Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Liover Peguero’s Ceiling as a Prospect


Liover Peguero is a top 100 prospect. His value has skyrocketed over the past year. But could the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect rise to become the league’s best shortstop prospect.

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates best prospects is shortstop Liover Peguero. He’s a consensus top 100 prospect who has been trending upward since Ben Cherington acquired him in the Starling Marte trade about two years ago. But by the end of the 2022 season, could the shortstop be the league’s best shortstop prospect?

Last season Peguero batted .270/.332/.444 with a .338 wOBA, and 108 wRC+. Now, I know, on the surface, those numbers aren’t going to jump off the page. One thing you have to remember a few things.

One, he was about three years younger than the average pitcher at High-A. This was his age-20 season and going into 2021, he had less than 100 plate appearances above Rookie-Ball. Two, he still showed improvements in power. He blasted 14 home runs with a career-best .174 isolated slugging percentage.

He also caught fire in the second half of the season. From July 25th through the end of the season Peguero batted .302/.359/.509 with a .374 wOBA, and 130 wRC+. Peguero’s power also increased as the season went on as he had a .209 ISO throughout this run. Plus he had a solid 8.2% walk rate, albeit with a 25.3% strikeout rate.

Peguero’s best tool is his hit tool. FanGraphs projects it to be a 60-grade weapon. Meanwhile, he has projected 55-grades for his run, fielding, and arm. The only question mark about Peguero is his power, but that shouldn’t be a huge concern. He has shown plenty of raw power. In 2019, his age-18 season, he already was hitting the ball with authority. Peguero had a 90 MPH exit velocity and a 42% hard-hit rate before he turned 20. Both of those would be above the major league average. Plus with his increasing power output in 2021, his power should be at least average or better moving forward.

Granted, Peguero has a very tall hill to climb when it comes to becoming the sport’s best shortstop prospect. Shortstop is usually a loaded position, mainly because many of the best infielders in the sport start their careers out at shortstop. Third basemen like Jose Ramirez, Justin Turner, Matt Chapman, Manny Machado, and second basemen including Jake Cronenworth, Robinson Cano, Ozzie Albies, and former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Stars Josh Harrison and Adam Frazier, all played shortstop in their amateur careers, or early into their pro careers. There are many former players like this as well.

One thing that will work in Peguero’s favor is that many notable shortstops will lose prospect status next season. Bobby Witt Jr. is the consensus top shortstop prospect, and he’ll be an early-season major league call-up. The Pittsburgh Pirates own Oneil Cruz is another early-season call-up. C.J. Abrahams, Jose Barrero, and Royce Lewis are all likely to lose prospect status at some point next season.

Reaching and surpassing the likes of Oswaldo Peraza, Anthony Volpe, Jordan Lawlar, or Kahlil Watson won’t be Peguero’s biggest hurdles. The Pirate shortstop prospect’s biggest hurdles will be the cream of the crop. That consists of Nolevi Marte, Marco Luciano, and Marcelo Mayer. Marte is a consensus top 10 prospect. Luciano is one of, if not the best power-hitting prospect. Many had Mayer going to the Pirates #1 overall in last year’s draft. Among that group, Marte will be a huge challenge for the Pirates’ prospect. He’s considered a guy who could reach five-tool potential with ease.

Orelvis Martinez, another top shortstop prospect in the Blue Jay system, and Marco Luciano will likely move to third base or a corner outfield spot. Both have solid gloves at shortstop, but project more as corner players because of their lack of range and body type that projects better as a corner player. Mayer doesn’t project as a shortstop long term because of his lack of range and speed.

What else does Peguero need to do to reach #1 shortstop status? The biggest thing would just be to continue to hit as he did in the second half of 2022. Peguero put himself on a 30-home run pace from the period we looked at earlier through the end of the season. He had a 130 wRC+ and an OPS above .850. That kind of production at Double-A would slingshot his prospect status upward. It would even boost his stock further if he cut down on his strikeouts a bit and improved his line drive and fly ball rates.

Next. Prospects Who Could Lose Rookie Status in 2022. dark

So can Liover Peguero become baseball’s best shortstop prospect? Yes; he has a great hit tool, well above average fielding with a strong arm, and steadily increasing power. He’s a potential five-tool player with every tool being above average, making him one of the most well-rounded middle infield prospects. But to overcome the likes of Mayer, Luciano, and especially Marte are going to be massive challenges for him.

But Peguero’s prospect stock has significantly risen over the past year. He started 2021 as a top 105-110 prospect and now ranks among the top 80-60. If he keeps improving, he’ll significantly raise his prospect stock again. At the very least, he should be a top 5 shortstop prospect by season’s end.