The Pittsburgh Pirates selected four players on day one of the 2019 MLB draft, going with a prep pitcher in the first round, and three hitters with their next three picks. The first two picks were from the prep ranks, but the last two college hitters still have some upside to their game.
With the first pick, they took right-handed pitcher Quinn Priester, a projectable arm who is already hitting 97 MPH, with the potential for a plus curveball. I wrote about Priester earlier after his conference call. One of the big things that stood out to me was that Priester taught himself some mechanical adjustments by watching MLB pitchers on YouTube.
Pirates’ scouting director Joe DelliCarri said that this is a little unique to see from a prep pitcher, even with all of the technology that is available today.
“There’s no question there is aptitude in this young man, and the way he speaks about it, and some of the things that we can add to,” DelliCarri said. “I know Kyle [Stark] and Larry [Broadway] and all of the super people we have working with our kids in our system are going to be able to give him [development] to add. We like that about him, and see the aptitude of what he has shared with us, and going through the process with him.”
For more on Priester, check out my article from earlier.
With their second pick, the Pirates went with prep center fielder Sammy Siani. The Pirates actually scouted his brother, Mike, last year (who went 109th overall to the Reds), so they already had the relationship with his family entering this draft.
Siani’s best tool is his hitting ability from the left side. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power right now, being limited to extra base hits. He’s got a simple swing, with Baseball America describing it as “a small leg kick, but quiet hands in his load, with a slight uppercut path and a long one-handed finish.”
He could reach average power in the future, and you’d have to wonder if the Pirates’ new approach to hitting will help him generate more power in pro ball, while also maintaining the ability to hit for average.
“The guys clearly [see] strength in Sammy’s hitting, and definitely potential room in his body and upside in strength and growth as an offensive package,” DelliCarri said of the scouts. “We like his athleticism, the way he runs around the outfield defensively, but equally or more so we feel strongly about his offensive potential.”
Siani is a center fielder, and was rated as one of the best defenders in this year’s prep class. He doesn’t have a strong arm, rating as below-average, but he’s a plus runner who takes good routes.
The Pirates switched over to college hitters with their final two picks on day one, with power being a key factor for the development of both players.
With their third pick, they selected Indiana center fielder Matt Gorski. He showed increased power this year, but that also came with a lower average and a lot of strikeouts, with plenty of reports saying that he sold out for power, sacrificing other parts of his offensive game. DelliCarri agreed with this assessment.
“We’ve seen a lot in different seasons or samples of what Matt has done,” DelliCarri said. “We see a young man that has terrific aptitude and athleticism to put it all together. … There’s a lot of good things to work with, with Matt Gorski, in putting this together, and we believe he will.”
Gorski is an interesting project for the Pirates. He’s a power/speed guy, with the ability to be a 20/20 player. He plays center, but will probably have to move to a corner eventually, which wouldn’t be a problem if his bat plays up. The question is whether he can learn to hit for power without sacrificing other parts of his game. The Pirates haven’t been successful in the past with similar players, with Casey Hughston being the first that comes to mind due to the outfield comparison.
An interesting note about Gorski, he played a lot of soccer in the past, giving the Pirates another two-sport athlete to add to Priester (football).
With the final pick of day one, the Pirates drafted college third baseman Jared Triolo. This pick appeared to have some good value, especially if Triolo can develop some power in the future.
Triolo profiles as a strong defensive third baseman, with plus defense at the corner. He also shows a good ability to hit for average, along with good plate patience, having more walks (31) than strikeouts (30) this past year.
“I think watching him comfortable deep in the at-bats, watching him even with some upside to jump some stuff early in counts,” DelliCarri said on what they liked about his hitting. “He’s very comfortable going deeper. He sees the ball, and looks to be processing. … Just the overall look to Jared is hitterish in all counts, early and late.”
Triolo looks like a good bet to reach the majors in at least a bench role, due to the combo of strong defense at third, and the potential to hit for average and get on base. He only has average speed, but is an efficient base runner, stealing 13 in 15 attempts this year.
If he can add some power to the hit tool, which grades out as average, then he could be good enough to be a starter in the majors at third base.
It’s likely that the Pirates went under-slot with some, or perhaps all of their day one picks. We’ll have to wait until day three to see how they’d use that extra money.
For more on each player, check out our player pages:
We’ll have full coverage on day two, with information on all of the Pirates picks, and a recap at the end of the day. Day two of the draft starts at 1 PM, and we’ll have updates throughout the morning if there are any.