The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted prep right-handed pitcher Steve Jennings with the 42nd overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft. This was their first pick in the second round, and compensation for not signing left-handed prep pitcher Nick Lodolo last year. This pick doesn’t come with any additional compensation, which means the Pirates won’t get another pick next year if they don’t sign Jennings.
Jennings is another hard thrower, already sitting 89-92 MPH and touching as high as 95. He doesn’t have the velocity that first round pick Shane Baz has, but his velocity is a bit more typical for a projectable prep pitcher. He’s 6′ 2″, 175 pounds, so there’s some room in his frame to fill out, and the chance for more velocity in the future. He also has a loose arm with quick arm speed, which helps when players fill out.
Jennings also throws a hard slider in the mid-80s with plus potential and deception, and mixes in a curveball and a changeup. He hasn’t thrown the changeup that much, but does have a good feel for the pitch. Both the curveball and changeup could be average pitches at least, giving him the chance for two plus offerings and two more quality pitches.
There is some athleticism here, as Jennings was a three-sport player, playing quarterback for his football team. He tore his ACL during the fall, but made a quick recovery and was pitching this spring while wearing a knee brace. It doesn’t seem like that will be an issue going forward, and Jennings gets a lot of praise for his frame and athleticism.
The interesting thing is that the Pirates went with a prep pitcher here with what is believed to be a firm commitment to Mississippi. If they don’t sign Jennings, they don’t get any compensation next year. They have $1,635,500 to sign him, which makes you think they know what he wants, and know that they can get him signed for slot or less.