Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Hudson Head’s Weird Start

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Closing in on two months worth of games into his career in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, outfielder Hudson Head is off to a weird start

This past offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates were busy on the trade market. One of the three major trades the Pirates swung this past offseason was the Joe Musgrove trade. The center piece of this trade for the Pittsburgh Pirates was outfielder Hudson Head.

The 20-year-old Head is a left-handed hitting outfielder. Currently, Head is playing for the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. This is the first time that Head has played above the rookie-ball level and he is off to an interesting start for Bradenton.

Entering the season the biggest concern with Head was the swing-and-miss. Thus far in 2021, this has been a major issue. Through his first 36 games played (149 plate appearances) Head has struck out in an alarming 31.5% of his trips to the plate.

While Head’s strikeout rate is concerning. To his credit this is his lone poor stat thus far this season. Yes, Head needs to improve upon his swing-and-miss issues. This is part of what has made Head’s start to the 2021 season such an interesting one.

Through his first 149 PAs this season Head has hit for a .205/.403/.393 slash line to go with a 128 wRC+. Head’s strikeout rate is at a concerning number, but he has walked in an outstanding 21.5% of his trips to the plate. This is the main driving force behind his .403 on-base percentage.

The young outfielder has also done a good job hitting the ball the other way. Head is pulling the ball 44.6% of the time and is hitting the ball the opposite way 41.5% of the time. This is a near 7% increase over his 2019 results when he hit the ball the opposite way 34.8% of the time. Head’s 25.0% line drive rate is also a near 7% improvement over his 2019 results (18.2%).

Due to his swing-and-miss issues Head has not made as much contact as you would like to see this season, as evident by his .205 batting average. However, when he has made contact it has been largely quality contact.

Head has also flashed his power potential this season with a .188 isolated power (ISO), 5 home runs and an extra base hit rate of 9.8%. FanGraphs gives Head’s raw power a future value of 45. If it can continue to develop, while cleaning up the strikeouts, Head could become a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball.

Head struggling with the swing-and-miss is not a major surprise, either. When he was acquired in the Musgrove trade the lone knock on and concern with Head was his swing-and-miss issues. Head needing to work on fixing this is something the Pittsburgh Pirates knew they would need to address with him.

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Overall, Head’s stats this season raise some concerns. That said, there are also many positive and encouraging stats. If Head continues to walk at the rate he has and slug at a high rate, he could be to Double-A Altoona by the end of the season,