Entering the offseason second base is a question mark for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Who are some of their options for the position when the 2022 season begins?
Since the trade of Adam Frazier, the Pittsburgh Pirates have used a mix of Kevin Newman, Hoy Park, Michael Chavis, and Cole Tucker at second base. Overall in the organization second base is one of the deepest positions in their system, along with shortstop. But they’ll need to find a regular answer at the position, at least to start the 2022 season.
On the 40-man roster
Newman has the most Major League experience on the 40-man roster out of their second base options. Newman has only hit .223/.261/.310 with a .248 wOBA, and 53 wRC+ this year which is beyond awful. While he did get better as the season went on, a 76 wRC+ since the beginning of August isn’t a huge uptick in performance. Though Newman is having a Gold Glove caliber season at shortstop with +7 DRS, a +6.8 UZR/150, and in the top 81st percentile of outs above average.
A former first-round pick, Tucker is another potential option to start up the middle. Granted, Tucker hasn’t had a great season either. He’s only hit .214/.287.286 with a .257 wOBA, and 59 wRC+ in just 94 plate appearances. Quite frankly, he’s in DFA limbo. Though throughout the month of September, he’s batting .263/.317/.351 with a .292 wOBA, and 82 wRC+. Not good by any means, but not the worst numbers ever, especially if he can provide plus defense up the middle.
Acquired at the trade deadline for Austin Davis, Chavis represents another potential second base option. The former Red Sox top prospect has an outstanding 139 wRC+ at Indianapolis this year. Plus he went 8-for-22 with a home run and a pair of doubles in his first 22 plate appearances in a Pirate uniform. Given that Chavis really hasn’t been given a full season to prove himself yet, there’s a good chance that he opens the season as one of the Pittsburgh Pirates starting infielders.
Tucupita Marcano also can not be ruled out. Highly praised by experts for his high-end barrel-to-ball skills and hand-eye coordination, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Marcano as the headliner of the Frazier trade. Marcano did solid at Triple-A for the Padres, showing off that impressive hand-eye coordination. While he did get off to a slow start in an Indians uniform, he’s seemed to pick things up in September.
Marcano already got a taste of big-league action this season but you should take his numbers in the majors with a grain of salt if that. You have to remember Marcano just turned 22 earlier in September. Most players his age are at High-A, or even lower. He also skipped three complete levels in the minor leagues. He quite literally made the jump from Low-A (the level the Bradenton Marauders are at) to the Major Leagues. No time at High-A, no time at Double-A, not even a single plate appearance at Triple-A. Plus he only appeared in 50 plate appearances. While not a great 50 plate appearances, it’s still just 50.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also acquired Park in a deadline deal as one of the two pieces acquired in the Clay Holmes trade. When the Pirates acquired Park, he was batting .327/.475/.567 with 10 home runs in 223 plate appearances with the Yankee Triple-A team. Overall, Park had a .452 wOBA, and 180 wRC+. While the power was very unexpected, the high walk rate and low strikeout rate were not. He had the same amount of strikeouts and walks, 46 to be exact.
Park has only stepped to the plate 127 times with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but only has a .267 wOBA and 65 wRC+. He is walking at a strong 11.4% rate while showing some solid defense at second base. Park will probably return on the Major League roster to start 2022 but in a utility role. He’s also seen time at shortstop, third base, and all three outfield spots.
Last but not least we have Rodolfo Castro. Castro broke a Major League record, hitting 5 home runs for his first 5 MLB hits. Castro got off to a blistering hot start at Double-A, having a 138 wRC+ before being given an extended look in the bigs. But once he returned to Double-A on July 18th, Castro couldn’t hit the ball to save his life. He completely cratered, having a -4 wRC+ from that point up through September 19th. Though he was recently promoted to Triple-A where he’s gotten off to a strong 3-for-8 with a pair of home runs.