5/9/23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
As the Pirates began to struggle over the past week-aside from last night when Mitch Keller was completely awesome-fans eyes began to drift down to the Minor Leagues; looking for any player that could possibly help stop the skid the Big League Club was on.
This practice had become commonplace over the past few years; however, this season it seemed to have escaped the Pittsburgh Pirates, even if it was short lived.
Often the names were-and still are-the ones we would assume; usually based on prospect ranking(s), along with misinformation from the ones that are in a position to educate us on the subject.
The former is completely expected, as we have heard their names; and can easily search the prospect lists that exist, from multiple publications.
Now the later. Well, that is something that has started to bother me more and more lately; which means I will probably write more on the subject at a later date.
No matter the reason(s), the Minors are back on the radar in Pittsburgh. That is until the Pirates happen to go on a extended losing streak again; or any number of players struggle.
1) Henry Davis-C (Altoona)
Obviously the Pirates 1:1 Draft Pick from just a couple years back has been mentioned more than most due to the tear he has been on down in Altoona.
Currently Davis is riding an eight game hitting streak; during which he is slashing .400/.514/.867 with 4 homers, two doubles and a ridiculous 271 wRC+.
On the season he is batting .292 with a 1.057 OPS, 6 homers, a 193 wRC+ and a 21.7% K to 17.4% BB-rate; although, we all know that Davis isn’t with the Curve to work on his hitting.
Catching on a consistent basis is the current goal for Davis and Top Prospect, Endy Rodriguez; even if Endy’s time behind the plate has hit a slight speed bump.
2) Aaron Shackelford-2B/1B (Indianapolis)
With all of the talk surrounding Mason Martin over the past few seasons, and the acquisition of Malcom Nunez at the beginning of August last year, Shackelford’s name is one that may have simply gotten lost in the shuffle.
I mean, he did lead the Pirates Farm System in homers last year with 26, and there was barely a mention of him.
Originally selected in the 14th round out of The Master’s University-a NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) school in Santa Clarita, California-back in 2019, Shackelford got a taste of professional ball with the now defunct Bristol Pirates of the Advanced Rookie Appalachian League that same year.
Across 53 games and 234 plate appearances the former Mustang slashed .274/.339/.491 with 8 homers and 28 total extra base hits; nicely following up his breakout performance of 36 homers during his junior year.
Of course, like the majority of Minor Leaguers, his development would be put on hold in 2020; ultimately reporting to High-A Greensboro to begin 2021.
Upon his arrival, it was immediately apparent that the power was still there; as evidenced by his 22 homers. However, so were the strikeouts that began to appear during his time in Bristol. In 421 plate appearances Shackelford struck out 133 times-or 31.6%-while walking just 36 times-good for a 8.6% BB-rate.
Last season-spent primarily in Altoona, except for 16 plate appearances with the Triple-A Indians-he did hit those aforementioned 26 homers, but he also struck out 29.4% of the time. Meanwhile his walk rate remained constant at 8.7%.
Flash-forward to this season in Indianapolis, where he is currently striking out 25.8% of the time and walking more than respectable 18.3%. Of course this is only in 93 plate appearances, but it is clearly worth paying attention to because the power is still present as well. Hence the 3 homers and 10 extra base hits in a short amount of time.
3) Enmanuel Terrero-OF (Bradenton)
Seeing Terrero’s name on this list-or at the very least being in consideration-has become a foregone conclusion at this point.
On the season, Terrero is slashing .318/.430/.447 with 2 homers, 8 total extra base hits and almost as many walks (16) as strikeouts (19). It should be noted that he has 7 stolen bases on 8 attempts, so there’s some speed there, too.
And, he’s just not on my little radar, as Jonathan Mayo-from MLB Pipeline-mentioned him as a Top 30 Prospect Candidate on the most recent episode of Minor League News And Brews.
4) Tres Gonzalez-OF (Greensboro)
Much like Terrero, Gonzalez has found his way into this conversation nearly every week; especially now with his recent promotion to High-A Greensboro.
During his first series with the Grasshoppers, Gonzalez carried over the success he experienced in Bradenton; going 5 for 19 with a homer.
5) Mike Walsh-RHP (Bradenton)
Drafted in the 9th Round during last season’s MLB Draft out of Yale, Walsh had a very limited track record prior to his Junior year; pitching just 7 innings. Still, he did show out at one of Ben Cherington’s favorite scouting sources-the Cape Cod League-following an uneventful final season with the Bulldogs; striking out 23 in 11.1 innings of relief.
After being selected by the Pirates, Walsh would pitch just a little over 3 innings between the FCL and Bradenton; which did not go very well.
Regardless, things have been a little bit different this year, as he has yet to give up a run over his first 8 appearances; recording 4 saves, striking out 11 and walking 2.
BONUS: Josh Palacios-OF (Indianapolis)
Palacios is not really considered a prospect anymore at almost 28 years of age, with 82 career Major League at bats under his belt.
Nevertheless, we really can’t ignore what he has been doing during his short time in Triple-A-over 60 plate appearances.
For one he is in the midst of a 12 game hitting streak. Only being held hitless in his Indians Debut. And secondly he has shown off some unexpected power by hitting 4 homers in those plate appearances.
Coming into this season he had the calling card of a defense first outfielder, but now he could possibly bring more to the table.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers-plus one-for the first week of May 2023.
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!
Editor’s Note: After I was done compiling my list, and writing it all up the Pirates made a move.