While the Pittsburgh Pirates are known for having one of the strongest farm systems in baseball there are some under-the-radar prospects fans should be keeping an eye on
Everybody knows about many of the top prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates have. Prospects such as Nick Gonzales, Quinn Priester, and 2021 first-overall pick Henry Davis are household names among Pirate fans.
However, there are some under the radar prospects that might just jump the list that I want to talk about. Here are my top 5 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system that are not talked about enough and should get more recognition.
Infielder Juan Jerez
Signed in 2018 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Juan Jerez comes from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. His initial signing bonus was for $380,000 dollars which makes me believe the Pirates were very high on him at the time. In 2019, at the age of 17, Jerez started his professional career with the DSL Pirates and put up fairly impressive numbers. In 60 games, he slashed .272/.324/.469 with 7 homeruns, 12 doubles, and 6 triples.
With a year off because of the minor league cancelation in 2020, Jerez lost a year of his development like so many others. Thankfully for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates it hasn’t shown so far in 2021. With the FCL Pirates Black, in 35 games he has slashed .298/.395/.484 with an OPS of .878. He has 37 hits on the year and 13 of them have been for extra bases. I am not sure if he will be moved to Bradenton this year but I’d expect him to start the 2022 year in either Low-A or High-A.
Right-handed pitcher Po-Yu Chen
Po-Yu Chen is only 19-years-old so not of a lot of Pirate fans have seen his name yet. Signed in 2020 by Ben Cherington and company, this international signing could be a ‘home run’ in the near future.
Chen was initially assigned to the DSL Pirates in October but on June 28th of this year, he was sent to the Florida Complex League where he has since shown his skills. He has played and started in 6 games this year with the FCL Pirates Black and currently holds a 0.69 ERA with a 0.69 WHIP in 26 innings pitched. In those 6 games, he has 29 strikeouts. He was holding his opponents to a .191 batting average in the FCL.
On August 25th he was promoted to Bradenton and most recently had his first start. He started off strong in the first 2 innings pitched but got beat up a bit in the 3rd inning going 2.2 innings allowing 4 earned runs on 2 hits with 2 walks. Hopefully his next start will be better but look for him to climb up the rankings soon.
Third baseman Jared Triolo
6’3″, 215 pound third basemen Jared Triolo has been one of the most overlooked players in the system this year. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2019, Triolo has showed a lot of promise this year mainly because of the improvement in his bat. He has had identical splits against right-handed and left-handed pitchers this year batting an impressive .308 against righty’s with 9 home runs and .296 with 5 home runs against LHPs.
This is a big jump from 2019 where he only slashed .225/.308/.343 against right handers and showed very little power only hitting 1 home run. The more I watch him play at Greensboro, the more I believe he will develop into a solid player in the big leagues one day. He was drafted in the 2nd round for a reason. Triolo could reach Triple-A Indianapolis at some point in 2022.
Outfielder/catcher Blake Sabol
The 2019 7th round draft pick has been nothing short of impressive in his 2021 campaign. In 2019 Blake Sabol was with West Virginia where he batted .245 in 208 at bats with 2 home runs. He slashed .245/.350/.351 which would make you think he was just another guy in the system. He has changed that narrative this year by dominating in Low-A.
He started the 2021 season with Bradenton and slashed an impressive .370/.508/.543 and had an OPS of 1.052. In just 14 games with Bradenton, he was then promoted to Greensboro and continued to show it wasn’t just a fluke. In 38 games with the Grasshoppers, Sabol has put up some eye-popping numbers. He has 17 extra base hits which includes 6 homeruns. He is currently slashing .295/.375/.514 and has an OPS of .889. If he stays red hot, I could see him moving up to Altoona very soon.
Outfielder Matthew Fraizer
Similar to Sabol, Fraizer was drafted in 2019 and started his career in West Virginia. He showed very little pop and had 38 strikeouts in 43 games. He was drafted in the 3rd round out of Arizona so there was always a thought the Fraizer could be more than ‘just a guy’ in the farm. He proved that this year by showing everybody he has what it takes to be a great player for the Pirates. What has impressed me the most this year with Fraizer is his BAbip. When he puts the ball in play, he has a .359 average which shows he is making some hard contact. Speaking of hard contact, he currently has home runs with 22 on the season.
He started the season off in Greesnboro and for the majority of the time he was the leadoff man. He slashed .314/.401/.578 and an OPS of .979 in 303 at bats. He was promoted to Altoona on August 5th and hasn’t slowed down. In just 21 games, he has slashed .314/.401./.578 and has an OPS of .979. These numbers are very identical to his lines in Greensboro which is a good sign. I am very excited to watch his growth as a player with the Curve. I truly believe he could be one of our top prospects in the future. MLB Pipeline has most recently ranked him 23rd in the Pirate farm system.