Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Hitting Prospects with Solid 2021 Seasons

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired 4 prospects in a trade last offseason.  Two of them are hitters who had good first seasons in the Organization.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired both infielder Maikol Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba from the New York Yankees in the Jameson Taillon swap. Between the two, Escotto is considered to have a higher ceiling. However, Smith-Njigba was definitely an intriguing piece in himself.

While Escotto may have the higher season Escotto didn’t have the greatest of seasons in 2021. He batted just .234/.354/.347 with a .344 wOBA, and 100 wRC+. He got on base at a strong rate and walked 14.2% of the time. However, this also came with a 30.4% strikeout rate and a .113 isolated slugging percentage.

Escotto projects to have above-average power though, so he could possibly tap into that as he gets older. This was only his age-19 campaign which could explain some of his numbers.  Obviously, younger players often can have swing and miss issues, especially a player like Escott.  He was nearly 2.5 years younger than the league average in Low-A.

Canaan Smith-Njigba is also a solid prospect. He spent almost his entire 2021 season at Double-A Altoona where he hit .274/.398/.406 slash, .364 wOBA, and 124 wRC+. Smith-Njigba was an on-base machine. He walked 16.9% of the time. But he only had a .132 ISO. He also did well at the Arizona Fall League where he had a .908 OPS with 7 extra-base hits and a 15:18 BB:K ratio.

Like Escotto though, he also projects to have above-average power. However, his overall athleticism gives him Major League upside. Smith-Njigba will start the year in Triple-A and will definitely get a shot at the Big Leagues sometime in 2022. Hopefully, he can put together a good spring training and make a good early impression.

Both players rank inside the Pittsburgh Pirates top 20 according to FanGraphs 2021 Report.  Smith-Njigba finished the season ranked as the 19th best prospect.  Escotto ranks just ahead of Smith-Njigba at #15 on the list.  This is really good to see obviously especially considering that the Bucs now have one of the deeper farm systems in Baseball.