Yesterday we looked at the top ten prospects from the former Florida State League. Baseball America had two players from the Pittsburgh Pirates on that list. Today BA posted the top ten from the former South Atlantic League. The Pirates had two players make the list, and it would have been three if it went 1-2 more spots.
Nick Gonzales ranked eighth on today’s list, while Liover Peguero ranked tenth. I’ll note that Quinn Priester ranks ahead of those two players on BA’s top 100 list. He’s ranked 50th, while Gonzales is 64th and Peguero is 77th. These league lists are done separate from that group list, so the numbers don’t always line up. I checked in with BA before writing this article and I was told that Priester was one of two players who just missed the list, so he would either rank 11th or 12th if the list was 20 spots like they have done in the past.
Gonzales finished the season strong, ending up with a final slash line of .302/.385/.565 in 80 games. He had some concerns which were eased a bit by his finish to the regular season (he hit .118 in the playoffs) and the fact that he struggled a bit when returning from an early season hand injury. His 27.4% strikeout rate is high for someone who was more of a contact hitter in college. Gonzales had an OPS that was much higher at home, which was a concern until his late finish left him with an .804 road OPS. Even with the large split, he was still 64 OPS points above league average on the road, which is perfectly acceptable for your lower split, while also noting that 39 road games is still a very small sample size.
Liover Peguero didn’t hit as well as Gonzales, but he’s also 17 months younger and he had no full-season experience coming into this year, so he was making the jump over Low-A and handled it well. He batted .270/.332/.444 in 90 games during the season, with 19 doubles, 14 homers and 28 steals. He did better at home as well, but the split was much more closer than we saw with Gonzales, with a 108-point difference between the two spots for Peguero. He had an odd monthly split, where September was his highest batting average (.290), but also his lowest OPS (.696). His age/defense/speed helps him get ranked in the top ten, and apparently just ahead of Quinn Priester, who still got mention in the article because of the praise he received from scouts.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.