by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Athletics.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking the old adage that you can never have enough pitching to heart. They spent 9 of their first 11 picks in the 2023 MLB Draft on hurlers, and 7 out of 8 picks on the 2nd day of the draft. The athletes of the SEC seemed to be Ben Cherington’s favorite place to shop, as he selected 5 pitchers from the powerful conference alone.
Here’s a preview of some of the Pirates' selections through day two of the draft:
Name- Garret Forrester
Pos-1B B-R T-R
Team- Oregon State
HT/WT- 6’1” 208 lbs.
Home – Roseville, CA
Drafted- Round 3 (73)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected first baseman, Garret Forrester out of Oregon State with their third round pick. Forrester was the PAC-12 tournament MVP and a member of the All-PAC-12 First Team in 2022.
A right-handed hitter, Forrester brings an intriguing combination of bat speed, power potential and pitch recognition to the plate. He has a good eye and makes a lot of good decisions while in the batter’s box, making him a tough out for any pitcher. A pure gap hitter, Forrester routinely gets his barrel out in front of the zone.
While not the fastest runner, he moves well for an athlete of his size. He’s a capable first baseman who could get a look at third base if needed and has the arm to play the hot corner. He can be a plus hitter in the pro ranks.
Name- Carlson Reed
Pos-SP B-L T-R
Team- West Virginia
HT/WT- 6’4” 200 lbs.
Home – Atlanta, GA
Drafted- Round 4 (104)
The Pirates selected right-handed pitcher, Carlson Reed out of West Virginia with their 4th round pick. He has worked as both a starter and reliever for the Mountaineers, and was named First Team All-Big 12 as a closer.
Reed has a solid three-pitch mix that made the scouts want to see Reed start more. His fastball averages around 95 mph and has hit as high as 98. He throws a changeup with good movement in the mid-80’s and gets a lot of swing and misses from this pitch.
Reed’s issue is with his command, especially the overall command of his fastball. If the Pirates are looking at Reed as a starter, they may want to work on his delivery and arm motion to iron out some of his issues.
Draft 412 sees this as a talent and possibly a future 4-5 starter or a setup man in the future.
Name- Patrick Reilly
Pos-SP B-R T-R
HT/WT- 6’3” 208 lbs.
Home – Long Branch, NJ
Drafted- Round 5 (140)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher, Patrick Reilly out of Vanderbilt with their 5th round pick. Reilly was New Jersey’s top draft prospect in 2020 but went unselected due to his strong commitment to Vanderbilt.
Reilly has yet to realize his true potential and has struggled for the most part at Vanderbilt with his control. His best feature is a fastball that sits between 93-96 mph and has arm-side movement. He has a plus-slider with tight movement and throws a cutter and a changeup, although the changeup is not used very often.
Mechanics in his delivery are off-sync, leading to control problems and that needs to be addressed by the development coaches of the Pirates. To get a prospect like this in the 5th round is potentially a steal for the Bucs. If he can fix his delivery issues and control problems this could be a dark horse future starter for the Pirates.
Name- Hunter Furtado
Pos-SP B-R T-L
HT/WT- 6’4” 210 lbs.
Home – Wellington, FL
Drafted- Round 6 (167)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected left-handed pitcher, Hunter Furtado out of Alabama with their 6th round pick. Furtado was coached in high school by ex-major leaguers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Brad Wilkerson. Furtado spent one year at Wake Forest before transferring to Alabama.
Furtado has only had sporadic success in college because of his control problems. In a rare start, Furtado threw five innings in this past SEC tournament and may have bumped himself up the Pirates' board. This draft is a weak class for collegiate left-handers, and Furtado was the first lefthander taken by Pittsburgh.
Furtado throws hard, averaging between 93-96 mph with his fastball, which works better at the top of the zone. Furtado throws with a high arm slot and at 6’4” comes straight downhill. The slider is Furtado’s best pitch but at times it has so much movement that control is the issue.
On the downside, Furtado was not used a lot this past season at Alabama and ended with a 4.75 ERA in 17 games.
Draft 412 looks at Furtado as another prospect that once he cleans up the control issues, he could become a nice arm out of the bullpen.
Name- Jaden Woods
Pos-SP B-L T-L
HT/WT- 6’2” 205 lbs.
Home – Macon, GA
Drafted- Round 7 (197)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected left-handed pitcher, Jaden Woods out of Georgia with their 7th round pick. Woods was highly thought of in high school as an athletic left-handed pitcher but went undrafted in the shortened 2020 draft.
Woods started off as a relief pitcher at Georgia but became a full-time starter this past spring. His fastball sits between 90-92 mph consistently with a ceiling of 94 mph. Woods' curveball while pitching in the rotation was a high-70’s pitch and was by far his best pitch. The changeup is a work in progress and is thrown too firmly with little movement.
Many scouts see Woods as a left-handed reliever in the future and it will be interesting to see what Ben Cherington and the minor league instructors have planned for Woods.
Name- Austin Strickland
Pos-RP B-R T-R
HT/WT- 6’2” 210 lbs.
Home – Winchester, OH
Drafted- Round 8 (227)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher, Austin Strickland out of Kentucky with their 8th round pick. This is the 4th consecutive SEC pitcher the Pirates have selected and 5th overall.
Strickland throws from a three-quarters arm slot and has a nice repeatable delivery. His fastball sits between 93-94 with late sinking action that leads to a lot of ground balls. He throws both a curveball (upper 70’s) and a slider (lower 80’s) and has good control of both pitches. He throws a changeup but is not comfortable with it, thus barely throws it.
Strickland is built to be a good multiple innings relief pitcher who is a tad bit more polished than the pitchers taken above him by the Pirates. Strickland should work his way through the organization as a multi-inning relief pitcher.
Name- Danny Carrion
Pos-RP B-R T-R
Team- UC Davis
HT/WT- 6’3” 205 lbs.
Home – Sacramento, CA
Drafted- Round 9 (257)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher, Danny Carrion out of UC Davis with their 9th round pick.
Carrion posted a 2.45 ERA in 19 outings this past season and struck out 34 batters in 29 innings. Carrion was seldom used in his first two seasons at UC Davis and did not allow a college home run.
Carrion appears to be a future project in the system that was drafted for his athleticism and ceiling.
Name- Landon Tomkins
Pos-RP B-R T-R
Team- Louisiana Tech
HT/WT- 6’3” 200 lbs.
Home – Brandon, MS
Drafted- Round 10 (287)
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher, Landon Tomkins out of Louisiana Tech with their 10th round pick. This was their 7th straight pitcher taken.
Tomkins went 6-2 with 30 appearances this past spring, including 6 starts. He had a 3.52 ERA in 76.2 innings pitched, striking out 75 and walking 34.