Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes Spring Breakout

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been giving many of their prospects a lot of playing time so far this spring training.  They have an interesting situation developing at third base.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are entering their third full week of spring training.  One of the best things about spring training is it is an opportunity for teams to play and see some of their young prospects get into game action.  The big league coaching staff does not get to see their young prospects play a whole lot while in the minors, so this time of year gives a chance for the young prospects to make an impression.

That is happening right now with one specific prospect who is appearing to be this year’s spring training breakout player.  Every year there seems to be a player or two who performs very well. When this happens, many fans start to call for those players to make the team out of spring training, even though it’s not realistic.

This year’s spring training breakout player has been third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes.  Although Hayes is the team’s top position prospect, many did not expect to see him perform the way he has this spring.  He is picking up right where he left off last season when he played for Double-A Altoona.  Last year, Hayes hit .293/.375/.444 with 45 extra base hits in 117 games while winning his second minor league gold glove at third base.

So yes, Hayes established himself as a very good all-around player last season.  Still, there is plenty to prove for the son of former Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Charlie Hayes.  Ke’Bryan is doing that this spring and is legitimately making a case that he should not spend too much time at Triple-A.  So far this spring, Hayes is batting .381/.391/.952 in 12 games and 21 at-bats and has accounted for eight hits, including two home runs, three doubles, and a triple.  Furthermore, he has picked up nine RBIs, showing he is aggressive with runners on base.

Hayes has looked like the best player at third base this spring.  He has outperformed both Jung-Ho Kang and Colin Moran.  However, the consensus top 50 prospect has yet to play an inning at the Triple-A level.  The Pittsburgh Pirates do not normally let players skip levels in the minor leagues, let alone in the upper minors (due to super-two and years of control).

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With both Kang and Moran on the roster, those two will likely make up some sort of platoon at third base.  Hayes will need to continue to perform and grow at Triple-A for at least the first few months of the season.