The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted St. Joseph’s catcher Deon Stafford in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB draft. This is the second straight college catcher taken by the Pirates, following up on Jason Delay in the fourth round. Stafford rates higher than Delay, and is a college junior, so this isn’t as much of a signability pick as the one before. Baseball America had Stafford rated 131st overall in their rankings, which is just two behind 3rd round pick Dylan Busby.
Stafford has shown some offensive upside, hitting for a .395/.486/.702 line with 18 homers in 215 at-bats during his sophomore year last year. He didn’t follow that up this year, hitting for a .288/.464/.521 line with eight homers in 146 at-bats. In between, he showed potential with wood bats, hitting for a .283/.377/.509 line with six homers in the Cape Cod League.
Baseball America noted that scouts felt Stafford was overmatched this year, swinging and missing more often. He does have some nice raw power, and the hope is that this year is more of a fluke than a sign of things to come with his offense.
Defensively, he is athletic, but his arm rates as fringe-average at best, and he’s not a lock to stick behind the plate. He obviously has some value with his bat if he sticks as a catcher, and his athleticism could allow him to move to another position in the future. He’s almost the opposite of Delay, showing questions about his defense, but promise with his offense.