Following the departures of both Carlos Santana and Ji-man Choi last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were left without a natural first baseman on the roster. Santana was traded to division rival Milwaukee Brewers despite have an above average year for someone his age, and while Choi was by no means an asset, he at least played first base. Left without a permanent fixture at the position, the Pirates are now set to target a top first base prospect in next years draft.
Early releases of first round mock drafts have Nick Kurtz out of Wake Forest being the first overall pick for the Cleveland Guardians. Kurtz is one of the most polished hitters in this draft class and an average athlete but seemingly more than capable of playing first at the next level. Charlie Condon out of the University of Georgia is another one of the top prospects and is projected to go to the Rockies at third. Oakland possesses the fourth pick which could see them take the top two-way talent in the draft, as Jac Caglianone can pitch and play defense at first.
Pittsburgh doesn’t pick until ninth, and while they could move up a couple of spots ahead of draft day, those three prospects will likely be too far out of reach for the Pirates, leaving some question marks at who they could then target. The MLB’s mock draft doesn't even see the team taking a first baseman, while others see them being able to select Kurtz at nine.
Equipped with well-above-average power, Nick Kurtz could become the second college 1B in 60 Drafts to go first overall.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 15, 2023
Grades, scouting report + more on our No. 2 Draft prospect: https://t.co/aNlOB0Psy5 pic.twitter.com/TvuFL2HyJ0
If the Pirates do miss out on those three aforementioned players and are still interested in taking a first baseman early on, Ethan Anderson from the University of Virginia has to standout as a top hitting talent who is likely going to carry a lot of that team’s load in 2024. Anderson is the next highest ranking first baseman as the 44th-rated prospect which is a decent drop from the top heavy portion of the prospects.
Behind Anderson are three more college first baseman to round out the top 100. James Tibbs (Florida State), Cole Mathis (College of Charleston) and Derek Bender (Coastal Carolina) are not nearly as pro-ready as some of the prospects at the top of the list, which could lead the Pirates to skipping on one of them in the first round and maybe going that direction in the second or third rounds.
There’s still plenty of time until draft day, and things will get shaken around quite a bit before that but it would behoove the Pirates to push for a top first-baseman.