PITTSBURGH — From the time the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 2019 draft, Jared Triolo always had a reputation as a strong defender.
Triolo won a minor league Gold Glove while with the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers after the 2021 regular season.
Outside of a hiccup here and there, Triolo has carried his impressive defense to the Pirates at third base in wake of the lingering back injury to Ke’Bryan Hayes.
With Triolo manning the hot corner, the Pirates have hardly missed a beat in Hayes’ absence, which is saying something considering Hayes is one of the top defenders in baseball — regardless of position.
While his defense has always been his calling card, Triolo has been impressive with the bat ever since his promotion to the Pirates.
After going 1 for 3 with a walk in Saturday night’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, Triolo is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak. Over that stretch, he’s batting .345 (10 for 29).
In fact, in Triolo’s 13 games played at the major league level this season. He has hits in all but two of those games and currently owns a .304 batting average.
“Consistent swings. He and Andy have been working on some things and I think you’re seeing his ability to put the bat on the ball,” manager Derek Shelton said.
In addition to getting good results in terms of batting average, Triolo has also done a good job of getting on base. After Saturday’s game, he has a .385 on-base percentage.
The start he has had to his big league career at the plate shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. In 321 career minor league games, Triolo posted a career slash of .285/.367/.439.
The one part of his game that is lacking so far is when it comes to the power department. Triolo only has two extra-base hits (both doubles) through his first 52 career plate appearances.
While Triolo may never be a 30, or even 20 home run hitter, there is some sneaky pop. It may come more in the form of gap-power with doubles and triples, but Triolo does have a little bit of thunder in his bat.
Triolo’s performance is creating an interesting dilemma once Hayes inevitably returns from the injured list.
When the times comes, if Triolo is continuing to produce as well as he has so far, the Pirates shouldn’t send him back down to Triple-A.
At the same time, the Pirates won’t bench Hayes, meaning Triolo will be out of his natural position.
Triolo’s strong defense has mostly been on display at third base throughout his career, though he has played a few other positions. In the minors, he appeared in 57 games at shortstop.
The Pirates have seemingly been on a never-ending hunt to try and fill Oneil Cruz’s large shoes at short ever since he went down with a fractured ankle in April.
Perhaps if Hayes returns before Cruz, Triolo could shift a few dozen feet to his left and fill in at shortstop for the time being.
The Pirates haven’t made any sort of decision on how the situation will play out when the time comes.
For the time being, the Pirates will happily employ Triolo at the hot corner and have him in the lineup in hopes of him continuing to make an impact as the team looks to break out of a 2-9 funk to start the month of July.