Top 5 Pirates Prospects: Spring Training Impact

2-28-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

Many times, when a prospect enters Spring Training there is little to no chance that they will come north with the Big League Club; often taking the detour along I-70 West, on their way to Indianapolis.

In some cases this decision is made before anyone even arrives in Bradenton.

Then there is the rare instance, when a player leaves a lasting impression/makes an impact, that can’t be ignored; a la Diego Castillo.

Obviously things didn’t work out for Castillo in Pittsburgh, as he slashed .206/.251/.382 with 11 homers and a 26.5% K to 4.9% BB-rate; and, was ultimately DFA’d, then traded to Arizona this off-season.

Still, it’s not like anyone can really argue that he didn’t deserve his shot.

Now, when it comes to this latest crop of prospects, most would argue that the pedigree, potential and overall talent level exceeds that of a Diego Castillo; and in the majority of cases they would probably be right.

So in turn, fans could probably argue that a solid spring from one of the following would most likely mean more for the individual, as well as for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1) Luis Ortiz-RHP

It’s safe to say that the majority of Pirates Fans were unaware of Ortiz’s existence prior to his call-up to Pittsburgh on September 13th last season.

Now, after seeing him for four starts, he is one of the more polarizing players on the 40-Man -along with Endy Rodriguez-as fans are pushing for the newly minted 24 year-old to make the Opening Day Roster; a topic that I have already addressed in two articles this off-season: Arms, Arms, Arms and Next Men Up.

Due to this, I am not sure exactly how much more I can say about the young man.

His stuff is electric, when it’s on. He’s working on a third pitch; a change-up that Pitching Coach Oscar Marin has reported is ahead of one being developed by Roansy Contreras. If it isn’t fully developed, there’s a chance he could be destined for a spot in the bullpen; a topic I recently discussed with Matt Capps on an episode of the Bucs In The Basement podcast.

Obviously this wouldn’t be ideal, but it also wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Earlier today we got our initial look at Ortiz: and, although it was only 30 pitches, we got to see the first glimpse at the changeup, which did produce a swing and miss for a K. All in all a nice outing for our Triple-A Opening Day Starter.

2) Endy Rodriguez-C/2B/OF

When you don’t have the most appealing options-at least with the bat-at the catching position in the Majors, it’s pretty natural to start to look down the depth chart. Luckily For Pirates Fans they don’t have to scroll down the page too far to find the name, Endy Rodriguez.

Aside from being the Pittsburgh’s Top Catching Prospect, and a player that can potentially man second base, first base and left field, Rodriguez is also a switch hitter; a fact that is sometimes overlooked when experts and amateurs alike provide a scouting report for him.

During the most recent Minor League Season-one that saw him rocket from Greensboro to Indianapolis-Endy slashed .325/.410/.592 with 19 homers and 34 double from the left side of the plate versus a .316/.396/.579 slash line with 6 homers and 5 doubles-in over 300 less plate appearances-from the right.

Needless to say I’m kind of indifferent-to a degree-concerning where he lands on the field; because it looks like the bat will play.

3) Colin Selby-RHP

Speaking of not knowing that a player existed.

Prior to November 15th, when his name started getting mentioned throughout the day as a player that could potentially be added to the 40-Man to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, Selby was not on many people’s radar.

Sure, he was on mine ; however, it wasn’t until he started balling out in the Arizona Fall League that I decided he was going to be protected.

His upper-90’s fastball misses bats, as does his high-80’s slider and curveball; with all them of the being plus pitches. And, even when he doesn’t miss bats, most of the balls end up on the ground; as he only allowed 2 homers in his 35+ innings of work.

Picked by many-now-to head north with the Big League Club, Selby looks to add depth to an already deep pitching staff; even if he ends up going to Indianapolis instead.

4) Jared Triolo-3B/OF/1B

In my mind Triolo was the most surprising of the additions to the 40-Man this past November; not that it wasn’t justified.

When people first look at Triolo, it’s his glove that stands out the most; not that his bat is lacking. In 2022-all with Altoona-Triolo put up a respectable .282/.376/.419 slash line, with 9 homers and 35 total extra base hits.

And, now he’s playing first base; on top of his regular third base, occasional shortstop and developing outfield work.

To me he is potentially the most likely prospect to come to Pittsburgh at the start the season, because of this position versatility.

5) Nick Gonzales-2B

As Cherington’s initial first round pick, there is some extra pressure; mostly from the outside.

Since being drafted by the Pirates in the midst of the 2020 Pandemic Season, Gonzales didn’t get to play in his first professional game until the following year.

When he actually was able to get on the field in 2021 and 2022 his seasons were shortened by injuries; first breaking his pinky in Greensboro, followed by a torn plantar fascia in his heal while with the Curve.

Luckily each year he was healthy enough to get in some extra at bats in the Arizona Fall League, where he excelled in these small sample sizes; posting an .850 OPS this year and an 1.032 OPS during the last.

For him, the other downfall-on top of his injuries-has been his strikeout rate; totaling 27.8% across his first 696 plate appearances. Clearly this isn’t awful, but it’s also not what you want to see from someone who is supposed to be one of the better contact hitters in the organization.

Honorable Mention: Malcom Nunez-1B/3B

If I had to guess, the Pirates will more than likely be looking for a full-time first baseman following this season’s trade deadline; with both Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi inked to one year-flip candidate-deals. Add in the fact that no other prospect has separated themselves from the pack for the position, and you have a path of opportunity for Nunez.

Nevertheless, like all of the prospects listed-with the exception Selby-the bat will have to play; which based on my previous assessment of his power potential, I believe it will.


The next four weeks or so will not decide the future for these six prospects-as well as others; still, it wouldn’t hurt to see each of them perform well, when given the opportunity.

No matter what happens, I will say that it is good to be writing about and watching real baseball again. Rather than than trying to consider all the what-ifs.

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!

3 thoughts on “Top 5 Pirates Prospects: Spring Training Impact

  1. I agree that Triolo may make it out of ST. He provides a lot to like. Any chance that Selby gets stretched out as a SP? Seems like it would be worth a try with 3 good pitches, missing bats and getting grounders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He began his career as a starter, then moved to the pen. Long relief is an option; but, if you want that fastball to live in the upper-90’s, bullpen is the best bet.


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