Spare me the super two debate for a minute — I get it. The Pirates aren’t the only team who keeps some of their prospects in the minor leagues past the projected date that will give the Pirates an extra year of control. But if operating in good faith and a player deserves it, the extra year of control shouldn’t matter because an extension can always be worked out i.e. Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Now that I got that off my chest, it’s time to dive in. It’s time for the Pirates to give some of their prospects on the cusp of reaching the big leagues a shot. The Pirates as a team are in a slump, seemingly in all facets of the game. They’ve scored one run on eight hits over their last three games combined, they’ve been outscored 16-1 during that span, and in Tuesday’s loss, their defense was, well, brutal.
The Pirates have a number of prospects who have at least warranted a shot in the big leagues, both position players and pitchers. Some of the names are already on the 40-man roster, making a callup easy. Some would need to be added, complicating things somewhat but not enough to justify keeping in the minors.
With the Pirates not using Mitch Keller as the starting pitcher on Wednesday against the Cubs, his scheduled day in the rotation, that nod should go to Contreras. Not only has Contreras shown he is capable of getting big leaguers out, posting a 3.52 ERA in three appearances out of the bullpen with the Bucs earlier this season, but he would already be pitching on his scheduled rest.
Looking at it long-term, Bryse Wilson has pitched much better out of the bullpen than as a starting pitcher so far this season, and Contreras could take his spot in the rotation. It’s yet to be seen how the Pirates will use Keller, who is available out of the bullpen on Wednesday, as the season goes on, but that could be another potential opening for Contreras.
I’ll begin by saying Cruz has struggled on both sides of the ball this season, so he may not be ready anyways. But, he has been slowly breaking out of his slump with the bat and has been hitting the ball hard. The reason he is on this list is because the Pirates don’t currently have a “real” shortstop on their roster. Both Diego Castillo and Rodolfo Castro are better suited for second base or third rather than short.
Kevin Newman is moving closer to returning for the Pirates, so the Pirates can be more patient with Cruz, but I mentioned him because he could provide a boost to the slumping Pirates lineup and work on his defense with the Major League staff.
Yerry De Los Santos
Unlike Cruz and Contreras, De Los Santos (and the next two prospects) aren’t currently on the 40-man roster. But that Pirates have a number of DFA-candidates that could be axed from the roster to make room. De Los Santos, already 24 years old, has made a strong impression at Triple-A this season.
In 13.2 innings, the right-hander has only allowed three runs on eight hits, three walks and 17 strikeouts. The Pirates bullpen ERA of 4.28 is the fifth-worst mark in the Major Leagues this year. Why not give him a chance to help?
Mitchell should be a candidate to get at-bats in both left and right field as well as designated hitter if Daniel Vogelbach needs a day off here and there. He has posted an impressive slash line of .302/.370/.509 (134 wRC+) with five homers and six steals in six attempts on the season.
On top of those strong numbers, Mitchell has hardly struck out this season, being retired on strikes at a minuscule 12.8% clip.
Yoshi Tsutsugo has not looked like the same player as he did when the Pirates first signed him last season. Add into the mix his poor defense, and why not give Martin a chance to man down the position?
The concern for Martin is the high strikeout rate (32%), but his power has been on full display with 20 extra-base hits in 32 games so far with Indianapolis. He’s posted an .866 OPS (125 wRC+) on the year.