4-6-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
There is a little bit more pressure added to certain prospects, simply based on how they were acquired.
A first round draft pick carries more weight in the eyes of baseball fans-and is likely to be considered a bust if he doesn’t become a superstar-than a player selected in rounds two through 10. The same goes for someone who is part of a substantial trade, as opposed to being brought in for a guy that was just DFA’d; or even a first-half of the year flip-candidate.
These feelings and/or assessments are completely justified, however, they often take the onus off of management at times; leaving the player open to the brunt of criticism from the fans.
Naturally this changes over time, as successes or failure pile up on the Baseball Operations side of things; yet in the heat of the moment, it’s all about the player’s performance.
One such prospect that falls squarely into the substantial trade category; while also being the main part of the return in Ben Cherington’s first major transaction on January 27th of 2020, which sent Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On the date he was acquired by the Pirates-along with Brennan Malone-Liover Peguero was only a recently turned 19 year-old young man; who at the time only had 249 plate appearances outside of the Dominican and Complex Leagues.
Sitting at #18 on the Diamondback’s list, he quickly rose to #5 on the Pirates; without ever taking an at bat. And, that’s where it all started…the hype train.
When Minor League Baseball finally returned in 2021, Peguero was given the advanced assignment of High-A Greensboro; where he was almost a full three years younger than the average player.
To his credit the young man from Higuey, in the Dominican Republic, performed well against his older competitors; slashing .270/.332/.444 with 14 homers, 35 total extra base hits and a 108 wRC+. He did struggle with strikeouts at times-to the tune of a 25.2% K-rate-and didn’t walk as much as you would want to balance that out-coming in at 7.9%; however, he didn’t fall into the home-road split trap that often trips up other members of the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Sure his OPS was about 100 points lower on the road, but believe me, I have seen much worse.
Due to his success in High-A, Peguero was ultimately rewarded with a promotion to Altoona to begin 2022. An opportunity he took full advantage of for the first two months of the season; batting .312 with a. 853 OPS, a 129 wRC+, 4 homers and 22 total extra base hits in only 180 plate appearances.
Then the Bowie Baysox-Baltimore’s Double-A Affiliate-came into town.
During my discussion for the Minor League News and Brews Podcast, Jon Mozes-Play-By-Play Broadcaster for the Curve-talked about how Bowie approached Peguero differently than any other team had that season; potentially not throwing him a fastball the entire series.
From that point on he never really looked the same, on a consistent basis.
Over his final 341 plate appearances, he slashed just .203/.286/.319 with a 67 wRC+; although he did start to turn it on again in September by posting a .791 OPS and a 118 wRC+ with a couple of homers.
Looking at all of last season, it’s hard to imagine exactly why people were surprised that he would start the year back in Altoona with the Curve.
Still barely 22-and likely to be at least 2 years younger than the average Double-A player-Peguero has some time to make the push needed to become a productive Major League Ballplayer. Sure, this is his second season on the 40-man-with an impending roster crunch conceivably continuing this November-so the need to have a strong showing could be ratcheted up slightly; yet, it may not affect the team’s plans for him as much as we think.
Nevertheless, it would obviously be better if he started out like he did last year, which might make the decisions concerning his future easier to make. Plus, it might just result in him getting his shot in the Majors sooner than expected.
Imagine, Rodolfo Castro continues to struggle, he or Ji-hwan Bae has to hit the IL, or maybe both, and Peguero is tearing up Altoona. We could potentially see a move like the one the Pirates made with Jack Suwinski last year. Which, is more likely to me than the suggestion to bring Nick Gonzales up from Triple-A, as Peguero is already on the 40-man.
Clearly this is dependent on him performing to a certain level in Double-A. On that front, we will just have to wait and see.
One thought on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Liover Pegeuro”
Good insight from those who saw him most in 2022.
He’s one of tens of thousands of minor-leaguers (probably hundreds of thousands) who have struggled with hitting mostly off-speed. Any MLB hitter must be able to do that to succeed, and it is certainly preferable in my opinion for him to develop in response to this adversity now, against theoretically less-developed off-speed pitches, than against MLB veterans with nasty sweepers, 12-7s, etc.