4-11-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
After a quick weekend series for the Indianapolis Indians, all of the Pirates Affiliates eventually joined in on the fun; with Altoona starting their season on Thursday, which was soon followed by Greensboro and Bradenton on Friday.
For fans of the Minor Leagues like myself, it is great to finally see several prospects make their professional debuts, what guys have been working on in the off-season and if guys that struggled last season can bounce back strong.
Once again-just like last week-these are extreme small sample sizes; possibly only looking at a handful of at bats, or a few innings on the mound. Still, these can be very important for players that are pushing toward the Majors, as one injury or extended slump from someone with the Big League Club could equal them getting an opportunity.
Mark Mathias was recalled yesterday after Oneil Cruz hit the IL with a fractured fibula; and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Last year Jack Suwinski was promoted to the Pirates due to a little serendipity and a hot start; as the Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel described it at the time. And, we all remember how Bryan Reynolds found his way to Pittsburgh back in 2019.
All it takes is one event, or decision from Ben Cherington, and prospect could be taking a flight to St. Louis instead of a bus to Erie.
1) Tucupita Marcano-IF/OF (Indianapolis)
The hot start-4for 9-with a double-that Marcano got off to during the Opening Weekend, rolled right over into the full slate of games in Louisville, against the Bats.
In this most recent series he batted an astounding.526 with 7 total extra base hits; including 5 doubles, a homer and this triple below.
On Friday night he tallied three doubles, on his way to lead the International League in two-baggers on this young season, and being named their Player of the Week.
He has also continued to play strong defense in the field. All of which led to many believing that he would get the call-up when Cruz went down.
Yes it’s only 7 games and 29 plate appearances, but no one can deny that Marcano is seeing the ball very well; and may have turned a corner in his development.
He is only 23 years old after all.
2) Luis Ortiz-RHP (Indianapolis)
Through the first four innings of his second outing on the season, Ortiz baffled the Louisville batters; striking out six, walking one and not allowing a single hit.
The Bats would get to him in the bottom of the fifth; chasing him from the game mostly due to a pitch count-77 total on the day. But, they also strung together a few singles, which resulted in an earned run. Although, it should be noted that he struck out the final batter he faced on the day.
3) Anthony Solometo-LHP (Greensboro)
Coming into 2022, Solometo was one of the prospects that I couldn’t wake to see make his Minor League Debut. And, let me tell you, he didn’t disappoint.
Across 47.2 innings for the Marauders, he posted a 2.64 ERA with a 1.049 WHIP, 51 strikeouts and no home runs allowed.
Not surprisingly this overall performance ultimately resulted in promotion to High-A Greensboro to begin the 2023 Season.
Once again, the young lefty didn’t disappoint; at least in his first start. Even if he did give up his first professional home run.
On the day, Solometo allowed just two hits, walked one and struck out five in 4 innings of work; using just 60 pitches to do so.
4) Thomas Harrington-RHP (Bradenton)
This year’s Anthony Solometo, for me, was-without a doubt-Thomas Harrington; as I wrote back in early January.
Sure I got to see him throw a 3 inning simulated game on the backfields at Pirate City almost a month ago at this point; but, that only left me wanting to see more.
From the jump, Harrington was nothing short of dominating. He struck out the second batter of the game, and never really looked back.
Throughout the evening all four of his above average offerings were on full display; including this devastating slider.
Across five innings Harrington threw just 63 pitches-44 of the for strikes-on his way to a four hit, seven strike out and no walk performance.
5) Travis Swaggerty-OF (Indianapolis)
The Pirates former 1st Round Pick from 2018 entered Spring Training as a potential DFA Candidate to some; but, left as a player that may have been cheated out of a roster spot, after slashing .379/.471/.690 with 3 homers in 29 official at bats.
Obviously, there was an open competition in Bradenton over the month of March, which was won by Canaan Smith-Njigba; who to his credit, slashed .333/.407/.583 with 3 homers of his own across 48 at bats.
Over the first series of the season, Swaggerty hit safely in all three games; including a double in each of the first two contests.
Then after being held hit-hitless in the series opener against the Bats; Swaggerty’s would lead off first game of Thursday’s double-header with his first long ball of the season.
As the series continued, Swaggerty stayed hot; totaling 7 hits-two doubles and 2 triples, while raising his Average and OPS to .286 and .942 respectively.
Clearly this sizzling streak will need to continue if he wants to find his way back up to Pittsburgh sooner rather than later. However, it was simply nice to see Swaggerty build upon the success he experienced in Spring.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers-plus one-for the first “full” week of the year.
Now remember, let me know if I missed anyone, and who your Top 5 would be. And, be sure check back each and every Tuesday during Minor League Baseball Season!
One thought on “Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performer: First “Full” Week”
Good look, thanks. Also looking forward to the hot and cold, if that’s able to continue this season