Pittsburgh Pirates: Minor League Promotions, Injury News & More

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had some good news and not-so-good news over the last week, and of course, we are going to mention Gregory Polanco

Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Diego Castillo recently earned a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis. Castillo was traded along with Hoy Park from the New York Yankees in the Clay Holmes deal, which occurred a few days before the trade deadline in July.

Diego has been playing well all season and won Double-A Northeast Player of the Week and Player of the Month in June. So far this season the 23-year-old is batting .277/.343/.825 with 16 HR, 49 RBI, 9 stolen bases, and is making better contact compared to the last MiLB season.

Gregory Polanco is officially no longer a Pirate, it is an end of the 2013-2015 playoff era. After he was waived and not claimed, he remained on the active roster then was DFA’d a week later and signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays a few days following the demotion. Polanco, 29, was inconsistent this year and the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to cut ties with him to open up the right field position. Derek Shelton told reporters that this “was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve done.”

The right field position is currently being filled by Anthony Alford, but it most likely isn’t permanent. The position could belong to Travis Swaggerty next year, as 2022 is his ETA and he isn’t getting any younger. Swaggerty cracking the Opening Day roster next season should not be ruled out.

Utility man Michael Chavis landed on the 10-day IL on August 31st with a right elbow strain, Park was recalled to take his spot on the roster. Chavis played 6 games in August and was 8-of-22 with a home run and 2 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller was promoted by the Pirates from Triple-A Indianapolis when rosters expended this past Wednesday. During the two-game series against the White Sox, Miller made his first MLB appearance since May 31st. The long-time starter turned reliever struck out a batter while pitching a scoreless inning. Miller will pitch out of the bullpen for the Pirates in September and serve from the bullpen, like Chad Kuhl.

Henry Davis‘s first season in the Pirates’ organization has been cut short due to his oblique injury. The thought is that it will take 4-6 weeks to heal and by then the MiLB season will be long done. Davis clobbered several home runs throughout High-A Greensboro and FCL Pirates this season and will be the top prospect for fans to keep their eye on next year.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 first-round draft pick Nick Gonzales just finished off a red-hot month of August. Gonzales had a 2 and 3 home run games on back-to-back games to end his crazy August. Nick slashed .364/.419/.757 with 10 HR, 28 RBI, a stolen base, and drew 9 walks over 24 games. Gonzales is Pittsburgh’s 4th ranked prospect and is the MLB’s 2nd ranked second baseman, as well as the MLB’s 66th ranked prospect and is deserving of a promotion after the season he has had.

Another Pittsburgh prospect had an incredible performance in August. Righty Quinn Priester threw nine consecutive strikeouts and 13 in total, he also casually threw 6 innings of one-hit ball and obviously got credited with the win. Priester has a strong chance of starting next season with the Double-A team as he will be 21 and has a 6-3 record and carries a 2.86 ERA over 17 starts for the 2021 season.

The Pirates’ 6th ranked prospect is back from rehab and threw in his first Double-A game since June. Roansy Contreras threw 2 innings and allowed one run and two hits while tossing 3 strikeouts. Contreras has been nursing a forearm injury and there was skepticism if he would be able to return to the mound before the season is over. Contreras may start next season either in Triple-A because of his age and his track record, or he could remain Double-A for a few starts then go over to Indianapolis because he missed a chunk of the season.

The Pirates made a surprising move a few days ago by firing hitting coach Rick Eckstein. Eckstein was only hired in 2018 and although he changed some hitter’s careers, he ultimately didn’t live up to what the organization wanted out of him. Over the last 2 years, the Pirates have hit .233 and .220 with him as the hitting coach, but in his first two years, the team hit .254 and .265, so the question is what changed? Someone had to be blamed for Pittsburgh’s 48-85 season so far and since it is possible that the Pirates bat near the .220 mark, he got the boot. This upcoming offseason just became more interesting now that Pittsburgh needs to name a hitting coach.

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Phillip Evans returned to the Pirates on Thursday, and Max Kranick, who started on Wednesday night, was optioned back to the minors to make room for Evans on the active roster. Evans has spent the last few days on the taxi squad and the last month in the minors. Evans is a streaky player who could see some extended playing time with Chavis on the IL and Hayes battling a hand issue. If Evans struggles, however, he could return to the taxi squad when Chavis returns from the IL.