One of the first thing people do when a prospect is playing well is check their age, and compare it to the level that they are playing in. The only problem with that as of the last couple of seasons is that everyone lost a season in 2020, throwing off the expected ages.
That being said, the Pirates had quite a few players that you could consider ‘late bloomers’ on the offensive side of things with their play in the 2022 season.
When making a list with these parameters you couldn’t list anyone else at the top other than Sabol. He was drafted in 2019, so what was supposed to be his first full season in 2020 was wiped away by the pandemic. He’s also a name that you can’t say came out of nowhere, unlike the other two I’ll be talking about, because Sabol was well known heading into the season as someone who could have a breakout type year.
Sabol was pressed into action behind the plate, something that didn’t seem in the plans for him heading into the season, after Carter Bins struggled at the beginning of the year. When Henry Davis was promoted, it was Bins that was moved to Indianapolis and Sabol was left to be the former first overall pick’s primary back up.
When Davis was hurt, Sabol was forced into taking the bulk of the playing time again, and he responded well despite having the added focus on catching. Sabol finished in a tie for fifth in the system in home runs, and slashed a total of .284/.363/.497 with 19 home runs and 75 RBI across two levels. He also swiped a total of 10 bases.
This may be the biggest ‘came out of nowhere’ player in the system, as the 25-year old former 22nd round pick out of Washington State had one of the most productive seasons out of any Pirates prospects.
Alvarez became the first player in the history of the Altoona Curve to record a 20-20 season, belting 20 home runs and swiping 21 stolen bases. He did so while bouncing around the infield, and even got some time in the outfield as well just to keep his bat in the lineup.
He had just seven home runs in just over 300 plate appearances in his professional career, and that included 40 games in High-A Greensboro.
There maybe wasn’t a player in the system that got off to a hotter start to the season than Jacob Gonzalez, who was selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in the offseason. In 24 games with the Bradenton Marauders to start the year, Gonzalez hit .393/.477/.652 with 15 total extra base hits (four home runs) and 16 RBI.
He was then promoted to Greensboro where he ‘just’ hit .281/.349/.407 with nine more home runs.
That was his second look at the High-A level, with him struggling last year in the San Francisco Giants system. Regardless of age, Gonzalez put together one of the best offensive system in the Pirates system and that was rewarded with a trip to the Arizona Fall League, along with some of the top prospects.
Highlight of the Day
Last year, Nick Gonzales was one of the top performers in the @MLBazFallLeague.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 7, 2022
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Song of the Day
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.