Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers

9/28/22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

With only one Minor League Ball Club left in action…GIANT PAUSE for all original jokes about the Pirates being a Minor League Team….I was prepared for the difficult task of compiling this week’s list from a shallow pool of players. Thankfully, the recent promoted players from Altoona added to the limited crop.

As the series was getting underway between the Indians and Columbus Clippers, Endy Rodriguez, Malcolm Nunez, Quinn Priester, Matt Gorski, Colin Selby and Aaron Shackelford all got the call to continue their seasons for a few more games; with more than one making an immediate impact on the Indianapolis Roster.

Add in a couple of players, who have already been putting their skills on display in the Circle City, and you have 5 Top Performers.

1) Cody Bolton-RHP (Indianapolis)

74.2 total innings pitched-with only one appearance that lasted over 4 innings-might not be viewed as impressive for some; however , when a certain player was limited in 2019 due to injuries, and was unable to perform over the next two seasons, it is hard not to see this as a victory. This is especially true when this particular player was able to experience to overall success that Bolton did.

Across these 74.2 innings, the former Top 10 Pirates Prospect posted a 3.01 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP with 81 strikeouts; leading many to once again question if he has done enough to find himself on the 40-Man-and thus protected from the MLB Portion of The Rule 5 Draft-over the upcoming offseason.

2) Endy Rodriguez-C/1B/OF (Indianapolis)

Endy-mania has made it’s path-from Bradenton, Greensboro and Altoona-all the way to the Endyanapolis Endyans; and, with good reasoning.

During the past two seasons, Endy has slashed .309/.394/.551 with 39 homers, 113 total extra base hits and a 154 wRC+ in slightly under 1000 plate appearances. This includes a .444 AVG and an 1.008 OPS in an extremely small sample size in Triple-A.

3) Quinn Priester-RHP (Indianapolis)

A few weeks ago, I laid out the most likely path for Priester for the rest of 2022. As of this moment, he seems to be right on track. After being promoted to Indianapolis, the Pirates Top Pitching Prospect simply went out and tossed 5 two hit innings, while striking out 6, walking 2 and not allowing a run.

Obviously this caused a stir amongst Pirates Fans clamoring to see him get a start at PNC Park before the end of the season.

Clearly this is not likely, but I also wouldn’t look too far into it if he does.

He will go to Arizona Fall League, hit his off-season training regiment, arrive at Spring Training, AND then be assigned to Triple-A.

Notice I didn’t say added to the 40-Man. That will come soon enough; however he isn’t Rule 5 Eligible until December 2023, so this transaction will likely have to wait.

4) Malcolm Nunez-1B/DH (Indianapolis)

The Pirates Major League Ball Club has a void 1st Base. It’s not a new problem; which I am sure none of you need to be reminded of.

Is Nunez the answer?…I have no idea.

Would I like to see him get a shot at some point?…Without a doubt.

Throw Mason Martin in there as well; even with his struggles.

Since arriving from the Lou-and I’m proud-Nunez has batted .280 with an .859 OPS and 6 homers. He also has continued to walk at a 14.7% rate, which is very solid; particularly when his K-rate sits at a fairly reasonable 22.4%.

5) Blake Sabol-C/OF/DH (Indianapolis)

It definitely feels like Sabol has made this list more times than any player not named Endy; and deservedly so.

Even after having one of his worst week’s in an Indians uniform-2 hits in 14 at bats-Sabol was still able to stay consistent by taking 3 walks and providing a sacrifice fly; to go along with another homer.

BONUS: Ji-hwan Bae-IF/OF (Indianapolis/Pittsburgh)

If Bae wasn’t on the IL for a portion of the season, would he have made it to PNC before September 23rd?…Maybe. Maybe Not.

At this point it doesn’t really matter. He’s here now.

Following his return from injury, Bae slashed .263/.357/.364 with a 95 wRC+ and 8 extra base hits in 115 plate appearances. Understandably this was slightly lower that the pace he had set prior to August 18th-.297/.364/.450 with a 117 wRC+ and 29 extra base hits; including 8 homers.

Nevertheless, it was time; for the Pirates to start to see what they have, even in a small sample size.

There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers for the 25th week of 2022!

Now remember, let me know I missed, who your Top 5 is and be sure check back each and every Tuesday (or Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning) hopefully-during the Minor League Baseball Season!

Spoiler Alert! There’s only one week left!

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

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