Who Could Be The Pittsburgh Pirates Backup Shortstop In 2017?
Triple-A Indianapolis Shortstop Gift Ngoepe
The Pittsburgh Pirates could look to fill from within. If they go this route, then I would guess that Gift Ngoepe, who is one the 40-man roster, would be their first choice.
The 26-year old Ngoepe has spent the entirety of the 2016 season at Triple-A Indianapolis. This came after starting 2014 at Double-A Altoona before getting promoted to Indianapolis late in the season.
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Throughout his Minor League career Ngoepe has been known as a great defensive shortstop. However, his offense has never matched his defense. In 2,718 career plate appearances in the Minor Leagues Ngoepe owns a .232/.322/.346/.669 (nice) slash line.
Although Gift Ngoepe has always struggled to hit for average and has zero power, he has always been able to get on base. His 10.6 percent career Minor League walk rate is above average.
Additionally, speed is also an element of Ngoepe’s game. He has 88 career stolen bases in the Minor Leagues and has the ability to do the little things on the bases. When able to he will go first to third, take the extra base, etc.
As I said above, Gift Ngoepe is a great defensive shortstop. Despite his offensive shortcomings, this qualifies him to the be the backup shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017. Much like it is with a team’s backup catcher, defense is the top priority with a team’s backup shortstop. Especially on a team like the Pirates where Jordy Mercer, barring injury, will start, at least, 145-150 games each season.