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Pirates Prospect Profile: Lonnie White Jr. Wants to Make Up for Lost Time



Lonnie White Jr,. Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates prospects

There are times when Lonnie White Jr. seems more like a concept than an actual person.

That’s how little the Pittsburgh Pirates center field prospect has played during his four-year career because of injuries.

The Pirates selected White in the second round of the 2021 amateur draft with the 64th overall pick from Malvern Prep in suburban Philadelphia. They then lured White away from a football scholarship to Penn State with a $1.5 million signing bonus, $500,000 over the slot value set by Major League Baseball.

White was limited to 11 minor-league games combined in the 2021 and 2022 seasons because of elbow and hamstring injuries. He did not play his first game in 2023 until June 5 after injuring a thumb during spring training and undergoing surgery.

After a good start at High-A Greensboro this season, White is back on the injured list with what has been termed a minor injury. He is hitting .222/.300/.578 with four home runs in 11 games.

White acknowledges that spending more time on the IL than the active roster has been deflating.

“Very frustrating,” White said. “I never dealt with injuries like that until I got into pro ball so, yeah it was very frustrating. It gets in your mind that you’re never going to get back on the field.”

The 21-year-old White has produced whenever he has been on the field. The right-handed hitter’s slash line is .266/.380/.503 in 83 career games with 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases.

White shows why the Pirates were willing to go over slot value to sign him with his homers and steals totals. The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder displays the athletic skills that led to Penn State offering him a scholarship to play wide receiver on the football team and center field on the baseball team.

White possesses good speed and projects as a potentially outstanding defensive center fielder. His swing can be and White still has work to do before he can be considered a top-flight hitter.

Coming into the season, White’s goals were to stay healthy all year and earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona. White is on the IL, but he still has a chance for a promotion if he shows the same kind of progress he made last season.

In 2023, White hit .276/.406/.476 with nine home runs and 18 stolen bases in 61 games combined in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and with High-A Bradenton.

“I learned a ton in the second half of the season last year just by playing every day,” he said. “I didn’t want the season to end.”

It would have been easy over the last few years for White to second-guess his decision to pass up the chance to play football at Penn State. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin and White’s father were teammates on the football team at East Stroudsburg University.

However, the younger White kept a positive attitude through all the time on the injured list.

“The injury part of it, you’ve got to accept it at the end of the day, but I didn’t think of going back,” White said. “I was always happy at the same time and grateful to have the opportunity to be in professional baseball.”

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