This month at Baseball America, my feature was on Pirates infield prospect Maikol Escotto, and the promise that he was flashing during Spring Training. Escotto has since started to demonstrate that promise in the actual season.
As of this writing, Escotto has opened the year with two home runs and a .723 OPS in High-A Greensboro. The downside to those numbers is that he’s 3-for-18 with ten strikeouts.
As I noted in the article at BA, the Pirates are still working to get Escotto “ironed out” for better results from a pure-hit standpoint. Those weren’t there during Spring Training, and aren’t there yet. Escotto is a guy to follow, because if that hit tool does start to click, then he’s got some impressive raw power to pair with it, which is special from a guy who projects to stick at the shortstop position long-term.
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 12, 2022
Early Indianapolis Highlights
The Pirates have seen some good results in the first week of minor league play. Last night we saw the Indianapolis Indians combine for a no-hitter, with Chase De Jong, Austin Brice, and Yerry De Los Santos combining to get the job done. This comes a week after Indianapolis saw their bullpen step up in a big way during a chaotic week, as Anthony Murphy detailed on Tuesday.
Ji-Hwan Bae has had a solid start to the season in Indianapolis, opening with a seven game hitting streak. Bae has a .375/.444/.417 line so far, and has stolen four bases in five attempts. Anthony Murphy also wrote about Bae’s opposite-field hitting abilities this week. That article made me think of Adam Frazier when he was coming up through the system. Frazier could be a good comp for Bae, whose plate patience and opposite-field trends demonstrate a hit tool that should be safe enough to product for good future production in the majors.
Alan Saunders has the latest Pirates injury updates over at Pittsburgh Baseball Now, including some prospect updates.
The most notable is Quinn Priester, who is current out with an oblique strain. Priester is expected to be out for another two weeks. Priester was the Pirates’ first round pick in 2019, and one of their top pitching prospects.
Blake Cederlind will begin throwing live batting practice this week, and Aaron Shortridge is currently throwing live BP and will be assigned to a minor league affiliate soon. Both are returning from Tommy John surgery. Cederlind can’t come off the 60-day IL until May 14th, and could be an option for the MLB bullpen by the end of the year. Shortridge last pitched as a starter in High-A in 2019. It’s difficult to say where he’ll end up at the end of the season after such a long layoff.
Braxton Ashcraft is also coming off Tommy John surgery and is throwing side sessions, behind the schedule of the other two. Ashcraft made ten starts last year for High-A Greensboro, before the 2018 second rounder went down on July 21st. I wouldn’t expect a lot from him this year, even if he does return to the mound. He is still a guy to watch going forward, after striking out 41 in 38.2 innings last year.
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.