After drafting Henry Davis first overall back in 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates used their next four picks on high school players, with each of them getting over slot deals in the process.
Deeper down in the draft, the Pirates swung for the fences again, seeing another opportunity to add a high upside prep player to the system. They selected Braylon Bishop in the 14th round, pick 403rd overall.
While some of the other names get more recognition, Bishop was a highly regarded prospect in his own right. The outfielder from Arkansas was among the top-100 prospects in both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline’s rankings.
Good looking cut here from Texarcana, Arkansas OF Braylon Bishop here. Homer #2 of the spring for him.
Swing is much more composed and compact here. Not so much excessive coil in his load. Kid could always punish a baseball. Needs to *hit* this spring.#MLBDraft
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 19, 2021
Noted for his power potential, speed and defense, Bishop was seen as another great grab for the Pirates, especially late in the draft, even with there being some questions about his swing and ability to make consistent contact.
He made a brief cameo in the FCL after being drafted, and then remained there for the entire 2022 season, slashing .220/.358/.294 with a 96 wRC+ in 134 plate appearances across 36 games played.
There wasn’t much power there, only hitting one home run among five total extra-base hits, so it looks like he’s still looking to tap into that raw power people saw from him during the draft process.
Bishop hit a surprising amount of balls on the ground (56.7 GB%) last year, especially considering the talk about his swing and power potential that could lead to more balls hit into the air.
He had more of the approach of a lead-off type hitter, with an impressive 16.4% walk rate and 10 stolen bases. Although he didn’t quite get to his goals of finishing in the top five of both OBP and stolen bases, he did fairly well based on his playing time.
He would have finished 25th in OBP if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, while he was also 17th in stolen bases despite the lack of playing time.
At first glance, 36 games doesn’t seem like nearly enough for an entire season, even if the FCL Pirates team only played 55 overall.
The Pirates invested into the idea that the off the field/side work is just as important for development as actual playing time, and the kind of leap that Bishop takes in year two could make him one of the first ‘success’ stories from it.
I talked previously about where one of the strengths in the system lies, in the lower levels with the higher upside/high risk type of prospects. Bishop would fit that mold, so it will be interesting to see how far they push him next year and if the off-the-field work made up for the lack of games played.
The Pirates haven’t been shy about getting aggressive with some of their prospects, and with Bishop turning 20 during the first month of the season, it is easy to see a scenario where he starts the year in Bradenton.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**I broke down Johan Oviedo’s stuff at the end of the year, looking at whether he should be in the Pirates’ rotation.
**Anthony looked at Carmen Mlodzinski and how he closed out the 2022 season on a strong note.
**Baseball Prospectus had three Pirates in their top 101 prospects.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
We took a look at a pair of pitchers in this week’s article drop. I looked at Johan Oviedo, who should factor into the MLB rotation this year.
Anthony looked at Carmen Mlodzinski, who could put himself into the MLB mix with a strong season in Indianapolis.
I’ll have a column on Wednesday looking at the MLB pitching depth.