MALCOM NUNEZ, FIRST BASEMAN
|Born: March 9, 2001
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2018, Cardinals
How Acquired: Trade (with Cardinals)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Nunez is a bat-first player whom the Cardinals signed out of Cuba. He got a lot of attention by putting up huge numbers in international play for Cuba and then in the DSL after signing with the Cards. He hasn’t been nearly as prolific since, but he’s generally had at least respectable performances while being young for his levels. He has good raw power, but hasn’t always been able to get to it in games. He does appear to have good plate discipline. Nunez originally was a third baseman and St. Louis tried to keep him there, but he moved to first in 2022. Scouts give him very low grades for speed and defense, although his arm is good. The Pirates acquired Nunez at the trade deadline in the deal involving Jose Quintana.
In his debut, Nunez put up playstation numbers in the DSL, winning the league’s triple crown. Probably a good deal of his dominance was him being more physically advanced than most of the league’s players. He spent most of his time at third, with five games at first. Baseball America rated him the Cards’ ninth best prospect after the season.
The Cards tried Nunez in low A, where he had a very rough time. After a few weeks they sent him to extended spring training, then moved him to the advanced rookie Appalachian League. He held his own there, without showing much power. The Cards employed Nunez strictly at third and he had error problems, posting an .874 fielding percentage. BA ranked him 18th in the system.
Nunez spent the pandemic season at St. Louis’ alternate training site. BA ranked him 17th in the system.
The Cards sent Nunez to high A to open the season and he hit well. After about six weeks they moved him up to AA and he just held his own, although at 20 he was young for the level. He again played third exclusively.
Nunez returned to AA and put up better numbers, with considerably more power. He also sharply increased his walk rate. One major caution: before the trade, Nunez hit all but one of his home runs at his home park in Springfield, which is a strong home run ballpark. This time he played mostly at first. BA ranked him 13th in the Cards’ system at mid-season. After the trade, Nunez continued to improve his hitting a little. He hit six post-trade longballs, obviously none of them in Springfield, so hopefully the extreme home-road split before the trade was mostly statistical noise. For Altoona, Nunez mostly played first, then he played third during his brief time at Indianapolis.
Nunez appears to have some hitting potential, but there’ll be a lot of pressure on his bat because he may end up as a DH-only player. He’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft and the Pirates did not protect him. They were probably gambling on the fact that first-base-only players attract little interest in the draft. If so, the gamble worked out.
|2023: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $300,000
MiLB Debut: 2018
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2024
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|July 3, 2018: Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent.
August 1, 2022: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Johan Oviedo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton.