One of the most basic, but yet important skills while hitting is making contact. The more you put the ball in play, the more likely you will find yourself on base.
Nowadays, the attention automatically goes towards players who hit for power, but there is still a place in the game for those who are contact first. The Pirates had plenty of players show an ability to continually put the ball in play, here are some of the best.
The outfielder, pictured above, has seemed to be around forever. After hitting minor league free agency, returned to the Pirates organization as a minor league free agent immediately.
He stole 60 bases in the last two minor league seasons combined, heading into 2022, but was limited to just seven this past year with the Altoona Curve. Part of that had to do with playing in just 66 games, due to an injury. The good that came to it was Sanchez had one of his best seasons in his career in making contact, posting a swinging strike rate of just 6.4% — the best in the system among players in full season ball that had at least 200 plate appearances.
Sanchez also struck out just 15.7% of the time while in Altoona (walked in 13.4% of his Double-A plate appearances), and while most of his power stayed in Greensboro, he was the best when it came to putting the ball in play.
A teammate of Sanchez the last two seasons in Greensboro and then Altoona, only Endy Rodriguez has picked up more hits in the Pirates system since the start of 2021 than Jared Triolo.
Another prospect that doesn’t hit for much power, although he saw a surge later in the season, Triolo made up for it by putting the bat on the ball and in play. His 7.8% swinging strike rate was the second best behind Sanchez. It’s no wonder he’s finished among the league leaders in hits in both the South Atlantic League and Eastern League in consecutive years.
Yet another player that probably isn’t too much of a surprise to see on here, as Bae is known for his contact and speed. He made the jump up to Triple-A this past season, and put together one of the best years of any prospect in the system, thanks in a large part to just 8.5% swinging strike rate and in turn only striking out 16.9% of the time.
He made his major league debut towards the end of the season, and showed some of that contact ability almost immediately.
Swing and Miss Issues
In today’s game, it’s become more acceptable to sell out for power. At the minor league level, too much swing and miss isn’t a recipe to make it to the majors. There are some notable players on the wrong side of the swing and miss metric, including Nick Gonzales (16.2%) and Matt Gorski (16.1%). It’s not a surprise that they both also posted strikeout rates of near 30% in 2022 as well.
Ernny Ordonez (22.3%), Juan Jerez (19%), and Mason Martin (17.9%) were all among the worst at swing and miss rate among full season players this past year.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Missed anything last week? First Pitch has a breakdown of all of the weekly content from a busy transaction week, as well as the latest updates for the site.
**Diego Castillo had a four-hit game, including a home run, in winter ball. Check out all of the latest action in John Dreker’s winter league recap.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony Murphy wrote about the complicated development path that Bubba Chandler will have, attempting to be a two-way player.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
First Pitch kicks off our weekly schedule each week, recapping the previous week of content, and looking ahead at what is to come. This week I also looked at how I plan on monetizing the site going forward.
Our latest Article Drop will hit the site at noon on Tuesday, and is very player-heavy this week.
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.