Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: 5 Breakout Seasons From 2021

Sep 29, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59) delivers a pitch in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59) delivers a pitch in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Honorable Mentions

These, in my opinion, were the best breakout seasons throughout the minor leagues based on what the player did in the past compared to this year, how they improved their prospect stock, and what it could mean for their future impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Though I think some players deserve at least a mention.

Catcher Endy Rodriguez

Part of the Joe Musgrove trade, switch-hitting backstop Endy Rodriguez had a phenomenal season at Low-A Bradenton. His .410 wOBA and 140 wRC+ won him his league’s MVP. This was his first full season of playing time, but he did fantastic with the Mets’ short-season minor league teams, so that was the main reason he just missed out. He easily is the 6th player on this list.

Right-handed pitcher Michael Burrows

Burrows put up a quality 2.20 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and 0.90 WHIP at High-A Greensboro. Plus he had a strikeout rate above 30% (34.2%) and an outstanding 0.55 HR/9. He did struggled some with walks (10.5%) and his underlying xFIP of 4.36 was not as pretty as his ERA. Though the main reason he missed out was he pitched just 49 innings.

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Outfielder Lolo Sanchez

Sanchez had a big power breakout, blasting 17 home runs in 104 games. That’s 4 more than he hit during all of 2016-2019. Plus he had a career-best walk rate and kept strikeouts to a minimum. He’s also a good base runner, swiping 30 bags for the second time in a single season for the second time in his career.