Harrison's .294 batting average provided a much-needed spark to a floundering offense. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Are Going to Find Playing Time For Josh Harrison as a Super Utility Player

Josh Harrison has had a phenomenal year so far. He has played second base, third base, shortstop, and the corner outfield spots. He’s been a leadoff hitter when the Pirates needed a leadoff guy. He was a right fielder before Gregory Polanco arrived, bridging the gap while the Pirates waited for their top prospect to arrive. He filled in as the second baseman when Neil Walker was out. Overall he’s hitting for a .304/.348/.473 line in 198 plate appearances this year, which raises the question of where he will play now that Walker has returned.

Tonight he is starting at third base, with Pedro Alvarez moving to the DH in an American League park. But the Pirates will soon return to NL parks, which will make it harder to fit Harrison in the lineup. Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t feel Harrison needs a specific position, and can have success in a utility role.

“He has responded well, being a guy that plays to his versatility,” Hurdle said. “He’s learned positions for a reason. He’s gotten outside himself. He can play second, he can play third, he can play both corners, he can go to shortstop. Fill in there if need be. When they came up with the term ‘Super Utility’, he would be, for me, a poster child of that definition of that position right now.”

Hurdle gave Harrison praise for what he has done for the team to this point, and said that they’ll continue to find time for him.

“He carried the top of the order for a month,” Hurdle said. “When nobody was able to create some things up there, he did. He’s added value every time he’s gone on the field, as evidence by the play he makes last night in a six run lead. He’s a backyard ballplayer. So we’ll continue to find him reps by moving him around.”

With so many positions that Harrison can play, the Pirates could easily find time to get him 2-3 starts per week, plus plenty of at-bats as the top pinch hitting option off the bench. He could start a game at shortstop, start at third base against lefties, and start one or two games between second, left, and right field. It’s a good problem to have, trying to find a spot for a super utility player who is productive. That’s the type of problem that teams with a strong offense usually have. As I wrote last night, the Pirates are looking like a strong offense lately.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Josh Bell Selected For the Future’s Game

Next Story »

Vance Worley Looks Like the Pirates Big Reclamation Project This Year

  • S Brooks

    Plus, if any regular position player goes on the DL, he’ll be in there every day. Oakland is writing the book on winning through depth, and the Bucs are working the same strategy well.

  • bucsws2014

    Josh is hot, but he’s not the top PH. That would be Gaby with his 1.009 OPS as a PH. Josh was below .200 BA as a PH last time I checked. Though that may be out the window given his current hot streak.

  • Sandoz

    It’d be nice if Pedro could play 1B.

  • R Edwards

    Josh Harrison is an over-achiever, a hustler, an extremely valuable utility player, and is becoming a human highlight reel. If we had 2-3 more guys who played as hard and as passionate as Harrison and gets as much out their talent as he does, we would be 10 games in front. Marte, Alvarez, Davis, Tabata, Mercer – I hope you all are paying attention!

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    1 day ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    3 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    5 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles