Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Position Players Worthy of Last Second Promotion
|Photo Credit: New Mexico State Athletics|
With the last day of August coming to an end, we are now officially in the last month of the minor league baseball season. It's been such an amazing experience following it like I have from start to finish, and I look forward to the stretch run in wrapping everything up.
As the season winds down, it will be interesting to see how teams approach things. What will be done with some of the pitching? Could we see some teams shut down some of their pitching prospects in the first full season since the COVID pandemic wiped out the minor league year in 2020?
Or have they paced them enough this year so that they can finish out the season? Another thing to watch, with less than 20 games left plus any potential playoff series - will we see anymore promotions/shuffling of players across levels?
Personally, with less than 20 games left I'm not really a fan of moving anyone up. There isn't really anything that this small a sample size, especially for pitchers, is going to show me that can't be shown at the start of 2022.
That being said, with Diego Castillo being moved up to Indianapolis it showed that Ben Cherington may be willing to give some of the players in the system one final push to see how they adjust to hitting or pitching at a completely new level.
So here are five position players, pitchers will be covered in a separate piece, that even though I'm not a fan of moving anyone up at this point in the year, intrigue me enough to want to see how they adjust.
Endy Rodriguez, Catcher/First Base/Outfield Bradenton Marauders
I covered Rodriguez on Tuesday, and how he would fit into the Pirates outfield prospects picture. While Bradenton is a little light when it comes to catchers with Abrahan Gutierrez heading to the injured list over the weekend, Rodriguez has certainly earned a quick look in Greensboro.
Notable for @The_Marauders after tonight's romp:— Spenser Smith (@TheSpenserSmith) September 1, 2021
- Jack Herman: finishes August batting .326 w/ 5 HR, 23 RBI, .928 OPS
- Endy Rodríguez: .464 AVG during 8G hit streak (11 RBI) // Batting .329 w/ .962 OPS since July 1 (41G)
This may gain more traction now that Henry Davis is done for the season with an oblique injury. Even without Davis' injury, Rodriguez's own play warrants a promotion and has for quite some time.
Rodriguez has been one of the best hitters in Low-A Southeast, and in the Pirates system. Not bad for a player in his first full professional season. There isn't a major hitting category that Rodriguez doesn't rank in the top ten for, if not the top five.
The catcher currently ranks second in Low-A Southeast in hits, and fourth in OPS (.875). His 36 extra base hits, also rank second and has driven in the fourth most runs as well (56 RBIs). Among qualified hitters in the league, Rodriguez has the fourth lowest strikeout rate showing he's a complete hitter.
While regardless of a promotion or not this year, Rodriguez is likely to start the year at Greensboro in 2022. Which is perfectly fine. He's hit well enough to get an extra look, and could put him on a path that may find him in Altoona by the end of next season.
Wyatt Hendrie, Catcher Florida Complex League
This would tie into Rodriguez moving up to Greensboro, and it would allow the Pirates' seventh round pick out of San Diego State to slide into Bradenton's lineup to close things out.
It's been hard to play at the FCL over the last few weeks, as there has been quite a few games over the past weeks have shut things down.
Even so, Hendrie has played nine games in the FCL with a batting slash of .259/.323/.444. It'd be nice to see him get a consistent string of games in and Bradenton might present that opportunity. Hendrie has one home run (three total extra base hits) and has also driven in four runs.
Nick Gonzales, Second Baseman Greensboro Grasshoppers
This one was so obvious I almost didn't want to put him here. It was also so obvious that I also felt I had to put him here.
The former first round pick out of New Mexico State had a rough adjustment period coming off an injury, but that is a thing of the past after closing out August on an absolute tear.
Gonzales has hit 10 of his 16 home runs this season in the month of August. He also slashed .364/.419/.757 for the entirety of the month. In total, 21 of his 39 hits in August went for extra bases. He also cut back on his strikeouts, only punching out 23.3% of the time.
Nick Gonzales has hit five homers in the past two games with this compact of a swing. Phew. pic.twitter.com/KVMKaq4ceZ— Jake Crouse (@JakeCrouseMLB) September 1, 2021
I mentioned Castillo getting promoted above, and that move is likely what allows Gonzales to get any playing time in Altoona. It's easy to say that a player deserves a promotion, but you also have to make space for him at the level you are sending him.
Altoona already has enough trouble getting all of their players into the lineup with how stacked their roster is, something had to give before even considering Gonzales there. Castillo moving up frees up an opportunity to have Ji-Hwan Bae continue to rotate in the outfield so that he and Gonzales would be able to get consistent at bats.
His strikeouts are still a little high, and that will certainly be something that will have to be monitored making the jump to Double-A, but the talent is undeniable.
Jackson Glenn, Second Baseman Bradenton Marauders
The Dallas Baptist star has been a nightmare to Low-A Southeast pitching the moment he was assigned to the Marauders. There isn't an at bat it seems that he doesn't give the opposing pitcher a fit, which is why he is slotting nicely into the lead off spot.
5th round pick Jackson Glenn with a bases clearing double!!! pic.twitter.com/6MR6weUyuA— Pirates Farm Updates (@piratesfarm) August 31, 2021
But let's be honest, the current log jam in the system at second base is why he is in Bradenton. In an ideal scenario, someone as advanced as Glenn at the plate should be in High-A knocking on Double-A's door. It'd be nice to see how he handles pitching in Greensboro and if his approach can allow him to make a quick adjustment.
Jared Triolo, Third Baseman Greensboro Grasshoppers
This spot was originally for Oneil Cruz. I even had a few paragraphs written up before changing my mind to Triolo. The way I see it, regardless of a call up this month for Cruz, he's in Indy to start the year in 2022 and in the majors some time after that.
Triolo has given every reason to share a ride with Gonzales to Altoona and has been one of Greensboro more consistent hitters throughout the season (that's actually really saying something).
The 72nd overall pick in 2019 by the Pirates out of Houston, Triolo has a .304 average this year to go along with a .843 OPS. In the offensive friendly High-A East, Triolo is current batting champion as only Matt Fraizer (now in Altoona) has a better average among qualified hitters. Gonzales is currently breathing down his neck (.304 for Triolo, .303 Gonzales).
Position versatility may play in his favor, but in the end Castillo getting moved to Indy really opens one spot which if the Pirates wanted to have someone take his spot the tiebreaker would probably go to the top 10 pick.
Who are some other names that should get a quick look at a higher level? Do you think the Pirates should promote anyone else at all? Let us know in the comment section below and subscribe to the site using the link at the top. Follow us on twitter @SportsBlogMurphy and @__Murphy88.