Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Storylines To Follow This Spring Training

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Pittsburgh Pirates
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 10: Kevin Kramer #44 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a single in the top of the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on September 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Prospects running out of time

Spring Training is a time to get a preview of prospects. However for some prospects, this could be their last shot at showing the big league club they deserve a chance. The Pirates have a few of these guys on the roster, but none stick out as much as Kevin Kramer.

Kramer was selected by the Pirates in the second round of the 2015 draft. His career off to a solid enough start, having a decent debut in 2015, and putting up back to back good seasons in 2017 and 2018. However Kramer is already 26-years-old and hasn’t shown anything at the major league level. Through his first 90 plate appearances, Kramer has a putrid .387 OPS and a 7 OPS+.

While you can’t judge a player based on less than 100 plate appearances, Kramer struggled in Triple-A this past season. Through 448 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, Kramer batted for a .260/.335/.417 line. He hit just 10 home runs and finished with a 92 wRC+. He won’t fight for a regular spot, as the Pirates have better middle infield and third base options, and the same can be said for the outfield. He will compete with Erik Gonzalez and J.T. Riddle for the last bench utility spot, but both Gonzalez and Riddle have a step up on Kramer already.

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Will Craig’s door is also starting to close. Last year, his 23 home runs ranked 50th in the entire International League while his wRC+ (92) almost didn’t even rank in the top 200 of batters with at least 250 plate appearances and his .761 OPS ranked 209th in the league. Plus, with a lack of speed, utility and fielding prowess, the former first rounder is running out of chances. He does have something Kramer doesn’t have, that being three options (Kramer has two remaining). I went further into detail why Craig’s time is running out here if you would like a deeper analysis of his struggles: It’s Time To Move On From Will Craig