The Pirates have a “build” mentality under General Manager Ben Cherington, with a “growth mindset” in the minors under farm director John Baker.
Both can be dismissed as buzz terms, but it should be easy to find proof of this mentality working out in the farm system. It would require evidence of players slowly adding to their stat line as the season goes on.
Jared Triolo might be the best example of the approach starting to work out, looking strictly at the numbers.
Jared Triolo Entering 2022
Triolo was a second round pick in 2019, and had his first full season delayed by the pandemic cancelling the 2020 season. That finally came in 2021 in Greensboro, where he put up impressive numbers at the plate, while winning the South Atlantic League Gold Glove award for his defense at third base. His .301/.368/.470 line, plus the defense, gave the Pirates a potential prospect to dream about.
The problem? Triolo was in his age 23 season, having success in High-A. To his credit, he was having more success away from the hitter friendly home park in Greensboro. You want to see results at a higher level for a guy who played Division I ball and was a second rounder. The defense was promising, but A-ball defensive awards aren’t always reliable scouting reports, or predictors of future abilities.
Triolo put himself on the radar in 2021. He would move up to Altoona in 2022, where he would look to answer some questions and establish himself as a prospect.
More on that journey below…
FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST
Eventually, when I get more writing time, I’m going to turn this section into my musical writing section, highlighting new albums. Until then, I like this section to just share new music for anyone interested. Today, I’ll be listening to “Graduation” by Ye, while fixing some system issues and preparing tomorrow’s article drop. More information on both below.
First Pitch continues below…
Jared Triolo in 2022
The defense has been the most consistent thing for Triolo in 2022. He has been a strong defender at third, while also playing shortstop and center field. He gives the Pirates a legitimate upper-level third base prospect to back up Ke’Bryan Hayes, and maybe serve as an option all over the field. There are a lot of pathways for him to start in Pittsburgh if the bat comes along.
Triolo has a chance to get on base, hit for average, and hit for power with the bat, based on what he’s displayed. If he can do one of those things, he will make the majors with his defense and versatility. If he can do two of those things, he can start in the majors. All three? Let’s not dream too much just yet.
Instead, let’s look at the interesting progression from Triolo on the offensive side this year. I wanted to isolate each month and get a feel for what type of MLB player that would project Triolo to become when paired with his defense. I also wanted to give an overall look at how he’s progressing, and feel the MLB upside approach is best, even though it’s reacting to small sample sizes.
Analysis: Triolo wasn’t hitting for power, but was getting on base and hitting for a decent average. With these types of numbers consistently, he could make the majors as a bench option, or a depth guy out of Triple-A, banking on his defense and versatility with the ability to get on base. These numbers didn’t continue.
Analysis: Triolo still didn’t have power and his average dropped. The strikeout rate also dropped. At this stat line, Triolo wouldn’t make it out of Double-A. He’s not hitting for power, he’s not hitting for average, and the walk rate isn’t high enough to justify those struggles. Fortunately, this also didn’t continue.
Analysis: Triolo continued some trends here. The strikeouts and walks flip-flopped from May. The strikeout rate continued to go down, now halved from his April start. The walk rate soared, now to that level where it can overcome his average and low power. The power also took a jump, despite the batting average staying exactly the same. Triolo had 108 plate appearances in May and 107 in June, so his stat lines are very easy to compare here. Reading between the stat lines, he was showing a trend of being more selective in June, leading to a higher walk rate and higher power — except without a sacrifice in strikeouts. This is a profile, with the low strikeouts, that points to an increase in average. I say that with the benefit of knowing what came next.
Analysis: Honestly, this stat line feels like something Triolo could replicate in the majors once everything clicks with the bat. Add in his defense, and he could start at third for a major league team — though he’d probably move to another position with the Pirates. His walk rate fell in July, but remained higher than the first two months. The strikeout rate rose, but again was lower than the first two months. The power continued to creep up. The most important thing was a 50 point increase in batting average. Again, Triolo had identical playing time, with 107 plate appearances in each June and July. His on-base percentage stayed almost the same, despite the decrease in walks. He was swinging the bat more with his selective approach, and it led to a higher average, slightly more power, and solid K/BB ratios. I don’t know how sustainable this will be going forward, but this is a Major League hitting profile.
Analysis: This month comes with a small sample size of 24 plate appearances. Triolo is off to a monster start with power, mostly in the form of extra base hits. He has two doubles and three triples. His walk rate has been the lowest of the season, and his strikeout rate is still respectable. This is where I’ll conclude that we can’t conclude much from Triolo’s stats. He will need to establish consistency, both in terms of the type of hitter he is, and in terms of how often we will see that hitter.
Triolo is trending in the right direction. He’s seeing increases in his ability to get on base and hit for power, without sacrificing strikeouts. If you isolate each of his months, you can envision him as a future major leaguer in all but May. The stats in July are starter worthy, which is a good direction for him to be trending in.
If he continues this trend, and continues putting up that level of production, then the Pirates build will get a boost with another starter from the minors.
This would be a good early sign for the player development system if they could take a second rounder and turn him into a starter. At this point, Triolo looks like he’s heading for the majors, which would be a good result, and something to build upon.
Normally I look through the system and give five quick thoughts on individual players throughout the system. This week, the article drops are very player-heavy, including a loaded schedule tomorrow from me. My system thoughts will be in article form this week.
Until then, here’s all you missed last week. If you’re having subscription issues, check the note below.
LAST WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
I’ve been trying to catch up on subscription issues while running the site and producing content daily and weekly. A lot of you have emailed me through the help form on the Account page, and there are some who have been stuck in limbo for some time.
I haven’t had a day where I could catch up on these in bulk in a few weeks. Today is that day. If you’ve emailed me already, I’m hoping to have your subscription issue fixed by the end of the day.
I’ll have a site updates post on Wednesday with information on the release date of The 2022 Guide and John Dreker’s history book.
WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ
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.