Pirates Prospects Player of the Week: Ji-hwan Bae

This week was a strong week for hitting in the system. The short-season teams did really well as a group, but every full-season team had about 4-5 guys with notable weeks. There were some nice pitching lines too, but all of the Player of the Week votes for the teams (and overall) went to hitters. While the top hitter wasn’t a unanimous choice, it took 11 weeks this year to get our first repeat winner. Ji-hwan Bae was named as the top hitter for the week of April 25 – May 1st. He earned his second Pirates Prospects Player of the Week honors this week by hitting .458/.480/.667 in 25 plate appearances, with a homer and three stolen bases.

Bae got off to a slow start with Indianapolis  in April, but he’s been outstanding since then. In the last 49 games, he has a .349/.416/.564 slash line, with seven homers, 23 walks and 13 steals. In comparison to full-season numbers from the International League, that .980 OPS would be the highest for anyone with more than 165 plate appearances. When you include in the slow start, Bae ranks sixth in the league in OPS for players with at least 200 plate appearances. He’s been showing his typical speed and on base ability, while also hitting for some more power than in the past. He already has one more extra-base hit than last year when he played 21 more games, and that’s when his power first started coming through. So he is continuing to add power to his game this year. Indianapolis is a big park too, so it tends to keep down power numbers, but he has a higher OPS at home this year. That’s with him putting up an .862 OPS on the road, so he’s been good home and away.

Bae probably isn’t far off from joining the Pirates at this point, although all of the returning rehab players might delay his arrival. That’s okay for now because he’s playing every day in Indianapolis and getting starts at four positions. If the Pirates want to use him in that type of utility role instead of starting at second base, then he needs more outfield experience. More time at shortstop wouldn’t hurt either, as the last time he played that spot was during winter ball in the 2019-20 off-season. If they just wanted to throw him in at second base regularly, then his arrival would be sooner, and he would give the Pirates a lead-off hitter with speed (or a #9 hitter works too). Bae doesn’t turn 23 until late in July, so he’s still very young for the Triple-A level. That’s not only a good sign because he’s doing well, but it shows you that spending a little more time in Triple-A won’t hurt him either.

TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

Player of the Week: Ji-hwan Bae .458/.480/.667, 1 HR, 3 SB, 25 PA

Analysis: Besides Bae, Indianapolis saw a solid week from Travis Swaggerty, who put up an .851 OPS in 24 plate appearances. He has an .807 OPS since being sent down by the Pirates earlier this month after a brief trial. Jamie Ritchie, Mason Martin and rehabbing Kevin Newman all finished with an OPS over .800 in limited work, with none of them surpassing 14 plate appearances. Ritchie led the way with a 1.026 OPS. On the pitching side, the inconsistent Osvaldo Bido tossed four shutout innings on one hit. Mike Burrows gave up one run over 4.1 innings in his second Triple-A start. Cristofer Melendez allowed one run in four frames. Bryse Wilson had a 2.92 ERA in 12.2 innings over two starts.

DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE

Player of the Week: Henry Davis .316/.435/.632, 1 HR, 0 SB, 23 PA

Analysis: Henry Davis was struggling with his return from his wrist injury until Friday. He was 2-for-30 since rejoining Altoona at that point. Then he had two hits on Friday, two on Saturday and two more on Sunday. He collected a double each day, and he homered on Sunday. He has a .749 OPS in 13 games for Altoona. Andres Alvarez didn’t exact tear the cover off of the ball last week, going 6-for-13 with six singles. However, he led the team in OPS due to ten walks, which is almost unheard of for one week. He has a .918 OPS in 50 games this year. Matt Gorski put up a .988 OPS in 24 plate appearances. He has 23 homers and 17 stolen bases this season. Aaron Shackelford had a “just missed” week with a .795 OPS fueled by two homers in 15 plate appearances. He’s batting .186 in his last 13 games, with an .895 OPS due to five homers.

On the pitching side, Tyler Samaniego had 4.1 no-hit/scoreless innings. He has allowed ten hits in 28 innings this year and four came in one game in which he recorded just two outs. Brad Case pitched 4.2 innings without an earned run. In the last six weeks, he has an 0.84 ERA in 21.1 innings.

HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS

Player of the Week: Dariel Lopez .308/.308/.769, 4 HR, 1 SB, 26 PA

Analysis: Dariel Lopez has been hitting for some power lately, after a slow start to his season. The 20-year-old infielder has a .739 OPS in 57 games this season. After hitting four homers last week, he’s up to 11 homers for the season, one more than he hit last year in Bradenton. Yoyner Fajardo put up a .333/.500/.556 slash line in 24 plate appearances. Endy Rodriguez had an .871 OPS in 28 plate appearances, picking up four doubles and four walks. He has a .784 OPS for the season. Justin Meis had an impressive start after failing to get through one total inning in his first two Greensboro starts combined. He tossed six shutout innings and picked up eight strikeouts. Nick Garcia was almost as good, allowing one run in six innings during his start. He has a 1.69 ERA in his last six starts. Jack Carey allowed an unearned run in 3.1 innings. Denny Roman gave up one run on one hit in four innings.

LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS

Player of the Week: Jase Bowen .350/.391/.500, 0 HR, 0 SB, 23 PA

Analysis: Jase Bowen was our Player of the Week last week for the entire system, and he won the Bradenton honors this week thanks to an .891 OPS, which was the highest on the team. He has a .785 OPS for the season in 65 games, which is 107 points above league average. He’s sixth in the league in OPS among all players with at least 200 plate appearances. Rodolfo Nolasco had an .890 OPS in 14 plate appearances last week. Tsung-Che Cheng had an .807 OPS in 21 plate appearances. Jasiah Dixon batted .389 for the week, but he missed the .800 cutoff because he had no walks and all of his hits were singles.

On the pitching side, Valentin Linarez allowed an unearned run in his five-inning start. He has three starts of five innings and no earned runs this year, yet he has a 5.14 ERA for the season. Carlos Jimenez allowed one run over five innings during his start. He has a 3.05 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 41.1 innings. In two relief appearances, Mitchell Miller gave up one run over four innings. Joelvis Del Rosario gave up two runs in six innings. He has a 3.33 ERA in 51.1 innings.

ROOKIE LEAGUES

FCL: Javier Rivas .333/.381/.778, 2 HR, 0 SB, 23 PA

DSL: Axiel Plaz .500/.625/1.417, 2 HR, 0 SB, 16 PA

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patrick_kelly

Triolo’s slash line is starting to get healthy again. Gorski just doesn’t stop.

patrick_kelly

Picked up a Lopez broken gamer yesterday. I like what I see of him so far.

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redwards60

Regarding Bae, he should have been in Pittsburgh weeks ago…but our genius GM actually believes that VanMeter and Park are better choices and give the team better odds for success….same GM who thew two recent games away against division opponents by calling up and starting Bryse Wilson and Jared Eickhoff

jimmyz

It’s probably really hard to justify picking a DSL player for this type of article because DSL stats are generally all over the map but I’m thinking someone had to vote for Axiel Plaz with that insane week he had.

PirateRican21

He didn’t steal any bases, so there’s that.

AdministrativeSky236

And hes only 16! Assuming his defense is passable for the level, he would have to be stateside next year imo

b mcferren

have any others from that batch of tainted Braves prospects amounted to anything?

jeffw3000

Not really. Bae has without a doubt been the best. Kevin Maitan was the top prospect from that group at the time. That everyone was talking about, but he really has not done much since then except sign for a lot of money. Of course he only got half of the money the Braves gave him. 2 are out of baseball now. There are a couple like Livan Soto that have shown some promise, but none have shown the kind of promise Bae has shown. There is also this guy name Abrahan Gutierrez who was also one of the 13 players. I believe Gutierrez received the second highest bonus from the Braves.

john_fluharty

What Bae the highest touted one at the time?

PirateRican21

Maitan was by a mile!

NMR

Be verrrry skeptical of young dudes who are significantly more physically advanced than their peers…coughCamColliercough…

patrick_kelly

Dominguez jumps to mind

chappy

I don’t know where this guy ends up playing, but he has the look of a legitimate lead-off hitter. I am as excited about him as anyone, even Cruz. Now that he is driving the ball regularly, he is a dynamic, albeit underrated, prospect.

Mtgj

Everyone needs to relax. The pirates have called up 12 guys already this year and many more are coming. I understand it’s frustrating watching vogelbach and Stratton and others, but the pirates aren’t going to the playoffs this year, Let these guys develope and they will all be here in due time.

redwards60

I am sorry, but with all due respect, it was indefensible to start the season with Tucker at SS over Cruz and it is indefensible to now have VanMeter taking valuable ABs from younger players – especially Bae. Vogelbach is bad too, but currently the Pirates don’t have anyone close to being another viable option for first base, unless they play Chavis there a lot more. Martin is a non prospect in my opinion….although he is young enough to still prove me wrong. They ought to put Mitchell at first base some in Indy, get him some exposure there in case Martin never figures out AAA pitching.- Stratton is awful and cannot be trusted in close games…I would be all for giving his spot to just about anyone – Bolton, Toribio, Case??

roberto

Could you please explain why it’s indefensible to start a player with minimal experience above A ball in MLB? I would find it indefensible to do so. Perhaps I am wrong.

NMR

First Pitch: Site Update

Due to insatiable demand, Pirates Prospects will now be rebranded Pirates Promotions with content exclusively committed to scathing takedowns of incompetent management for not fielding a 30-man roster of 20-yo rookies.

PirateRican21

Come on, it doesn’t get old, not at all!

Tim Williams

Pirates Promotions is actually going to be a separate blog on Pittsburgh Baseball Network, where it will draw 100,000,000 page views a day with 24 ads per page — ultimately funding my long-time Pittsburgh Beer Network idea.

jimmyz

At this point I assume once the trade deadline passes and Cherington can’t find any takers for the scrubs clogging up the 40 man roster there’s gonna be a handful of guys DFA’d on the same day. Then the rest of the kids come up.

dloften

How has JHB not been called up to the show yet? He hits every year at every level. Yet guys like Vanmeter get ABs.

PirateRican21

Is the Samaniego line correct, it mentions hits not runs allow?

PirateRican21

Looked it up, it should read runs.

leefieux

Who does Bae have blocking him at 2nd base other than a bunch of utility infielders? And bring up Ritchie, then DFA Perez for good!

jon6er

Not who but what as in bad management and bad luck. They want to see if they can get anything at the deadline for guys like Vogey, Newman, Gamel, Quintana, Yoshi and apparently Stratton as he continues to disturbingly appear in crucial situations. VanMeter may never leave until Shelton’s gone because we keep seeing different articles popping up on VanMeter being a student of hitting and staying up all night watching video’s on hitting and since Shelton’s previous life as a hitting coach and since most hitting coaches weren’t successful major league hitters theirs is a match made in baseball heaven. Allegedly, lol.

agent00

fire haines, hire vanmeter. profit

they can even save money with this move!

jon6er

Now that’s thinking outside the box agent, lol.

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