Pittsburgh Pirates Minors Spotlight: OF Rodolfo Nolasco

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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There may not be a more under-rated prospect in the entire Pittsburgh Pirates farm system than outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco

When people think of the best prospects that the Pittsburgh Pirates have there are a handful of names that come to mind. Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, Brennan Malone, Liover Peguero, and Travis Swaggerty, among others, are likely the first names to come to mind and for good reason.

One player that may not come to mind, however, is outfield prospect Rodolfo Nolasco. That said, it may be time that Nolasco’s name starts to be one of the first that fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates think of when they think of the top prospects in the organization.

FanGraphs currently ranks Nolasco as the 17th best prospect in the Pirate farm system, a farm system that FanGraphs ranks as the 4th best in all of baseball. While being a top 20 prospect in a farm system as highly rated as the Pittsburgh’s is an accomplishment, Nolasco is likely undervalued among Pirate prospects. Had there been a 2020 minor league season, Nolasco may have slugged his way into being a top 10 prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Earlier in the offseason, we pegged Nolasco as a rising prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates. IT is easy to see why Nolasco was pegged as such, even after just one season playing professional baseball.

During the 2019 season, Nolasco impressed with the Dominican Summer League Pirates. At just 18-years-old, Nolasco hit for a .302/.373/.472 slash line. He posted a 133 wRC+, .171 isolated power, hit five home runs, and collected a total of 21 extra base hits for an extra base hit rate of 10.6% in 54 games played.

In the DSL, Nolasco posted a 7.1% walk rate and an extremely impressive 11.6% strikeout rate. For any hitter to strikeout at just an 11.6% rate is remarkable, it is extra impressive for a hitter to do that at just 18 years of age.

FanGraphs gives Nolasco’s raw power a future value (FV) of 50. His running his given a FV of 55, fielding is 40, and arm is 55. Breaking this down, FanGraphs projects Nolasco to be a potentially plus defensive outfielder who can hit for plus power.

With the DSL Pirates, Nolasco hit ground balls at a 57.1% rate. This is certainly a number you want to see come down moving forward. If it does, then Nolasco’s power numbers and results will only improve.

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While Nolasco’s swing needs work, his ability to indentify balls and strikes is advance for any hitter, especially a hitter in their teens. He is a hitter with big time power potential as a corner outfielder, and could be a future middle of the line up thumper for the Pittsburgh Pirates. When the 2021 minor league season begins, Nolasco will be a prospect that Pirate fans need to keep an eye on. Most likely, he will start the 2021 season with Gulf Coast League Pirates, and if he could crack Low-A by the end of the season it would be a successful one.

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