P2Daily: Rodolfo Nolasco Was Figuring Things Out Before Injury

One of the great things about the Bradenton Marauders is it’s the first opportunity a lot of people get to see some of the Pirates’ top prospects in the system.

This past year we saw a handful of their recent high draft picks, including 2022 fourth overall pick Termarr Johnson and second round pick from 2021 Anthony Solometo. It’s also an opportunity to see of the system’s top international prospects, one of which was outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco.

Known for his raw power, Nolasco hit eight homers (16 extra-base hits total) in just 42 games in 2021 in the Florida Complex League, so anticipation was high to see him make the jump up to affiliated ball.

Making the jump to full season baseball is a difficult one for some, and Nolasco wasn’t any different, struggling out the gate in the month of April.

Month Slash BB% K% wRC+
April .180/.231/.295 6.2% 38.5% 49
May .221/.309/.314 11.3% 28.9% 83
June .239/.349/.465 12% 41% 113
July .341/.455/.795 18.2% 25.5% 236

While it’s nice to see a player constantly perform well as they move through the minors, it’s not always something that’s going to happen. So when a prospect, especially one as young as Nolasco, struggles it gives you a chance to see how they answer adversity. Baseball is a game of adjustments.

As you can see, Nolasco was making those adjustments before going down with an injury late in July. He improved his average, walk rate, and wRC+ in each month leading up to July, and was on a tear before getting injured. In a six game span, Nolasco went 11-for-22 with five home runs and four doubles, with 11 RBI and five walks.

He came back and scattered five games between August and September, nothing really to get a gauge or determine he was back at 100%.

Overall on the season Nolasco slashed .239/.330/.425 with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and a wRC+ of 116. He even stole seven bases, and was able to bring the walk rate over 10% (11.5%). The strikeouts remained high, as a rate of over 40% in June prevented him from getting it under 30%.

At this level in the minors, prospects have the tools, they are just working to translate that to the field. Nolasco was started to flash the things that made him an exciting prospect but didn’t get a chance to finish things out healthy.

Nolasco will have to work on making more consistent contact, but he’ll be 21-years-old for the majority of the 2023 season (late September birthday), so even if he starts the year back in Bradenton to get adjusted back on the field, he still has plenty of times to continue to put that raw power together.

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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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Wilbur Miller

FWIW, Cam Vieaux elected free agency.

steve_zielinski

Nolasco has Light Tower Power?

James_Robert5

IIRC both Nolasco and Bowen had some HRs in the 450 foot range

joesolo6181

Article failed to mention his defense and speed. Is he fast and can he play defense? We all want to know how well he can hit but that does not tell the entire story.

James_Robert5

Who knows?

By the eyeball test he seems to run OK and has a very strong arm

Clay Davenport has him ranked as one of the top 3 defensive players in Bradenton this year – Wyatt Hendrie, Tsung-Che Cheng, and Nolasco

Wilbur Miller

That’s plausible. He runs better than you’d think and, yeah, the arm is plus. I saw him make some great catches where he had to cover a lot of ground. He’s a big guy and he’s gonna slow down, but for a while at least he should be a perfectly playable RF, maybe above avg.

Hendrie is really solid. I hope he reaches Altoona at some point next year. Bat just needs to be adequate for him to be a prospect.

skliesen

That’s a beautiful power stroke. Love to see the Statcast numbers on it. Might have been north of 110 mph exit velocity?

Good to see Nolasco was showing dramatic improvement as season went on, which is doubly good since the FLA humidity is known for killing hitters power numbers.

Looking forward to a healthy and highly productive ‘23 for Rodolfo.

bradlej31

He’ll start at GBO. With a good winter/ST he could even jump GBO and start in Altoona but Pirates haven’t done that with an offensive prospect in a while.

skliesen

And they won’t be doing it with Rodolfo either. He needs to prove himself over time before being fast tracked. If he’s going to jump a level he might jump AAA in a couple years. No way he jumps high A ball.

bradlej31

He’s Rule 5 eligible this year.. was a higher caliber prospect and should be at GBO already. GBO is a bandbox. Hitting there doesn’t prove much.

emjayinTN

Agree, but his numbers tell me he needs to start at GBO, not backtrack to BRD. His glove can play, but he is not a standout corner OF. His worth is his bat. Unless he puts up exc numbers at GBO and improves his D, he will stay at GBO through 2023. Too many qualified OF’s will be in AA and AAA next year.

ArkyWags

He had basically three weeks of better B/K ratios at Bradenton. I wouldn’t call it “backtracking” if he starts there in 2023, I’d call it proving July wasn’t a mirage. He shows he does that well, then he gets a promotion after 6-8 weeks. If he does well, he’s up in Greensboro around mid/late May. If he continues at that rate Greensboro, maybe his timetable is accelerated and he gets a brief boost to Altoona.

tventimiglio

Why rush him to AA at 21 years old? He had some issues adjusting. Let him have a better chance to succeed. I’d start him in Bradenton for the beginning of the season with a chance to earn a rapid promotion to GBO if he performs. He can still make AA by late in the season.

JimEastTennessee

He will be in Bradenton at least until Memorial Day. BUT we can dream…he has replace Mojica in my thoughts.

ArkyWags

There is no way he starts in AA nor should he. Even with a good spring. I’m not sure where the fan idea took hold that it’s a race to get prospects to the majors. But this guy needs some time for those rough edges. I will say if he smooths those out with those tools (for longer than three weeks, which could be noise), then yeah, he might move quick. But not now.

john_fluharty

It’s definitely not a race. If they make it too early you may not get them during there peak years because a lot of them won’t be around on the team longer than 6 years at most.

PirateRican21

With the K issues and how much time he missed is not likely he starts in AA, as the article hints, a return to Brandenton should be where he start the season. Hopefully not for long, I want to “see” that power in Greensboro ASAP!

Last edited 3 months ago by PirateRican21

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