FanGraphs: 65 Current, 60 Future
MLB Pipeline: 70
Ji-Hwan Bae isn’t the fastest prospect in the Pirate system, but is ranked much higher than outfielder Sergio Campana and Campana isn’t ranked on MLB Pipeline, giving Bae the edge here.
Bae showed off his speed at Low-A in 2019. In 86 games, the middle infielder swiped 31 bases in 42 attempts. All told he hit for a strong .323/.403/.430 line with a .384 wOBA and 145 wRC+. Bae hit for very little power, having no home runs and a .107 isolated slugging percentage in his 380 plate appearances. But he did rack up 25 doubles, and 5 triples. He was definitely able to stretch out some hits into extra bases because of his speed.
Bae also walks a fair amount of the time, which makes his speed a very useful tool. At Greensboro, he put up an 11.3% walk rate. This off season, he played at the Australian Baseball League where he hit .297/.416/.469, hitting the first 2 home runs of his pro career, all while having an extremely strong 15.6% walk rate in 77 plate appearances.
The speedy infielder primarily plays middle infield. Most of his innings have came from shortstop, but he’s seen a decent bit of time at second base as well. Overall, he’s considered an average fielder with a 50-future grade on FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline, but does have a strong arm with a 55-grade on FanGraphs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a crowded middle infield picture. The aforementioned Cruz and Liover Peguero are the team’s top shortstop prospects and the Pirates drafted a second baseman with their first round pick in 2020, that being Nick Gonzales. Plus the Pirates have other young players like Rodolfo Castro, Phillip Evans, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker and acquired a very young infielder in Maikol Escotto in the Jameson Taillon trade. Even if Cruz starts seeing time at other positions, Bae could start seeing work in the outfield as well given his speed and arm in the next season or two to free up room up the middle.