Pirates, No. 64 Draft pick White have deal

July 26th, 2021

The Pirates have signed their highly touted top four selections in this year’s MLB Draft, rounding out the group by inking Competitive Balance Round B pick Lonnie White Jr., the club announced on Monday.

White’s signing bonus will be $1.5 million, according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis, nearly 50 percent more than the No. 64 overall pick’s slot value of $1.05 million. Every one of the Pirates’ top four picks in the Draft was ranked in the top 75 of MLB Pipeline’s Top Draft Prospects list.

A Penn State commit, White is one of two Pirates draftees who had Division I college football commitments; Pittsburgh inked two-way player Bubba Chandler (third round) to a $3 million deal on Thursday to pry him from his commitment to Clemson.

White had the backing of Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin, whom the signee called “a great person, all around.”

For the past few weeks, White has been in conversation with his family about this opportunity and it came down to doing what he loved the most.

“It was definitely very difficult, but I think the reason I decided this route was that it’s always been in my heart [since I was] a little kid,” White said. “This is just a dream come true to me.”

White's tools are strong; he was one of the fastest players in this year’s Draft. His 70-grade speed played a large part in his success as a wide receiver, and it helps the 6-foot-3, 212-pound outfielder roam center field with plus-plus ability. With that frame and some leverage to his swing, the 18-year-old is expected to develop more power at the plate, where evaluators see the most room for growth.

Director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri said the scouting team has already seen strides at the plate, as White was tested against more advanced arms going back to the summer of 2020.

“In some of the things he did in those at-bats offensively, they really stood out,” DelliCarri said. “We got a chance to see him face velocity, got a chance to see him face a lot of different pitching. He handled himself extremely well in the batter's box.”

While the offensive potential is clear, there is room to grow, and White said as much on Monday. Now, with football behind him and a future in baseball, he can tinker with the aspects of his game with the backing of the Pirates’ development team.

"I think it's another reason I chose the baseball route,” he said. “I believe that once I get going and once I just focus on just baseball, it will become easier for me."

Though the top four selections are locked up, cementing the Pirates as having one of the best Drafts in MLB this year, there is still more work to be done.

A handful of players drafted by the Pirates are without deals, but the two to keep an eye on ahead of the Sunday deadline will be fourth-rounder Owen Kellington and 14th-rounder Braylon Bishop, who was the No. 94 Draft prospect, per MLB Pipeline. Kellington is committed to UConn, and Bishop is an Arkansas commit. The Pirates have nearly used their full pool; a 75 percent tax will be incurred from 0-5 percent over their allotted bonus pool of $14,394,000, and beyond that, the club would begin to lose future Draft picks.