Ke’Bryan Hayes: Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Provides Spark in Debut Despite Loss

 The Pittsburgh Pirates finally turned to Ke’Bryan Hayes, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, as their starter at the hot corner and it didn’t take long for him to impress.

Hayes, 23, was a first-round pick for the Pirates back in 2015, one of two for Pittsburgh that draft (Kevin Newman the other). It didn’t take him long to establish himself as one of the best defensive players in the minors, and has been the recipient of the minor league gold glove at third base in each of the last three seasons.

It was expected that Hayes would make his major league debut at some point this season, but with a positive COVID-19 test result, it pushed it back to much later than originally expected.

So Pirates fans had to wait a little longer than expected for one of the most hyped position players to come up through the system in quite some time. 

They didn’t keep quiet about it, either, as the team’s Twitter account actually acknowledged before unveiling the lineup for the game, with Hayes slotted in the seven-hole.

So how did he respond? The only tarnish on his night was freezing on a called strike three call in the bottom of the ninth with a runner in scoring position.

Shame on him.

It’s not like he also hit a RBI-double as his first career hit, one he rocketed down the third base line that was clocked at 108.5 MPH off the bat. 

Or maybe hit a game tying home run on an 2-0 pitch to dead center in the bottom of the eighth inning right after a 71-minute rain delay.

Ok, how about an showing of super aggressiveness and belief in his own wheels, scoring the tying run in extra-innings on a short chopper to the pitcher?

I know growing pains are going to be expected for any young player, but the Pirates proved exactly why they held on calling him up for so long... Which I’m sure they will share with us at any point now.

To say this season has been trying maybe somehow be an understatement, despite owning the worst winning percentage in all of baseball. That’s what it has been so far, so for Hayes to have such an amazing debut makes it that much more special.

With a month left in the season, it’s the kind of jolt that puts a little bit of excitement back into tuning in every night.

Josh Bell Struggles Continues

Speaking of the hot corner, it’s probably long past time to make a change at the other side at first base. The Pirates have been given a blessing in disguise at the start of the season when baseball implemented the DH in the National League. 

After a couple more gaffs at first, to go a long with plenty of other cases, it’s time to switch Bell to the DH full-time. A misplay on the ball that should of been a routine out ended up giving the Chicago Cubs the extra at-bat they needed to score for the second time in extra-innings.

Of the 16 qualifying first basemen since the beginning of 2018, Bell has posted the worst defensive runs saved mark, coming in at -20. The Pirates have been given an opportunity to put Bell in a position where he can focus on what he does best, hit.

Time to Look at Cole Tucker at Shortstop Again?

When you have committed the most errors in baseball, it’s not hard to find a lot to talk about when it comes to improving defensively, so here we are again.

The Pirates made it clear who they wanted to play center field for the rest of the season when the only deal they made at the deadline was moving the pending free agent that you originally signed to man the position.

Until this season, Cole Tucker hadn’t played in the outfield at all professionally. Now he is the starting center fielder, and is do quite well at adjusting on the fly.

But maybe it’s time to think about giving him a shot again at the position they originally drafted him to play, shortstop.

The Pirates have Erik Gonzalez and Kevin Newman currently splitting time at short, but in the last two games their has been four errors committed by whoever had been playing that night - two each overall.

Newman’s value has always been with his bat, with his glove almost always grading out below average at shortstop. Drafting Newman a year after Tucker almost always meant eventually moving him to second, something he’s done more of late with Gonzalez forcing his way into the lineup.

Acquired by Neal Huntington, Gonzalez was brought in with hopes he’d be able to hold down the starting spot until Tucker was deemed ready but that hasn’t worked out exactly as planned.

He’s emerged as of late, especially with the bat and is a positive player at the player in defensive runs saved over the last two years (dRS of five, according to FanGraphs).

But it’d be nice to see Tucker get some time at short, whose also graded out positively at the position last year.

Not moving Adam Frazier at the deadline creates a little bit of a log jam in the infield, however, even with him playing in left field more often over the last week.

If the Pirates had moved him, you could probably see a scenario in which Tucker got time at short, but for now expect him to be the guy in center for the foreseeable future.

What were your impressions of Hayes in his debut? What are your expectations the rest of the season? What’s your ideal lineup the rest of the way out for the Pirates? Let me know what you think in the comments section below and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy to continue the conversation! 


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