Pittsburgh Pirates: Way-to-Early Look at End of 2023 Roster

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 03: Oneil Cruz #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Miguel Andujar #26 after Cruz's walk-off walk during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on October 3, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 3-2. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 03: Oneil Cruz #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Miguel Andujar #26 after Cruz's walk-off walk during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on October 3, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 3-2. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 16: Nick Gonzales #75 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a picture during the 2022 Photo Day at LECOM Park on March 16, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 16: Nick Gonzales #75 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a picture during the 2022 Photo Day at LECOM Park on March 16, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Second Base

At the top of the depth chart, we’ll likely see Nick Gonzales. Gonzo was the Pittsburgh Pirates first-round pick in 2020 and has performed very well throughout his minor league career. This year, he spent the season at Double-A Altoona, where he slashed .263/.387/.429 with a .365 wOBA and 127 wRC+. That might be a step down from what he produced with Greensboro last year, but an injury slowed down Gonzales in 2022. When he came back healthy, he demolished the ball.

Gonzales was on fire from early August through the end of the season, batting .287/.404/.513 with a .403 wOBA and 150 wRC+. He walked at a 13.5% rate while having a 22.7% strikeout rate. He crushed three home runs in 141 plate appearances but racked up 13 doubles, leading to a .226 isolated slugging percentage. Another plus is he only had a 20.7% strikeout rate through his final month of 2022.

Gonzales will likely get the most reps at second base if he is healthy, but Ji-Hwan Bae also may see a decent amount of time at the keystone, especially at the start of the year. The South Korean prospect collected 11 hits and walked twice in 37 plate appearances. He was also three-for-three in stolen base attempts. But if the Pirates feel Bae would be better served in the outfield to start 2022, they could also put Tucupita Marcano at 2B. Marcano only had a .562 OPS, .249 wOBA, and 57 wRC+ in his 177 plate appearance sample size this year but showed plenty of talent at Double-A and Triple-A.

Rodolfo Castro may also see time at second base, though I consider him more of a designated hitter option in the long run. Hoy Park and Diego Castillo are two other utility men who are options at second base, but on the major league depth chart, you’re probably looking at some mix of Gonzales, Bae, Marcano, and Castro.

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