5/23/23-By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
Since before the Minor Baseball Season even kicked off, I have talked about the trickle-down effect concerning promotions that could take place in the Pirates Farm System.
Simply put, if there isn’t a place and/or position for regular playing time, General Manager Ben Cherington and Director of Coaching and Player Development John Baker will keep your assignment at a level where you can receive regular reps.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, which have been seen on full display at the Major League Level at times. For example, Canaan Smith-Njigba only received 37 plate appearances over the first 23 games of the season.
Clearly he wasn’t hitting to degree that many expected of him, but it’s also hard to turn things on when you aren’t receiving regular playing time. Hence, why he is back with Triple-A Indianapolis; where he has been able to accumulate 50 plate appearances in less time.
Similar reasoning would potentially explain why certain prospects are holding steady at say an Altoona or Greensboro, instead climbing the ladder; one of whom is listed at #1 this week.
Because the majority of Pirates Fans-that maybe don’t have a regular pulse on the Minors-still operate under the presumption that Liover Peguero and Nick Gonzales are the double play tandem of the future-after being told this for the past few years-it might come as surprise that they have been playing the same position, more often than not; particularly over the past couple of weeks.
This is not to say one of them couldn’t slide across the second base bag to each of their natural positions. Still, why would you decide to mix things up when both of them seem to be getting back on track?
Now if this pattern of positive performances at the plate continue, perhaps you can make the move then.
I just wouldn’t force it.
1) Liover Peguero-2B/SS (Altoona)
Over the first month of the season , and across 72 plate appearances, Peguero slashed .238/.324/.302 with a 79 wRC+ and no homers; continuing the downward slide he had taken during the previous year by posting a .230/.297/.315 slash line with a 70 wRC+, following his weekend cup of coffee in Pittsburgh toward the end of June.
However, as soon as the calendar turned over to May, the still only 22 year-old prospect has been red hot. In his last 84 plate appearances he is batting .303 with a .935 OPS, a 152 wRC+ and 4 homers; including a two-home run during the Curve’s most recent series.
Now, people who are more tuned into the day-to-day; such as Jarrod Prugar from the Altoona Mirror, saw this about-face coming due to increase contact numbers and an improved approach at the plate. Still, it’s far from mission accomplished for Peguero; who seems to have some added pressure from fans due to his stature as Cherington’s first major acquisition.
2) Quinn Priester-RHP (Indianapolis)
Quinn could have easily made this list over the past couple of weeks; yet, in all honesty I wanted to see a little bit more of a track record after he started the season with a 7.78 ERA and 1.68 WHIP through his first 5 outings.
Over his last 4 starts-totaling 24 innings-he owns a 1.13 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP; although his strikeout numbers have decreased from 11.44 per 9 to 7.13, which could be by design. Or, it could be totally coincidental, as his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) has stayed pretty consistent at 3.24 versus 3.04.
One thing that has changed is the number of appearances in a week/series with Luis Ortiz up in the Majors.
This past week Priester made his second appearance on Sunday, and didn’t really skip a beat; not allowing a run across 5 innings of work.
3) JP Massey-RHP (Bradenton)
Massey makes the list for the second week in a row, thanks to a six innings shutout performance; during which he struck out 5, walked one and only allowed one hit. For his efforts he was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week.
And, truthfully I could see it becoming Pitcher of the Month, if he has another solid outing this week.
Over his last 3 starts Massey has not allowed a run, given up just 4 hits and struck out 21 in 16 innings.
4) Jackson Glenn-2B/3B (Greensboro)
The last time I wrote about Glenn a couple of weeks ago, I asked for a sooner rather than later promotion for Glenn due to his age; a request that I will make again today. Even though his being bumped up a level could be tied to one for Peguero.
During the series against the Asheville Tourist, Glenn batted .478 with an 1.152 OPS, a double and a homer-his 6th on the season.
On the year he is now slashing .337/.417/.567 with a 13.3% K to 10.8% BB-rate.
5) Tres Gonzalez-OF (Greensboro)
Tres, like Glenn, has started to become a regular in the Top 5.
Since his promotion to Greensboro-back on May 2nd-Gonzalez is slashing .309/.375/.455 with a couple of homers and 7 steals, on as many attempts,
Now, unlike Glenn, he is only 22 years-old; which probably means he will spend the rest of the year in Grasshoppers green.
Bonus: Henry Davis-C/RF (Altoona)
Davis could probably make this list each and every time. However, this week the power and his undeniable arm-on display in the outfield for the first time-are what we should focus on.
For anyone that has been living under a rock for the past week, here are the highlights.
Now, it should be noted that overall Davis had his worst series at the plate this season; batting .250 with a .973 OPS; which any of us will take without batting an eye due to the defensive effort, 2 homers and 6 walks to 3 strikeouts.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers, plus one, for the second 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!