126 isolated slugging percentage, he did walk at a 14.5% rate. Strikeouts were also an issue as he struck out at a 25% rate. Still, this was more than good enough for White Jr. to get the move to Low-A Bradenton.
The outfield prospect has now spent 106 plate appearances for the Marauders and has continued to hit well. He’s slashing .244/.377/.500, with a .404 wOBA, and 136 wRC+. White Jr. is hitting for much more power, already blasting five home runs and upping his ISO to .256. Although he’s increased his walk rate to 16%, his strikeout rate has also gone up to 27.4%.
White Jr. is probably the best defensive prospect the Pirates have who isn’t in the Majors (Jared Triolo and Alika Williams could probably challenge White Jr. for that title, but both are playing in the big leagues, and both are also infielders). Although he isn’t the second coming of Roberto Clemente, he has a good enough arm to play any of the three outfield spots, though center field is probably where it plays best. He’s also extremely fast, likely being the Pirates’ best runner throughout the minor leagues. He’s been able to use that speed, both on the basepaths and in the field.
In my opinion, White Jr. is one improvement away from being a five-tool prospect. He’s a very physical player with bat speed and raw strength. He’s fast with a glove that could potentially compete for Gold Gloves in the future, and an average arm. His hit tool, however, has come into question. So far in his brief minor league career, White has struck out nearly 30% of the time (29.3%).
But at just 20 years old, he’ll have time to improve his hit tool. Even if he improves it to an average level, he could be a 20-30 home run threat. He has plenty of athleticism, which I think could help him eventually improve. With his current performance at Bradenton, I think White could find himself climbing a few rungs on Pirates prospect lists.