Sunday afternoon Pittsburgh Pirates director of coaching and player development John Baker met with the media. Here’s a recap of some topics he discussed.
Sunday afternoon’s are typically media days at PNC Park. This past Sunday the director of coach and player development for the Pittsburgh Pirates, John Baker, met with the media. Let’s dive into some of the important topics that Baker discussed.
One of the top prospects that Baker discussed was the number one overall pick in this past July’s draft – catcher Henry Davis. Due to an oblique injury Davis saw his season end early. Prior to suffering his injury Davis hit for a .263/.375/.684 slash line to go with 2 home runs and a 162 wRC+ in 24 plate appearances with High-A Greensboro.
When asked about Davis, Baker state: “He was absolutely ready for the level that he was at, perhaps more quickly. It’s rare you get a 1-1 position player in the draft like that.” Baker added, “He’s intense in all the right ways.”
Baker’s remarks on Davis combined with his performance at High-A Greensboro makes it appear that the Pittsburgh Pirates may view Davis as being even more advanced as a hitter than they anticipated when they drafted him. It will be interesting to see how aggressive they are with Davis to start the 2022 season and to see if Davis starts the season with Double-A Altoona.
Baker added that the Pittsburgh Pirates would like Davis to play in the Arizona Fall League this offseason. If Davis goes to the AFL and hits well then odds would likely be high that he would indeed start 2022 with the Curve.
A pair of top pitching prospects were also identified by Baker as ones who could look to pitch this upcoming offseason.
This does not come as a surprise due to both Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure missing time this season with injuries. If Yajure was healthy he likely would have locked down a spot in the Pirate starting rotation earlier this summer and Contreras would be, at least, to Triple-A by now. With the Pittsburgh Pirates likely looking to have Yajure start the 2022 season in their MLB rotation and Contreras at Triple-A with an early season promotion to the Majors in their plans, it makes sense to get them extra work this offseason.
Slugging prospect Oneil Cruz was also a hot button topic with Baker. Baker compared Cruz to Kris Bryant. Why did he make this comparison? Well Baker, who came to the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Chicago Cubs, had this to say: “I spent the last six years with Kris. Oneil Cruz hits the ball harder, throws the ball harder and runs faster than Bryant does, and he plays shortstop.”
The Pirates continue to be high on Cruz, as well as liking his positional flexibility. Baker raved about players who can play multiple positions, stating that it “adds value.” “It makes it much easier to construct a Major League roster. You don’t have the thing they ran into with Cole Tucker here where Cole comes up to the Big Leagues and goes out to the outfield for the first time.”
It appears that this front office will continue to value positional flexibility moving forward. This will likely lead to prospects playing multiple positions as they rise through the Pirate minor league system.