Prospect Roundtable: The Book on Tucupita Marcano

Tucupita Marcano has taken an interesting path to losing his prospect status.

In his age 21 season, he made his MLB debut with the Padres, getting 50 plate appearances in 25 games. A year later, after being acquired by the Pirates in the Adam Frazier trade, he has been called upon multiple times by the Pirates -- enough to surpass 130 at-bats.

Marcano turns 23 in a month. He's very young to be losing prospect status, and is still pretty much a prospect without the label.

When a player loses a prospect label, we give an outlook on their future MLB career. The Book on Tucupita Marcano is largely unwritten, and this one reads more like a prospect report, for good reason.
Marcano graduated from the prospect list at an age younger than most players get their first chance ...



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I think the Frazier comp fits because that’s who he was traded for and there’s some similarity in their profiles. But the guy I hope he turns out to resemble is Josh Harrison. Same situation of a guys versatility getting him ABs, and eventually the hitting getting him an everyday role. Same fire and hustle that makes them super exciting to watch. Harrison had pretty putrid plate discipline, while Marcano seems to take his share of walks, but they’re both aggressive swingers who hunt first pitch fastballs too. I see a lot of J Hay in Marcano, and would love if he wound up as that guy for this next generation in Pittsburgh


What about a ceiling of Tommy Edman?

Edman didn’t reach the majors until he was 24.

I like Frazier as a player but he had 0 HRs in three years of college baseball and his first year or two in the minors. It’s not clear why he’d be the ceiling.


When I make the trips to Altoona I see 3 games at a time and will pick out certain prospects to concentrate on for most of the game. Like Wilbur I started the year with a negative opinion on Marcano due to last year’s stats and an interview I saw where a national prospect guru panned him as slap hitter and not a good return in the trade. Then I saw him play …..and he outplayed Peguero who I really like. There is speed and athleticism in that skinny frame. He bombed two home runs the first time I saw him. He has this ability to barrel up the ball to all fields. Definitely not just a slap hitter, and he gets on base and makes things happen. Look at what he manufactured yesterday with his legs and smarts. I’m with Tim on Marcano…..very intriguing guy in my mind now. That’s a 180 from where I started the year.


Yes, I had pretty much written him off after seeing the very weak contact last season. But now I think he’s one of our most intriguing young players–the speed, hustle, and smarts were all on display last night. Even though we’ve only won once this week, I have enjoyed watching him and Castro with the energy they bring. The dugout shot of Cruz, Marcano, and Castro made me think I really hope they’re all part of our future, though the jury is still out on each.


I’m with Anthony…..always have been a sucker for hustle. I love Tucu and hope he can fill in his 22 yr old body and add some pop. But when I set aside my bias, I look at a comp like Alex Presly, who I also was a big fan of. Presley hit just 29 MLB HR’s and I thought played a decent LF. Curious as to why the Tigers or the rest of the league gave up on him after 2017, when he had his best season, a .770 OPS, 105 OPS+, a .314 BA. Oh…..maybe it was the .6 lifetime bWAR and lack of power. As for Tucu, he has more tools, could we get not a whole career like Ichiro…….but maybe just a few seasons like Ichiro?!

So there you go……floor of Presly, ceiling of Ichiro!! Middle ground Frazier.


Interesting! I was thinking about the Frazier and Harrison comps while driving today and while Ichiro never dawned on me, Inwas definitely thinking Tuco is more talented than both those guys. If you go with the Harrison comp BUT add really good strike zone judgment and OBP., maybe in his best seasons you do get someone similar to Ichiro. We can dream, but I do think Tuco has a bit of an “it” factor to his game. Let’s see where he is when he gets to 800-1,000 MLB at bats.


Given Marcano’s age, I still have hope that he’ll grow into his “man strength”. His frame suggests that’s possible and he’s looked tons better this year than last.


It’s a real shame since he’s one of the few prospects with a real sense of what he’s doing at the plate, but I just don’t see how he has the physicality to succeed as a big league hitter.

Batted ball data pegs his contact quality nearly at the bottom of the scale, and we know that lack of pop won’t support high walk rate nor high BABIP in the show.

He’s currently running an expected batting average under .200 for that very reason, and only one hitter in all of baseball has been thrown more pitches in the zone. Pitchers aren’t gonna give you the chance to walk if they’re not concerned you can damage pitches in the zone.

At some point, desperately hoping in the extremely near future, the Pirates will start having to make decisions on who deserves big league at bats. It’ll be 2027 before they work their way through giving all of the dozens of middling prospects they’ve acquired some arbitrary number of big league at bats to settle in and see what they have, if that’s the level of sophistication they’re using. It just isn’t practical.

With this in mind, I can’t see what Tucu shows that deserves the time. There just isn’t much upside here, if any at all.


I was thinking something similar the other night while watching the team on TV. Although it did not pertain to TM, I was wondering how long the FO was going to continue pulling the chains of these players. It seems they give each of them XX amount of at bats before rotating them back down to the minors. It is tough to get yourself established, IMHO, when there is such a short leash.
I like TM as nice, useful utility player. We have plenty of candidates for left field and second base with more upside. Whether it be Cal, Suwinski, Travis, Castro, etc., those are the players that should be getting the majority of the bats at these 2 spots.
No doubt we won the trade, but TM is a good looking utility player unless he develops more power.


Tucu shows “speed baby”! Pete Rose hustle! Doesn’t necessarily show up in your metrics.


Expected batting average and expected wOBA very literally do include sprint speed.

“xwOBA is formulated using exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain types of batted balls, Sprint Speed.”


For those of you who have had the opportunity to see them both, how do Marcano and Bae compare as prospects? Do either of them have a legitimate chance to become a starting second baseman and leadoff hitter in Pittsburgh?


Bae miiiggghhht have just enough thump to be an average big league hitter, whereas we can be pretty sure at this point that Marcano does not.


Pretty sure = probably anything under his 75% outcome profile, but there is a version that TM is Kevin Newman or adam frazier for sure, and a 90% outcome where he is more…

Also – this article made me look up plate discipline leaderboards on fangraphs… Some really interesting observations –

Of people with 50 ABs this year….Former bucco Dan Vogelbach rated as the 2nd lowest Swing % at 32%

Josh VanMeter is #6 , with Hoy Park at #16 , and Roberto Perez at #28

Seems we have the wrong kind of patience. I’m wondering if this is a poor reaction to some basic data to implement the wrong corrective actions at the plate. We want guys to swing less often at bad pitches, but more often at good pitches…

Would be worth looking into more in depth.


Did you see the Vogey article? Worth a read!

No argument with your percentages, right with you there.


I see it now. Patient until he has to.

I really think this is a structural problem with a coaching philosophy at the Pirates, or within the acquisition department.


It’s a joke that Bae hasn’t been promoted. I’d rather Al Martin or Tike Redman use their off hand than most of the guys they run out there.


He’s hurt…


Was going to say the same thing.


Thanks. I hope he is up when he comes back. I am eager to see what he does when given a chance.


Someone get this kid Bond’s trainer’s number…


Just another of those Pirate youngsters who need to be at the MLB level for the next 50 games. He Castro, and Cruz are up, but we also need Suwinski, Martin, Bae, Mitchell, Castillo, etc No better time and it is an absolute freebie.


I enjoy seeing these young guys get SOME MLB exposure; however, there comes a point where you hit the law of diminishing returns relative to their development. Almost none of these guys are ready for full-time roles, and unlike the minors, results begin to matter at the MLB level, which can force players to press, sink back into bad habits, and ultimately lose any positive development momentum they created in AA/AAA. This sounds super cliche, but not unlike life, baseball is about confidence, being proactive, and having a plan of attack. Maybe development is taking place right in front of our eyes, but I see the majority of these guys struggling to keep their respective heads above water.


My teenagers groan every time VanMeter comes to the plate. They never could understand why Yoshi or Knapp or M. Perez (or seemingly countless others) ever graced a Pirate uniform. The Cubs announced today that they seek to be active in the free agent market. Will the Pirates announce that they intend to be active again in the dumpster dive to find .185 hitters?


The Cubs might be active in the free agent market, but that doesn’t mean they will be going after top free agents. More likely they will target mid level guys. I expect their owner to keep pretending he is poor.


When I saw that blurb about the Cubs being active in the FA market, I thought “that’s the problem with our slow rebuild”. Because of their ability and willingness to spend on free agents, the Cubs will likely go through a tear down and rebuild in half the time it will take us.

One smart thing they did was to sign Stroman last offseason to give them a head start on building for ’23. The Pirates _might_ spend on a guy like Stroman someday but it would only be when they’re already a contender.

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