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Pittsburgh Pirates 2019 MLB Draft Report Card

Image credit: Quinn Priester (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam)

Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams’ most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization’s 2019 draft.

You can see the full Pittsburgh Pirates 2019 draft class here. Find all of our 2019 draft report cards here.

Best Pure Hitter: OF Sammy Siani (1s) has plenty of hitter traits, with a handsy lefthanded swing that is simple and consistent, and a quiet load and loose movements throughout. The Pirates also like the hitting traits that 3B Jared Triolo (2s) possesses, with an ability to use the opposite field and a strong track record of hitting with Houston. 

Best Power Hitter: OF Matt Gorski (2) has plus raw power, though it didn’t fully translate to games during his pro debut in the short-season New York-Penn League. OF Will Matthiesen (6) was a two-way player at Stanford, but the Pirates like his power potential as a hitter. A 6-foot-7, 220-pound righthanded hitter, Matthiessen has plus raw power as well and might better tap into that juice with an exclusive focus on hitting.

Fastest Runner: Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High product OF Jasiah Dixon (23) has plus-plus speed and is likely the quickest runner in the class. OF Matt Fraizer (3) is deceptively quick for his size—6-foot-3, 205 pounds—and is an above-average runner underway. 

Best Defensive Player: Siani doesn’t have game-changing speed, but he’s a polished center fielder thanks to standout instincts. Gorski is athletic—he was also a standout soccer player—and quick enough for the position, while Triolo has impressive enough body control and instincts that he played some shortstop in his pro debut.

Best Athlete: RHP J.C. Flowers (4) has standout athleticism, and he’d probably still stand out on a field with football players or in a basketball gym. He has elite body control and an impressive vertical leap, giving him significant upside now that he’s beginning to focus exclusively on pitching after being a solid two-way player at Florida State.

Best Fastball: RHP Austin Roberts (8) touches 97 mph and sits in the 92-96 mph range. RHP Quinn Priester (1) has been up to 96 mph, though he pitches in the low 90s with solid life on his heater. Flowers and RHP Grant Ford (5) also have fastballs that get up into the 95-96 mph range. 

Best Secondary Pitch: Priester pairs his fastball and changeup with a curveball that has good shape and flashed plus potential as an amateur. The pitch could take big steps forward now that he’s in pro ball with some of the first real pitching instruction of his life. 

Best Pro Debut: Dixon could wind up being a steal in the 25th round after hitting .329/.417/.425 in his debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. His tools were enough to make him a talent worthy of the top 10 rounds, but scouts wondered about his contact and production at the next level. So far, so good. RHP Cameron Junker (10) posted a 1.29 ERA in 28 innings of relief in the short-season New York-Penn League. The Notre Dame product struck out 45 batters and walked 11.

Most Intriguing Background: The Pirates drafted a number of players with athletic bloodlines and family ties, including OF Blake Sabol (7), who is cousins with former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu; C Eli Wilson (16), who is the son of 14-year big leaguer Dan Wilson; OF Jake Snider (20), whose father, Eric, is an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Louisville. If those weren’t interesting enough, 2B Josh Bissonette’s (31) father, Matt, is a bass player who has performed with David Lee Roth and Ringo Starr and currently plays with Elton John.

Closest To The Majors: Priester and Triolo are two of the most advanced players in the class, though Roberts or Flowers could move quickly if they were pushed to a reliever role.

Best Late-Round Pick: Dixon has a solid case for this selection thanks to his previously mentioned accolades, as does OF Deion Walker (35), who the Pirates signed for $200,000 late on Day 3. Walker is 6-foot-4, 180 pounds and impacts the ball with long levers and some feel for the barrel. He’s also an above-average runner and hit .270/.329/.459 in his pro debut, giving him solid performance in addition to an intriguing set of tools that is typically rare for a player drafted so late.

The One Who Got Away: 1B Will Simpson (18) had hitting qualities that the Pirates appreciated, but he’ll make it to campus at Washington, where he flipped his commitment after originally being a Washington State commit. RHP Dawson McCarville (30) is a strong strike-thrower who will go from junior college to Grand Canyon for his junior season.

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