Spring Training is always a fun time for MLB clubs. After all, it indicates the end of winter, the start of spring and the beginning of baseball season. This spring, things will be an even more joyous time than usual for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of MLB as fans will be able to return to the stands for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates announced 26 non-roster invitees to MLB camp. This list includes some of the team’s top prospects, many of whom are among the top prospects in baseball. Having these players in MLB camp should create a fun Spring Training for Pirate fans to follow.
Right-handed pitching prospect Cody Bolton, as well as outfield prospect Travis Swaggerty could both make their MLB debut in 2021. With Bolton, it would be a surprise if he did not make his debut this season. Both rank among the 10 best prospects in the organization and it will be interesting to watch how the two of them perform this spring.
A trio of middle infield prospects who will be fun to watch are Nick Gonzales, Liover Peguero and Ji-Hwan Bae. Gonzales was selected with the 7th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, while they acquired Peguero in the Starling Marte
trade and signed Bae as an international free agent.
Gonzles could be on the MLB roster by 2022 and is the second baseman of the future. Peguero and Bae, both of whom have an ETA of 2023, appear primed to battle it out for shortstop of the future honors, while the other could become either strong trade bait or one hell of a utility man.
There are also outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba and Cal Mitchell. Smith-Njigba was acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade and immediately became one of the best power prospects in the Pirate farm system. As for Mitchell, he appeared ready to burst onto the scene in 2020 and is a potential breakout prospect for 2021.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Smith-Njigba could make his MLB debut in 2021. If not, he’ll be primed to do so in 2022. Mitchell could also be knocking on MLB’s door by 2022. Both will be worth monitoring during their time in MLB camp.
Finally, there are relievers Yerry De Los Santos and Blake Weiman. De Los Santos, and RHP, is arguably the best relief prospect the Pittsburgh Pirates have. The left-handed Weiman has the stuff needed to be a high-leverage reliever in the Majors and could crack the Opening Day roster. Either way, you should expect to see Weiman at some point in 2021.
A lot of the non-roster invitees that the Pittsburgh Pirates will have in MLB camp this spring are players they expect to be big parts of their next window of contention. Many of these players will start to make their MLB debuts in 2021 and 2022. Watching these players in Big League camp this spring will make it a fun spring for Pirate fans.
Veteran infielder Wilmer Difo is also a non-roster invitee to MLB camp. This comes as no surprise. Despite him being added via a minor league contract earlier this offseason, he appears like a safe bet to make the Opening Day roster as a utility player.