P2Daily: ‘Older’ Pirates Prospects Who Had Great Offensive Seasons

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.

Blake Sabol

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.

Andres Alvarez

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.

Jacob Gonzalez

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.

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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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SouthernBuc

I get why age is a good starting point for being realistic on where a prospect should be, however I am also in the camp that thinks that slight age difference (one year or even 6 months at draft time) is overplayed.

I am less than a novice in the field of physical development, but I feel safe in saying some people may reach their athletic peak at 26 others maybe at 31 and it is not an exact science.

When draft time comes around and somebody is ‘young’ as a high school prospect, I think I would prefer to know if they were the 12 year old (we all faced them) who had a full beard at age 12 or were they the 18 year old kid who after six months of trying somebody finally noticed their mustache. It is mentioned many times whether a player has room or no expected physical growth which I guess is a way to cover it. However, that again to me is still more important than some difference in age.

And yes.. I was the 4 ft 10, 85 lb 12 year old who has memories of facing what looked like a friend of my dad’s.

mpg43952

Gary Turkovich. I was 10 and he was 12, looked like he was 18! So glad we were on the same team!

b mcferren

Nicky Stix opening day second baseman and rookie of the year candidate

skliesen

0.0% chance Nicky Sticks, or any other top prospect breaks camp on the MLB roster due to, say it with me, service time manipulation.

Plus Castro and Bae have both shown enough to have a starting spot next OD, and both play 2B as primary position.

emjayinTN

Agree about Gonzales. Bae is the 2B, Castro has played SS, 2B, and the last year or more has been playing a lot of 3B – exc UT IF.

John Dreker

Bae won’t even have an Opening Day spot. There is zero reason to start a legit prospect in the majors next year with the way this team appears to be set for 2024 and beyond. It would be insane for the Pirates to give up a year of service time for 2-3 weeks in April of 2023.

emjayinTN

Great sense, John, but there comes a time when you promote and play your best just like other teams do. He hits and plays D.

Sign him and others to early extensions if they prove themselves in MLB. I hate to recognize others, but Atlanta has 5 or 6 of their core signed long term – started with Acuna (8 Years/$100 mil) and Albies (7 year/$35 mil) in 2019

Wilbur Miller

Andres Alvarez monthly OPS:

1.025
.989
.759
.743
.647
.567

First half K rate: 22%
Second half K rate: 33%

John Dreker

Gonzalez basically had the same second half shutdown. He had a .666 OPS over the final 3+ months, while playing in Greensboro the whole time. At least with Alvarez there are tools to carry him if the bat isn’t going well. Quality defensive versatility, as well as the speed, but he still has to do better than the June-Sept version

jeffw3000

The guy I find the most intriguing is Sabol. He continued to hit all year consistently, including going to AAA in Sept., and putting up a .969 OPS. Don’t know where he plays defensively, but the bat is certainly intriguing.

emjayinTN

There you go, bringing facts into the conversation! Thank you

Wilbur Miller

I kinda like Alvarez, and of course it’s cool when a guy comes out of nowhere like that. I’m just wondering whether he got too homer happy and maybe can just dial it down a bit to get back on track.

skliesen

So you’re saying he should be Pirates Opening Day 1B with plans to DFA him on or about June 15th?

Wilbur Miller

He needs to pu up that .567 OPS in the bigs for 2-3 years first. Then he’ll be the perfect Cheringtoon cherrypick.

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