Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects Who Could Crack Opening Day Roster

Indianapolis centerfielder Travis Swaggerty hit a leadoff home run to start the game against Iowa at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.20210504 Iowacubs
Indianapolis centerfielder Travis Swaggerty hit a leadoff home run to start the game against Iowa at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.20210504 Iowacubs /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 09: A Pittsburgh Pirates hat, glove and bat sit in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 9, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Infielder Diego Castillo

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Diego Castillo, along with Hoy Park, from the New York Yankees in exchange for reliever Clay Holmes prior to the trade deadline in July. All Castillo did last season, with both the Yankee and Pirate organizations, is hit.

Castillo accumulated 370 PAs at the Double-A level hitting for a .278/.344/.485 slash line to go wit ha 124 wRC+. He also flashed tremendous contact skills as he struck out just 11.8% of the time.

This performance earned him a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis for the month of September. With the Indians, Castillo continued to hit. In his 70 PAs Castillo impressed by hitting for a .278/.414/.500 slash line and a 146 wRC+. While he strikeout rate did climb to 18.6% at Triple-A, that is still better than league average and was accompanied by an identical 18.6% walk rate.

Like Swaggerty, Castillo is a Rule 5 eligible. Also like Swaggerty, Castillo would appear to be a slam dunk to be added to the 40-man roster. Not only did his performance this past season garner that, also, odds are, knowing his Rule 5 status the Pittsburgh Pirates would not have acquired him in the Holmes trade without the intentions of adding him to the 40-man.

Castillo can play third base, shortstop and second base. The Pirate middle infield has plenty of question marks entering this offseason. Who will be at second base? Following another abysmal offensive season, will Kevin Newman return? Will the Pirates add middle infield help?

These question marks work into Castillo’s favor in his efforts to crack the Opening Day roster. Unless the Pirates make multiple middle infield additions this offseason the right-handed hitting Castillo should enter the spring with a legitimate shot to make the Opening Day roster. Hell, it may not be out of the equation for Castillo to get a start at second base, not just make the roster.

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