On his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan on Sunday, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington discussed a number of topics. Among those were a trio of current Pirates prospects who could see playing time at the major league level by the end of the season — right-handed pitcher Cody Bolton, outfielder Jack Suwinski and infielder Diego Castillo.
Here’s what Cherington had to say on the three Pirates prospects.
This year with Triple-A Indianapolis, Bolton has appeared in 20 games, 10 of which have been starts. The 24-year-old has posted solid numbers as he currently owns a 2.87 ERA across 53.1 innings.
This year marks the first time Bolton has pitched in-game settings since the 2019 season. In 2020, there was no minor league season due to the pandemic, and Bolton missed all of 2021 after undergoing right knee surgery.
“It is really encouraging how effective he’s been this year at the Triple-A level, given he did basically miss two seasons,” Cherington said.
The Pirates have had to be mindful of Bolton’s workload, leading to the hybrid-type situation mixing of starts and relief appearances so far this year.
Bolton also missed time this year with a stint on the COVID-IL. However, he is back and knocking on the major league door.
“He’s someone that we certainly believe could be a good Major League pitcher moving forward,” Cherington said.
Suwinski was called up to the Pirates in May and made an instant impact. Suwinski then struggled and was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 15. Yet he still leads National League rookies in home runs with 14.
One of the reasons the Pirates optioned the rookie outfielder when they did was because Suwinski was mired in an 0-for-28 slump, which dropped his batting average below the Mendoza Line to .198.
While in Triple-A, Suwisnki has still displayed his power with five home runs in 22 games.
Before going to Triple-A, Suwinski had been working on some adjustments with his timing mechanism.
“We felt like it would be helpful for him to go back to Triple-A and continue that work,” Cherington said. “We fully believe we’ll see him in the major leagues again with some expectations that it will be this year.”
Like Suwinski, Castillo was with the big league club this season. Castillo broke camp with the Pirates and stayed in Pittsburgh for four months before being optioned on July 31.
While the Pirates wanted Castillo to work on swing decisions, especially against right-handed pitching, there were some external factors that led to the demotion, according to Cherington.
“We were getting into a situation on the roster where he wasn’t playing every day,” the GM said. “We wanted him to have a chance to play every day in Indy.”
Also, like Suwinski, Castillo is a player who could be back in a Pirates’ uniform by the end of the 2022 season. Castillo has posted an OPS of .846 since being optioned, though his plate discipline has been suspect. He’s striking out in 23% of his plate appearance and has posted a walk rate of just over 7%.