P2Daily: Even With The Raw Power, Malcom Nunez Leads With Approach At The Plate

When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Malcom Nunez in the Jose Quintana trade, they were looking for more than your traditional first base prospect.

The 21-year-old Nunez has above average power, but doesn’t sell out his approach to reach it. In his brief time in the Pirates’ system, Nunez drew 21 walks in 143 plate appearances while striking out only 32 times. He was able to flash some of that power, hitting 11 total extra-base hits, six of which were home runs.

In total, Nunez played 34 games in the Pirates system, between Altoona and Indianapolis, and slashed .280/.385/.475, with a wRC+ of 135 combined.

When you add in his time with Springfield while in the Cardinals’ system, Nunez slugged a total of 23 home runs, and drove in 88 runs on the entire season.

Nunez also dealt with one of the more hitter friendly parks in the minors, and took advantage of it, with his slugging percentage 200-points higher at home compared to on the road before the trade. Only one of his 17 home runs came on the road.

So it was going to be interesting to see how he did moving to a home ballpark that was much more pitcher friendly in Peoples Natural Gas Field. To be fair, he only hit one of his five Double-A home runs in Altoona, but the best part of Nunez’s game is going to be the combination of his approach and raw power.

Nunez rounded out the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, and is Rule 5 eligible this offseason, so it will be interesting to see the approach the Pirates take with a player they just recently added.

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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.

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Off topic: Jamo lost his spot to start Game 5 to Cortes, who seems a rather pedestrian LHer. Not a good vote of confidence for Jamo by Boone. Maybe a good indicator he’s not going to be re-signed by Yanks.


Cortes had a 2.44 ERA this year, and an xERA of 2.70. Struck out 9.27 per nine and only walked 2.16 per nine. He was the Yankees top pitcher for the year. I wish the Bucs could find a pedestrian pitcher like him.


Cortes was pedestrian until this year


Update: Jamo is starting game 1 vs Astros. I’m happy to hear that.


First, let me say thanks for putting this kid’s name out there. He has not skipped a beat since coming from the Cardinals AA team in Texas. Compliment the Cards on promoting a 20 year old to AA in the first place. That is so un-Pirate-like!

The Pirates need to add this kid to the 40. 823 OPS in AA Springfied, 857 at AA Altoona, and promoted to AAA to finish his age 21 season. All levels for 2 seasons at 1B with a .996 fielding percentage and a decent RF/9. If he keeps hitting and maintaining the exceptional BB/K Ratio he did in 2022 for 3 teams (2 at AA, 1 at AAA) of 69 BB/103 K, he would not be a surprise to see at the MLB level in 2023.

The Pirates have a need and this kid is putting up the numbers – give him a lot of work and exposure at ST 2023.


The early returns from the Q trade seem to be very interesting imo


An immediate positive return by Q for the Card’s, and two highly valued prospects for the Pirates. Johan Oviedo will not turn 25 until ST and has already started 7 games for the Pirates 2-2, 3.23 ERA and Malcom Nunez will not turn 22 until ST and could very well be the RH hitter the Pirates have been searching for at 1B.


Does the plate discipline come from him being with the Cardinals they seem to have players who are very disciplined


He had that when signed by the Cardinals out of Cuba. Won the Dominican Summer League Triple Crown as a 17 year old – the Cardinal Scouts referred to him as a “professional hitter”.

b mcferren

so the only thing wrong with this guy is his defense?

i haven’t seen an article critical of him

how is it that we fetched this (almost major league ready) guy for a pending free agent?


Defense and speed. He has 20 grades on both. Fangraphs writeup had him as a DH-only Vogelbach type, which by itself would be a great return for 2 months of Quintana, but of course they got Oviedo too.

His minor league K rates suggest the Vogelbach comp is a good one, but if he can somehow manage a low 20s K rate in the major leagues, you’re looking at a damn good player even with the poor defense and speed.

b mcferren

I could care less about his defense and speed

this seems like a too good to be true situation


It’s a good situation, but I don’t know if I’d be buying his jersey just yet. He had a wRC+ of about 117 between Springfield and Altoona, which is good, but guys like Sabol, Triolo and Nick Gonzales all had higher. The difference is Nuñez did it as a 21 year-old, and those 3 guys are 23-24. I’m cautiously optimistic.


Goldschmidt at first and Arenado at third.


Exactly. Those dudes also tell you that the Cards are not a small market team.

Wilbur Miller

The lowest their payroll has ranked in this millennium is 13th in MLB. They’ve been 7th to 13th every year for 23 years, which is how far back Cot’s goes. So, no, they’re not at all comparable to Pgh in revenue, since I’m confident they haven’t been losing money for 23 years.

Last edited 3 months ago by Wilbur Miller

Malcom Nunez spent his early, and lower, minor league development time in the Cardinal system. In my opinion, it’s the best system in the majors. The Cards are an economically medium sized organization that builds its teams primarily through internal development subsidized by trades and free-agent signings. By whatever means they compose their major league roster, they’re nearly always competitive. It’s possible Nunez’s hitting approach was natural or taught to him at an early age, but my money would be bet that it is the “Cardinal way.” I live in Palm Beach gardens, Florida about ten miles from the Cardinal Spring Training facility and PB Cardinals home field. I’m constantly amazed at the sudden major league arrival in St. Louis of viable major league players that weren’t on anybody’s radar when minor leaguers. Perhaps the Pirates could ‘ape’ the Cardinal way and start producing more major league ready players.
Aside: It’s been some time since Nunez joined the Pirate Organization, so why doesn’t Malcom Nunez appear in the “Player Pages?”

John Dreker

Much of what you say is true. The Cardinals develop their own players well and there can be little disagreement that their organization is sound. They might be a relatively medium sized media market but unlike the Pirates they are not afraid to spend both to keep their best home grown talent and also to obtain outside talent. Do you really believe the Pirates would have kept a player like Molina his entire career? They would have traded him in his prime for whatever return they could have gotten. That’s been the Pirate way and as long as this ownership’s in place it’s likely to remain that way.

The Cardinal “subsidies” as you call them are also a huge difference. Goldschmidt and Arenado together make more money a year than the entire Pirate team. Find a way to encourage or force Pirate ownership to care about winning enough to actually spend even close to the way the Cardinals do and your comparisons could be valid but for now the similarities stop where Bob Nutting’s wallet begins.


The St Louis and Pittsburgh market are similar in size only. Pittsburgh is first and foremost a football city, followed by hockey. The Pirates, even when they were as good as Cards 7-10 years ago, didn’t come close to drawing the same number of fans to games.

St Louis is a baseball first city…by far. Plus they are a regional team like the Braves.

New ownership of Pirates could certainly help Pirates bridge payroll gap to a degree, but unless you find a billionaire who is willing to come out of pocket pretty significantly, there’s no chance they are ever on equal footing economically.


There were 67,307 fans at Steelers game on Sunday! With the right ownership bringing winning baseball back the Pirates could draw fans…….there should be no reason Pirates struggle to draw 10,000 to most games. It’s really a dam shame.


I’ve prob said this ten times on this site…The Cardinals draw about 3.5M in attendance per year, generate local media revs nearly 2x the Pirates, AND maintain a 30% ownership interest in their Regional Sports Network.

Are they a well run organization? Absolutely. Do they have a considerable financial advantage over the Pirates? Absolutely.

Wilbur Miller

The ability to take advantage of one’s market size is definitely a skill. The Cards are a mid-market (in size alone, probably low middle) team that’s built a great regional identity. They’ve effectively maximized their market. The Pirates have minimized theirs.

You just have to look at Cherington’s idiotic tone-deafery. Like his repeated comments about how excited they are about their “progress.” Or his narcissistic explanation for bringing back one of the least successful managers in franchise history — “I love working with him.”

Then there’s this gem from a couple days ago:

I don’t believe focusing on payroll is the right thing to focus on in a town like Pittsburgh, in a place where a winning team is not going to be built in a way that is in other places

IOW, Pittsburgh is a minor league city and the team should behave as such.

Rob Baran

Sounds like your classic Moneyball type approach.


I read that differently…….like wow, he finally admitted some truth rather than spewing some spin like he usually does. And implying that he’s gotta be dam good at every player move he makes, and every hire he makes, and every strategy they embark on. Tells me he knows the margin for error is razor thin. So I saw it as a positive statement.

Wilbur Miller

I don’t see it that way at all. A winning team, in any city, is built with good players, and at some point you have to pay them. If you never focus on payroll, you never win.

And “good at every player move he makes?” The Pirates haven’t had a GM, not Huntington, not Littlefield, who’s made anywhere close to the number of incoherent, counter-productive player moves that he’s made. There are only two explanations for all the utterly pea-brained moves he’s made. Either he’s incompetent on a level even Littlefield never imagined, or he routinely makes moves without caring in the least how they turn out. Or both. If he’s saying he realizes he needs to get every move right, then his actions and words have nothing at all to do with each other.

Rob Baran

Surprised you don’t understand that focusing on payroll will never be a winning proposition for a small market like Pittsburgh given the current economic conditions in MLB.


We all know 2023 needs a different approach, as does BC. I’m willing to give him a little more rope for 2023 roster construction. I think his point about payroll is his 1-5 year tenure guys have to bring a winner to Pitts. It’s not going to be 8-figure AAV players that he can sign as FA’s.


Actually, the Cards have a revenue stream more like the Dodgers than the Bucs.

Wilbur Miller

Go to the depth chart. The player pages never got operational.


Hey, anybody seeing this, can you point me to an email address i can go to with questions about my account? i’ve used the form in the “account” tab and i’ve emailed a probably-old account of Tim’s but haven’t had any response. Thanks!


My sense is that there’s no staff, so Tim is it. Try a comment in one of his posts.


We can only hope that it translates to the majors,

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