Pittsburgh Pirates Need to Continue the Youth Movement
The youth movement has finally begun for the Pittsburgh Pirates, now it is time to keep it going as the team prepares to embark on the summer months
Since Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted three of their most exciting prospects to the majors leagues. Then on Thursday night Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that super utility prospect Tucupita Marcano is going to be recalled, joining the recent youth movement.
Thus far the youth movement has provided positive results for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leading the way for this youth movement is Roansy Contreras. Contreras is not just the top pitching prospect in the organization, he is a consensus top 100 prospects in all of baseball who has shot up prospects boards in the last calendar year.
Tuesday night Contreras made his first start of the season for the Pirates, pitching 5 shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies. When you factor in three appearances out of the bullpen earlier this season, Contreras owns a 2.13 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 9.8% walk rate and a 29.4% strikeout rate in 12.2 innings pitched this season. Watching Contreras settle in as a budding ace this summer will be fun, while also creating excitement and optimism for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Yerry De Los Santos, who is arguably the organization’s top relief pitching prospects, joined the major league club on Sunday. This came after he posted a 1.72 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 3.4% walk rate and a 34.5% strikeout rate in 15.2 innings pitched at Triple-A. De Los Santos made his MLB debut on Wednesday afternoon striking out a pair in a scoreless 9th inning. Derek Shelton needs to continue to give De Los Santos opportunities, and should not be afraid to give him opportunities in high leverage situations.
Outfielder Cal Mitchell was promoted on Tuesday and quickly made an impact. Mitchell picked up his first career RBI on Tuesday night, then had two more hits including his first career double in Wednesday’s victory.
Speaking of young outfielder, Jack Suwinski must be talked about as well. While he’s hit for just a .188/.244/.413 slash line through his first 86 PAs, he has rarely looked overmatched at the plate. His .225 isolate slugging (ISO) is well above league average and his 5 home runs lead all National League rookies. He has been victimized by a batting average on balls in play of just .192, league average is .300.
Suwinski’s 36.8% hard hit rate and 12.3% barrel rate are both better than league average. He has also been worth a +3 Defensive Runs Saved in right field. As long as Suwinski continues to do what he has done the base hits will come and he will be a solid player for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Infielder Rodolfo Castro is another youngster who continues to push for extended playing time. Since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier this month the 23-year-old has served as the team’s primary shortstop.
Overall, Castro has hit for a .220/.319/.268 slash line to go with a 77 wRC+. However, he has started to heat up after a slow start. In his last 24 plate appearances he is 5-for-20 with a pair of doubles, he’s draw 3 walks and been hit by pitch.
Another encouraging sign from Castro is his 10.6% walk rate since being promoted. This is a great sign as poor walk rates have always plagued Castro throughout his professional career. Castro has also stolen 2 bases, while making some spectacular plays at shortstop. While Castro has made some errors at shortstop, it’s clear the talent and athleticism is there. Plus, moving him to his natural position of second base when Oneil Cruz is promoted would improve his defense.
All of this is just the beginning of the youth movement. In addition to Cruz, first baseman Mason Martin, outfielder Travis Swaggerty, and pitcher Cody Bolton should all join the major league roster this summer as well. Not to mention the work Michael Chavis has done with an extended look this season, as well as JT Brubaker looking like a starting pitcher who is turning a corner. While the Pirates may lose a lot of games this summer, if it’s done with the Young Bucs playing and giving a glimpse into the future that can making losing games much easier to swallow. Similar to the way things were in 2010 and 2011.