The outfield picture was already a crowded one, and the Pittsburgh Pirates added to it late in the season/offseason, claiming Miguel Andujar and Ryan Vilade off of waivers.
With so many names in the hat, someone is going to have to do something to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
A good way to stand out is to be able to do something that helps improve the major league team, and one of the things that they struggled at the most was scoring runs. The Pirates scored the fourth fewest runs in the majors last year, so that will be a big factor in whether they are going to be able to improve or not.
One of the best ways to put your team in a position to score more runs is to get on base, and that is something that Canaan Smith-Njigba has always been good at. The outfielder was a part of the Jameson Taillon trade, and after taking a look at the 2021 Altoona Curve roster, it was probably easy to overlook Smith-Njigba.
Regardless, the former fourth round pick by the Yankees has put together a solid run in the two years in the Pirates system, drawing walks 15.7% of the times he comes to the plate.
While playing in Indianapolis before getting called up, Smith-Njigba strung together a 28-game on-base streak before a pinch-hitting appearance broke it up. Despite his season being cut short with a fractured right wrist, he still finished third in the system in walk rate, as well as 14th in wRC+.
He was called up for a double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he picked up his first big league hit, but was also injured later in the day and ended up missing the rest of the season.
How the Pirates plan their outfield for the 2023 season will be interesting, as they have eight outfielders currently on the 40-man roster. A good portion will be sent back to Indianapolis, but outside of Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski, there aren’t a lot of guarantees when it comes to who will make the majors.
Smith-Njigba isn’t a big power hitter, but he walks a lot and doesn’t strike out — two parts of the game the Pirates need to improve on. Not only did they score the fourth fewest runs, they also finished in the bottom half in walks and struck out the third most times last year, so his presence could help improve the lineup.
Highlight of the Day
Canaan Smith-Njigba rips a double in his first MLB at-bat! pic.twitter.com/EyJG4lqN67
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 14, 2022
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Last week was a busy week for the Pirates, with two pitchers added, the first overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft, and the Rule 5 results. I recapped everything in First Pitch this week.
**According to Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette, the Pirates are re-signing catcher Tyler Heineman. The Pirates have almost no catching depth for Opening Day, and they can’t rely on Endy Rodriguez to be their depth throughout the season. Heineman makes sense to boost that depth.
**John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league report, where two Pirates homered in Australia, and a brawl took place in Colombia.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the current strengths of the Pirates’ system.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Last week was a busy one on the site. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, I recapped everything in First Pitch.
We will have our article drop on Tuesday afternoon, focusing on the Pirates’ bullpen.