Pittsburgh Pirates: It’s Time to Give Ji-Hwan Bae an Opportunity


Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Ji-Hwan Bae has demolished Triple-A pitching the last month-plus. It’s time to give him a shot in the majors.

Everyone wants to see Oneil Cruz get to the bigs. He’s been crushing Triple-A pitching the last month of playing time. He’s ready for his shot, but a guy who also deserves a look right now is Ji-Hwan Bae. The Pittsburgh Pirates need to get Bae up here and see what he can do.

This season Bae has hit .289/.368/.476 with a .372 wOBA and 126 wRC+. Bae has started to hit for power. He has a .187 isolated slugging percentage and five home runs in less than 200 plate appearances. Last year, he had seven at Double-A but in 365 trips to the plate. Bae has also been an on-base machine, walking at an 11.6% rate.

His power might be out of the ordinary for him, given he’s never posted an ISO above .150, but the on-base and walk rate is nothing new. Bae had a 10.4% walk rate with Altoona last year and an 11.3% walk rate the previous season. His ability to draw walks at an above-average rate, put up good batting averages every year, and have elite-level speed make him a perfect leadoff man.

Bae has only gotten better as the season has gone on. The infield prospect has hit .327/.418/.584 since April 27th. He’s had precisely the same amount of walks as strikeouts, with a 19:19 ratio. Bae’s isolated slugging percentage has a .257 ISO in this time as well. All told, he has a .432 wOBA and 164 wRC+.

Bae has played a little bit of everywhere this year. He has primarily served as the Indians’ second baseman but has seen time at shortstop and center field. The Pirates should have no problem finding him playing time. They’ve been playing Rodolfo Castro at shortstop a decent amount this year, a position he clearly isn’t the best at. Bae could also platoon with Diego Castillo at second base, given that Castillo has hit lefties very well but has struggled against right-handers.

dark. Next. Potential Catcher at No. 4

The Pittsburgh Pirates could use the boost in offense, especially considering that they started Yu Chang at designated hitter during the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ve been hit by the injury bug a decent amount, and the offense has taken a hit. Bae deserves it just as much as Cruz, and it’s time to give him a shot while he’s in the midst of a hot streak.