At face value, it hasn’t been the smoothest of starts to the season for infielder Malcom Nuñez. His grand slam on Sunday was his first extra-base hit, in what was his 12th game played this season.
Even if the production hasn’t been there, he’s been doing his part, and putting himself in position to eventually have something break his way.
Nuñez’s home run clocked in at an exit velocity of 102.7 mph, the 12th batted ball he’s had that has traveled at least 95 mph off the bat to meet the criteria of being a ‘hard hit’.
Sit back and watch it soar. 💣 pic.twitter.com/IDSK2CdKfn
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) April 16, 2023
Both his hard hit rate (34%), and average exit velocity (89.1 mph) are both right around major league average for their category. He’s just had some bad luck when it comes to the hard hit balls, with an average of just .461 on them.
According to an article on Baseball Savant, the average on hard hit balls is usually a tad over .500.
He’s also made very consistent contact, especially on fastballs, as Nuñez currently owns a very strong 13.5% whiff rate against the pitch. He’s struggled a bit against non-fastballs, sitting a tad under 40%.
Nuñez generally shows a very strong approach at the plate, and it’s been two games that has really impacted his whiff rate against non-fastballs in this early sample size.
In his brief time in the Pirates organization, he’s shown the ability to put stretches together of hitting for extra-bases. Everything about his exit velocity and contact metrics say that some sort of breakout should be coming.
— Shalin Polanco was MLB Pipeline’s pick to breakout in the Pirates system this season and put up a pretty good three game stretch after returning from an injury. The outfielder walked (5) more than he did strikeout (3) in 15 plate appearances, while also picking up three hits and a stolen base.
— Teammate of Nuñez in Indianapolis, Osvaldo Bido picked up nine strikeouts in five innings on Sunday, and currently has a 0.75 ERA in three appearances. He was one of a select few in the system to top 100 innings pitched last year and is off to a strong start again this year.
Daily Video Rundown
Henry Davis played his first game in right field on Sunday, and at the plate he hit his second home run of the season.
A solo shot from @henrydavis32 gets us on the board in the fourth inning! We trail Erie 3-1.
WATCH: https://t.co/6GP894jPtF pic.twitter.com/aiCbyXTqwR
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) April 16, 2023
Getting the start at second base on Sunday, Tsung-Che Cheng comes up with this great play to record the out.
Great play by Tsung-Che Cheng, playing second base today, to get the runner at first pic.twitter.com/h5HNnemm0q
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 16, 2023
PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY
By Tim Williams
I took a few days off from baseball this weekend, just checking the site periodically. Yesterday, I got back in the mix, and after seeing Malcom Nuñez homer, I was really glad to read Anthony’s writeup today. Check out his writeup yesterday of what makes Endy Rodriguez so good.
Pirates Recap: Bucs Split Series With Cardinals After Extra Innings Loss
Prospect Watch: Henry Davis and Malcom Nuñez Homer; Osvaldo Bido Pitches Well in Relief
**Pirates Place Rob Zastryzny on Injured List; Recall Yohan Ramirez
SONG OF THE DAY
I liked Malcom Nunez when the trade was made, but apprehensive because the batting numbers in the AA Texas League are usually inflated compared to the AA Eastern League. Not the case though because he hit even better at Altoona.
It’s been a long time since the Bucs had a RH power hitting 1B, but this kid has the power and he just turned 22 in March. In the writeup on him from Fangraphs, they like the power, and noted the improvements made with his footwork since moving to 1B and have upgraded his positional status from DH-Only which was their previous projection for him.
That HR probably went out at the 410′ point of CF and landed about 20′ up the hill – that’s power that can be clearing the batter’s eye at PNC. BTW, does any team in AAA need a fence that is 418′? Have the Pirates ever considered a closer AAA location such as Altoona? Atlanta has their AAA team in Gwinnett, and Cleveland has their AAA club in Columbus. Much easier for movement of personnel.
Thank you Anthony. Is the fact that Nunez’ hard hit rate and average exit velocity are about the MLB average a good news or bad news statement? Given his likely MLB position, I guess I would hope he would exceed the MLB average as that ‘average’ include Hedges, VanMeter et al if I reference some current or recent Buccos. Are there position averages for those metrics? I would expect 1B/3B to be higher than middle of the field positions.
I see it as good considering he’s still in the minors and could grow into more power. It’s better to see in the lower levels, because they are more projectable at that age.
Nunez’s frame is probably a little more filled out than others, so maybe there is less a chance he develops more but the fact he’s already hitting the ball with the same authority as an ‘average major leaguer’ I feel like is good.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being around average. Would going above be better? Sure. Hedges is usually pretty well below average when it comes to EV and hard hit rate. VanMeter kind of bounced around and below league average, but there are always several other factors, which is why these kind of tools should never be the end all, be all, but more a piece of a puzzle when evaluating a player.
Nice to see Tank go oppo taco and Nuñez to crush a mistake pitch out to Center. Now that the weather is warmer and hitters are getting their timing down, it stands to reason good hitters will start raking.
The weather in Denver looks pretty good for the next few days. Could be a good time for hitters to get healthy.