There was a time during Spring Training that you could have made a strong case that Ji-Hwan Bae shouldn’t have made the Opening Day roster.
He started to turn things around later on in spring, and hasn’t really slowed down – literally – since.
In a game that definitely made you feel like you did a little time travel, Bae was one of the catalyst at the bottom of the order, picking up three hits in the Pittsburgh Pirates home opening win against the Chicago White Sox.
This has been nothing new for Bae, who has been put in charge of providing a spark at the bottom of the order. Someone with the speed and hitting ability that he has, you could easily insert them as the lead-off batter and let the big hitters drive him home.
Instead he’s bringing a sense of balance to a lineup, that thanks to their offensive outburst on Friday, find themselves in the top half of the league in scoring.
Even though he’s gone 7-for-23 (.304), with two doubles, a home run and a pair of stolen bases, it hasn’t just been the offense he’s contributed to. He’s also made some splashes defensively, switching between the infield and outfield, sometimes in the same game.
JI HWAN BAE WITH THE PLAY OF THE DAY! pic.twitter.com/YBk1GNt3zv
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 5, 2023
He’s hit for power, as well as using his speed to get himself on base. Friday saw him bunt for a base hit, sliding in before the ball made it to first. He would later score on an Oneil Cruz RBI single.
When you can make an impact so many ways, it helps insulate you from slumps. His speed has turned singles into doubles, as well as groundouts into base hits. The power continues to develop as well, evident by his opposite field shot for his first career home run.
The first home run of Ji Hwan Bae's big league career. 👏 pic.twitter.com/p3sCaQfN9B
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 4, 2023
Having that balance throughout the lineup can really make the difference in the team’s win total by the time it is all said and done. Bae has shown the ability to make a difference, even if it’s not in the most traditional spot in the order.
— Thomas Harrington made his professional debut and was fantastic. He only needed 63 pitches to get through five innings, and still struck out seven along the way. The slider and changeup were fantastic, generating eight whiffs on just 13 swings.
Just the slider alone accounted for 12 whiffs and called strikes, and that’s coming with him throwing it just a total of 15 times.
— Getting the Opening Day start for Greensboro, Anthony Solometo looked strong in four innings of work. He struck out the side in the first inning, picking up eight swinging strikes just in that frame alone.
His lone mistake was leaving a slider too much over the plate, which got smashed over the center field wall. The fastball looked good, and while it got up to 93 mph, it stayed mostly in the 90-91 range.
There was a part of the game missing from the stream being down, so there could have been a pitch thrown harder.
Daily Video Rundown
Welcome to the Pirates Prospects daily video rundown, where we pull some of the top videos of the Pittsburgh Pirates across the internet.
Owen Kellington with a nice curveball to get the strikeout #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/OpzDWMtWrF
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 8, 2023
Owen Kellington was one of the prep pitchers that the Pirates went over slot to sign during the 2021 draft. An injury limited him to just ten innings in the FCL last year. Despite that limited work, he got the push to Bradenton for this season.
Jase Bowen with a RBI double for the first run of the game for Greensboro. #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/7m5qMezudX
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 7, 2023
After putting up some pretty good statcast numbers in Bradenton last year, Jase Bowen struggled in a small sample of High-A to end 2022. Getting another chance in Greensboro this year, he got off to a great start, picking up three hits in the opener, including this RBI double.
NASTY back door slider for a called strike three.
36 inch vertical break
20 inches horizontal break
Insane pitch#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/QqOY01kgeR
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 7, 2023
The 36th overall pick by the Pirates last year, Thomas Harrington made his professional debut on Friday, and it went really well. The righty mixed his pitches, threw strikes and only needed 63 pitches to complete five innings and strikeout out seven batters.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
Yesterday was the home opener for the Pirates, and the season openers for Bradenton and Greensboro. We will have four full-season teams to cover daily until the DSL/FCL Pirates start their seasons in early June. Here are the links from yesterday.
**Pirates Recap: It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like 2013
**Prospect Watch: Thomas Harrington Shines in His Pro Debut
**Williams: How Will Positive Vibes in Pittsburgh Help the Pirates Prospects?
**Minor Moves: Pirates Set Bradenton and Greensboro Opening Day Rosters
**Prospect Roundtable: Who is Your Sleeper Prospect in the Pirates System?
**Pirates Get Numerous Mentions Among Best Tools in the Minors
**Pirates Prospects Daily: The Two Sides Of Kyle Nicolas On The Mound
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.
Burrows left todays game early, if anyone knows reason, please post. Jones with a great outing today, Gonzales with a K and a HR. Offense across our minors anemic so far.
please bring back the minor league tread!!,!!!
Now Mitchell left the game, injured on a steal of home, either hand or face after head first slide.
What ever happened to the Andy Haines Narrative?
So he’s a genius now after one game. Get real!
Follow the sheep, Johnny
After watching Joe and he have a killer game yesterday, can’t wait to see Shelton bench them both to play Castro, Smith-N or Choi today, as he usually does. 🙁
I’ll play devils advocate. With RHs going the next 2 days, I would be disappointed if CSN/Castro/Jack don’t get at least one start each (‘normally’ before the season I would have assumed they would start both games). They made the roster for a reason and while all have really struggled, you can’t start burying players after 10 – 15 at bats and I would argue with all of them being young they need to get back out there.
I may get sarcastic responses (or maybe very accurate), but as long as CSN/Jack/Castro are receiving real communication then all can be good. I really think CSN has been sitting because they wanted him to take a breather and observe as he has been a ‘K’ machine. But at some point get him back out there.
They can play on the Sunday lineup tomorrow as standard practice. After three years of utter garbage at the Major League level, this team needs a good start, especially to build on the good will of the fan base after yesterday’s “you couldn’t have scripted it any better” opening day! Let’s be honest this team is going to hit some dry spells this year, and the further above .500 they are when they happen the more palatable those will be.
With all due respect, this is ridiculous. Yesterdays game was great but it in no way proves that Choi, CSN or Castro should be benched or that they aren’t potentially the better option for more starts. This is a huge overreaction to a small sample.
Well we dont have a castillo on the roster rn and ‘the other asian guy’ could be bae or choi and both of them have names so
Casto? Castillo? got them mixed up. Couldn’t remember Choi. Fixed it. thank you
It was a great first game for Harrington. I guess the obvious question for those who have seen him pitch would be is he too polished for the level? He is a college draftee who hopefully would get promoted quickly if he is just too good for the level with his real tests being one level or two higher.
I had a feeling he was going to be too advanced for Single-A, before I even saw him. Seeing him kind of confirms it.
Really hoping hes on the fast promotion train! Maybe altoona by the end of the year?
Control- change up guy and now I see a plus breaker, is very possible.
Ben Clemons of Fangraphs has some nice words about Cruz up on their site this morning.
Bae Bee fun to watch!!
Bae IS a baseball player.
Content has been GREAT and plentiful the past few weeks fellas. Keep up the good work P2!
Random question for writers and commenters: Are the minor SP schedules available somewhere? I ask because I’d like to see Greensboro vs Jersey Shore next week and want to time up my attendance with Bubba or Jiminez.
Greensboro is notoriously horrible at posting things. But if they are working a 5 man rotation, should have an idea once we go one time through. Doesn’t seem like Jimenez is going to start in GBO initially. Got a late start to spring and is building arm strength up still
MVParker, if you are looking for who will pitch, I don’t think those are posted yet. Your best bet will be to track who starts this weekend and try to see when their rotation spot may fall next week. It will be too hard too tell if they are using a 5 or 6 man rotation (I assume 5) until they go through the rotation a few times. FYI – from info on this site, it looks like Jimenez is building himself up off-roster so I would not expect he will be pitching next week.
Harrington was huge, and he and Kellington combined to induce 9 GB/2 FO. Going through the plays, I counted 13 infielder involved plays and only 1 throwing E. Congrats to Brannigan, Rivas, Castillo, and Mojica. Excellent baseball.
That slider by Harrington…🔥🔥🔥!
As for Bae, he has taken the opportunity to play and ran with it. The kind of player the opposition fan base just hates. Kind of like a flying insect that continues to buzz your tower despite your best efforts to swat him away.
Ji-Hwan Bae is another positive impact statement for the Pirates developmental system. Bae, Cruz, Reynolds, Hayes, and Castro all in the lineup and more coming. Cruz and Reynolds started in other systems, and Reynolds is the only college player of the group, but the MLB developmental upper stages for them came with the Pirates.
Lots of folks contributing makes it a lot easier to put pressure on the opposition. And, the team building evident from ‘Cutch and Carlos Santana is an ingredient this club has not had for years!
OT: sources are saying Choi is heading to the Phillies for José Alvarado
That would bring me much Choi,
Choi wouldn’t be the first “lost pirate”
That could actually work, but I wouldn’t get rid of depth this soon, if Santana goes down….
Connor Joe played some games at 1B in ST, and has 264 innings at 1B, almost all at Colorado in 2021 and 2022. Malcom Nunez played well at 1B in AA for the Cardinals and the Pirates in 2022 and hit well, but is at AAA and only turned 22 last month. Take a shot with MM? Also, don’t lose sight of Jared Triolo, the best 3B in the minors, and I doubt it would take too long for him to get up to speed at 1B.
Triolo is tall and athletic so unlike a prototypical Pirate first baseman, lol.
Over $4.6 million for a backup first baseman who isn’t going to play unless Santana gets injured? The Pirates need a dependable veteran lefty reliever with Garcia hurt and the Phillies are desperate with their recent injuries at first. I hope the rumor’s true.