Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Surprising Prospects This Season

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 06: Manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches the game in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 06, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 06: Manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches the game in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 06, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Aaron Shackelford

At this point, I’d argue that Aaron Shackelford has surpassed Mason Martin in terms of who deserves a first chance at the major league level. Shackelford didn’t have a great 2021 campaign. He hit just .210/.290/.438 with a .313 wOBA and 91 wRC+. He had a pedestrian 8.6% walk rate and struck out 31.6% of the time. Of the few positives, he had 22 home runs and a .228 isolated slugging percentage.

As Shackelford headed into the 2022 campaign, he was expected just to be the first baseman for Altoona and fill a roster spot. There was little fanfare for Shackelford in a stacked infield with Nick Gonzales, Liover Peguero, and Jared Triolo. But the infielder has done well for Altoona, improving in several areas.

In 397 plate appearances, Shackelford is batting .250/.323/.528. He’s hit 25 home runs in 24 fewer plate appearances to 2021. His ISO has risen fifty points to .278. His walk rate has remained relatively constant at 8.8%, but he has seen a slight decrease in his strikeouts, getting it below 30% to 29.5%. He’s even shown some base running ability, swiping ten bases in 12 attempts. In total, Shackelford has a .365 wOBA and 126 wRC+.

Shackelford has primarily played first base this year but has also seen an ample amount of time at second base. He played a decent bit of third base in 2019 but has just 4.1 innings logged at the hot corner since. Shackelford may not appear on many prospect radars. Still, at this point, you have to consider protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft if given the opportunity and seeing what he can do at the major league level next season.

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