Under the Radar: Three More Sleeper Prospects To Follow in the Pirates System in 2022

Welcome to the second installment of “Under the Radar” here at P2! Last week we looked at Solomon Maguire, Luis Ortiz, and Jared Triolo. Today, we will look at another set of prospects in the Pirates system that deserve some recognition for 2022.

Rodolfo Nolasco 

Nolasco signed with the Pirates during the 2018-2019 international signing period and signed for a $250,000 bonus. Nolasco hails from the Dominican Republic and had an extremely strong debut season in 2019 with a slash line of .302/.373/.472 in 199 at-bats at the DSL level. 

Nolasco would spend the entire 2021 season in the FCL, and thanks to a hurricane and some COVID outbreaks, he saw 65 fewer at-bats as well as 12 fewer games. Despite less time, Nolasco bumped his number of walks in 2021 with 26 as opposed to 16 in 2019 and boosted his OPS 116 points from .845 to .961. 

One bugaboo Nolasco had in 2021 was his strikeout numbers jumping up 14.6 percentage points from 11.6% to 26.2%. Some may equate this to rust from no 2020 season or even the constant barrage of missed games in 2021. Either way, Nolasco has legit pop in his bat with 50-grade power and a hit tool with plenty of room to grow. 

Bear Bellomy

Bellomy is an interesting prospect in the Pirates system. After talking with former Pirates minor league pitching coach Eric Minshall about Bellomy, you got a sense of his passion. One story that was told on Bellomy was after he let up a lead-off double, he turned around and said, “you’re not Fu****g moving another base,” and sure as (well, you know) the opposing runner didn’t move another base. 

In the 68.0 innings pitched in High-A and Triple-A last year, Bellomy had around seven innings of really bad baseball over five games. Coming out of the pen, Bellomy struck out 85, walked just 17, and surprisingly gave up just 17 home runs. (Trust me, that’s low for a Greensboro pitcher.) To add to the good year, Bellomy had a significantly lower xFIP of 4.01 as opposed to 4.69 in High-A.

Thanks to Miguel Yajure getting pulled from the Arizona Fall League roster, Bellomy had a chance to continue developing. In the AFL, Bellomy pitched 11.2 innings, struck out nine, walked four, and posted an ERA of 3.86. With a better ballpark in Altoona, expect Bellomy to thrive in that environment. 

Bear Bellomy: Matchup Oriented Approach Brings Positive Results

Joaquin Tejada

According to FanGraphs, Tejada has four-plus pitches with a fastball (40/50), curveball (55/60), splitter (40/50), and a slider (25/55). The 18-year-old was acquired from Seattle thanks to the Tyler Anderson trade that sent Carter Bins and the aforementioned Tejada. 

Tejada can find himself in a Pirates top 30 prospect conversation soon if he can show an increase in control and use his slider at a much more effective rate. Of course, last year was his first season in pro ball, and at the age of 17, you can expect some bumps in the road like control issues, and with 17 walks in 28.2 innings pitched, there is a ton of room for improvement.

Tejada did show a good strikeout rate in the DSL, striking out 33 in 28.2 innings pitched, but in a league like that, having a strong off-speed pitch like his curveball, the strikeout rate may be higher than it may be in a higher league. It’s very hard to get excited and pay attention to an 18-year-old prospect, but Tejada does have a toolset that could bring success in his future.


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Under the Radar: Three More Sleeper Prospects To Follow in the Pirates System in 2022

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