Pittsburgh Pirates Second Base Prospects: The Free-For-All is Ready to Begin

Second base looks like it’s going to be a free-for-all next year in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates traded Adam Frazier in 2021, and started rotating a few younger players through the position as potential replacements. I wrote about that transition today at No Quarter.

The early candidates have been Rodolfo Castro, Michael Chavis, and Hoy Park. The Pirates also have added a few second base prospects in the last year, including several at the trade deadline around the same time they dealt Frazier.

The result of this influx at the position will be a competition for the long-term job starting in 2022, with everyone trying to win a role before 2020 first round pick Nick Gonzales arrives in the big leagues.

This article is part of a series looking at the future of every position in the Pirates’ farm system. Note that this isn’t a full list of the second base prospects, but instead the top options in the system as of our latest rankings.

Nick Gonzales

2021 Stats: .302/.385/.565, 18 HR, 369 PA (A+)

Gonzales represents the best chance of an impact starter at the second base position. He’s been touted as a guy who could win a batting title in the big leagues one day. His contact skills came in question this year in Greensboro, with a 27.4% strikeout rate and a pretty significant home/road split that favors the offensive-friendly home park. His overall results were strong, and he finished the year with a 1.055 OPS from mid-July to the end of the season. Expect Gonzales to go to Altoona in 2022, with a chance that he could be in the majors by the end of the year. I think a stronger possibility is that the Pirates cycle through some of their other options before bringing Gonzales to the big leagues.

Ji-Hwan Bae

2021 Stats: .281/.360/.422, 8 HR, 372 PA (AA)

I mentioned Bae in the center field prospect article, and am listing him here as well. He’s originally a shortstop, and has been working on his fundamentals on the other side of the bag. He’s also been working out a new position in center field. That might be a better fit for his speed and range, setting up the possibility of a speedy leadoff center field profile. He has added a bit of power this year, which would play better at second base. I wouldn’t rule him out for this position, but feel he’ll get more work as a utility guy and will eventually break into the majors with that role.

Tucupita Marcano

2021 Stats: .251/.345/.358, 7 HR, 412 PA (AAA, MLB)

The Pirates added Marcano in the deal that sent Adam Frazier to the Padres. He’ll get a chance to replace Frazier in the big leagues at some point in 2022, while also having a shot at shortstop. He’s another guy who will probably get time as a utility player, rather than being given the starter job outright. Marcano is in competition with two other players acquired on the same day.

Hoy Park

2021 Stats: .290/.441/.491, 11 HR, 293 PA (AA, AAA, MLB)

The Pirates added the next two second base options in the same trade, on the same day they dealt Fraizer. They’ve already given Hoy Park a look in the big leagues, getting him work at second, third, shortstop, and all three outfield positions. The big trend with all three of the guys added is their high OBP skills. Park has additional value with his super utility flexibility. I’d expect him to make the majors at the start of the season as a bench player for versatility, giving him enough of a chance to win the second base job from Rodolfo Castro or Michael Chavis, who I feel are his top competition.

Diego Castillo

2021 Stats: .278/.355/.487, 19 HR, 440 PA (AA, AAA)

Castillo was added in the same trade as Park, coming from the Yankees for Clay Holmes. The Pirates added him to the 40-man roster this offseason, and he could be in the majors next year. He shows off some impressive power for a middle infielder, with the same strong OBP skills as the previous two guys. He’s also played third base, and spent more time at shortstop than second base. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the majors in 2022, with second base being his best chance for a long-term starting role.

Jase Bowen

2021 Stats: .220/.309/.384, 14 HR, 405 PA (A)

Everyone else on this list is either a more immediate option, or a higher upside option for the future. Bowen is a lower-level guy I wanted to highlight who is more of a project. He’s got some power and speed and can play all over the field, getting work in both the infield and outfield, including center field. His contact skills raise some questions, and will be a big focus next year as he likely goes to High-A. His versatility will give him plenty of looks, and the power/speed combo up the middle makes him a guy to follow.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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