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Pirates Prospect Watch: The Pirates Have Hitting in Triple-A

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are struggling at the plate at the Major League level. Fortunately for them, a lot of their hitters in Triple-A are performing well. This means they have some internal solutions if they wish to eventually make a change.

This past week in the minors saw several players from the Indianapolis offense continue their strong starts to the 2024 season. It also featured the usual dominant pitching performance from Paul Skenes, and some standout starts in the lower levels.

Below are the best performers throughout the Pittsburgh Pirates system from last week, led by those hitters.

The Hitters

Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS, Indianapolis – Gonzales has a 12 game hitting streak going, and has reached base safely in all 19 games this season. There has only been one game this year where he didn’t record a hit. He picked up hits in all five games played this past week, including a 4-for-5 performance on Tuesday with a double and a triple. Gonzales went 9-for-20 with three doubles and a triple on the week. I wrote about his swing and miss last week. He only had two total in this five game stretch.

Canaan-Smith Njigba, OF, Indianapolis – One of he highlights of the game for Smith-Njigba is his plate patience. The outfielder walked four times this week, giving him ten walks in 52 plate appearances this season. He also was using the bat this week, going 6-for-16 with three doubles. His best game was Tuesday, going 3-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Malcom Nunez, 3B/1B, Indianapolis – Nunez finished last week with a double and a home run over the weekend. He carried his power bat into this week, recording a double in his first three games. He went 6-for-18 with a three hit day on Thursday and a two hit day on Friday. I wrote last week about how the 23-year-old corner infielder has been hitting the ball hard this year in Triple-A.

Ji Hwan Bae, UTIL, Indianapolis – Bae recently was optioned to Indianapolis, and he’s done nothing but hit at the level. Including his rehab time, he’s recorded a hit in all seven games played at the Triple-A level. Last week he went 6-for-14 with a double and three walks in four games played. Bae has split time between second base and center field. He’s hitting and getting on base with walks, but only has two extra base hits. He would likely profile as a bottom of the order starter, or a super utility guy in the majors.

Matt Gorski, OF, Indianapolis – Gorski has been hitting the ball hard all season, and those started turning into hits this week. He recorded a hit in all five games played, including a three hit performance on Sunday. He went 7-for-20 with a double and a triple on the week, while also striking out seven times.

Abrahan Gutierrez, C, Altoona – When I’ve seen him in the past, Gutierrez has looked a bit closed off with his swing, yet still showing good pull side power. He looked more squared off at the plate, with a more stable swing, and still the same easy power from a high-torque swing. The catcher plays good defense behind the plate, but also can hit. This week he had three multi-hit games, with a double in each contest. He’s shown patience this year, only striking out seven times in 48 plate appearances, while getting a hit in ten of his 12 games.

Kervin Pichardo, SS, Altoona – The Pirates traded left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf to the San Diego Padres to get Pichardo at the start of the season. He picked up hits in all five games for Altoona this week, going 6-for-17 with a double and two walks. Pichardo, in his age 22 season, has played all over the infield, batting toward the bottom of the order.

Termarr Johnson, 2B/SS, Greensboro – The fourth overall pick from the 2022 draft is starting to heat up. Johnson went 5-for-14 with a double and a triple this week, while walking six times. Last season, Johnson drew over 100 walks. He already has 13 in 61 plate appearances this season, which is a pace to exceed 100 in a 500 PA season. This week, Johnson walked in every game, while hitting his first two extra base hits, with power to each side of the field.

Sammy Siani, OF, Greensboro – The highlight of the week for Siani was a four hit game on Thursday where he recorded two doubles. He also had two games where he went 1-for-3 with a walk. His 0-for-4 performance on Sunday was only the second game this season out of ten that Siani didn’t reach base safely, and only the third without a hit.

Juan Jerez, 1B/OF, Bradenton – Jerez showed off some power this week, hitting his first home run of the season on Friday, and picking up two doubles on Sunday. He went 4-for-12 with a walk, plus those extra base hits this past week. This is his third season spending time in Single-A, but these are the best nu,bers shown by the 22-year-old.

The Pitchers

Paul Skenes, RHP, Indianapolis – In the latest start from the top pitching prospect in the game, Skenes struck out eight batters in 3.1 scoreless innings. He threw 65 pitches in that time, but went deep into a lot of counts on this day against a lefty lineup. He used his changeup more than previous starts, and didn’t use the splinker as much. Skenes hit 100+ MPH 34 times.

Cam Alldred, LHP, Indianapolis – Alldred made a start this week, going four shutout innings with six strikeouts. The Pirates are pretty strong with lefty options at the Major League level, with Jose Hernandez emerging as the top depth option. Alldred falls lower on the depth charts, but could be an option throughout the long season.

Bubba Chandler, RHP, Altoona – Chandler allowed two runs on six hits in five innings during his most recent start. He also struck out five, showing off a lively fastball. On the season, Chandler has a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings, with a 15:6 K/BB ratio.

Sean Sullivan, RHP, Altoona – Sullivan had his best start of the season on Friday, throwing five shutout innings. He allowed six hits, had zero walks, and struck out one. This raised his season totals to a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings, with an 8:3 K/BB ratio.

Eddy Yean, RHP, Altoona – Pitching out of the Altoona bullpen, Yean has been making  a lot of multi-inning appearances this season. He made two this week, combining for 4.1 shutout innings. He allowed one hit and walked three — all in the same game — while picking up three strikeouts in each contest. His second appearance, on Saturday, saw him throw two perfect innings.

Hunter Barco, LHP, Greensboro – Barco has been one of the more impressive pitchers this season, getting a late start to his career after Tommy John delayed things for the 2022 second rounder. This week he made his third start of the season, allowing one run on five hits in four innings of work. He walked one and struck out four. That was the first run of the season allowed by Barco, who has an 0.82 ERA in 11 innings, with a 14:3 K/BB.

Wilber Dotel, RHP, Greensboro – Dotel hasn’t allowed a run this season, after pitching five shutout innings this past week. He allowed two hits and one walk, striking out three. On the season, Dotel has thrown 10.1 shutout innings across three starts, with five hits, five walks, and nine strikeouts. He’s becoming a sleeper to follow in the Greensboro rotation.

Michael Kennedy, LHP, Bradenton – The 2022 fourth rounder out of the prep ranks had one of the best starts of the week in the Pirates’ system. Kennedy allowed one run on two hits in five innings, striking out eight batters with no walks. In three starts, he has a 4.50 ERA across 12 innings, but has gotten better in each outing since his season debut. He features low-90s velocity, but gets a lot of movement on his pitches, with a good amount of swing and miss.

Carlson Reed, RHP, Bradenton – Last year’s fourth round pick allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings during his latest start. What was most impressive was his eight strikeouts, continuing a trend of swing and miss from Reed. He has 18 strikeouts in 11 innings this season. The other trend is a high walk rate, with eight so far on the season. He’s got a fastball that sits 93-94, with a slider and changeup that both get a lot of swing and miss.

Carlos Jimenez, RHP, Bradenton – Jimenez had an impressive start on Tuesday, going three shutout innings with five strikeouts. He allowed two hits, walked one, and showed some of his better command during the outing. I wrote about Jimenez over the weekend, highlighting his plus changeup, and what makes him a sleeper to follow in Bradenton.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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