PITTSBURGH — Amidst the struggles the Pittsburgh Pirates have faced since they got off to a 20-8 start to begin the season, the club has turned to the young guys to try and right the ship.
The Pirates have seen a handful of their top prospects reach the big leagues recently — Henry Davis, Endy Rodriguez, and Quinn Priester among them.
Perhaps the player that has made the biggest impact since his promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis has been 22-year-old infielder Liover Peguero.
In a dozen games with Pittsburgh this season, Peguero has posted a .796 OPS with three home runs and eight runs driven in.
“I feel like the thing that’s getting me in a rhythm right now is just be patient at the plate,” Peguero said. “Not trying to rush anything, just be myself, just be fluid out there. Just try and put the best swing on every pitch. I feel like that’s the biggest thing right now.”
So far, the results have been there for Peguero as he continues to gain more and more experience at the big league level this season.
Peguero’s power has especially been evident. He’s been driving the baseball and has left the yard more often than even he would have hoped.
“I wasn’t even expecting [the power] going that way. But, I’m gonna tell you that it’s something I will take every time,” he joked.
The Pirates originally acquired Peguero from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the trade that sent outfielder Starling Marte out West. It was the first notable transaction of Ben Cherington’s tenure as Pirates’ general manager.
From the time he was acquired, Peguero, then in Low-A ball, has been considered one of the Pirates’ top prospects. He peaked as high as the 79th-best prospect in the league by MLB Pipeline prior to the start of the 2022 season.
The hype surrounding Peguero has translated into an instant impact in the big leagues and it’s been a big reason as to why the Pirates have started to play better baseball of late, despite dropping their last two.
The Pirates have been finding ways to get him into the lineup, spending time at both short and second base. For Peguero, wherever he plays doesn’t really make a difference.
“No. That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where I’m at. All I’m trying to do is just be in that lineup,” he said.
While Peguero may be the early standouts among the Pirates’ callup, he’s teammates at the highest level with a handful of guys he rose through the system with.
It’s been a good experience for Peguero and it’s given Pirates’ fans a glimpse into what the potential future might hold in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates rebuilding efforts under Cherington have felt like they’ve been going on for forever, but maybe, just maybe, the Pirates are starting to turn a corner.
“I feel really glad to have those guys around me,” Pegeuro said. “Being able to experience this up here and have the kind of people like that around you, it makes you wanna do more things… All I’m trying to say right now is that having those guys around you makes you feel like you gotta do the best you can all the time.”
Peguero spoke especially fond of Davis, someone he has played with at multiple levels in the minor leagues and now again in Pittsburgh.
“Having [Davis] is like having a dad. That’s something I’m never gonna stop saying. He’s someone who’s always holding you. It doesn’t matter the situation, he’s always gonna be there. That’s another big part of the things that are happening right now.”
If the Pirates want to return to the postseason for the first time since the 2015 season, it will largely be up to Peguero and this current wave of prospects embarking on their first extended looks in the majors.
Peguero, a confident player and person by nature, didn’t mince words in how he feels about the group in place and what they are capable of achieving.
“This is something we’ve been talking about every year. This team’s gonna be a championship winner. I promise you it will be very soon.”