2017 MLB Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Pirates
Best Pure Hitter: OF Calvin Mitchell (2) is a bat-first left fielder with a loose, fluid swing and an advanced ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. There are questions about his power potential, but he should hit for average and get on base.
Best Power Hitter: OF Conner Uselton (2s) has a significant load to his swing that may affect his hit tool, but it also helps him generate plus raw power. A hamstring injury largely kept him off the field this summer. OF Mason Martin (17) also has raw power and showed productive power in his pro debut, hitting 11 home runs—four more than anyone else in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Fastest Runner: OF Jared Oliva (7) is a plus runner. He swiped 15 bags in 19 attempts in his pro debut at short-season West Virginia.
Best Defensive Player: C Jason Delay (4) faces questions about his bat, but he’s a very polished receiver who caught plenty of elite arms as Vanderbilt’s catcher. He’s a smooth receiver, excellent blocker and has an above-average arm.
Best Fastball: RHP Shane Baz (1) had one of the best fastballs in this draft’s prep pitching class. His arm is extremely quick and helps him fire 93-96 mph fastballs regularly, and he’s touched 98.
Best Secondary Pitch: Baz’s slider or curveball both show plus potential. LHP Blake Weiman (8) has flashed a plus slider as well, as it played up in a move to the bullpen for Kansas and then short-season West Virginia.
Best Pro Debut: Martin was the MVP of the GCL, leading the league in home runs (11), on-base percentage (.457) and slugging percentage (.637). 2B Tristan Gray (13) showed promising power as he hit .269/.329/.486 for short-season West Virginia and tied for the New York-Penn League lead with 25 extra-base hits.
Best Athlete: Uselton was the starting quarterback for his high school team before giving up football to focus on baseball. His 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame portends future weight and strength gains, but he’s still an above-average runner with solid body control. Baz and RHP Steven Jennings (2), also a prep quarterback, are also excellent athletes.
Jared Oliva Improves Swing From Ground Up
The 24-year-old has showcased speed and on-base skills, but power development is the next frontier as he readies for Triple-A.
Most Intriguing Background: Oliva didn’t start for his high school team, but he walked on at Arizona and he turned himself into one of the better hitters in the Wildcats lineup. C Deon Stafford (5), raised by his grandmother, has overcome a difficult childhood in which both parents were addicted to drugs and has become an ardent volunteer in cancer-related charities after the disease claimed his grandfather.
Closest To The Majors: Weiman has above-average control that could allow him to move relatively quickly as a lefty reliever.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Pirates did a good job figuring out signability with Martin, who slid to the 17th round, but the promising high school hitter received $350,000, the sixth-highest bonus the club handed out. Gray seemed to blossom as a pro after he focused on one position; he’d played multiple spots at Rice. Scouts like his swing and see him as a useful middle infielder.
The One Who Got Away: SS Hunter Wolfe (12) hit .393 at Walters State as a redshirt freshman but opted to head to Tennessee instead. He has a chance to make an immediate impact as a middle infielder.