Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Rodolfo Nolasco Heating Up This Summer

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates’ young outfield prospect Rodolfo Nolasco has been tearing up A-Ball pitching since the start of summer.

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates most underrated prospects is outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco. He’s younger at 20 years of age but one of their most powerful prospects. By the time he reaches the majors, you’re looking at a guy who could conceivably be a 40-homer threat. Now that’s a lot to ask and a few years away, but he has the ceiling to do it.

In 2021, Nolasco was one of the Pirates’ best hitters at the Florida Complex League, posting a .961 OPS, .436 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. He demolished eight home runs in just 164 total plate appearances, which comes out to about 30 in 600 plate appearances. His power was put on display through his .269 isolated slugging percentage.

But Nolasco started off the season cold. He had just a 57 wRC+ through his first 23 games and 100 plate appearances but has impressively risen that to 120 since then. Nolasco started to turn things around in mid-May but now is in full swing. Since the start of June, Nolasco has done nothing but hit.

His last 123 plate appearances yield a .277/.407/.594 line, 16.3% walk rate, and .317 isolated slugging percentage. Nolasco has hit eight home runs, which is the same amount he hit in 2021, but in 41 fewer trips to the plate. Between his walk rate and power output, Nolasco has a 1.001 OPS, .450 wOBA, and 183 wRC+. That wRC+ makes him 83% better than the league average batter at Low-A.

Nolasco took home his league’s player of the week award recently. Throughout his last eight games, Nolasco has collected 11 hits in just 36 total plate appearances. He also hit a home run in four straight games from July 7th through the 10th. He’s struck out just six times while having ten walks. That gives him a 326 wRC+ for the week.

Now there are some red flags. He has a .392 batting average on balls in play and a 34.1% strikeout rate. He is just over two years younger than the average pitcher in Bradenton’s league, but the high BAbip and K% are concerning. It isn’t a large sample size, but something to at least keep an eye on as the season goes on.

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In two or three years, Nolasco might be knocking on the door of the major leagues. He has the potential to be a potent middle-of-the-order bat, and his power has been on full display at Bradenton this summer. He’s still young, and a lot can happen, but it’s nice to see Nolasco turn things around after a rough go of things early in the season.