Three bold predictions for Pirate prospects who could join top 100 lists in 2024

Which top Pirates prospects will be on top 100 lists at the end of this year?

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Lonnie White Jr.

The Pirates took multiple high-end high school draft prospects in the 2021 draft. After taking Henry Davis and signing him to an underslot deal, they went on to draft Anthony Solometo and Bubba Chandler in the second and third rounds. However, their second-round competitive balance pick and the 64th overall pick in the draft was outfielder Lonnie White Jr.

White Jr.’s first two minor league seasons were plagued by injuries as he combined for just 11 total appearances. Even though he opened the year on the minor league IL in 2023, White came back strong and ended the year on an extremely high note.

White Jr. spent his first extended look against pro pitching at the Pirates’ Florida Complex League team and Bradenton. Between the two levels, he batted .276/.406/.476 with a .417 wOBA, and 139 wRC+. Lonnie showed off some good pop with an isolated slugging percentage at .200. He also drew a decent amount of walks with a 15.6% BB% and used his ability to reach base to its fullest potential. He went 18/21 in stolen base attempts in 61 games played. The downside is that he struck out 27.2% of the time.

But White Jr. did cut his strikeout rate down as the season went on. He stepped to the plate 276 total times. His first 141 times saw him strike out 41 times, resulting in a strikeout rate of 30.5%. However, his final 138 plate appearances only saw him strike out 32 times for a 23.8% strikeout rate. 

White’s best tools are his speed and fielding. He has the potential to be a plus defensive center fielder with enough speed to swipe 20+ bases a season. His arm is probably best utilized in center field. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him be a Gold Glove finalist in the very near future out of center field.

White Jr. is still only 21 and will probably open the year at Bradenton again, but if he continues to hit well, he’ll probably get an early season promotion to Greensboro. The biggest thing to watch next year is if White can keep his strikeout rate below 25% like he did in the second half of his season last year. But that’s the only major flaw in his game. Improving that, even to a fringe-average, 45-grade level would be extremely promising.