It was a rare off day on Monday for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and now they prepare for a stretch that will take them up the day before their regular season opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
With a chance to reset and relook at everything that has gone on so far, there are still a few things left to figure before things are wrapped up in Bradenton.
Who Steps Up In The Bullpen
The Pirates made it a point in adding as much depth to the bullpen as possible for the upcoming season. As David Bednar and Wil Crowe wore down during the latter stages of the season, it become obvious that more depth would be needed to avoid a repeat.
Part of the nature of spring, a lot of the bullpen options have been up and down so far. After the injury to Jarlin Garcia, there will be an additional spot up for grabs.
Colin Holderman looks like someone who could take a late-inning role at some point in this season. While he’s been hit hard at times, Jose Hernandez has flashed the stuff that made him an exciting Rule 5 pick.
There are plenty of other names out there, like Yerry De Los Santos, Dauri Moreta, or even Colin Selby. Will any of them make enough of an impression to claim the extra spot available? Who of the non-roster lefties make enough of a splash to be considered to get added to the 40-man, or will the Pirates roll with an inexperienced Hernandez as their lone lefty?
The Starting Outfield, And Bench
Something tells me that Sunday’s combination of Bryan Reynolds–Jack Suwinski–Andrew McCutchen are the odds on favorite to play opening day. Travis Swaggerty has been very strong in his playing time, but Suwinski continues to get more time.
Swaggerty could still factor into the picture off the bench. It could be done between him and Canaan Smith-Njigba for the last spot, if Connor Joe is also penciled into the other.
Although Joe was originally a Neal Huntington draft pick, he was brought back by Ben Cherington, so out of out of everyone fighting for a spot, only Swaggerty wasn’t brought back in by the current regime.
Not saying that matters, that’s just how it’s lining up.
Who Steps Up At Second Base?
Rodolfo Castro entered spring as the most experienced of the current options, with Ji-Hwan Bae maybe having the most upside. Tucupita Marcano was highly sought after by Cherington, and graded out respectively at the position last year.
None have really stood out from one another, maybe going Castro’s way by default due to the grand slam. He also leads the team in strikeouts, with 10 in 26 plates appearances, and hasn’t drawn a walk either.
The hope was that Bae would settle into some super utility role, but has mainly played second base with some shortstop sprinkled in. He’s looked less than impressive at short, and he has just three hits in 19 at-bats.
Marcano picked up a couple of hits the other day, which doubled his previous output during the spring. He doesn’t hit for much power but picked up a double, and has also stolen a base as well.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
No Pirates game yesterday, but there were still some Pirates related items to talk about. Here’s a look.
**Pirates Draft Prospect Watch: Paul Skenes is Dominating on the Mound A recap of the weekend for the top college draft prospects
**World Baseball Classic Recap: Team USA Loses; Four Teams Advance
**Pirates Prospects Daily: More Aggression On Bases Could Produce More Offense
**Pirates DVR: Bryan Reynolds And Jack Suwinski Home Runs, Tsung-Che Cheng Defense
Song of the Day
Split squad today, with one group at the ballpark formerly known as McKechnie Field, and the other will be on the road against the Minnesota Twins. 1:05 PM start for both games. The home game is televised against the Baltimore Orioles. Here are the lineups, with the home game first
Sunshine and baseball. Just what the day ordered.
📺 AT&T SportsNet#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/LsrFaY5kNg
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 14, 2023
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 see where Jose Quintana will be out to at least July now. They will be doing bone graft surgery to try to fix the rib(s)? with the stress fracture. Suddenly the trade last season looks like it was a good thing to do instead of extending Jose.
I feel bad for Q just the same.
Ditto that. Not a Doc but using bone grafting for a stress fracture of a rib does not sound good. Hope he does recover and get back to where he was last season for his sake
Yeah, I don’t really know anything about this one, but I had a bone graft in my knee and I had to stay completely off it for six weeks. Takes some for-real healing time.
I would have wasted all our money
I like how the Orioles started Bautista. He’s their closer, terrific talent. It gives him MLB hitters to face in first inning. I’d like to see the same with Crowe, Holderman and Hernandez to actually face MLB batters. Blue Jays tomorrow would be a good test with their home lineup.
I have been waiting for that to happen and the starters start pitching intersquad or b games and the relievers pitching early. Tomorrow sounds good to me.
I know spring training doesn’t matter when it comes to record but man they can’t find a way to win a game this spring. I’m a little concerned.
I’m curious to see what upcoming moves happen, and where they appear to be headed. I’m becoming more and more and more excited about the opening up of Indy’s season. Some of the upper minor kids have looked very good.
.696 OPS in the freaking Pacific league, and yet he has a 40 man spot over someone like Sabol. Vilade is his name.
Yeah, I haven’t seen a single reason yet as to even beget the beginning of , “Ok, I can see maybe why”. Makes very little sense.
And have protected him since Nov. 9 through all the personnel moves, as if he was some kind of a find.
Yeah, no idea. I got the Sabol decision, even if I didn’t like it. And he’s having a spring nobody could’ve seen coming. That being said, with Vilade, there’s nothing you can point to as a possibility as to why. The one single aspect is, he’s right handed. That’s it. He’s clearly rough in the OF. He was a below average hitter in two seasons of Triple-A in PCL .
Now, nobody saw the Cutch signing coming. So, the fact they had added Joe and then had to subsequently DFA Andujar made sense in the fashion of it was unexpected. But, before and after, Vilade makes/made no sense.
Someone table pounded hard
“Vilade is his name.”
But what is his game?
seriously though- this man was a high ranking prospect and generally did well until 2022. Who cares what he did last year or in spring. This is why writers are in Bradenton to find the answers to these questions…….what are they looking for from Vilade, what is he working on, what does he bring to the table. Yet, I see no article on it
He did not do well through 2021. He struggled defensively to the point that he went from short to strictly corner OF, and he’s below avg. there. He had a wRC+ of 87 in AAA in 2021 and 80 in 2022. As a corner outfielder. That’s flat out bad. He was a highly ranked prospect because scouts thought he’d hit for power, which he never did.
Not hitting, not defense…….your guess is as good as any!
Scouts were already asleep when he played his games on the West Coast due to the time difference. They were just going by draft position when they signed him.
Vilade’s gotta be the next one to be dfa’d right? Sabol definitely deserved a spot on the 40 man, hope he succeeds, but damn it’s gonna sting
Connor Scott about to get an AB! Love it.
I want to see him run!
Hurry up & get under some sort of roofing, Tyler Chatwood is about to take the mound. No one outdoors is safe, not even in pittsburgh
Interesting piece at BP:
JT Brubaker Can No Longer Be Ignored
Didn’t we do this last year?
Yeah, but he’s in the best shape of his career!
We ignored last year.
Is he about to be traded?
Yeah, trade him just as he’s about to get good. That’s what made the Pirates what they are today.
I don´t believe he is any better than he´s been the past few year unless of course the plan is to convert him into a long releiver that does not pitch more than three innings per game
I just figured he’d need to be wearing another team’s uniform to keep from being ignored. Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to seeing how he does this season, along with Keller and Contreras, and hopefully before too long Oviedo, Ortiz, and Burrows.
I’m really looking forward to Keller and Brubaker fronting the rotation. Probably should add Roansy, but he’s elsewhere at the moment.
Well, today is RO DAY!!! 7:00 PM
Maybe Ortiz too.??
And tomorrow is Rob Zastryzny day, in what’s looking to be a pivotal Canada vs. Mexico game! lol
Was flipping thru the other games box scores & saw former pirate minor leaguer Tristan Gray playing for TB. Checked where he was last year & saw he put up 33 HR’s for the Durham Bulls (AAA)
Did he hit the Bull to get a free steak at least once??
Whoa…33 HR’s but only a 96 wRC+
Sounds like a Kedro Alvarez stat!
also, TB has Gamel getting reps at 1st, & he hasn’t hit much at all (.059 BA)
WRT Gamel, all he could get in free agency was a minor league deal yet our management team insisted he was an everyday major leaguer until the very end of the season.
Yeah and our management team signed a guy with pretty much the same OPS last year to be his replacement.
That’s impressively low. Didn’t know you could have a BA that low. He would win a BA limbo contest.
1 hit in 17 AB’s
Bucs are getting ready to pounce once TB cuts him.
his arm is made of fire power
He needs to harness that firepower, but yes!
badda bing badda boom
now steal a base
Choi’s run scoring single was the result of the no shift rule.
Me to all the Swag haterz!!!! lol
Are there any “haters”, mostly what I read was the illogical comments that because the FO had given him 458 at-bats in AAA they had given up on him. Bae will likely be this years Swaggerty.
I am wondering / hoping the front office gave him more time at home with his family situation and that is why he didn’t play much last year. I think they still like him.
I’m saying it mostly in jest, but I’d say the majority of Pirates fans were along the lines of the Pirates FO had given up on him (as you mention), and the fans that were still holding on were only holding on cause of his first round status.
I root for underdogs — obviously! Go Swaggerty, go!
Nice piece of hitting by Cruz after looking bad on two breaking balls. Also, great to see Swaggerty with another hard hit ball.
Canaan staying in the race
Canaan can hit the ball pretty hard, but when he is running to first he either looks injured or like a 40 year old DH.
Canaan or Dick Mountain in a race? Trying to remember what poster cited that as Rich’s AKA.
Hill with a gem.
If not for the wind and/or Suwinski in CF, I think he’d be pitching a shutout. I’m going between the two games so I may have missed a hard hit ball, but from what I’ve seen in the Bradenton game it’s been bad defense instead of bad pitching.
bunch of losers being coached by a veteran loser
In general, the defense is hard to watch. Reynolds letting a runner advance, Santana trying to get a runner at home with no chance, … fundamentals.
It seems all catchers do it, but why doesn’t Hedges hold his ground at the plate and give the runner half of the plate as his sliding lane. Instead he’s so far out in front of the plate he is left making a 6 ft swipe tag back towards the sliding runner. Safe. Most every time. Oh but I forgot, he’s the best defensive catcher in the league………
It’s reached the point when even Brown is questioning Shelton’s judgement that Suwinski is a CF. Walk is defending Suwinski based on the wind, but he seems to be struggling more than others.
Don’t forget the sun, is has been an embarrassing ST performance all around. All forgotten when we start the season 10-5!
Suwinski’s routes in center, while not quite the circuitous routes of Polanco, are NOT encouraging.
Suwinski’s margin for error is just smaller, so the wind (and sun) are making a big difference, which is similar to Polanco. Speed and coordination should allow you to catch these balls even when wind and sun are making it hard. But I just don’t see that with Suwinski in center.
Somewhat related, I’m disappointed that in the other game they have Owings in CF instead of Bae, someone who might actually help us in that position.
lets go bucs!
Swaggerty probably catches that, the second ball in two games that Suwinski hasn’t caught a ball were I thought Swaggery would have caught it. Suwinski just doesn’t give me center fielder vibes.
make that two this inning.
Hard to watch 🙁
Doesn’t much matter. I still se 72 wins, tops.
We still only have one proven good hitter, with Cruz a potential #2 . All of the rest are big ‘ifs’. If Jack cuts down on his Ks. If Cutch, Santana and Choi have anything left. If Hayes will be at least a league average hitter. If Hedges will hit better than a pitcher. If either Rudy or Bae can become a quality secondbaseman.
Too many ifs. I see another bad offensive team, but I am cautiously optimistic that the pitching will give us those extra 10 wins than 2022.
Your “ifs” are illogical. Santana has shown no reason why he won’t hit without a shift, and Cutch still crushes left handers, so your only “if” there is if shelton is smart enough to play him against the right teams/pitchers. Hayes is much better than a league average hitter (here’s your if) IF his back and wrist are healed.
Hayes OPS+ has been 86 and 87 the last two years, WELL below average.
Carlos has hovered around 100 or slightly below for the last THREE years. Hitters well into their 30s RARELY get batter. Cutch is ONLY good vs LHs and offers below average defense. At some point, he too will drop off. Will it be 2023?
Cruz is a better hitter than Reynolds? Maybe by the end of the season, but he ain’t right now.
What part of Cruz as a #2 didn’t you get? 😅😅😅
Ah ok misreading on my part. I agree with you on the low 70’s wins.
I have bad eyes. Misreading is my part and parcel, lol.
I think Lee is saying Reynolds is the only proven hitter.
Lay off the coffee
If the Queen had ____
Re Spring Training stats
What’s going on with the Royals?
Have they turned a corner?
Our home lineup today is pretty close to what I’m hoping the Opening Day lineup looks like. Of course Cutch will be in there, and I’d switch Suwinski and Swaggerty in the OF (I’m sure Shelton has Swaggerty in RF because that’s where he expects to insert Cutch while leaving Suwinski in CF) and I’d rather see Castro as 2B than Marcano, but close.
The road roster? Owings is in CF, which seems to say a lot. But otherwise it’s also interesting with lots of guys trying to make an impression including Mathias making his debut. If Joe can play 1B, that would be a plus–with the new rules, the more guys we have in the lineup that can steal a base, the better.
T Swag should be getting all the playing time in CF and Suwinski in RF with Cutch.
i’d like if one of the LH OF’s could make the team, but i just dont know if there’s the roster space for it. guess it depends on how married they are to mathias and/or joe making the team.
I totally forgot that Mathias existed.
Mildly enthused – Hayes, Cruz looks in the spring
Endorsed – Marin as pitching coach – perhaps with Kelly worth retaining
Concerned – 2B candidates and the near geriatric position players (also the lack of On Base skills, the Ks and the lack of work on baserunning)
If only we could combine Mitchell’s approach at the plate with Suwinski’s power and Swaggerty’s defense – then we’d have an outfielder to watch!
I’ll be highly surprised if Owings doesn’t make the OD roster as the veteran MI.
I think Swaggerty makes the team over CSN & Mitchell. Reynolds in LF, T Swag in CF, and Suwinski in RF is easily the best overall OF this team has to start the year. Cutch should be DH most days.
I felt that way until Mathias, wouldn’t surprise me if Mathias is the 2b with Castro the utility that backs up Cruz. No roster move required if this happens.
Could be. I’m thinking he’s depth option since he can be sent down. Castro did enough at end of season to earn starting 2B job, IMO.
I think roster resources has it right.
bench – Plawecki, Bae, Joe, Swaggerty.
pen – Bednar, Crowe, Underwood, DeJong, YDLS, Holderman, Moreta and Hernandez.
I don’t have any real qualms about the bench. I shudder at the thought of Crowe, Underwood and DeJong pitching in leverage. Pen probably will be a mess until they DFA guys like that. I’d much rather give Mlod, Selby and whoever a chance over Crowe, Underwood and DeJong. Very little upside with them.
I think ultimately the OF will be Reynolds, Swag, Suwisnki/Cutch. They’re still very much in a rebuild and this is a key year. Get rid of the deadwood and let some of these upside arms get a chance to show what they got.
That is the way I see it shaking out until trade deadline, when Reynolds leaves either of Mitchell/NS get brought up.
Does Endy replace Owings in July??
In an alternate universe, an Reynolds extension occurs (which I really think COULD happen in the ‘Burgh…)
Endy is not a middle infielder, he’ll replace Plawecki or whoever the backup catcher is
I think Owings is a short-timer. Bae/other MI will slide into his spot, Plawecki is released/traded, Mathias/CNS comes up
Endy did start 17 games at 2b in the minors last season. He could see time at 2b when he and Hank are sharing the catching duties full time if they are looking to keep his bat in the lineup on days that he is not catching.
Playing him at second does not make him a second basemen. Just because you slap a spacesuit on my ass and doesn’t make me an astronaut.
If he’s playing second, they should have their heads examined.
Craig Biggio, Neil Walker, Todd Zeile, Dale Murphy – all minor league catchers, as I recall . . . .
Lots of guys start out as MiL catchers. Two of those moved off catcher cause they sucked behind the plate (Walker/Zeile). Murphy and Biggio are HOF talents. You’re comparing Endy to them? Ambitious.
For the record, I don’t mind moving guys like Endy or Hank around for some versatility. But middle of the field and holding their own defensively? Come on.
Exactly. It’s a mockery of the sport if he actually plays 2b in a real game. Not as bad a Diego or VanMeter pitching, but close.
How many additional runs do you think he’d cost the club over 120 games than Oneil at SS?
Dis is your thang
yes correct logical roster construction is my thing!
With reps why would Endy be demonstrably worse than, say, Mike Moutsakis?
Moustakis was no worse a second baseman than Oneil is a shortstop. They both clearly can “play” the position.
If it makes sense for one player at one position it logically follows that it should make sense for a different player at a different position.
With MM, they wanted his bat in the lineup. With Cruz, he has every single effing tool in his tool box to be a successful SS. If I’m a GM, and my team virtually has no chance at a post season bid, I’m playing Cruz at SS for at least one more season. Who else are they going to run out there? The answer is not Key
To keep this a baseball discussion, what tools are we talking about?
He can run fast and throw hard, right? Do we think that’s all that’s necessary to be a successful shortstop? Aren’t there dozens and dozens and dozens of other fielders who could say the same?
I don’t think fielding can be simplified that much. There’s clearly additional components to being a successful infielder. This to me is like saying any hitter with good bat speed has every tool to be a plus hitter while ignoring contact and plate discipline.
Maybe Oneil can improve on what are clearly his inherent flaws that’ve followed him every step of the way. I’m not at all saying this is impossible. What I’m saying is that you could make the same argument for an extremely wide range of fringey defenders, but we don’t, for *some* reason.
I’m not passing judgement here on right or wrong, good or bad. History will do that for us in enough time.
What’s inconsistent to me is why certain logic is applied to one player but not any others who absolutely share every bit of the same qualities.
Problem with Endy is he loses value if he’s playing 2b.
The reason why he’s on prospect lists is he projects to be a competent C and projects as an above ave hitter.
Personally, I think it’s dumb to have him play 2b, 1b and the OF corners. I don’t know if they’re doing it because of Hank, but Endy is the better defensive C. They should be roving Hank around and let Endy hone his craft.
That’s just a different argument than he *can’t* play the position.
Nice little side discussion!
Always appreciated buddy!
Never said he would be a 2nd baseman full time. I just know he started 17 times there and I remember someone writing here that he was playing fairly well there. It would be a place to get his bat into a lineup when Hank would be behind the plate and depending upon the roster make up at that moment in time if his bat would be needed in the line up for that game and that would be where he would fit. he could pinch hit for a 2b and finish a game there. I said that he could play the position. Never said he definitely would. 🙂
I’m just not at all sure why we keep trying to use spring stats in 20 plate appearances and miscellaneous split squad rosters to read the tea leaves of who will be where on day one.
What players did last year is at least as important and what they do in spring off the playing field as well.
I am groot.
You wooden be kidding us, wood you?
Starting to branch out, aren’t you?
I like to leaf them laughing.
The roots of your humor run deep.
You win. Treemendous comebacks! 🤣🤣🤣🤣
You’re barking up the right tree, Lee!
I’m stumped as to a comeback.
You’re a budding comedian, Lee!
Nah. They fed me too much fertilizer as a sapling.
As a Mitchell myself, I hate to say it, but his job seems to be settled. Go to AAA and have a monster year w the bat and the 1B glove.
three spots being fought for between Bae, Swaggerty, Canaan, Chavez, Owings, Tucupita, Mathias and Maggi
rest are on their way to minor league camp
Cannot see 3 of the listed players making the 26. I think Bae and Swagg’s will make the Active Roster coming out of ST. The only way any of the others make it is if the Pirates only take 12 Pitchers – I think the talent indicates we should have 13 Position Players and 13 Pitchers.
Position Players are 6 IF (incl Bae); 5 OF (incl Swagg’s); and 2 Catchers. Owings, Maggi, and Young are out. Smith-Njigba, Marcano, Mathias to AAA.
Thoughts on Mitchell? Does he have no chance?
I love Cal but he sure as hell appears to be AAAA.
Late bloomer, bro. I got a hunch.
Can’t play OF worth a darn. Doesn’t hit for enough power to be a 1B or DH. Kind of a tweener in a not good way.