Pittsburgh Pirates Need To Add Power To Their Farm System

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 18: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians at PNC Park on July 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 18: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians at PNC Park on July 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Though the Pittsburgh Pirates have a strong prospect system, one thing they lack is power which is something they could work on this off season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a handful of very notable position prospects. Ke’Bryan Hayes, who burst onto the scene this past September, currently ranks as a top 15 prospect. The defensively gifted infielder showed tremendous bat speed, exit velocity and hard hit rates.

Their next big prospect is Oneil Cruz. Cruz, a 6’7 shortstop, is considered one of the best power hitting infielders in the game. He’s previously put that big power on display, putting up a .200+ isolated slugging percentage at both Low-A and High-A. With a future 80 raw power grade, he could be a real contender in a home run chase in the future.

Travis Swaggerty hasn’t shown much power, but he does have a future 60 raw power grade. 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales, who recently came on the Rum Bunter Radio Podcast, put up monster numbers throughout college. Though it was in a hitter friendly environment, you don’t just put up a .747 slugging percentage with a hitter friendly park. Lastly, Liover Peguero is really more of a contact hitter, but he does have some pop behind him seeing as his average exit velocity was 90 MPH.

However, the biggest area of need for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their farm system is power. When you look throughout their farm, very few guys have elite-level power. Cruz is one with his 80 future raw power and his 60 future game power grades. Mason Martin is another prospect that has elite level power. Last year, the first baseman smacked 35 home runs, posted a .558 slugging percentage, and outstanding .304 isolated slugging in 556 plate appearances between Greensboro and Bradenton. He, like Cruz, has elite power grades with a 60 future game power and 70 future raw power grades.

Most of the Pirates’ best prospects are more hit-over-power type guys. Swaggerty, Peguero, Ji-Hwan Bae, Jared Oliva are all guys who’s job is to get on base and hit for average more than hit for power. The Pittsburgh Pirates do have a handful of very young players who have a ton of power potential. Corner infielder Alexander Mojica and outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco could definitely develop into big power threats. However, both are still teenagers.

What the Pittsburgh Pirates need is another player who will be here in about two years and has some real potential to be a home run threat. Power is also something the Bucs struggled with in the last few years at the major league level.

Since 2018, they rank 26th in slugging percentage, isolated slugging, and 28th in home run total. Right now, they just have Cruz and Martin. There are many ways the Pirates can go about this. One would obviously be the draft. One of the main rules to follow when going into the amature draft is never draft a need. You always take the best player available. Even if it’s a pitcher, which is what it looks like the two best players are going to be in this year’s draft. Though it looks like the Bucs will be taking either Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter, it’s not out of the question as to whether or not they could take a powerful position player in the second or third round.

Another way they could find power to help their minor league system is through trade. The Pittsburgh Pirates have trade pieces that will get some attention throughout the off season. Joe Musgrove, Richard Rodriguez and Adam Frazier are all on the trading block. Musgrove was nearly traded at one point around the deadline this year, so he’ll surely get some attention this off season. There’s always a need for good relief pitching, so Rodriguez should draw some trade chatter as well. Any team needing help at second base, or help in the utility department will call the Pirates about Frazier.

If there’s no one in the draft, or in trade they are interested in, they could always turn to the international market. The international signing date was moved up to February by commissioner Rob Manfred because of the delay to the 2020 season. The Pittsburgh Pirates also acquired some international signing money in the Jarod Dyson trade, and have put it to good use, showing that they’re willing to be aggressive when it comes to looking for international talent. While this wouldn’t give them a player that could be in the majors in two years, this still could be a way for them to get a power bat for the future.

Next. Baseball Reference's 2020 Pirate Simulation. dark

The Pirates need to in some way, add more power to the farm. They only have two guys with a future game power grade of 60 or higher, and five guys with a future 60 grade or higher raw power grade. Getting another prospect who has power on the level of Mason Martin and Oneil Cruz would be very beneficial for the Pirates’ future. Today’s game is all about the long ball, and you need guys who can hit the ball far.