Now that players are in camp, workouts are revving up and Grapefruit League games are just around the corner, competition is picking up for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Entering spring training there were plenty of questions surrounding the roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was always going to lead to a very competitive camp in Bradenton with multiple players fighting for playing time at the same position.
With a young team that is still in the final stages of a rebuild the way the Pittsburgh Pirates are there is always going to be plenty of competition. Talking with the meeting on Tuesday manager Derek Shelton confirmed that there will be plenty of competition in Pirate camp the next few weeks.
While third base, center field, first base, and designated hitter should all be locked down, as well as catcher with Roberto Pérez, there should be competition all over the rest of the field. Looking around the diamond, where could we see some of the most competition?
The middle infield could see some of the fiercest competition on the field. Kevin Newman should start the season at shortstop, but with a big spring training could Oneil Cruz crack the Opening Day roster? It sure would be intriguing for the Pirates for a variety of reasons.
Second base might be the most heated competition on the entire roster. Hoy Park, Rodolfo Castro, Diego Castillo, and Michael Chavis should all be in the running for the position. There’s certainly a scenario where two or three of these players crack the Opening Day roster with Shelton playing the hot hand at second base throughout the season.
Park, however, could be behind the eight ball some as he is currently still in South Korea after testing positive for COVID. Tucupita Marcano could also factor into the middle infield situation, but the organization may want him to get some more at-bats at Triple-A first.
The corner outfield spots should also see plenty of competition. Ben Gamel and Anthony Alford may be the current front runners to start aside Bryan Reynolds, but former first-round pick Travis Swaggerty could also compete for an Opening Day roster spot. Ben Cherington has also stated that the Pirates would like to add for outfield help before the season begins.
The bullpen and starting rotation will also have plenty of arms competing for roster spots. There are likely four or five open spots in the bullpen, as well as multiple spots up for grabs in the starting rotation.
Free agent addition José Quintana will be in the rotation when the season begins and he will likely be joined by Miguel Yajure and Zach Thompson. Bryse Wilson, Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Wil Crowe, and Dillon Peters should find themselves competing for those other two rotation spots, with those who do not secure rotation spots likely competing for bullpen spots.
Anthony Banda, Aaron Fletcher, Sam Howard, Luis Oviedo, Duane Underwood Jr., Cody Bolton, and Yerry De Los Santos should be among those competing for the five bullpen spots that will go to pitchers not named Chris Stratton, David Bednar, or Heath Hembree. In addition to the outfield, Cherington has also expressed a desire to add more pitching before the regular season begins.
One other arm to watch will be top pitching prospect Roansy Contreras. Contreras dominated in the minor leagues last season and impressed in his lone MLB start in September. Could he crack the Opening Day rotation? It sure would be fun if he did.