There is a young outfielder in the lower minors who fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to want to watch out for down the road.
One of the biggest changes to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization that occurred before the 2019 offseason overhaul was another overhaul in itself. In 2017, the Pittsburgh Pirates cut ties with Latin American Scouting Director Rene Gayo. Gayo was caught in a Major League Baseball investigation that ended with him being banned from the game. To put it quick and simple, Gayo was taking money on the side for getting players signed that maybe were not as good as Gayo was advertising to the Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates kept most of the scouting department together (although since then a lot has changed). Still, the team decided it would be best to final an external candidate to fill the Director of International Scouting vacancy. The team actually acted rather promptly in finding and hiring a candidate as they settled on Junior Vizcaino. Vizcaino, a highly respected person in baseball, was working with the Red Sox at the time of his hiring.
Since Vizcaino’s arrival, the team has not only seemed to be more active on the international market (especially in terms of more highly sought after prospects). However, they also as an organization have put more pieces in place to develop these young prospects. Between the more aggressive approach on the market (their head scout not scamming them) and the investment into improving the development system, this team is on the right track.
Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently wrote up a column looking at each teams most underrated prospects. This was actually a pretty interesting concept. Most articles would be looking at potential breakout prospects, instead Bowden is looking at prospects who have already broke out in a way, but they have not got the recognition for it. In his article he has taken note of one specific young prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco:
Nolasco performed at a high level in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, which included a slash line of .302/.373/.472 with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 34 runs batted in just 54 games and 225 plate appearances. He then turned heads in the instructional league when his exit velocity was one of the best of the Pirates’ top prospects.
Nolasco is a prospect I have discussed on here before as someone to watch as well. Due to his breakout 2019, Nolasco has started to appear on Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect lists. Entering 2020, he ranked 17th on FanGraph’s list. He also appeared inside MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 as well, so he obviously not only performed but was being noticed by scouts. If he continues the way he did in 2019, the 18 year old could move up the system in a hurry. With his strikeout rate only at 11 percent in 2019, there is a good shot he does.