Three potential under slot draft picks to keep an eye on for the Pirates

If the Pirates opt to take an under slot player early in the draft, here are some names they should keep tabs on.
Tommy White 47 hits his second home run of the night as the LSU Tigers take on the Vanderbilt
Tommy White 47 hits his second home run of the night as the LSU Tigers take on the Vanderbilt / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA
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Thatcher Hurd

Going under slot obviously doesn’t have to happen in the first round. The Pirates chose an under-slot player in the 2022 draft, Thomas Harrington, as their competitive balance round A pick. Harrington was considered a high-floor/low-ceiling prospect at the time, so what if the Pirates went in the opposite direction this year and selected a high-floor/low-ceiling pitcher? One pitcher who best encapsulates this is LSU right-hander Thatcher Hurd.

Let’s first start with the positives with Hurd. Hurd has struck out 24.4% of batters he’s faced this year and has 35 K’s in only 28.2 innings. He also has a respectable 9.8% walk rate and 0.94 HR/9. His fastball is plus and sits mid-90s, but his slider is elite. Most have measured the upper-80s breaking ball at around 3000 RPM. For reference, only one pitcher in MLB last season had a slider average out with 3000+ RPM, and that was Lucas Sims. His curveball can also flash plus.

Now, let’s look at the bad. Hurd has a 6.59 ERA and 1.81 WHIP for LSU this year. Hurd has good stuff and fringe control but poor command. Obviously, he looks good when he hits his spots, but he has had a hard time locating. He’s given up 38 hits in 28.2 innings.

Hurd is a project. He has an extremely high ceiling, but that command leaves some real question marks. The right-hander may end up in the bullpen long term where his stuff can play up, and his command can be hidden better. But if he can even get fringe-level command, the stuff could make him a very intriguing future starting pitcher.