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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Pirates Reportedly Have Interest in High School Shortstop with First Round Pick

The 2019 amateur draft begins in 18 days and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 18th overall pick on day one of the draft. According to reports on both Fangraphs and from Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline, the Pirates are interested in high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson from Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama.

Henderson was the pick for the Pirates in Pipeline’s latest mock draft last week. That link has a full report and three videos, so it’s worth checking out. In the link above from Callis, he notes that Henderson has moved up the ranks because he’s added strength and quickness as a senior, while scouts are more confident that he will remain at shortstop in the future. The downside here is that Callis also hears that three teams ahead of the Pirates have interest as well.

Fangraphs picked Henderson for the Pirates in their latest mock draft from two days ago and note that the Pirates have been tied to him. They also bring up another name, which I wanted to focus on because it’s a new name here. They say that the Pirates like shortstop Matthew Lugo out of Puerto Rico, but note that he would be much better at their next pick (37th overall).

MLB Pipeline has Lugo rated 36th overall in this draft class, which is a perfect fit for that second pick. He just turned 18 years old last week and stands 6’1″, 195 pounds. He’s a right-handed hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. He gets an above average ranking (55 grade) for his hitting and is average across the board in the other four tools. Some scouts see the potential for more than average power. There are some question marks as to whether he can stick at shortstop, but he at least profiles as a solid second baseman, and also has the arm to play third base.

He’s at least someone to remember for the second pick, though if he’s high on the Pirate draft board, and everyone ahead of his is selected, then it’s possible he’s taken with that 18th pick.

The best video for Lugo is batting practice from last year via 2080 Baseball

MLB Pipeline has a brief video with some highlights, including fielding

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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.

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