Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Triple-A Awards Announced

Aug 2, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Shea Spitzbarth (66) delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh inning at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Shea Spitzbarth (66) delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh inning at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /
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Friday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their year end awards for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians

Sunday afternoon both the Major League and Triple-A season will end when both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Indianapolis Indians play their final game of the season. With the minor league season set to come to a complete end for the Pirates on Sunday it is minor league award season.

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their season end award winners at the Triple-A level. These awards including naming the team’s MVP, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Silver Slugger winners.

Of these four players two of them, Shea Spitzbarth and Hunter Owen, saw MLB time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. Spitzbarth posted a 2.21 ERA to go with a 4.19 FIP, 11.0% walk rate, 21.5% strikeout rate and 0.77 HR/9 with the Indians. These results came across 46.2 innings pitched in 42 relief appearances.

Spitzbarth was added in the minor league portion of last winter’s Rule 5 Draft. Spitzbarth made his MLB debut with the Pirates on August 2nd. In 4 outings with the Pirates this season he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, a walk, a home run, 2 walks and a strikeout in 4 innings pitched.

As for Owen, he smashed 20 home runs to go with 11 doubles, a .216 isolated slugging (ISO) and he slugged .451 in 366 plate appearances with the Indians. The super utility man made his MLB debut on May 5th. While he spent less than a week in the Majors, he did accumulate 5 PAs during that time. Unfortunately, Owen was 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts.

Christian Bethancourt was a feel good story in the Pirate farm system this season. The one time top catching prospect, turned pitcher turned hitter again, signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 1st. In 92 games with Indy he accumulated 363 PAs while catching, playing the outfield and even pitching.

Bethancourt hit for a .281/.339/.468 slash line to go with a 15 wRC+ and 14 home runs. In total he collected 33 extra base hits for the Indians. Bethancourt also struck out a batter while pitching 2 scoreless innings.

Last but certainly not least there is the 2021 Indianapolis Indians Rookie of the Year – outfielder Bligh Madris. In 103 games played with Indy the left-handed hitting Madris hit for a strong .270/.350/.427 slash line in his first 381 PAs at the Triple-A level.

Madris hit 9 home runs, 23 doubles, picked up a triple and posted a 108 wRC+. He walked at a strong 10.5% rate while only striking out at a better than league average rate of 18.1% There was little than Madris did not do well for the Indians.

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Of these four players Madris is the one who has the highest ceiling of the bunch. He has always hit well in the minors, with plus power, to go with a good walk rate and on-base skills. Madris projects as a strong fourth outfielder at worst. Look for Madris to make his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates at some point during the 2022 season.

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