The Pittsburgh Pirates weren’t incredibly active during the trade deadline, but they did move the most obvious player. They sent Jose Quintana to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Chris Stratton in exchange for RHP Johan Oviedo and 1B Malcom Nunez.
When it comes to Nunez, the Pirates added another player with some interesting power upside who is still young for the league he is playing in (younger than new teammate Liover Peguero).
Nunez was raking in Springfield, St. Louis’ Double-A affiliate, to the tune of 17 home runs.
Of course, the biggest note when it comes to Nunez has been his home and away splits, with Springfield being a stadium that resembles Greensboro when it comes to offensive production.
Nunez is hitting .258/.372/.583 at home with 16 home runs this year. On the road, he’s hitting .252/.344/.319 with one homer.
That’s a pretty telling difference, and we’ve seen it in the Pirates system where the power doesn’t always translate when so reliant on a home field like that. The difference between Greensboro and Springfield, you could say, is that the latter is a higher level of competition.
Nunez might sell out to power a bit too much at home, swinging for the fences a little more recklessly. His strikeout rate is almost 10% higher at home than it is on the road.
I looked at three different series that Nunez played, two on the road and one at home, to see if you can see any noticeable difference in his game.
.105/.191/.158; 2-for-19; 2:8 BB:K; 2B
It wasn’t the roughest of starts watching his video, the first game I put on he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Nunez really struggled with breaking pitches, especially to the outer portion of the plate.
Throughout the series, he swung at 19 overall breaking pitches, and missed on 12 of them.
The first part of the video can be a little tough to watch, as it shows some of the struggles that Nunez had with breaking pitches.
After that, it shows an entire at-bat from Nunez where he falls behind 0-2 on two breaking balls. He’s able to hold off on a couple really close pitches, one in the dirt, before getting a curveball on a 3-2 count that he’s able to drive up the middle for a single. Finally a look at some of his raw power, turning on a fastball on the outer half for a double, his only extra-base hit of the week.
.231/.286/.269; 6-for-26; 2B 7 RBI SB
Sometimes the only thing you want to see in the minors is progress, even when the overall numbers may not be there. It was certainly a better week than the first I watched, and despite him not hitting any home runs, we start to see him flash some of his skill set.
He also whiffed on far less breaking pitches, despite seeing more of them over the course of the week. Nunez whiffed on 8-of-26 breaking pitches he swung at.
Progress. That’s what you want to see, and in the first clip we saw that. Nunez fell behind 0-2 on two consecutive breaking pitches. When the pitcher tried to get the third one past him, Nunez held up and slapped it the other way, with the bases loaded as well. The next clip featured a seven pitch at-bat that eventually saw Nunez slap a single the other way.
The final two pitches shown an opportunity to grow and find some consistency, as he pulls two pitches on the outer half of the plate, both of which he grounds into a double play.
.300/.417/.950; 6-for-20; 4 HR 7 RBI 2B 4 R
This was the most recent series that Nunez played in right before he was traded to the Pirates. Being at home you finally got to see him hit some bombs, and he didn’t disappoint.
He also showed even more progress when it comes to making contact on breaking pitches. He only missed on a couple of breaking balls, and actually hit more home runs off the pitch than he did miss.
In the first video, he has to bend down slightly to be able go reach the breaking ball but waits back enough to drive it down the line for a double. That’s followed up with two home runs that he hits on breaking pitches. You can see right before the second one him trying to square one out to take out of the ball park. He’s able to hold back just long enough to make perfect contact for the home run.
While the home/away splits will be something to watch, there is no denying his raw power. It will come down to how he goes about unlocking it. There does appear to be a little added motion at the start of his swing, almost as if he is loading up before starting, and that could have something to do in why he has had problems reaching the breaking ball at times.
He has a better approach at the plate than who would expect of someone with his profile, but the power is going to be the thing that carries him to the majors.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.