A few weeks ago, MLB held a showcase for prep players, the star of which was Nick Pratto. Yes, the same Nick Pratto who had the winning hit in the 2011 Little League World Series and who is a lifelong teammate of Hagan Danner. Throughout the showcase, the first baseman displayed a smooth, compact swing that produced burgeoning power to all fields.
The Cubs have not drafted a first baseman since Jacob Rodgers back in 2012, preferring to select catchers, outfielders, and other infielders and them move them over to first base to get more at-bats. All that could change this year if the Cubs select Pratto.
Then again, Pratto might not even stick as a position player. There’s always going to be a market for lefty pitchers who work in the low 90’s and possess a variety of pitches. Though he’s far from a polished product, his fastball/curve/change combo could play well if he has the opportunity to really focus on that aspect of his game.
This Week’s Profile
1B/P – Huntington Beach H.S.
6-2, 195 pounds
Committed to USC
Developing Power to all fields
Areas of Concern
Where to play him: pitcher or 1B?
A two-way player, Pratto’s bat and his projectable frame may skew him toward hitting. Take a look at both videos below, the first of which is of him hitting. His swing is a thing of beauty and I can he is able to wait on a ball and use all fields. I watched about five videos on Pratto hitting and every one was the same except this one, which has him fielding, an underrated part of his game.
Pratto has more work to do to improve as a pitcher, but he’s got some nice raw tools.
What Others Say
MLB Pipeline said:
There might be a slight lean in the scouting industry toward Pratto as a hitter. He has an advanced approach at the plate and never looks overmatched, with a smooth, easy swing from the left side and power to all fields. He has excellent footwork around first and could be a plus defender there. He’s no slouch on the mound, with three average or better pitches in his fastball that touches 92 mph, an excellent changeup and a solid curveball. He goes right after hitters and throws a lot of quality strikes. There’s projection to his stuff on the mound should he focus solely on that.
In addition to his multiple talents, Pratto gets very high marks for his makeup and competitiveness, intangibles that could help teams decide to try and sign him away from Southern Cal.
One thing Jason McLeod, Cubs VP of player development, looks for is USA Baseball experience. Pratto pitched and played first base for that team in the summer of 2015. Here is how his coach described Pratto’s efforts on the mound after striking out 8 against Australia:
“He pitched to contact, pounded the zone and filled it up. We played well defensively but when we made errors he immediately came back and pounded the zone. He didn’t let them get back in it.”
There is no doubt Pratto is a rising option for this summer. Like Danner, I don’t think you have to choose what position to lock him into right away. Just let him play and let the results dictate his path.