Double-A is seen as the level that can really make or break a prospect. It’s a particularly interesting stop in the Pirates system, as after a stop in Greensboro during High-A, prospects get a test in how legit any power numbers they put up in Altoona.
Seeing an older prospect hit 20-home runs in Greensboro isn’t the most alarming of things, and there were probably a lot of people who didn’t give Aaron Shackelford a second look after doing so in 2021.
Drafted in the 14th round back in 2019, Shackelford lost what was supposed to be his first full professional season in 2020, starting in Greensboro last year.
He slugged 22 home runs, impressive enough, but struck out over 30% of the time, slashed .210/.290/.438 and had a wRC+ of 91. Nothing else really spectacular.
The second most home runs in Curve single season history: Aaron Shackelford!
He hits an absolute bomb for his 26th of the season! pic.twitter.com/Rx389V4fTP
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) September 10, 2022
Starting in Altoona in 2022, it looked like he was set to split time at first base with Will Matthiessen. The latter got hurt and missed the majority of the season, leaving the door open for Shackelford to get more playing time.
Shackelford was able to slightly improve on both his walk and strikeout rate while playing for Altoona, also slashing .239/.314/.499 with a system leading 26 home runs, 79 RBI and 66 runs scored.
On a team that featured, at times, Nick Gonzales, Endy Rodriguez, Henry Davis, and Liover Peguero, Shackelford was just as much a run producer as some of the system’s top run producers.
So much so that he had more at-bats out of the cleanup spot for Altoona than he did in another part of the lineup.
He struggled in a brief 16 plate appearance promotion to Indianapolis at the end of the season, picking up just a lone hit (a single) in four games played.
It will be interesting to see how the Pirates handle the Indianapolis first base position next year, as they will have two internal options with similar profiles — Shackelford and Mason Martin.
Shackelford could always take on more of an organizational role and start again in Altoona. He played a big part in the Curve breaking their franchise mark for home runs, adding him back would put them in position to try and match that total.
Highlight of the Day
Going to do something new. To help with my P2Daily articles, everyday I'm going to pick a random day during the season, and highlight a top performer from that day. Endy Rodriguez had 3 hits, including a home run, on April 15 for Greensboro. #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/4eLPMsH2nR
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) November 9, 2022
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Pirates Prospects Spotlight
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.