Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Potential 2022 Lineup for Double-A Altoona

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Mar 1, 2021; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Nick Gonzales (81) poses during media day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports /

Second Base: Nick Gonzales

The most talented of the Grasshopper infielders will also make the jump to Altoona. That’s Nick Gonzales. Gonzales was the 7th overall pick in the 2020 draft. An over-slot selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gonzales was arguably the best pure hitter available, showing an ability to hit for power, contact, draw walks, and avoid strikeouts.

Gonzales couldn’t have asked for a better start to his pro career. In 369 plate appearances, Gonzales slashed .302/.385/.565 with a .405 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. He showed both power and base running prowess with 18 home runs and 7 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Now Gonzales did have a 27.4% strikeout rate, but he slowly decreased his strikeout rate throughout the season. Meanwhile, he offset that with a healthy 10.8% walk rate.

He did have a .388 batting average on balls in play, but he also had an line drive rate of 27.9% and fly ball rate higher than his ground ball rate (36.5% to 35.6%). A high BAbip is bound to happen with such a line-drive-oriented hitter who also hits more fly balls than ground balls. He struck out a little more than you’d like to see, but as stated earlier, he decreased it as the season went on. From August onward, he had a much better 23.3% strikeout rate.

Gonzales looks to be one of, if not the best second base prospect in the minor leagues. Heck, he should be one of the highest-end prospects in the sport. He has power, he can hit for contact, get on base, show solid defense up the middle, and has a decent ability to round the bases. The young infielder may even see the major leagues at the tail-end of the season if he stays healthy.