Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect: Four Potential Triple-A Promotions by Season’s End

May 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes batting practice before the Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes batting practice before the Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 1, 2021; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Canaan Smith-Njigba (92) poses during media day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports
Mar 1, 2021; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Canaan Smith-Njigba (92) poses during media day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports /

Outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba

Nick recently covered Canaan Smith-Njigba’s hot streak, but he hasn’t gotten as much attention as he deserves for his solid play so far at Double-A Altoona. Smith-Njigba is hitting for a solid .266/.374/.399 line. Overall, he’s been an above-average hitter clocking in with a .348 wOBA and 115 wRC+.

Acquired form the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, Smith-Njigba got off to a slow start to the season but has been great since the beginning of June. Through his last 108 plate appearances, he’s put up a .296/.389/.408 line with a .361 wOBA, and 124 wRC+. He’s gotten better too as the month has gone on. Since June 10th, he has a wOBA just short of .400 at .380, and a wRC+ of 136. Plus his .143 isolated slugging percentage since the 10th shows that he’s starting to increase his power output.

So far this season, he’s been more of an on-base type hitter. He’s put up an outstanding 14.8% walk rate and a .374 on-base percentage. However, Smith-Njigba has tons of raw power. He has a hard-hit rate of 49%. The problem is he has a ground ball rate over 60% at 63.9%. He only has an 11.1% line drive rate and a 25% flyball rate. Though as I stated earlier, he is getting better as the season is going on. In all likelihood, it’s just him shaking off the rust. In 2019, he had a .158 ISO, which is similar to what he has had the past month or so.

As a fielder, he’ll remain in left field given his fringy speed and average to below-average fielding prowess. However, he has a 60 raw power grade and 55-future game power grade. He’s consistently shown to put up a good BA, draw a decent amount of walks, but is still working on cutting down his swings and misses.

Smith-Njigba could be in serious consideration for a promotion to Triple-A by the end of this month. With the draft the Pittsburgh Pirates will be promoting some players to higher levels to make room for rosters in the lower levels. His bat heating up could be the catalyst to push him to the minor’s highest level.

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