Pittsburgh Pirates utility prospect Tucupita Marcano is making a case for himself to be a long-term piece of the team’s roster.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made a fairly notable trade at the 2021 deadline, sending all-star starter second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres for three prospects. Of those three, Tucupita Marcano was ranked the highest at the time. Despite skipping three levels of the minor leagues before making his Major League debut last season, Marcano is making a case to be a long-term piece of the Pirates’ roster.
Marcano has been a solid hitter this season, batting .269/.321/.410. While those numbers might not jump off the page, they still accumulate to a .320 wOBA and 106 wRC+. It is a small sample size of just 87 plate appearances, but Marcano is nonetheless producing above-average numbers at the major league level with minimal and inconsistent time played in the upper-level minor leagues.
Marcano has hit well throughout the upper levels of the minor this season. In 193 plate appearances (which does include the rehab game at Bradenton), Marcano is hitting .319/.417/.475. He’s showing off his trademark plate discipline, walking at an impressive 15% rate while having a sub-20% strikeout rate (18.7%). However, the most significant part of his numbers is hitting for some power. His .157 isolated slugging percentage is a single-season career best for the utility prospect. All told, his minor league production has led to a .394 wOBA and 143 wRC+.
Marcano has always been known for his bat-to-ball skill and plate discipline. His athleticism has been shown off at both middle infield positions as well as the outfield. He’s graded out as an above-average defender at the keystone with +2 Outs Above Average, as well as the outfield with +2 Defensive Runs Saved. He is extremely fast as well, ranking in the top 88th percentile of sprint speed, clocking in at 28.8 feet/second (league average sprint speed is 27 feet/second). That kind of speed mixed with an average or better on-base percentage is how the Pittsburgh Pirates can manufacture a ton of runs.
The Pirates already have a ton of young and talented middle infielders. Nick Gonzales is coming back from injury, Oneil Cruz has shown off a ton of talent in the major leagues, Liover Peguero also is another potential long-term middle infield option, and Ji-Hwan Bae is trying to bash down the door to the majors. Not to mention the newest addition to the future of the middle infield, Termarr Johnson.
Marcano might not be the best prospect the Pirates have to offer, but he can play a key role in the future. The Pirates have seen how important guys like Josh Harrison and Adam Frazier have been to winning. Marcano walks more often than either of them while bringing similar power and versatility. Right now, the Pirates should be giving the 22-year-old everyday reps, whether that be in left field or second base. As we head into the final months of 2022, Marcano could end up being a surprise contributor.