After the Pittsburgh Pirates announced the rest of their Non-Roster Invitees to Spring Training, when you include the 40-man roster, there are nearly 30 players that still retain ‘prospect’ status that will be in big league camp.
Today, I’m previewing the position players in camp. Check back tomorrow for a look at the pitchers.
Henry Davis/Nick Gonzales
These two I group together because I have the same thought on each of them. Result wise, I’m really not concerned with what either Davis or Gonzales do in camp. In fact, I’m willing to bet they both run into a couple of pitches and make some very loud contact, perhaps multiple times.
That’s not the issue with either of them. The issue has been staying on the field. Both former first rounders need a full season of baseball in the worst of ways. Staying healthy in camp and getting to whatever affiliate they are going to in one piece would be a good outcome.
Swaggerty is almost in the same boat as Davis and Gonzales. He was off to a good start in 2021 until a shoulder injury, and then dealt with an issue with the other shoulder this past camp. A concussion also factored into his slow start, though he eventually righted the ship later on. There’s a lot on the line for Swaggerty this spring, and he’ll need to be on the field to seize any potential opportunity.
People may be down on Peguero after a mostly disappointing 2022. He’s still one of the most talented players in the system, and only 22 years old. We saw Matt Gorski put things together last year at the age of 24. I think we can be patient with Peguero. He’s not far from returning to the former Top-100 prospect that most anointed as the guy who’d bump Oneil Cruz off of shortstop.
Liover Peguero is one of my favorite prospects in the system. Kid can play. Martin with a great pick here too. #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/QSc2EMezFH
— Locked On Pirates (@LockedOnPirates) March 22, 2022
I’d love to just see a lot of the little stuff from him in camp. Making the easy throw, a little added plate discipline, and maybe some added time at second base (or even being spicy and throwing him in left field).
His focus in camp should be 100% playing catcher. That is where he can make his biggest impact this season, and I’d like to see that as his sole focus.
Let the quad that limited him last year be healthy, and have him be one of the last cuts in camp. The tools are off the chart for Gorski, but now he faces the real test in the upper-levels/majors. If there is one NRI to hang around to the end, let it be Gorski.
Bae’s best role for the 2023 Pirates will be as the team’s super utility guy, getting him into as many games as possible. That should be his role this spring, getting him experience to start embracing that role. He played second, center, and left field in the majors last year, but also short and third in the minors. Let’s see him everywhere.
Same thing as Bae, let’s see how versatile Triolo is. We know how good he is at third base, let’s keep seeing how his progression is coming elsewhere. He got some time in center field and shortstop last year. Can he play second?
#Pirates 3B prospect Jared Triolo turns on an inside pitch and crushes it for a home run. #PiratesProspects pic.twitter.com/KZ91mO9XWV
— Tim Williams (@TimWilliamsP2) August 13, 2021
Vilade has survived every time the Pirates needed to shed someone off the 40-man this offseason, so they have something planned for him. What is it? Or, at the very least, what did the Pirates see in him that they prioritized keeping him?
Bins really struggled to make contact last year, and took a step back defensively, so what kind of steps can he take in camp in a potential rebound season?
I’m not sure how many games Johnson will get into before getting sent to minor league camp, but the 2022 first rounder has one of the most talked about hit tools in recent history. It will be good to see him in camp until they inevitably send him down.
The Pirates brought in two players to fill their first base needs in Pittsburgh, potentially blocking Nunez for the 2023 season. This camp is really about planting the seed for him to be ‘the guy’ come 2024 — maybe sooner depending on how things shake out this year.
MALCOM NUÑEZ HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!
A massive home run extends our lead in the fourth! pic.twitter.com/wF3IQn1gMy
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) September 6, 2022
I was a bit surprised they brought Sanchez back as a minor league free agent with how crowded the outfield picture is in the upper levels, but he showed some of the best contact rates in the system last year.
Alvarez put together the first 20/20 season in Altoona Curve history last year. He played all over the infield and then some in left field. It’d be nice to see a right-handed middle infielder step up, and Alvarez had one of the best 2022 season’s among them in the minors.
Smith-Njigba can really shake up the outfield picture if his wrist is 100% ready to go, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason to think that it isn’t. He is a lot like Ke’Bryan Hayes, as they both hit the ball really hard, but if they are able to get a little more lift, their offensive profile completely changes. Let’s see if Smith-Njigba can show that without compromising his approach at the plate.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**The Athletic and ESPN both released their top Pirates prospects lists yesterday.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony broke down the second base battle heading into Spring Training.
**Check back later today for a column from Wilbur Miller.
Song of the Day
Great article. I appreciate the identifying of priorities for each hitter, and largely agree… Would love to see Gorski for a very extended look. Health feels like the top priority for Gonzalez, Davis, Swaggerty. Prioritizing versatility with Bae and Triolo feels key.
Only place I would dissent is with expending a lot of energy on putting Peguero into a super utility role. So much of his value feels based on his SS defense. Don’t want to see him turned into a Cole Tucker situation, where we confuse his role and turn him into an ultra-light hitting corner outfielder with no value on any front. Give him time and reps to perfect his SS defense and continue to improve his bat, and whenever he’s ready to move up to the majors (a year or two…?) we can cross the bridge of how to handle him and Cruz at the same position. A lot could sort itself out by then.
Definitely hoping Bins, Nunez, and/or Smith-Njigba put forward some impressive performances. There’s room for all three of those guys to make a spot for themselves on the ML club if they prove they can fill a need (long-term backup C, starting long-term 1B, long-term starting OF)
I am excited for my first early trip to spring training. I will be getting there three days before games start. Does anyone have any experience or advise on how to see practice on those days? I believe it will be at Pirates City in Bradenton.
I look forward to hearing how it goes. If they’ve lifted restrictions, I might squeeze in a trip over spring break or at least start planning one for next year.
Thanks. I talked to a nice lady on the phone that works at Pirates City. She said the gates will open at 9am up until February 23rd. If I understood her correctly. she said I will have a better view of the minor league players than the major league players. I am fine with that. This is probably a dumb question, but do they wear numbers at practice and was there a way that you were able to recognize the minor league guys?
This is a good question for Wilbur but I think they wear numbers and you can get a roster sheet that lists names with numbers. But that may only happen once minor league games begin.
A few years ago I went to Pirates City for part of a day choosing it over attending an exhibition game at McKechnie Field (LECOM Park) and it was great! As noted, their rules changed during the pandemic but back in 2019 you could simply walk into the complex and watch games on two fields with players working out on a third field. Very informal with very few restrictions. I really hope they return to that model in 2023. I don’t think this front office has been very fan friendly, but opening up Pirates City would build on signing Cutch to change my impression. Also, the orange store next to Pirates City is a good place for lunch or a snack.
I’ve read the Pirates are extremely anti-fan-friendly in Pirate City unfortunately. Wilbur T Miller may have thoughts.
You lucky pup!
fangraphs came out with their pirates top prospect list. and phew. their report of de los santos is glowing
just read that, exciting review. does he go straight to low-a or to the FCL this year?
assuming he comes stateside, fcl for sure.
What ur saying is you want moreski of Gorski
Triolo picks it as well as anyone we have at 3B, and then played SS at AA as well as any of the regular guys and with close to the same RF/G, so I’d be damn sure he can play 2B very well also. And, while doing that he put up a slash of .282/.376/.419 with 63 Walks and only 87 K’s.
How did Vilade make it through all the moves in the off-season? Whenever the Pirates picked somebody up, they went down the list to find someone to take off the 40 – the list must have been in alphabetical order, and they never got to the V’s!
If Triolo is able to play a good SS that would do wonders, hope he is pencil there in Indy with Peguero repeating AA.
While on the subject, the Pirates unloaded Castillo, Park, and Newman – why the pickup of Chris Owings? AAA depth? Keeping Bae at AAA?
In all seriousness, he better be on a short leash. If they turn him into another JVM, I’ll be so pissed!
Getting rid of Castillo, Park and Newman allowed the Pirates to free up 40 man roster spots for all of the new guys they picked up. Owings currently signed a minor league contract. My hope is the only reason for getting Owings is in case there is a pre-season injury with Cruz, Castro or Bae. However, if we send down Bae or Castro to bring up Owings, then I will be more upset for not keeping Castillo or Newman.
My earlier comment was that Owings sticks only if Plans A, B, and C fall through.
Someone needed to pick up the Josh Vanmeter role this season. He’s probably a lock to make the team out of ST.
Maybe he supplies Shelton’s office bottle?