BEST PURE HITTER: 3B Will Craig (1) hit .379 in his junior year at Wake Forest and has a lengthy track record of hitting in college. His lack of exceptional bat speed and poor speed limit him from projecting as more than an above-average hitter.
BEST POWER HITTER: The Pirates drafted only four position players in the top 10 rounds, so they didn’t sign a lot of power. Craig hit 16 home runs at Wake Forest last spring and has at least average power because of plenty of strength in his swing.
FASTEST RUNNER: OF Garrett Brown (23) has plus-plus speed and already a feel for how to use it. He stole 34 bases at Western Carolina during the spring and eight in nine attempts as a pro.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: SS Stephen Alemais (3) was seen as one of the best defensive college shortstops in the draft class. He has an above-average arm, good hands and average range.
BEST FASTBALL: RHP Blake Cederlind (7) has touched 97 mph and sits in the mid-90s. RHP Max Kranick (11) doesn’t throw as hard as Cederlind yet, but as a lanky, young projectable arm, it’s possible his low-90s fastball that touches 95 could gain a tick or two eventually. LHP Braeden Ogle (4) has touched 96. Craig is a just hitter now, but he sat in the low 90s and touched 94-95 as a reliever at Wake Forest.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Ogle’s curveball is average. RHP Travis McGregor (2) flashes an average changeup. LHP Cam Vieaux (7) has an average changeup.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Craig didn’t hit for power, but he did post a .412 on-base percentage at short-season West Virginia. Kranick went 1-2, 2.43 with the Rookie-level GCL Pirates while walking just four in 33 innings.
BEST ATHLETE: Brown played wide receiver and quarterback at Western Carolina and at one point focused fully on football before coming back to the baseball diamond. He has plus-plus speed.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Brown returned to the diamond after using up his football eligibility at Western Carolina. He hit enough as a senior outfielder to become an intriguing, if a little old, senior sign as a 23-year-old who has come back to baseball later in his college career than most.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Craig (1) faces questions about his defense and athleticism, but he is a polished hitter which gives him a chance to move quickly.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Kranick is the kind of late-round projectable high school arm the Pirates seem to thrive at developing. He showed advanced control but didn’t miss many bats with his low-90s fastball in his Gulf Coast League debut.
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: RHP Nick Lodolo (2) was the only player picked in the top five rounds who did not sign. The Texas Christian signee sits in the upper 80s with his fastball, touching 92, with the lanky, projectable frame to add velocity. The Pirates get a pick in next year’s draft as compensation for not signing Lodolo.