Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Cherington’s Yearly Report Card

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Apr 28, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes batting practice from the dugout before the game against the Kansas City Royals at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /


The biggest testament to the development team Cherington has put together is the Pirates’ two big pitching prospects; Quinn Priester and Roansy Contreras. The former was getting praise already at the alternative site in 2020, but it was mainly his work at the instructionals that led to him getting a ton of praise. He had a solid season at High-A Greensboro and is considered a consensus top 60 prospect. We already talked a little bit about Contreras earlier. He had a big spike in velocity, improved movement on his breaking ball, and did it all without losing any command/control ability.

Another big breakout that could potentially be contributed to the development team is outfielder Matthew Fraizer. Fraizer went into the season as a light-hitting outfield prospect but ended up having a 149 wRC+ while blasting 23 home runs in 499 plate appearances. Another breakout at High-A came from Jared Triolo who had a 124 wRC+.

Travis Swaggerty looked quite solid at Triple-A before getting injured and Oneil Cruz even made it to the major leagues this year. Cruz also was putting up video game-like numbers at Triple-A and continued to mash the ball when he was promoted to the major league squad.

The middle infield combo of Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero took strides forward throughout the 2021 season. The two may potentially be the team’s long-term double-play combo of the future. So it’s good to see them improve over the course of the season.

Another very young player in Rodolfo Nolasco had a great time at the FCL. Though many of the other younger players struggled. Nick Garcia, Hudson Head, Santiago Florez, Tahnaj Thomas, and Alex Mojica all had their fair share of struggles this year.

Grade: B+
While the more established and higher talent prospects took steps forward, some of the younger players did not excel when given the rigors of a full season. Though that may be a side effect from taking a full minor league season of play off and not having very much experience of full-season play.