Power is the name of the game in MLB nowadays. Every day you see players like Vlad Jr, Bryce Harper, Salvador Perez, and Shohei Ohtani hitting shots to the moon. Having a home run race is good for the game of baseball, and as a fan, it’s exciting to watch, but as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, it creates a bit of depression knowing your club is devoid of said power.
With a little under two weeks left in the season, the Pirates have one player in the double digits with home runs (Bryan Reynolds 23.) The next closest is a two-way tie with Jacob Stallings and Colin Moran with eight. Baseball purists will tell you that the long ball isn’t the end all be all, and they would be right to tell you so, but if you want to play with the big boys, power has to be an element of your game.
Now, fear not Pirates fans; there is power coming through the system; in fact, the Pirates minor league system is seeing a power surge that hasn’t been seen in some time. Currently, there are 18 prospects that are in the double-digit category, with a possible chance of two more being added to the list. Of course, not all of these prospects will pan out, but the more that perform, the more chances the team has to find some legit prospects.
Out of the 18 prospects, a few stand out as guys that fans should pay close attention to, and a handful of them are acquisitions by General Manager Ben Cherington. Below is the list of players fans should watch during the 2022 season and beyond.
Fraizer sits atop of the Pirates home run leader board with 23 home runs, but there has been more to his game than just the ole four-bagger. In 489 plate appearances, Fraizer carries a .936 OPS, 148 wRC+, and a .401 wOBA.
Martin is a little murkier in determining where he lies on the spectrum. While he has 22 home runs, Martin is also striking out at an alarming rate of 34.3% and a BB% of just 7.9. If Martin wants to have a future with the big league, he has to learn to be patient and “dominate his zone,” as he stated to me during the 2020 alternate site camp.
Gonzales is the first Cherington entry and his first draft pick as the Pirates General Manager. While Gonzales has seen significantly less playing time than the previous two, he finds himself with 18 home runs, an OPS of .935, and a 146 wRC+. Although Gonzales has struck out 27.7% of the time, he seems to have found his swing after a change in approach.
During the most recent offseason, the Pirates acquired Rodriguez in the Joe Musgrove trade to the San Diego Padres. Since coming to the Pirates, Rodriguez has shown some athletic ability along with some pop in his bat. Sitting at 15 home runs, a .896 OPS, and a 141 wRC+, Rodriguez is one of many catchers acquired by Cherington that show some promise towards the future.
Out of the previous prospects mentioned, Triolo is the most curious out of them all. Triolo was drafted in the 3rd round of 2019, and in that ’19 season, Triolo didn’t show that much pop or speed, for that matter. Fast forward to the ’21 season, Triolo has hit 14 home runs and has even stolen 24 bases. It is unclear if his power translates into less hitter-friendly ballparks, but the former 3rd rounder has had one hell of a season.