The Pittsburgh Pirates have a deep farm system, one of the best in the sport. Some of their prospects have gained a ton of stock over this past season, but which one gained the most?
Going into the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates had many very noteworthy prospects. The likes of Quinn Priester, Nick Gonzales, Miguel Yajure, Travis Swaggerty, and Liover Peguero were, across the board, their best prospects. But that was back in Feburary/March 2021. The farm system looks a whole lot different with prospects rising, as well as new, very talented ones being added. But among the prospects that entered the season as part of the team’s organization, which player has increased their stock the most?
The easy answer is Roansy Contreras. The right-hander wasn’t even considered the headliner of the Jameson Taillon deal, with many seeing another highly touted right-handed prospect, Miguel Yajure the most attractive piece. But he’s arguably surpassed Yajure in terms of rankings.
Now Contreras’ numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they sure are good. He posted a 2.65 ERA, 2.73 FIP, and .90 WHIP through 54.1 innings of work. He was limited due to an injury, but he still struck out 34.9% of batters faced, walked them at a rate of just 5.5%, and kept home runs to a rate of .83-per-9. Though he probably would have kept up a sub-.8-per-9 rate the entire season based on his batted ball rates. Contreras induced ground balls at a healthy 47.5%. However, he kept his line drive rate below 15% at an outstanding 12.5%-rate. His flyball rate was a bit high at 40%, but a quarter of those were infield flies.
Though the biggest reason Contreras has risen so fast through prospect rankings is his increased velocity and movement. The right-hander averaged out in the 96-98 MPH range. He previously topped out at 96 MPH. Not only that, but his breaking ball has much more movement. Going into the year, both had above average spin, and spin only increases with velocity, so he probably gained a few RPM as well. Plus his change-up has always been considered above average. Considering his spin rate and velocity, Contreras’ fastball likely now sits in the 60-70 grade range.
At the beginning of 2021, Conteras was only a 40+ FV prospect by FanGraphs’ rankings. But now ranks as their 54th best prospect. That’s a very big jump, going from what originally looked like a mid-to-back of the rotation starting pitcher, to a guy with the potential to be a low-tier #1 starting pitcher.
Contreras had the biggest jump, but among the position players, shortstop prospect Liover Peguero has risen the fastest. Now going into the season, Peguero was already considered a borderline top 100 prospect. He was listed by MLB Pipeline as a guy who just missed out, and as the 119th best prospect per FanGraphs. However, both sources have him as a top 100 prospect now.
It’s for a good reason as well. Peguero has had a solid season at High-A Greensboro. He’s hit .267/.329/.444 with a .337 wOBA, and 106 wRC+. Peguero has also slammed 14 long balls and has stolen 26 bags in 87 games and 402 plate appearances.
Now, are those numbers going to win him the MVP at High-A? No, but they’re definitely impressive considering that he’s in his age-20 season and is putting up slightly above average numbers at the level. Most players of his age are either in the Florida complex leagues or Low-A Ball. Not just a step away from being considered in the upper minor leagues.
Right now, FanGraphs ranks Peguero as their 71st best prospect, a 48-player jump from where he started at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline has him at 88. FanGraphs views his best tool as his hit tool, which is a near-elite to elite 60-projected. He’s also considerably fast but will slow down to just an above-average runner by the time he reaches the big leagues. Still, he has a good enough glove and strong arm to stick at shortstop. The power can be a bit fringy, but he’s added on some bulk, reaching the 6-foot, 200-pound mark (stands at 6-1, 200). Given that he’s shown some decent pop at High-A, he could further develop his power. If he can get the ball in the air more, he could easily be a 15-18 home run threat.
Overall, both Contreras and Peguero gained a whole lot of ground in terms of prospect rankings and their prospect stock. Pretty good considering that both were acquired in trades and weren’t very high ranking at the time of the trade. I think it goes to show that the Pirates know what they are doing and know what kind of prospect they’re getting in return, both in trades and in drafts. Plus while they gained the most ground, they were far from the only ones. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if guys such as Endy Rodriguez, Carmen Mlodzinski, Diego Castillo, and Rodolfo Nolasco could move up a few spots on prospect ranking.