Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Matt Gorski has had one heck of a season so far, but now the question becomes where does he fit in the team’s long term outlook?
One of the most shocking breakouts from the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system this year has been from outfielder Matt Gorski. In previous seasons, he’s shown to have decent power and speed but never made enough contact nor got on base enough for either tool to be a threat. However, this year, he’s been one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. With a very crowded mix of outfielders in the upper minor leagues, one has to ask, where does Gorski fit into the Pirates’ long-term plans?
Gorski has hit .291/.373/.657 between Greensboro and Altoona. The outfielder has wholly ripped the cover off the ball. He already has 23 home runs in 264 plate appearances. Last year, he had 17 in 401 plate appearances.
Gorski’s isolated slugging percentage comes out to .366, ranking second among all minor leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances. Although he has still struck out 28.4% of the time, he’s upped his walk rate at 11%. With solid plate discipline, prodigious power numbers, and a strong ability to hit for contact, Gorski has a .438 wOBA and 170 wRC+.
Gorski is considered a decent outfield defender with a powerful arm that can play in all three outfield spots. Not only is he a quality defender in the outfield, but he can also play some first base. His long-term home is still the outfield, but it’s still nice to have a guy who can sub-in at first base every now and again.
Now the Pirates have a ton of long-term options for the outfield. Many of them have played in the majors this year. Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell, Travis Swaggerty, and Bligh Madris have all played at least one game with the Pirates. Suwinski looks like he’s earned a starting role, for now, showing quality defense in the outfield corners while leading the league in rookie home runs. Swaggerty has hit well at Triple-A and should be back up sooner rather than later. Not to mention that Ji-Hwan Bae has split his time between the middle infield and the outfield this season while being one of his level’s best hitters.
That kind of leaves Gorski in a tough spot. Reynolds has a spot locked down for the long term, and Suwinski has also earned a regular role, at least for now. If Madris, Swaggerty, Mitchell, or Bae breakthrough as a quality outfielder in the majors, the outfield situation that is already crowded becomes even more chaotic.
Then again, the Pittsburgh Pirates are approaching contention. There’s a decent chance the Bucs will deal some of their prospects to acquire controllable MLB players who have proven themselves at the big league level this upcoming off-season. The Pirates should add at least one starting pitcher and one reliever, and acquiring one or the other through trade is something they need to do.
Having too many good prospects is never a problem. Gorski’s power output is off the charts this year, and seeing him in the majors before the end of the 2022 campaign isn’t out of the question, especially if he keeps hitting anything as he has. The Pirates have already debuted five notable outfield prospects this year.
I think Gorski proves himself worthy of a spot on the Pittsburgh Pirates long-term. He can play the outfield and first base, giving him some flexibility on where the team could put him. It might be a bit of a waste of athleticism and arm strength to just stick him at first, but the Pirates don’t have a great answer there long term. If he can provide 20/20 speed and power while hitting .270 in the majors, he’ll find a place in future plans.