The Pittsburgh Pirates are continuing their minor league award week, today announcing their teammates and minor league coach of the year.
Jacob Gonzalez and Luis Ortiz were named Manny Sanguillen Teammates-of-the-Year.
Gonzalez looked like an organizational player from the start, brought in to fill out the need at first base in the lower levels, while providing leadership. His first year in Single-A was in 2018, and he’s yet to reach Double-A. His career had stalled. What was encouraging this year was that he tore up Single-A ball, then put up decent numbers the rest of the year in Greensboro, with a .349 OBP. He also provided a veteran presence to both young teams. I’m interested to see what he can do finally making the jump to Double-A.
The selection of Ortiz doesn’t surprise me. I had a chance to see Altoona for several days in August. I didn’t get to see Ortiz pitch. However, he was on the top step showing support to his teammates every single night. He’s gone on to reach the majors already, thanks to his impressive fastball. But regardless of the level, Ortiz comes across as a great teammate.
Jonathan Prieto was named the Danny Murtaugh Coach-of-the-Year.
Prieto has been in the Pirates’ system for a long time. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pirates on July 3, 1997, he spent four years in the minor league system, before returning as a hitting coach in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2005. He’s been a hitting coach in the lower levels every year since.
This year, Prieto was coaching in the Florida Complex League, where he had the fourth-youngest group of hitters in the league. That group featured 2021 prep players Bubba Chandler, Lonnie White Jr., and Braylon Bishop, as well as a brief appearance by 2022 first rounder Termarr Johnson. The FCL also included a talented group of players coming up from the Dominican. Jesus Castillo was a standout from that group, winning the FCL batting title with a .352 average. Javier Rivas looked like a promising all-around middle infield prospect, and hit for a .757 OPS in the pitcher-friendly environment.
The Pirates had a revolving door between their A-ball team and their Florida complex, with hitters going to the complex league to get development work. On top of overseeing the development of all of the new, young talent entering the lowest levels of the system in the US, Prieto also was helping with any player who might not have gotten it right the first time. Overall, he took on a lot of responsibility this year in an area of the system that is important to the current rebuild.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.