Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Prospects Breakout Candidate: Stephen Alemais
By Marty Foster
Could a former Pittsburgh Pirates third-round pick in shortstop Stephen Alemais become the next under-the-radar Pirates’ prospect to breakout?
In 2019 we saw the breakouts of multiple Pittsburgh Pirates’ prospects including Mason Martin, Jared Oliva, Blake Cederlind, and most importantly at the Major League level, Bryan Reynolds. The question must be asked, which prospects could do the same in 2020? We have covered multiple guys that fit the profile, Jared Oliva (again) and Blake Cederlind (again). Let’s add to the list, enter shortstop Stephen Alemais.
Entering the Pirates system in 2016, selected in the third round as an elite defensive shortstop, Alemais continued to be exactly that. Defense has always been his strong point and he didn’t miss a step transitioning to the minors, however the bat started off slow. After a short-season of a .249 batting average with 29 strikeouts to just 7 walks in rookie ball, there has been signs of progression in each of his two full seasons since, batting .265 in 2017 and then .279 in 2018
Throughout his entire collegiate career with Tulane, Alemais was a consistent hitter at the plate. A career .293 hitter over 161 games. Then came professional ball and his early struggles, after a year and a half of adjusting to professional ball, Alemais regained that consistency by tearing up Single-A Bradenton (hitting .317) over 30 games to end the 2017 season and earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona where he began the 2018 season.
In Double-A, Alemais hit for a .279 batting average and showed off some of his speed with 16 stolen bases on 25 attempts. Since turning pro, the 24 year-old has struck out 158 times over 889 career at bats, and he needs to continue to have solid plate discipline to make up for his lack of power (6 MiLB career home runs). All in all he had a solid season to build off of. If not for the shoulder injury in 2019 we may be talking about Alemais as a guy who could join the Major League team at some point this upcoming season.
After having a successful 2018 season, Alemais lost essentially the entire 2019 season due to a shoulder injury but is on track to be healthy for the season. That is a big step forward because most importantly, he’ll need his health for a successful 2020 campaign.
The defensive minded shortstop has the glove that already points toward a future in the Majors even if that’s only being a late-innings defensive replacement. The glove has been showed off over 2,103 combined innings between shortstop and second base, with only 35 errors committed. At second base his fielding percentage sits at a very good .977 and at shortstop (where he has more innings played) a .961, he’s been incredibly good at whichever middle infield position he’s seen time at. For comparison, Pirates third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes (who is widely considered one of if not the best defensive prospect in baseball) has a career fielding percentage of .974 at third base.
Although it doesn’t look like Alemais will appear in Pittsburgh during the 2020 season, his glove, speed, and ability to get on base could very well lead to a breakout year in 2020 and put him on track to the majors soon. Stephen Alemais is a good sleeper candidate for Pirates’ fans to keep their eyes on.