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Friday, December 9, 2022

Pirates Prospects Daily: Best Contact Hitters In the Pirates System For 2022

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.

Lolo Sanchez

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.

Jared Triolo

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.

Ji-Hwan Bae

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.

First Pitch: How Are We Going to Pay For All of This Pirates Content?

Our latest Article Drop will hit the site at noon on Tuesday, and is very player-heavy this week.

Pirates Discussion

Weekly Pirates Discussion: Where the 40-Man Roster Stands After Rule 5

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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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joesolo6181

I always like Lo Lo and I am happy he resigned quickly with the team. I hope he can break out this coming season.

bradlej31

Gotta mention Josh Vanmeter. SwStr% was only reason he was still on the Pirates. His SwStr% was incredible. 6.8% this year. 9% for career

AdministrativeSky236
roberto

Thanks. I’m a FG subscriber, but missed this. If I could give multiple upvotes, I would. To everyone else: read the interview and hope this delightful young man makes the Bucs.

john_fluharty

Excellent read thanks for sharing

roberto

Two things we have not discussed: the effects of the rule changes and Canaan Smith-Njigba. The rule changes clearly benefit fast players like Bae and Swaggerty, but who else?

Catch_22

Kashmir is one of the best from Page and Plant.

Fun Fact – They wrote this song while driving through the Saharra Desert in Moracco. You can hear the hypnotic Middle Eastern sound. An absolute gem of a song.

leefieux

Sooooooo….can LoLo play a decent CF? 🙂 🙂

Anthony

This was one of the first things I noticed about Ryan Vilade, 8.7% swinging strike rate and a 16.0% strike out rate.

emjayinTN

Vilade has the rep for making contact, but picking up another OF to add to the 40? A deeper dive showed he has had experience at 1B and other IF positions, so who knows where he may end up for the Pirates?

Where I stumbled was whether he was worth more to the Pirates than Matt Gorski, who has much more power and also cut his K/W ratio down considerably in 2022.

Anthony

I’m not trying to get into a debate of Vilade vs. Gorski, only pointing out Vilade’s above average ability for contact/ on-base skills.

I suppose the bigger question is: what is easier to teach, plate discipline/ contact/ on-base or in-game power? W/r/t the Pirates, it appears they have several ongoing experiments of the former at the MLB level, which could help to explain Vilade’s claim. Just spit-balling here.

leefieux

Newman had great contact skills. You can’t teach power, tho.

The Gunner

Someone I know predicted Newman will hit 18 HRs at GABP

roberto

I’d take the under on that. And I hope he has a great time in Cincinnati.

The Gunner

You’re definitely a smart man, Roberto

NMR

If you can’t teach power, then steroids helped nobody hit more home runs…

leefieux

Better power thru chemistry? 🙂

‘Cream’ me, baybee!

Anthony

Agreed but Newman NEVER had a power profile.

emjayinTN

Didn’t he hit for middling power his first year – 10+ HR’s?

NMR

The only piece of evidence you need in the debate over just how juiced the home run environment was that year.

AdministrativeSky236

It would be nice if they could learn to teach one as they can target guys that fit that skill set, though I dont know we have any evidence of success yet. Finding flawed players whose weakness you can consistently improve is probably the best way we could sustain success with our resources

leefieux

Preach it, EJ. Plus, Gorski is solid defensively while Vilade is, well, a former infielder.

Wilbur Miller

You know who had a lower swinging strike rate than Vilade? Tyler Heineman, 8.1%, and that was in the majors. Produced a .544 OPS, which was 394th of 417 players with 150+ PAs. Contact by itself, without quality contact, isn’t much use.

roberto

Unless you’re a good catcher

Wilbur Miller

I’m sure some AAA team will have a spot for him.

john_fluharty

Agreed. Need to see hard hit rate or average exit velocity along with it

Wilbur Miller

Vilade’s .103 ISO in a big-time hitting environment provides a pretty good clue.

Anthony

Not much different than Diego Castillo prior to his age 23 breakout, very similar hitting profiles to that point. Maybe this is something they are targeting and experimenting.

Wilbur Miller

The difference — apart from the fact that Castillo is an infielder and Vilade is a below avg. corner OF — is that Castillo went on the 40-man after he started hitting.

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