With Spring Training quickly approaching, there aren’t many roster spots with the Pittsburgh Pirates that are truly open. How the rotation of playing time gets worked out will be something to watch during camp.
One such battle will be at second base, where Rodolfo Castro looks to be the leading candidate for the starting job; although there are plenty of other candidates that can potentially vie for playing time.
Rodolfo Castro with a massive 3 run home run in the first inning #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/9rIj367KaQ
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) June 26, 2022
Castro himself is a strong candidate to give the position some production. In 371 career plate appearances he has hit 16 home runs. If you extend that out over just 500 plate appearances, that would give him 21 total home runs, which would have been the fourth most by a second baseman last year. Give him the same amount as Marcus Semien (721), and it averages out to 30 long balls.
Castro’s early output has him closer to some of the better power hitting players at his position.
He graded out better as a third baseman than at second, so seeing some improvement from him as well as Oneil Cruz up the middle would really go a long way. The upside offensively may actually outweigh any kind of defensive insufficiencies.
Limiting Ji-Hwan Bae to just one position would probably be a waste of his overall versatility, but outside of Castro he’s the most obvious option to be a potential everyday player at second base.
With some of the best speed in the entire organization, Bae made a 10 game cameo at the end of the season, playing second, center, and left field. He also played shortstop and third base (just a single inning) while with Indianapolis in 2022.
Ji-Hwan Bae with a double to center field #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/U0mru8laHG
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) June 19, 2022
The best way to properly utilize him is probably as a super utility player, although the Pirates already have quite a few options in the outfield that are left-handed as well, so it will be interesting just to see what they have in store for Bae this season.
This was a name that probably wasn’t talked about enough over the offseason, and maybe for good reason. Tucupita Marcano picked up hits in five of his first six games with the Pirates in 2022, including home runs in back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After that he slashed just .189/.240/.252 with a wRC+ of just 38. If there was one saving grace, it was that he was actually a positive defender when it comes to Outs Above Average on Baseball Savant (+3), and also provides some flexibility in the outfield.
The Pirates have quite a bit of depth at second base throughout the minors, with two of their last three first round picks on prospects who play the position. So not only is there competition at the major league level, but there is also some talent on the way.
Castro has the kind of power upside, that he’s shown at the major league level, that makes him, at the worst, a potential stop gap.
If Castro truly grabs onto the position in his opportunity, fighting off the likes of Bae and others, he could force himself into the long-term picture.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Po-Yu Chen has some of the best spin in the Pirates system, and Anthony broke that down yesterday.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at what to expect from Hunter Barco this year.
Song of the Day
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.
I like all three of these guys. Watching the way Marcano plays is a lot more exciting than reading his stat line. Bae could be the prototypical lead-off hitter that doesn’t exist in baseball too much anymore. Call me crazy, but I think Castro’s power potential is through the roof. Santana and Cutch have both said they want to help out the youngsters. If they could instill some discipline in his approach, watch out.
Way OT, though there are comments about baseball’s financial structure…this article at Fangraphs really struck me. The Steve Cohen Mets are hiring! Important positions to “enhance player development, scouting, and executive decision making”! And they’re paying $18.15 an hour, only a few dollars over the minimum wage. They’ll probably be inundated with applications, but it just seems ironic that an organization with a $300+MM payroll would go cheap when seeking software engineers and the like.
On another post this morning, I commented that Bae was probably the best all around 2B/Utility, and is a LH hitter. Castro is very close or equal as a 2B/Utility to Bae, and Castro is a switchhitter with more power, especially from the RH side.
Castro has 127 days in toward his first year 172 and should get that by mid-May. Bae has only 13 days of MLB Service. If they keep him at AAA to start the season he would have to miss 2 days in March and probably all of April to stay under 172. I would much rather see the Pirates quit trying to manipulate years of service. Play them both from Day 1 – they have earned it.
I don’t think Bae is thought of highly enough to worry about manipulating his service time.
I have no problem with the Pirates playing with service time. Baseball’s financial and competitive structure is already stacked against smaller markets. For the Pirates to compete they have to narrow the gap any way they can.
Just about every team will mess with service time. Depends on their current team and if they think a youngster will enhance a run to a Series title or not. If the same team and front office decides a run is not in the cards, they will hold off year. The all pretty much do that. In the case of Bae and especially Castro, they know they have Termarr and Gonzales coming sooner than later so holding service time for Bae and especially Castro is not of the essence. I could see them both stay.
I say we see a platoon with Castro playing vs LHSP & Bae going vs RHSP? Probably not a straight platoon, because I could see both guys seeing time at other positions.
I’ll be surprised if they don’t both make the OD roster, and equally surprised if either one sniffs 500 AB’s.
why? Castro is a switch hitter, i see no value here in platooning him, he should be getting everyday at bats. Bae should be too, but where? With the log jam of mediocrity in the outfield now with Cutch and Joe- we have to decide between Jack’s power and Bae’s speed……i want them both in there. I feel like these signings have pretty much pushed both Cal and Travis completely out of the picture until the trade deadline barring injury.
Castro is great as RH hitter. Well below replacement level as a LH hitter.
Castro is abysmal from the left side, splits are night and day.
Nearly.300 points worse OPS as a LH hitter last season.
I´d be surprised if Bae breaks camp with the team due to our service time manipulation company policy
He´d be the first not to play this game of “tease me in September and call me in June”
Plus if they have any shot of convincing Reynolds to change his mind, then Bryan insists on playing center field
Its looking like the opening day bench is going to be Joe, Heinamen, Owings, Tucupita and Cal Mitchell with Cutch and Suwinski in the outfield and Choi as DH
I thought it was stated that Cutch would be getting the majority of his playing time at DH?
I was wondering that today too. Whether the team stated it or not. Cutch stated it but could have been trying to show that he was a team player just comfortable DHing and not looking to take anyone else’s opportunities even if he probably will.
I’d like to see Castro succeed at 2b and Bae in CF. That, to me, would upgrade two positions and move Reynolds to LF.
The problem tho, is ‘will they succeed’? At this point it is a great unknown. Only one way to find out, tho.
if castro isn’t the starter i’ll riot
I have mixed feelings. I want Castro to get his shot, but I think Bae playing regularly may be their single biggest shot at a lineup upgrade, and I don’t want him in the OF a lot. I guess it’s the right kind of problem.
it is an interesting situation. i like bae’s contact/speed combo….but with castro’s improving walk rate and power…i’m more inclined to see him play over bae.
but like you said. it’s a good problem to have. i’ll take it
Love to see Castro grab the position and hold it. A slugging 2nd baseman? Can’t remember our last one!
I love it when he stand and admires the wall scrappers, is not sarcasm, I actually get a kick out of it. But seriously, he scares me a bit, but I do think he deserves to get a longer look, and hopes he does.
I do worry about our defense up the middle, Cruz, Castro, Reynolds….but I think this is something that would be addressed next off season.
Uh . . . probably Boots Grantham.
Stumpf had a nice writeup on Rudy as a breakout candidate. Everything for him is laying off the chase pitches.
We could say that about half the system, Wilber.
Yeah, but Castro actually did it for a couple months.