Prospect Roundtable: Which Pirates Prospect Are You Watching in the Second Half?

The minor league season starts down the stretch this week, with about two months remaining until the 2022 season has wrapped up in full.

The second half is a crucial time for following the development of prospects. It gives a chance to see how players hold up as their bodies are wearing down with fatigue. It gives a chance to see how players develop after months of experience and a quick All-Star break reset.

There are a lot of exciting prospects to follow in the Pirates system right now. For this week’s Prospect Roundtable, I asked everyone to pick one prospect they were going to be watching the closest in the second half. As usual, our blind response led to four different answers. I also wrote a mini-column on Liover Peguero.

Who is your player? Check out our choices and leave your pick in the comments!

JOHN DREKER: Bubba Chandler, RHP/DH

The player I’ll being following closest in the second half is Bubba Chandler, because right now he is hard to rate in the system. Clearly there is upside as both a pitcher and a hitter, but we have seen that he is a bit raw on both sides of the ball still. His control seems to be the biggest obstacle on the mound, while he really isn’t seeing a lot of at-bats so far, with 53 plate appearances all season. I’m hoping he gets the opportunities at both spots over the rest of the season so we aren’t talking about small sample sizes for both at the end of the year. Getting those looks is key going forward this year. If he looks like a future two-way starter in the majors, then his prospect status is going to look much higher than someone who looks more like he has a chance at one or the other. If it’s the latter, then to what degree is that potential going forward? So I’m hoping to get as many looks as possible, both at the plate and on the mound, over the final seven weeks of the season to give me a little more confidence when I put those rankings together. No one else has a comparable floor/ceiling set of possibilities, so I have a feeling that short-term we could see some big differences in opinions for his future.

WILBUR MILLER: Lonnie White Jr., OF

This one is pretty easy – Lonnie White, Jr. Without him, it’d be tougher. Rodolfo Nolasco has gotten untracked in Bradenton, although he’s not staying on the field lately. And Javier Rivas seems to be having a major breakout in the FCL. But White has one of the highest ceilings in the system, especially in the power area, and he’s shown it in the very brief pro action he’s seen. He’ll be especially enticing to follow since, until last Saturday, he’d missed the whole season while on double secret injury probation for something discomfort something. It’d be good to see White reach Bradenton before the end of the season, but he may have gotten underway too late for that given the Pirates’ reluctance to move their prospects.


The player that I’m following the closest is going to be Dariel Lopez. I talked about him before the season started about, and how he has the tools to be a breakout player in 2022. It didn’t start off that way but has really turned the corner and has become one of Greensboro better hitters. Since the first month of the season where he really struggled, Lopez has posted a wRC+ of 123.

Lopez has been especially strong in July, holding a 142 wRC+ and .402 wOBA. He’s also struck out less than 20% of the time this month, as he continues to chip away at the 31.7% mark he put up in April.

He’s also among the leaders in the entire organization in home run. Lopez is athletic enough and has the arm to stick at third base but has still struggled with the errors, so that’ll be worth monitoring to see if he can clean it up.

Lopez was one of a handful of very young players from the Bradenton squad that was given the push up to Greensboro. While Maikol Escotto, and more recently Sammy Siani was sent back down for more work, Lopez has continually improved as the season has gone on.

Here’s where we’d make the usual ‘Greensboro games don’t get streamed’ joke, but of their final seven series they are set to play, four will be on MiLB TV, plenty of opportunities to have a look.

TIM WILLIAMS: Liover Peguero, SS

My focus in the second half is going to be on the upper levels — specifically players who can help make an impact in Pittsburgh in the next year. There’s no one in this system who can make a greater impact than Liover Peguero. The Pirates have a hole at second base, and Peguero has the highest upside of any middle infielder currently in the minor league system. What I like about Peguero is that he’s got a lot of chances to add value in a game. At the plate, he’s got an advanced feel for hitting and at least average power. He has plus speed, helping him on the bases and with range in the field. He’s got the chance to be an above average defender at shortstop, with the defensive upside to move Oneil Cruz off the position one day. There are a lot of ways where Peguero can provide value. He’s a playmaker, and one of those guys who you could eventually tune in to every at-bat.

The problem is that Peguero has yet to provide consistent value in very few ways. The speed is being utilized, with 20 steals in 24 attempts this year. Peguero is 48-for-58 (82.8%) in stolen bases the last two seasons. This not only demonstrates speed, but excellent decision making skills and techniques on the bases. When you watch Peguero at the plate, you can see the contact skills. What you see reflected in the stat line is a lack of consistently good swing decisions. Peguero is hitting for a .272/.314/.415 line in 341 plate appearances in Altoona. His walk rate is low, at 5%, but his strikeout rate is 21.4%. He needs to learn how to lay off some pitches, even if he does have the advanced ability to hit them. Peguero is selective on the bases, but not as much at the plate. On the field, he has 15 errors, with a lot of them throwing errors. At the same time, he makes a lot of impressive throws and plays.

I’ll propose the idea that Peguero is great at executing a plan. He knows he’s going to steal, and the catcher and pitcher are reacting to the mystery. They know he could steal, but they don’t know he will, or when he will break. In those situations, Peguero’s tools dominate. However, when the mystery is on Peguero, he’s not as consistent. When the pitcher and catcher are in control, Peguero escapes his plan at the plate. Peguero is reacting in the field to every ball off the bat, trying to calculate how much time he has to make the play. He can get to more balls than most, but doesn’t consistently execute his throwing form with every throw.

It’s important to remember that Peguero is in his age 21 season. He’s actually a year and three months younger than Henry Davis. He also only has 762 plate appearances above short-season ball, as of this writing. Four of those were in the majors. The fact that he’s doing this well and consistently showing his potential at high levels at a young age and with so much inexperience is outstanding. It means we can continue to dream big things about Peguero’s future. He’s yet to consistently apply his potential at the highest levels, which serves as a reminder to us that he’s still developing, and players don’t develop on anyone else’s schedule but their own.

Peguero needs more experience. He needs more time trying to maintain his plan and approach against more advanced pitchers with more advanced plans and pitches. He needs more time making throwing decisions and trying to maintain his fielding mechanics when balls are being hit off the bat harder, more consistently. We don’t know when that will all click. When it does, it’s going to be exciting. That’s why I’m watching Peguero down the stretch — mostly to see how he continues to react to the increasing challenges the higher-level game throws at him.


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Prospect Roundtable: Which Pirates Prospect Are You Watching in the Second Half?

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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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I’m going off the wall here and saying Jase Bowen is the one for me.


Any choice besides Bubba is wrong…unless you say Rivas. I love Unicorns!


To me it is any hitter in our system, since we need offense. But, since that isn’t the assignment, I am going with Swaggerty. If he can reach his Benitendi comp, I would be happy.

Last edited 10 months ago by leefieux

Mason Martin for me. Would be really nice if he could fix some of his issues and step into the role at first.


But do the Pirates need a 1B? (Eye roll)

Ok I’ll stop now.


Wasn’t Dreker on Lopez >>> Escotto way before the national guys?


Pretty sure I fought him on that, too!


It took me seeing Lopez in person to become a believer–good job Anthony seeing that going into the season. He’s high on my list to watch as is Peguero. The position player I’m most interested in watching is Suwinski to see if he can make progress with making contact so that his power can play at the major league level.

Overall, though, I think I’d go with Priester (Burrows would be a close second). With many of our position players it’s almost “if he doesn’t work out, then there’s always ______” but we have a lot of eggs in the Priester/Burrows basket to find a TOR SP to, hopefully, pair with Contreras.


Henry Davis, when you talked about upper level help, none could help more if this guy stays healthy and productive, not sure he’ll be able to do either.


Move Davis to 1b and have Rodriguez as our catcher?


Especially since there are several talented defensive catchers in the system.


I know I’m setting myself up for failure, but I’m still on the Brennan Malone wagon. Wish this kid could stay healthy

Rob Baran

That potential ++ curveball is a pitch one can really dream on.


Too many to name just one. I am interested on how several finish up this season 🙂


If I had to pick Peguero. I hope he keeps up the work & gets a move to AAA after the deadline. If he can keep it going in AAA, it forces decisions. Can’t wait to see it play out.


Liover Peguero has progressively gotten worse as the season has progressed.

We seem to have forgotten the goal is to develop players, not advance them through the system as quickly as possible.

This has been such an insanely weird season in Pittsburgh Pirate discourse.


Exactly. It’s not a race to get to the majors.


And the last GM was criticized for moving them too slow. They can’t win!!!


Soooooo……. I cheated! 😈

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