Pirates Prospects Daily: The Pirates Organization Has Strength at Third Base

I talked about Jack Brannigan yesterday, and his potential either on the mound or playing third base.

He has just north of 100 plate appearances, but his advanced bat provides a very good case in making the jump straight to High-A and play for Greensboro this upcoming season.

That would allow the Pirates to flex the kind of depth they have at the position throughout the system. It is a position that you wouldn’t think would have that kind of depth, especially with the team investing heavily in one player for the foreseeable future.

Majors – Ke’Bryan Hayes

The current holder of the biggest contract in franchise history, Hayes was a first round pick back in 2014 and has been long noted for his defense. He’s already one of the best defensive players in the majors, and has put up solid exit velocity numbers, but has been below league average hitting wise.

He hits the ball hard, and if he could ever find the open space on the field, he could become one of the better players in the game with his already elite defense.

Jared Triolo

If Hayes is the best fielder in the entire system, Triolo might be the second. He’s one of the best fielders in all of the minors, and hasn’t exactly been a slouch with the bat as well. When it comes to hits, only Endy Rodriguez has more over the last two seasons. 

Triolo got off to a really slow start (at least power wise) but really turned it on down the stretch. When it was all said and done, he was seventh in the Eastern League in hits, and was tied for the league lead in average (of players remaining in Double-A).

He was added to the 40-man roster, and has played all over the field, so he could factor into the major league team as an utility option sooner rather than later.

Dariel Lopez

The current third baseman in the system with probably the most upside on the offensive side of things, Lopez hit 19-home runs as a 20-year-old in High-A Greensboro last year. An injury late in the season kept him from reaching 20, but regardless, his power potential is very much real.

He flashed some opposite field power, even in Bradenton the year prior as a teenager, showing that it wasn’t all Greensboro induced.

There are some questions on whether or not he stays at first, but he has the range, athleticism, and arm for it, it’s just the accuracy and cutting down on the simple mistakes as well.

Jack Brannigan

I talked about Brannigan yesterday, and while he was drafted as a two-way player, we only know him as a third baseman right now. He has a really strong arm, and showed good range at third, with Baseball America even calling his highest ceiling a gold glove caliber fielder.

Bonus: Yordany De Los Santos 

One of the Pirates high profile International signings last year, he spent time at both shortstop and third base in his debut. He put up decent numbers as a 17-year-old in the DSL, posting a 106 wRC+ and collected 17 total extra-base hits (15 doubles). 

It’s always nice to have depth, but in the Pirates case, they are especially set up at third base throughout the system. This is also a big reason behind trying players at different positions throughout the system. In the meantime, third base is certainly an area of strength for the Pirates.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**Three Pirates made the top 100 prospect list at ESPN, with three others receiving honorable mentions.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about which path Jack Brannigan would travel down as a two-way player.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Ethan Hullihen is working on a new feature to create a Glossary of transaction details on the site. His first installment is a look at how Optional and Outright Assignments work.

Pirates Business: How Do Optional and Outright Assignments Work?

Wilbur Miller looked at the Pirates’ 2019 draft, which is led by Quinn Priester, but has a lot of other interesting prospects still around.

WTM: The Pirates’ Quirky 2019 Draft

Bubba Chandler was a highlight of the 2021 draft, and Anthony Murphy looked at the progress and potential he showed during his debut season.

Bubba Chandler Showed Progress and Potential In His Debut Season

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.

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.

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Great look at 3rd base pipeline! Lots of potential, lots of high ceiling. We need to change the narrative from Key’s got “the largest contract in team history”……to just that he’s an $8.75M AAV guy…….that’s it. Not a cornerstone, not a Cutch, maybe not even a core player. $8.75M is a 1.5 WAR guy. $8.75M is an .87 OPS+ guy. Maybe Key becomes the late innings defensive specialist. Keep an open mind boys. Key should not “own 3rd Base” indefinitely.


In AFL nick Gonzalez started 6 games at 3B, 6 at SS and 6 at 2B.


If Cruz is a shortstop I have no doubt Gonzalez could “play” ever one of those positions.


Sir, this has become your thing.


You’ve noticed!


Any athletic subscribes have keith law’s take on the bucs farm system from his rankings?


Pretty positive. He ranked them 6, referenced the incredible depth of players in double a of players that will be above average but not superstars (the inverse of the diamondbacks). Thinks they will improve this year just by key guys staying healthy.

I agreed with all his takes.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

BA podcast also had very nice things to say about D-Lo, and that there’s a handful of other org’s that are very intrigued about him.

Brannigan is going to open the 2023 season as probably one of the more interesting prospects. I feel like every time I read about him, I find out something new. He feels like the new Matt Gorski of a kid that is just loaded with raw tools across the board, who also pitches, and it’s a matter of if he actually taps into those skills.


Regarding Triolo’s projections per FG:

Steamer is the highest offensive projection, with a 99 RC+
ZIPS projects a 86 RC+, but a positive 5 in defensive value.

So while it might make some sense to see if he could slot over to 1B to be the pirates 1B of the future, bc there’s not currently room at 3rd, SS, or 2nd, but as of now his bat doesn’t look dynamic enough for him to move off 3rd where he’s being carried by his defense – since it’s harder to get positive defensive value at 1st (ex. Lewan diaz, Evan white, etc)


I’m starting to think that Triolo will be the starting SS in 2025..

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

There used to be talk that Key could easily slide over to SS, and probably would be very good at it. At this point Triolo is Key-lite, and since 3B is taken…. well, I see no qualms in giving Triolo a go.


Or Hayes to SS and triolo to 3B with cruz finally moving to the OF as he should


Interested to see if Triolo can continue to show his hit tool is good enough to be a starting IF at the major league level. If not, he’s almost certainly good enough to be a solid bench bat/late game defensive replacement guy.


Oh, Leon Bridges, he’s a good one!

Tim Williams

Leon Bridges is one of my favorite current artists.


He ‘Bridges’ many different genres, for sure.


Big Andres Alvarez deep cut sleeper fan, myself.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Hard not to be on a kid that tapped into 20/20 skills in Double-A.


So you’re saying he’s going to be able to sustain his power output in Altoona this year?


I make no promises, just love big whippy hacks. 😉


My prediction is that hayes haters will be proven wrong this season

b mcferren

trade him high


You want Cherington to smoke a blunt before trading Hayes?


I am not a fan, so I’ll take that bet.

Caveat: I hope I lose that bet. 😀😀


For Lopez, I assume you meant to write “some questions on whether or not he stays at (first)Third base.

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