The early results from Quinn Priester, Matt Fraizer, and Jared Triolo show that the Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a good start from their 2019 MLB Draft.
Priester is arguably the best pitching prospect for the Pirates, Triolo won a Gold Glove in the minors this past year, while Fraizer was the organization’s player of the year. Meanwhile, 37th overall pick Sammy Siani is still waiting to make his mark in the system.
The outfielder from William Penn Charter School decided to sign and start his professional career instead of going to Duke to play baseball after the Pirates gave him a $2.15 million signing bonus.
Signing and jumping straight to the GCL, Siani played in 29 games and slashed a .241/.372/.308 line, with 26 walks to 41 strikeouts, while registering six extra base hits.
Siani was assigned to Low-A Bradenton in 2021, where injuries would limit the outfielder to just 62 games. In those games, he showed the raw tool set that you would expect out of a prep player playing his first full season worth of baseball.
Manning all three outfield positions throughout the season, Siani batted just .215, but his patience at the plate allowed him to record an on-base percentage of .376. The left-handed hitter almost averaged a walk per game he played, finishing with 52 bases on balls in the 62 games he participated in.
While it will be determined to see just how much power ends up being a part of his game, Siani hit eight home runs among 17 extra base hits in what amounted to about a half seasons worth of plate appearances (258).
At this point, Siani’s best trait is his plate discipline. He posted an insane 20.4 BB% with Bradenton last year, while also posting a 20.9-out of zone swing percentage, lowest among the team’s regulars.
This clip shows some of the patience he has at the plate, although you can almost argue it comes to a fault.
Siani was thrown a lot to the outer half of the plate, likely due to his incredibly high pull rate, and surprising power when he’s able to turn on a pitch. In the first two at-bats shown, he is able to draw consecutive four pitch walks taking mostly fastballs on the outer half.
The third at-bat shown Siani was able to climb out of an 1-2 count and draw a walk. The second pitch he showed good discipline not chasing a decent breaking ball that stayed in the strike zone most of the way to the plate. He takes back-to back fastballs, the second of which a very close call that may have benefitted from the automated strike zone wider area (no confirmation if this game used automated strike zone however), nonetheless called a ball.
On the other side of things, Siani did also take quite a few called strike threes throughout the season that maybe in future years he looks to try and just slap away to stay alive in the at-bat. The final at-bat shows an instance of this.
Although he did a good job of staying alive, fouling off two pitches with two strikes, he ultimately struck out looking.
While there has been talk about how much power Siani will eventually grow into, he did a great job last year in using his patience at the plate to force the pitcher into a mistake and then capitalize on it.
In the next clip, Siani hits a home run, followed by a triple in two different situations. The first, a home run, was hit on a 0-2 count. Yes, that’s mostly on the pitcher for throwing a hittable pitch in that count, but Siani had no problem sitting on the first two pitches, and took advantage on his opponents mistake.
The next at-bat he jumped out to a 2-0 count, although they weren’t the hardest pitch to lay off, but the point remains that Siani was able to capitalize on the pitcher’s mistake in falling behind.
Siani has decent speed (although that hasn’t translated to any extra stolen bases at this point) and the ability to play all three outfield positions, which would make for a good fourth outfielder in the future.
If the power comes up a little bit more — he would have to improve on the exit velocity numbers (83.7 average EV) — and the hitting starts rounding out, Siani could start to show why the Pirates spent so big on him. He just turned 21 at the end of 2021, and has plenty of time for that improvement to happen.