Pittsburgh Pirates: With The Draft Adding Players, Who Are Biggest Promotion Candidates?
With the draft wrapping up on Tuesday, and as teams start to sign their draft picks some will have to make room in their organization to make room for their new players. They will also have to move some of their current players up and down (sadly, some will get cut) in order to free up playing time.
Looking at the current roster set up, I took a look at some likely promotions that could happen as any kind of organizational roster shuffling takes place. For this, I looked at one pitcher and one position player at each level except for Triple-A.
Bradenton Marauders - Santiago Florez, Eli Wilson
It will be interesting to see what the Pirates do with Eli Wilson now. They drafted Henry Davis, and while there is a good chance he doesn't play at all the rest of the season, if he signs early Bradenton could be a potential landing spot to start his professional career.
That probably wouldn't be ideal with both Wilson and Endy Rodriguez there, but the first overall pick takes priority over everything.
Between's Wilson age, and advanced approach to the plate, he has been an ideal candidate to get the move up to Greensboro anyways. He's had a rough July, although it's still early in the month, and he expectedly came back to earth a bit from his explosive May.
Wilson still sports a .995 OPS this season for the Marauders, good for second on the team. Defense seems to still be a determining factor for the former Golden Gopher, as he has thrown out just 13.6% of would be base stealers, but regardless it would be nice to see how his bat responds to more advanced pitching.
At this point, if you follow the Pirates minor league system, Santiago Florez needs no introduction and he is the obvious pick here for a promotion. He's proven all that he can prove in Bradenton, and as he is Rule-5 eligible again this offseason it'd be nice to see him against some tougher competition to see if he's worth protecting with a 40-man roster spot.
Florez has been fantastic this season, sporting a 5-2 record with a 1.37 ERA in 52 2/3 innings pitched. He's held his opponents to an .165 average and has 71 strikeouts to just 14 walks. In just two appearances this month, Florez is holding his opposition to a .341 OPS.
He also sports the best WHIP, and opponents average in the Low-A Southeast division, and has the third most strikeouts.
Greensboro Grasshoppers - Matt Fraizer, Michael Burrows
Matt Fraizer is another no doubter for the Pirates to move up, as he has consistently been one of the system's best hitters nearly from the get go. The 23-year old former third round pick out of Arizona currently sports a 1.015 OPS on the season with 15 home runs and sports a .330 average.
He ranks second in the High-A East division in home runs and first in average and OPS. Fraizer is currently sports a 10 game hitting streak heading into the week.
This was honestly going to be another pitcher, but since we are still unsure of Carmen Mlodzinski's status, Michael Burrows gets the nod. The 21-year old was an 11th round pick back in 2018 and has taken a huge step forward in his development.
Not only is Burrows showing great swing and miss stuff (62 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched), he has also shown good control (17 walks). He has posted a 0.88 WHIP and held opponent batters to a .142 average. Hitters have posted a .478 OPS against him, and are hitting just .075 when Burrows finds himself ahead in the count.
One thing to watch, as is the case with most young pitchers, is his innings count. He is now approaching what he threw with West Virginia back in 2019, his only other full season of baseball. There's no rush, and no pressure in moving him quickly so no one else from the Greensboro rotation may see time in Altoona, but Burrows would be the best candidate of the bunch to do so.
Altoona Curve - Cal Mitchell, Hunter Stratton
Injuries changed the answer for one of the spots for Greensboro, and it impacted both here for Altoona. While Mason Martin and a healthy Oneil Cruz are obvious choices, and they probably will get moved up at some point, Mitchell has certainly helped his stock this season.
A second round pick in 2017, Mitchell pasted up a scholarship to San Diego to sign with the Pirates and has been one of the more solid hitters in a very good Altoona lineup this season.
June was the big month for Mitchell, as he hit for a batting slash of .319/.367/.571 with five home runs, and 12 total extra base hits.
The best part is that his .314 BABIP is certainly maintainable, and even though he has a .548 OPS in July, he is only eight games into the month.
Hunter Stratton isn't the name that most would expect to be on this kind of list, but he has one of the most reliable pitchers out the bullpen for the Curve this year. Obviously if healthy, Roansy Contreras holds down this spot, but with him out right now Stratton can take some of the spotlight.
The 24-year old righty was a 16th round pick by the Pirates in 2017 and so far this season has posted 40 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings pitched, walking only 12. He has also posted five saves, a 1.61 ERA as well as limiting opponents to an .192 average and .564 OPS.
Who else do you think should get a promotion from their current team? Who on this list do you feel like could use some seasoning? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page, and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.
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