Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League All Star First Team
|Photo Credit: Jesse Kirkendall|
There was no shortage of players to choose from to come up with two All-Star lineups in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. While some players were easy inclusions, coming up with these list weren't easy, especially with the pitching staff.
It's safe to say that a third team could have been made and it still would have had some good players mentioned.
After going over the second team All-Stars a couple of days ago, now it's time to take a look at who took home top honors.
The same format continues, with a player at each position, followed by three pitchers and two relievers.
Catcher - Endy Rodriguez .294/.380/.512 15 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB
Rodriguez was a 'throw in' of sorts by the New York Mets to really make the Joe Musgrove deal a three-way trade. When the Pirates acquired him, they were starved for a catcher prospect to step up and even though they have since added depth Rodriguez was brilliant in his first year of full season ball.
Playing for the Low-A Southeast winning Bradenton Marauders, Rodriguez was one of the best hitters in the entire league finishing at near the top of most major categories.
First Baseman - Mason Martin .239/.316/.483 24 HR 79 RBI
With some of the best power in all of the minor leagues, Martin got off to a blazing start but cooled off down the stretch. He was a part of the Altoona call ups and is still playing in Indianapolis currently, were he's already gone deep for.
Martin's 24 home runs leads the entire Pirates system.
Second Baseman - Nick Gonzales .302/.385/.565 18 HR, 54 RBI, 7 SB
It wasn't the best of starts to his pro career, struggling after coming off an injury. He got hot and starting to recognize pitches better and went on an amazing pace late in the season, mashing the ball just about every time he stepped to the plate.
Third Baseman - Jared Triolo .304/.369/.480 15 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB
While there were plenty of players higher than Triolo on the prospect rankings, perhaps no player consistently hit like Triolo did, and not only that but was recognized as the best defensive third baseman by the High-A East managers.
Of the qualified players in their division who finished the year there, no one finished with a better batting average than Triolo.
Shortstop - Oneil Cruz .310/.375/.594 17 HR, 47 RBI, 19 SB
One of the most exciting players in the minors, Cruz's specialty is to hit moon shots that you have to question if they have landed yet or not. He's still playing in Triple-A right now, and with the way he's tearing the cover off the ball, a 20-20 season isn't out the question.
Just imagine if he hadn't got hurt and been forced to miss some time.
Outfield - Matt Fraizer .306/.388/.552 23 HR, 68 RBI, 15 SB
The Pirates' Position Player of the Year here at the site, Fraizer was one of the true breakout prospects of the 2021 season. After destroying the ball in High-A, Fraizer was promoted to Double-A where he did the same thing. The home run rate dropped in Altoona, but not the extra base hits.
Outfield - Lolo Sanchez .264/.372/.453 17 HR, 58 RBI, 30 SB
You would think that the organizations leader in stolen bases would be the leadoff hitter, but Sanchez's combination of speed and power nearly allowed him to have a 20-20 season in the middle of the Greensboro Grasshoppers lineup.
Jack Herman - .238/.307/.456 15 HR, 59 RBI, 3 SB
Struggling initially with Greensboro, Herman headed back to the Florida Complex League to work on his swing. Whatever he did there worked perfectly, because by the time he got to Bradenton he did nothing but hit.
Herman was so locked in at times, several called the walk-off home run he hit because that's just the kind of thing he would do. The craziest thing was that the numbers he put up in Bradenton was in just 54 games.
Starting Pitcher - Roansy Contreras 3-2, 2.64 ERA, 58 IP, 82 K, 0.93 WHIP
After being acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade, Contreras quickly became one of the best pitchers in all of the minor leagues. He had his own #RoansyDay on days he was supposed to pitch, and worked his way all the way from Altoona to making his major league debut this week.
Starting Pitcher - Quinn Priester 7-4, 3.04 ERA, 97 2/3 IP, 98 K, 1.24 WHIP
It was a struggle at times, but Priester made it happen. As the season went on and he learned to adjust, hitters didn't have a chance. By the end of the year he looked every bit like the much-hyped former first round prospect you'd expect.
Starting Pitcher - Michael Burrows 2-2, 2.20 ERA, 49 IP, 66 K, 0.90 WHIP
When talking about breakout stars of 2021, Burrows is another name that comes up. The former 11th round pick in 2018 didn't receive a lot of hype going into the season, but of all the pitchers on the Greensboro's rotation, Burrows was playing the best at the time of his injury.
They worked him back in easily at the end of the season, but he was healthy enough to also pitch in games one and five of their playoff series.
Relief Pitcher - Enmanuel Mejia 5-2, 0.42 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 53 K, 9 SV, 1.24
That ERA isn't a typo, as the 22-year old relief pitcher allowed just two earned runs all season, both of which came with Greensboro. He pitched 26 1/3 shutout innings during his time with Bradenton.
Relief Pitcher - Shea Spitzbarth 3-3 2.12 ERA, 2 SV, 46 2/3 IP, 41 K, 1.20 WHIP
The Pirates got Spitzbarth in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and the righty ended up being one of the best relief pitchers in their entire system. He earned a promotion and pitched in the majors for the first time in his career before returning and finishing the year out in Indianapolis.
Now seeing the entire list, is there anything you would have done different? Anyone you would have added? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site using the link at the top of the page and follow us on Twitter @__Murphy88 and @SportBlogMurphy.