Two High-A Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects Performing Well

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

These two Pittsburgh Pirates prospects have been peforming exeptionally well for their High-A affiliate.

The Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, have already graduated many top-performing talents to Double-A. Catchers Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis were reunited recently. Nick Dombkowski and Tyler Samaniego have given the Curve two effective left-handed relievers.

Although Greensboro isn’t nearly as strong as it was at the start of the season, they still have some talent currently performing exceptionally well. Not every prospect gets off to a hot start to the season, and many have just started to turn things around this summer. The Grasshoppers have had a few guys like that, and today, I want to take a look at two of them.

Catcher Abrahan Gutierrez

Acquired at the 2021 trade deadline, all Abrahan Gutierrez has done since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates is hit. Gutierrez entered play on Thursday batting .262/.3364/.414. He is striking out 24.1% of the time but has a remarkable 12% walk rate. He also has ten home runs in 354 plate appearances, leading to a quality .357 wOBA and 114 wRC+.

Gutierrez has only gotten as the season has gone on. Since June, Gutierrez has been batting .274/.389/.463 with a .387 wOBA and 132 wRC+. Gutierrez has walked 14.1% of the time while having a sub-20% strikeout rate (19.7%). Plus, he is hitting for more pop with a .189 isolated slugging percentage.

Gutierrez’s 24.1% strikeout rate on the season might not be too impressive, but he’s steadily decreased his K’s throughout 2022. In April, his K% clocked in at 32%, and then 26.3% in May. He cut that down even further to just 17.2% in June, though he did see an uptick in July when he K’d in 24.4% of his plate appearances. Granted, his 18.6% walk rate was his best month by far. August has been rather kind to him so far, with his K% returning to 17.2%.

Gutierrez may not have a ton of power, but he makes a lot of contact. According to FanGraphs, his 81% contact rate from last year would have led all Low-A hitters if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. He’s a solid defensive catcher and is Rule 5 Draft eligible, so there is a high chance the Pittsburgh Pirates will add him to the 40-man roster.

Infielder Dariel Lopez

The Pittsburgh Pirates have their fair share of infield prospects. Dariel Lopez is one of them and has been hitting for a ton of power for the Grasshoppers. This is a massive step forward for the infield prospect. He’s always shown the raw power ability but had an isolated slugging percentage of just .144 and .136 in his first two professional seasons.

The Grasshopper infielder entered play on Thursday slashing .294/.332/.504 with 19 home runs in just 374 plate appearances. Lopez had just a dozen home runs in the first 604 plate appearances of his pro career. Lopez’s isolated slugging percentage has blossomed to .209. However, this has come with some downside. His walk rate is just 4.8%, and his strikeout rate has risen to 25.9%, both of which are career worsts.

Lopez has been red hot this summer. Since the outset of June, he’s slashing .332/.360/.556 with a .401 wOBA and 142 wRC+. His walk rate is still worryingly low at 3.8%, and his strikeout rate of 24.4% isn’t going to blow anyone away, but his ISO clocks in at .224. Post-All-Star Break, Lopez has a 211 wRC+, which means he’s 111% better than the league average hitter in this time.

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Lopez has mostly suited up for the hot corner this season but has ample playing time at both middle infield positions. He isn’t a great defender and is on the slower side. He’ll likely have to move to first base in the long run, but he has the offensive upside to stick at first. He receives 60-projected grades for his game power and raw power and a 50-projected grade for his hit tool, per FanGraphs.