Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Draft Review


See Also: Draft Database with Scouting Reports

Draft Theme: Arms Race. 

The Pirates didn’t get cute at the top of the draft this year, and instead took RHP Paul Skenes with the first overall pick. After that, the club used nine of its 11 picks inside the top 10 rounds on pitchers—adding a ton of pitching talent to the system.

Most Interesting Day 2 Pick: LHP Jaden Woods, 7th round

Woods was an athletic, projection lefthander coming out of high school who showed flashes, but never enough now stuff or consistency to be selected in the shortened 2020 draft. He spent his first two years pitching out of the bullpen for Georgia, including an SEC All-Freshman campaign in 2021 and a 2022 season where he struck out 32.4% of the batters he faced. He transitioned to a full-time starter role in 2023, but posted a 5.77 ERA in 10 starts and 48.1 innings and also missed about a month at the end of the season with biceps soreness. Listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Woods is strongly built with plenty of athleticism and a quick arm. He pitches out of a half windup with a clean arm action, explosion off the rubber in his lower half and a balanced, easy finish in his landing. His fastball velocity was down this spring, averaging 90-92 and touching 94, though he has pitched in the 92-96 mph range out of the bullpen. He has a slurvy breaking ball in the upper 70s that has flashed solid sharpness and could become an average offering, and he will occasionally use a mid-80s changeup as well. Woods showed a glimpse of improved strike-throwing in the Cape Cod League in 2022, but that didn’t fully translate to the 2023 season in a starting role, and Woods now profiles best as an athletic, hard-throwing lefty reliever.

Most Interesting Day 3 Pick: LHP Magdiel Cotto, 11th round

Cotto’s fastball took a huge step forward during his senior season in high school (going from 86-91 mph the previous summer to touching 95-96), but he made it to campus at South Carolina, where he struggled out of the bullpen. Cotto transferred to Kentucky for the 2022 season and continued to get hit around as a starter and reliever but started to turn the corner last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he ranked as the No. 19 prospect. Cotto’s command improved during the summer, and he threw his fastball for strikes 70% of the time with Hyannis, while posting a 2.67 ERA over nine games and 27 innings. That didn’t translate to the SEC, as the rate fell back to 63% in 2023 with Kentucky, and the 6-foot-4, 250-pound lefty posted a 5.50 ERA over 18 innings as a reliever with a 31.7% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate. He averaged 93 mph with his fastball and has been up to 97, and mixes in a hard and tight slider in the mid 80s as well as a mid-to-upper-80s tumbling changeup. Cotto has a bit of effort and recoil in his delivery, and his college usage, performance and strikes history suggests he’s a reliever in pro ball, though there’s probably some untapped potential and remaining room for development as well.

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