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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Pittsburgh Pirates Right Field Prospects: The Pirates Have Candidates For Their Final Outfield Spot

Right field is one of those positions where MLB players typically start their careers off at a more challenging position. That’s typically center field, but can also include first base, or even catchers.

There have been a lot of right field candidates in the writeups I’ve already finished.

From the center field prospects, I’d look at Hudson Head, Lolo Sanchez, and Matt Fraizer as options for right.

From the left field prospects, Jack Suwinski, Sammy Siani, Jack Herman, and Lonnie White Jr. make good candidates.

The first base group could include a right field candidate in Will Matthiessen. The catching group includes an option in Blake Sabol.

There are a lot of candidates for this position, and as I wrote in today’s article at No Quarter, the Pirates will be looking for someone to step up and take the long-term job. Below, I’ll cover some of the best remaining prospects who are candidates for the role.

This article is part of a series looking at the future of every position in the Pirates’ farm system. Note that this isn’t a full list of the right field prospects, but instead the top options in the system as of our latest rankings.

Cal Mitchell

2021 Stats: .279/.328/.423, 12 HR, 440 PA (AA, AAA)

Mitchell represents the best short-term starting option on this list. He’s got some good power potential, along with the ability to hit for average and good plate patience. One holdup is that the Pirates seem to favor Canaan Smith-Njigba and Jack Suwinski over Mitchell. Both outfielders were acquired in the last year, with Mitchell already in the system. That’s not unusual, as the Pirates definitely need outfield help and can’t rely on one prospect. However, both players were added to the 40-man roster recently, protected over Mitchell, which suggests they’re ahead of him on the priority list. Both outfielders also have much better on-base ability than Mitchell, and similar game power. Mitchell can still develop into a starter, but it looks like he’s going to need to pass at least one other outfielder in order to be a starter in Pittsburgh.

Bligh Madris

2021 Stats: .267/.353/.417, 9 HR, 418 PA (AA, AAA)

Madris shows some sleeper power and a good ability to get on base. His upside is that of a fourth outfielder who can play all three positions, with center field in a pinch. His .786 OPS in Triple-A this year was the best mark of his pro career, and is similar to his best season during his rookie campaign. He’s been consistently in the .700-.770 OPS range in the minors. If he can carry that consistency over to the majors, he could be a solid fourth outfield bat off the bench. Most of his value is going to come from his bat, which means he’s going to need to see very little drop off from his minor league results. Madris will be playing in his age-26 season next year.

Fabricio Macias

2021 Stats: .289/.340/.432, 8 HR, 295 PA (A+, AAA)

The best value from Macias comes from his ability to play defense. He’s a solid defender in center field, would be great in left field at PNC Park, and has the arm strength for right field. His bat played well in High-A Greensboro this year, resulting in an .861 OPS and a promotion to Triple-A. The numbers in Triple-A were more in line with his career totals, posting a .624 OPS. He’s a defense-first outfielder, though if he could find a way to hit in the upper levels, he’d be a prime candidate for a shot at the majors.

Braylon Bishop

2021 Stats: .192/.250/.192, 0 HR, 28 PA (Rk)

If I could make an edit to this list, I’d include Braylon Bishop in the left field article, and include Lonnie White Jr. in this one. That’s mostly due to how each player was used in his limited time in pro ball this year. Bishop has the power potential to play right field, with plus raw power that was recently highlighted over at Pittsburgh Baseball Now. He’s got plus speed in the outfield, making him a better candidate in center field for now. His arm rates as average, so left field might play better for him long-term if he moves to a corner spot. Bishop is a long ways from the majors, but is part of a group of potential starting candidates that the Pirates are collecting in the lower levels.

Rodolfo Nolasco

2021 Stats: .284/.409/.552, 8 HR, 164 PA (Rk)

Nolasco signed for $235,000 at the start of the 2018-19 international signing period, and has put up solid numbers in rookie ball in his first two seasons of pro ball. In total, he has a .294/.388/.505 line with 13 homers in 333 at-bats. His time in 2021 was spent in the FCL, where he saw an increase in his in-game power, along with better on-base skills. Nolasco should get a push to Low-A in 2022, possibly joining Lonnie White and Braylon Bishop at the level to make up a solid outfield. He’s got the chance to eventually start at a corner spot if his bat keeps up the current progress.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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