Maybe it’s because we have moved past Ben Cherington’s initial selections. Or, it could be due to the fact that the the Pirates don’t have the number one overall pick this year. Perhaps it’s the result of already getting glimpses at so many young players this year Or, possibly some fans have checked out slightly; in conjunction with fans that really don’t pay attention to the MLB Draft, no matter the year.
Whatever the reason(s), there has definitely been less chatter surrounding the Pirates upcoming #4 Overall Selection in the 2022 MLB Draft; scheduled to take place July 17th-19th in Los Angeles, as a part of the All-Star Game festivities.
Of course, those fans that have invested time and energy into the process, are vocal-as always-about the player(s) they believe the Pirates
should must pick; and, are even more so concerning the ones that they shouldn’t would be making the biggest mistake ever by selecting.
I’m not in either of those camps by any stretch of the imagination; however, like anyone, I do have my favorites. Yet, in the end there are at least 10 guys that I would be more than content with the Pirates taking with their First Round Pick; as they begin to spend their allotted $13,773,900.
The Potential Very Young Bucs
1) Druw Jones-OF (Wesleyan HS)
As close to a consensus #1 Overall Player that you are going to get this year, son of perennial Gold Glover and Hall Of Fame Candidate-41.1% of the vote on this past ballot-Andruw Jones, Druw was named Gatorade’s Georgia HS Player of the year; on his way to a State Title.
Judged by most to be the best centerfielder, if not the best overall defender (Arm-65 and Field-70 grade) in this class, the younger Jones is still growing into his 6’4” frame; which could ultimately lead to increased power (60 grade), to go along with his speed (70 grade) and plus hit tool (55 grade).
Looking at rankings and draft slots it seems extremely unlikely that Jones would fall beyond Arizona at #2, so it’s hard to get excited at all as a Pirates Fan.
2) Jackson Holliday-SS (Stillwater HS)
Son of former Major Leaguer, 7-Time All-Star, World Series Champion and Current Oklahoma State Baseball Assistant Coach Matt Holliday, Jackson is currently committed to being a Cowboy; meaning he would join his Dad and Uncle Josh-the team’s head coach-by staying in Stillwater. Clearly this is not likely for Baseball America’s High School Player of The Year-who batted .685 and set a new national record with 89 hits this past year; however as of right now, he is not ruling it out.
Originally thought of as a future 3rd or 2nd baseman by most scouts, Holliday has displayed an innate ability that has some believing he could stick at shortstop.
If Baltimore decides to go the under slot route with a college bat-or favor Termarr Johnson-it is possible that Holliday goes down to #3; still-like Jones-I don’t see him dropping to #4.
3) Termarr Johnson-IF (Mays HS)
Johnson is a straight beast at the plate; wowing onlookers with with tape measure taters, and may be the best pure hitter in this year’s class. During his final season in a Raiders uniform he collected 23 hits in 59 at bats; with 15 of them going for extra bases.
Unfortunately his defense is not as polished; often causing many to project him as a second baseman rather than staying at shortstop. Nevertheless, this hasn’t been enough to stop the rumors from swirling surrounding him potentially landing in Baltimore at #1 Overall.
4) Elijah Green-OF (IMG Academy)
Son of Former Steelers Tight End Eric Green and the most likely #TankFor candidate in some Pirates Fans eyes during last season. A physical specimen at 6’3” and 225 pounds, Green is unbelievably fast (70 grade) for size; making him a threat on the base paths, as well as allowing him to make the outfield seem smaller.
Power (60 grade) over hit (50 grade) at the moment, Green put some naysayers at ease by providing more consistent bat to ball skills this past season; cutting down on strikeouts (26.9%) compared to last season (43.6%).
For what’s it’s worth I have seen Green going anywhere from #2 to #6; except for #4 that is.
The College Bats
1) Cam Collier-3B (Chipola College)
Despite being only 17 years-old, Collier is in fact a college bat; and, a JUCO Bandit to be more specific. By his GED after his Junior Year of High School and enrolling at Chipola, he was able to reclassify for the 2022 Draft instead of waiting until next year to come out.
In speaking with Joe Doyle from Prospects Live, I found out that when everything is said and done, Collier could end up being the best pure hitter in this class; although we wouldn’t likely see it on display until 2025 or 2026 at PNC Park, if he is selected by Pittsburgh.
2) Brooks Lee-SS (Cal Poly)
If any player fits what I believe to be the Ben Cherington mold, its Brooks Lee. He has an advanced college bat-.357/.462/.664 with 15 homers in 286 at bats; plus, he performed well in the Cape with the wood bats-.405/.432/.667 with 6 homers in 84 at bats.
3) Jacob Berry-1B/OF (LSU)
Hey the Pirates need a real 1st Baseman, N’at! And, that’s exactly what Berry could be. Seen by Joe Doyle as potentially the fastest riser/helium prospect to move through the Minors, the soon to be former Tiger could be spotted in the Majors as early as late 2023; which is a lot more optimistic than my amateur estimation of the end of 2024 to the beginning of 2025.
Projected to be a .290 hitter that could run into 20+ homers, he could honestly be the safest pick in the draft. The prototypical high floor/low ceiling candidate.
4) Jace Jung-2B/3B (Texas Tech)
Versatility…I bet this guy could play some outfield. But seriously, Jung is absolutely a guy I could see Cherington signing at under slot at #4, if he wants to make a bigger splash at #36 and #44. Younger Brother of Texas Ranger’s #3 Prospect Third Baseman John Jung, Jace appeared in every single game at Texas Tech; walking 59 times in 61 games this season. However, walks isn’t what would have him moving up the draft board. A .335 AVG, an 1.093 OPS, 14 homers and 14 doubles does that.
1) Kevin Parada-C (Georgia Tech)
But Craig the Pirates just drafted Henry Davis last year!!!
Believe me, I am well aware. I am also aware that no prospect is a guarantee. And no, this has nothing to do with Davis’ current injury situation. Plus whenever I am questioned about this possibility I always bring up the San Francisco Giants drafting Patrick Bailey two years after selecting Joey Bart with the #2 Overall Pick.
A bat first catcher, Parada slashed .361/.453/.709 with 26 homers during his sophomore season; which automatically adds another power bat to the system. Moreover, who needs a defensive catcher anyway, with robo-umps coming to MLB eventually?
2) Zach Neto-SS (Campbell University)
Bubba Chandler 2.0? Well, not exactly. Yeah he did throw 93 mph out of the bullpen, but honestly that only proves that he can stick at short or slide over to third.
A menace on the base paths, Neto stole 19 bases this past season; and, often turned singles into doubles and doubles into triples to the tune of 25 total. Add in 15 homers with a .407 AVG, 39 walks to 19 strikeouts, and you truthfully have guy that will literally create runs.
Did I also mention that he batted .304 with 3 homers in the Cape?
On a side note, part of me just wants the Pirates to draft Neto because of Campbell University’s Mascot; The Fighting Camels. How awesome is that?
3) Gavin Cross-OF (Virginia Tech)
35 total extra base hits! Not only did he crack 17 homers, but he also chipped in 14 doubles and 8 triples for the Hokies this season; all while lowing his strikeout rate-20.5% to 14.6%-and increasing walks 7.3% to 10.7%.
A centerfielder by trade, Cross is almost destined to find his way into one one of the corner spot.
Sometimes it pays to be one of the 10 lowest revenue or amongst the 10 smallest market teams. For the Pittsburgh Pirates I guess it pays to be both. This year 15 teams were in the mix for Comp Round A (After The First Round) and Comp Round B (After The Second Round) Picks; with the Pirates coming in at the Pick #36.
Now obviously, exactly what the Pirates do with this pick depends on who falls to them at #4; although in my estimation it will be an arm, as there aren’t really any reasonable choices at pitcher until you get to like 10th or 11th. Because of that reason, here are a couple guys I would target:
1) Jackson Ferris-LHP (IMG Academy)
Who doesn’t like lefty pitchers?
IMG Academy may sound familiar to Pirates Fans; and it’s not because of Elijah Green. Current Pittsburgh Prospect Brennan Malone is an alumni of this Bradenton, Florida Baseball Factory.
At 6’4” and 190 lbs this lanky lefty pumps his fastball (60 grade) consistently at 94 to 96 mph; pairing it will a power curve (55 grade)and a pretty solid change (55 Grade) During this past season he boasted a 1.03 ERA and 103 strikeouts across 54.1 innings.
2) Blade Tidwell-RHP (Tennessee)
Tidwell’s draft stock took a slight hit after he missed the first six weeks of the season with shoulder soreness, and not officially joining the starting rotation until a month later. With a 3.00 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 39 innings, Blade saved some of the best for last; pitching 7.2 innings and striking out 7 in a Regional Matchup with Alabama State.
This big righty has 4 solid pitches in his toolbox; featuring his low-80’s changeup (55 grade) against a fastball (60 grade) that touches 99 mph, a low-80s slider (60 grade) and a mid-70s curve (50 grade).
3) Justin Campbell-RHP (Oklahoma State)
Also 6’7”, and a two way player? Well, not anymore. After hitting .269 during his 2021 season with the Cowboys Campbell hung up his batting gloves to focus on his work on the mound; even though he did throw a no-hitter in 2021, while still serving as the team’s DH at times.
Extremely athletic with deceptive mechanics, Campbell pairs a super spin fastball (50 grade) with an upper-70s changeup (55 grade) and a mid-70s curve (55 grade). Both his fastball and changeup have lots of movement, which constantly keep hitters on their toes; as evidenced by his 141 strikeouts in 101.1 innings.
Sidelined in his high school career following shoulder surgery, Campbell passed on his 18th Round selection by the Astros in 2019 to honor his commitment to Oklahoma State.
For My Money
If I had to place a bet on any player being selected by the Pirates at #4 it would be Brooks Lee; assuming that he is still on the board, as the Orioles could easy select him to go under slot with the #1 Overall Pick. Next on my short list is Cam Collier. Finally, in the show position would be Berry.
Let me know what you think of this year’s draft class, who your favorite is, and ultimately who you believe the Pirates are going to call on with the #4 Overall Pick.