The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the 2021 draft with a very specific strategy, and by all accounts they executed it to perfection.
After starting with Henry Davis, the Pirates continued by selecting prep players with their next four picks — all highly rated players who dropped due to signability concerns.
We all know the stories of each of them by now.
Anthony Solometo was the team’s second rounder, a lefty with the funky delivery that scared some off.
Lonnie White Jr. was one of the most athletic players in the draft and was headed to Penn State to play football and baseball.
As too was Bubba Chandler, who was a four-star quarterback heading to Clemson but opted to sign after the Pirates promised him an opportunity to be a two-way player.
Owen Kellington was mostly an unknown when selected out of Vermont, but he ended up signing an over-slot deal.
The only thing about taking players right out of high school, and maybe more towards ones who didn’t focus solely on baseball, is that they may not be immediately ready to jump into full season right out of the gates.
We’ve seen that this season, as Solometo is the only one of the group to make his debut, pitching Friday night for the Bradenton Marauders.
Solometo was about how you would expect from a 19-year-old making his debut, pitching three innings, allowing three hits, two unearned runs, walking two and striking out three.
Now with his debut out the way, who is going to follow him among that group?
We saw White’s name come up recently, but that turned out to be a paper move to deal with an arm issue. It’s not believed to be serious, more dealing with the rigors of his first year focusing solely on baseball.
Being that he was at times a three-sport athlete as well, White may be a guy that could get a full look in the FCL before making the jump to Bradenton in 2023.
Most believe that Chandler’s future is on the mound, but due to them also giving him a chance in the field, the Pirates could pry on the side of caution with his arm. Even if it’s to find the best routine for him, Chandler could be another candidate to play a full season in the FCL before making the same jump as White.
Maybe if the Pirates get to the point in Chandler’s workload that they are okay with shutting down one or the other for him and let him focus on either pitching or hitting down the stretch in a brief Bradenton cameo.
That would leave Kellington, who is an interesting case as stated above due to the lack of knowledge surrounding him, as the best case for the next prep player to make the move to Bradenton.
Which player do you think makes the jump to Bradenton next? Leave your pick in the comments.
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