Unexpected trio of heroes looking to stay hot
When Spring Training came to an end utility man Wilmer Difo was at the alternate training site after failing to crack the Opening Day roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The same can be said about John Nogowski after he failed to crack the Opening Day roster of the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, outfielder Ben Gamel was with the Cleveland Indians.
Now, each of these players have become unexpected contributors for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently, the trio is hot at the plate and all three will be looking to stay hot against a poor Diamondback pitching staff.
It did not take Difo long to join the Pirate roster in April. He would then be designated for assignment a few weeks later, clearing waivers and reporting to Triple-A Indianapolis. Since returning to the Pirates from Indy, Difo has been red hot at the plate.
The super utility man is now hitting .292/.350/.460 on the season to go with a 121 wRC+ and an isolated slugging (ISO) of .168. All of these are by far career-high marks for the one time highly touted Washington National prospect. Right now it is difficult to keep Difo out of the lineup.
Speaking of players that are difficult to keep out of the lineup, there is the Big Nogowski who is quickly becoming a yinzer cult hero. While it all comes in a small sample size that is not sustainable, the Big Nogowski has been a blast for Pirate fans to watch.
The Pittsburgh Pirates traded for Nogowski when Colin Moran, Phillip Evans and Erik González all landed on the injured list. Since joining the Pirates the right-handed hitting Nogowski is hitting for a .452/.489/.643 slash line, as well as posting a hard-hit rate and exit velocity that have been above league average. With a .385 batting average on balls in play Nogowski is due for regression at some point, but until then, let’s all bask in the glory of the Big Nogowski.
After going 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of walks in Sunday’s loss against the Mets, Gamel is now hitting for a .244/.327/.424 slash line on the season to go with a 105 wRC+. This, however, includes his poor 1-for-12 start to the season with the Indians. Since joining the Pirates, Gamel is hitting for a .259/.333/.449 slash line to go with a 10.6% walk rate and a 25.0% strikeout rate. His performance as a Pirate has turned Gamel into an under-the-radar trade chip.