Pirates Draft Takeaways: Different Strategy For Bucs In Pitching-Heavy Class
The 2022 MLB Draft is in the rearview mirror as the Pirates made 21 selections over the course of the three-day event. For Ben Cherington, it was his third draft as the leader of the Pirates front office since taking over as the team’s general manager in the fall of 2019.
Pittsburgh was able to add more young talent to their minor league system, which currently is regarded as a strong farm.
Different Strategy Than 2021
In last year’s draft, the Pirates had the first overall pick and selected Louisville catcher Henry Davis. Davis. though he was still considered one of the top talents available in 2021, signed for nearly $2M below slot value. The savings used from that selection enabled the Pirates to grab three more high-upside prospects with their following selections in left-hander Anthony Solometo, outfielder Lonnie White Jr. and two-way player Bubba Chandler. The haul was considered one of the best of the year.
This year, the Pirates draft looked a little different as the Bucs decided to go a different route. With their first-round selection, the Pirates drafted high school infielder Termarr Johnson. While it’s possible Johnson could sign for under-slot, the savings wouldn’t be anywhere near what the Bucs were able to use in the later rounds from a year ago.
Because of that, the Pirates weren’t able to execute a strategy similar to last year’s. With that being said, the class as a whole has upside, and the Bucs are pleased with how the draft played out.
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching,
Coming into the draft, one of the areas of the farm system that needed to be improved was pitching, both depth and quality. The Pirates addressed both as 15 of their 21 selections were pitchers (plus two-way player Jack Brannigan).
After the Pirates drafted Johnson in the first round, the Bucs used their next four selections on pitching prospects. While Cherington told reporters that Pittsburgh wasn’t necessarily looking to add mostly pitchers, the draft unfolded that way for the Pirates and it just so happened to fill a need.
Still Took The Top Hit Tool
While it was a pitching-heavy draft for the Pirates, they still got the top prep hitter available in this year’s class in Johnson. According to MLB Pipeline, Johnson possesses a 70-grade hit tool on the 20-80 scouting scale. He is regarded as the top prep hitter in decades.
Johnson, who was drafted as a shortstop, projects to ultimately wind up at second base, but it was his hitting ability that caught the eye of the Pirates. In addition to his hitting ability, Johnson comes with big-time power potential, as his power is considered a 60-grade and is said to have 25-30 homerun potential from the left side of the plate.
Seven In The Top 250
In total, seven of the Pirates 21 selections were in MLB Pipeline’s Top 250 rankings. All of the Pirates first six selections were included, with four in the Top 100. Additionally, the Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Yoel Tejada in the 19th round, who checked in at No. 217.
In addition to the 15 pitchers, the Pirates selected two infielders, two outfielders, a catcher and the two-way player Brannigan.