By Jason Shetler
On paper, the Pirates had themselves a terrific 2017 draft. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, in fact, rated this year’s Pirates draft class as third best among all MLB clubs. Last week, I wrote an article about the Bucs 17th rounder Mason Martin, who is putting the Gulf Coast League on notice with his power display. The West Virginia Black Bears have also seen good production from three draft picks this year. Those players are Deon Stafford, Bligh Madris and Tristan Gray.
Stafford was the Pirates fifth round selection out of St. Joseph’s University. He signed for $315,500, under the slot value of $336,500. The numbers have been outstanding for Stafford, especially given the fact that he’s a catcher. His average currently is seventh highest in the New York-Penn League at .301, while his .839 OPS is eighth best.
With their ninth round pick, the Pirates went the Division II route by choosing Bligh Madris out of Colorado Mesa University. The left-handed hitting outfielder signed with the Bucs for $130,000, below the slot value of $142,700. Madris has a .380 on base percentage, which is second on the Black Bears right now. The high on base is due in large part to a solid walk rate of 11.5%. He also hasn’t struckout much, with a 13.7% K rate. Madris is posting an OPS of .852, good for sixth best in the NYPL.
The Pirates selected Gray as a 13th round pick from Rice University, signing him for $125,000. I wasn’t able to find the exact slot value for the round, but I’m sure he signed for under that amount. Gray is a 6’3 second baseman, which is quite tall for the position. He has a .347 OBP, contributed to a decent walk rate of 8.9%, while his K rate is almost similar to Madris’ at 13.8%. Gray currently has the seventh best OPS in the NYPL at .847.