Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 2022 International Prospect Off to a Hot Start

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Pirates have a very young but promising talent in the Dominican Summer League that you might not know of yet. His name is Axiel Plaz and he is turning heads so far this season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were busy this past offseason signing some of the top international free agents on the market. Two that come to mind are outfielder, Tony Blanco Jr. and shortstop Yordany De Los Santos. Both of these players were listed on the MLB Pipeline’s Top International Free Agent list. There is however one prospect that was not on that list, but has proven to be a good signing so far this season. His name is Axiel Plaz from Venezuela.

Axiel Plaz was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates back on January 15th, 2022. He had signing bonus worth up to $350,000. This was the 6th highest singing bonus given out by the Pirates. Plaz was one of the youngest prospects signed at the age of just 16 years old. The other international free agents that were given out singing bonuses to this caliber were, Yordany De Los Santos (1.2 million), Tony Blanco Jr. (900k), Pitterson Rosa (700k), Hung-Leng Chang (500k), and Eduardo Oviedo (450k).

So far this season Plaz has played in 20 games with the DSL Pirates Gold and has produced on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he has already thrown out 11 runners and has a .974 fielding percentage in 117 innings. To go along with that, he also has 134 putouts and 15 assists with just 2 errors on the year. He does have 4 passed balls, but for a 16 year old there will be some things he needs to improve on.

Offensively, Plaz has been even better. In 46 at bats, he has 21 hits with 20 RBIs. Of those 21 hits, 12 of them have been for extra bases including 3 home runs. He also has 7 walks on the season which shows he has good discipline at the plate for such a young age. He is currently slashing .457/.545/.870 with and OPS of 1.415.

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Plaz still has a ways to go, but what the Pirates are seeing so far this season is very encouraging to the organization. If he continues to hit like this, he may wind up being the top catching prospect in the system before too long.