Looking at the current construction of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster, there seems to be some competition on who will fill out the rest of the outfield, leaving the door open for a few Pirates’ prospects.
While there have been multiple standout performers so far this spring from Pirates’ farmhands, a couple of outfielders continued to impress with big games at the plate on Tuesday.
Canaan Smith-Njigba and Travis Swaggerty have both been having strong springs. Smith-Njigba continued his against the Minnesota Twins as he homered and walked in three trips to the plate. The long ball was the first of this spring for the 23-year-old.
Smith-Njigba is now slashing .286/.423/.429 through his first 10 games of the Pirates’ spring slate.
Swaggerty recorded base hits in each of his two at-bats against the Baltimore Orioles and drove in a run. The former first-rounder improved his average to .368 (7 for 19) and he now has a 1.084 OPS. Swaggerty and Smith-Njigba are tied for the team lead with six RBIs this spring.
Both players are making strong cases to be on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster, though we are still a long ways away from sorting that out. To this point, both players have impressed.
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Like Swaggerty, Pirates’ prospect Endy Rodriguez singled in each of his two at-bats for the Pirates against the Orioles. Rodriguez has been another bright spot this spring, currently carrying a .412 batting average (7 for 17).
Nick Gonzales has been another Pirates’ prospect swinging a hot stick. He singled in his second at-bat after lining out on a well-struck ball to left field in his first try. Gonzales has an OPS of 1.006 in 13 games this spring.
Also in the game, Ryan Vilade drove in a run with an RBI-single, while Jared Triolo stroked a double for his first spring hit.
On the mound, right-hander Mike Burrows worked a pair of scoreless innings of relief and sat down three Orioles’ hitters on strikes.
In the second of the Bucs’ split squad games against the Twins, right-hander Kyle Nicolas was the starter for Pittsburgh and the Pirates’ prospect allowed one run in his 2.2 innings on the mound.
Outfielder Matt Gorski recorded a run-scoring single. Ji-hwan Bae, Jack Brannigan, Matt Fraizer and Maikol Escotto all had a base hit.
After the conclusion of the Pirates’ two split squad games, the Pirates optioned Burrows, Rodriguez, Triolo and Vilade to Triple-A Indianapolis. Right-hander Colin Selby was also optioned to Triple-A.