On Thursday morning, Baseball America posted their draft report card for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Each off-season, they look at that year’s draft class for each team and ranks them in certain categories. The link above has all of their details, but here’s a quick look at the breakdown of their list.
The best pure hitter in the draft class is exactly who you would expect. Travis Swaggerty was taken tenth overall and earned an All-Star selection with Morgantown, before finishing his season with West Virginia. He finished with a combined .239/.322/.383 slash line, which shouldn’t overshadow his strong college numbers and scouting reports.
The best power hitter is Jonah Davis, who put up big numbers with Bristol this year, led by a .612 slugging percentage. At this point, I’d go more with best raw power for him until I see how his high strikeout totals carry over to the upper levels. In 105 games between college and pros, he had 134 strikeouts, but he also hit 26 homers.
Fastest runner is a tie between Swaggerty and Daniel Amaral, who swiped 25 bases for Morgantown this year. Amaral would get the nod if it was the best base runner, but that speed helps out Swaggerty in the outfield just as much.
BA mentions three players for best defensive player. Third round pick Connor Kaiser played terrific shortstop after being drafted and from what I’ve seen/heard, he would be the best of the group. Grant Koch and Swaggerty were also mentioned by BA as strong defenders.
The pitching side covers just the best fastball and best secondary pitch. Logan Stoelke, taken in the ninth round, has a fastball that hits 95 MPH. While that’s not the highest MPH in this group, the consistency of his velocity gives him the nod.
BA mentions three players for the best secondary pitch. Fourth round pick Aaron Shortridge gets praise for his changeup, while second round pick Braxton Ashcraft and late round pick Conner Loeprich both get high marks for their breaking balls. Not mentioned in the article was Michael Burrows, but the 11th round pick displayed a strong curveball that was sharper than what we saw in first-hand looks from Braxton Ashcraft at the same time.
Swaggerty also got named for best athlete and closest to the majors. Jack Herman’s terrific GCL season earned his praise for the best pro debut. Burrows, Herman and Davis were all mentioned as best late round picks, and not surprisingly, Gunnar Hoglund, taken 36th overall, was the one who got away. He ran into medical issues that worried the Pirates, who will get the 37th overall pick in 2019 as compensation for not signing him. As I said above, the link to BA has much more detail.+ posts
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.