Malcom Nunez has been a tough prospect to get a gauge on in his early time in the Pirates system. He has flashed some power potential, but has proven to be more than your typical slugging first base prospect.
The former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand has walked in over 12% of his plate appearances with the Curve, while striking out right around 20% of the time.
He also has five home runs in 25 games with the Curve and has a higher slugging percentage than he did in a much more hitter friendly park/league.
Even then, digging a little deeper at the home/road splits and we already see some of the same things that was going on in his time in Springfield.
At home, Nunez is just 6-for-29 (.206) with just one extra base hit. Away from People Natural Gas Field, the right-handed hitting Nunez is batting .322 (20-for-62) with eight of those hits going for extra bases.
Quite the difference, but yet not quite. Maybe the best thing about Nunez has been his patience at the plate, even at times over the power he’s flashed. He drew walks in each of the first three plate appearances he had on Wednesday and has a 23% walk rate at PNG Field.
Whatever the reason behind the difference in numbers, whether sample size, the pitching staffs he faced or whatever, Nunez is proving to be more than just a power-hitting first base prospect. This gives him value even if he isn’t hitting the ball out of the park.
Cruz, Castro Changing Middle Infield Position For Pirates
When looking throughout the system, one of the clear strengths is the potential depth at the middle infield positions. Oneil Cruz is emerging as one of the most electric players in the entire game, with Liover Peguero and Nick Gonzales as top 100 prospects on most outlets. They even have Ji-Hwan Bae who is wrapping up a strong season in Indianapolis.
As the 2022 season winds down, things are lining up for a potential Opening Day double play combination of Cruz and Rodolfo Castro. There were a few times when tossing aside Castro seemed like it was going to be an easy thing to do. While his batting average in September isn’t ideal, the infielder has been a rare source of power in a lineup desperately in need of it.
We know what Cruz can do, but how dangerous can these two be paired together? They’ve combined for 24 home runs this season, along with 46 extra-base hits and 66 RBI in 123 collective games. The second base and shortstop position combined for just 18 home runs, 87 extra-base hits and 105 RBI over the course of the the entire 2021 season.
This season alone, Pirates’ shortstops and second basemen have recorded the fifth and seventh most home runs among their respective positions in the NL, respectively and a lot of that has to do with Cruz and Castro.
Any one of Peguero, Gonzales and Bae all likely have a higher upside than Castro, but he still brings something to the table that none of them do — power.
Last year the Pirates had Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman as the most common double play combination, who hit a total of nine home runs in 2021 while with Pittsburgh.
That’s certainly quite the difference.
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