Infielder Aaron Shackelford
After Matt Gorski and Endy Rodriguez, Aaron Shackelford was the Pirates’ third-best power hitter in their minor leagues last season. Shackelford also joined Alvarez in the 20-home run club at Altoona last season, and with him turning 26 on October 16th, Shackelford put his name in contention for first base time next season.
Shackelford batted .239/.314/.499 in 443 plate appearances for Altoona. He hit 26 home runs, making it the second season in a row he had at least 20 dingers, and put up a .249 ISO, which just Gorski and Rodriguez outpaced. On top of that, he had a solid 9% walk rate, though this did come with the caveat of a 28.9% strikeout rate. Although the strikeout rate was a tad high, Shackelford finished the year with a .351 wOBA and 111 wRC+ for Altoona. Shackelford was promoted to Triple-A at the end of the year but only appeared in four games.
Shackelford was not your typical draft selection. Selected out of the NAIA Master’s University, Shackelford was drafted as a third baseman. But in the last two years, he’s mostly worked at first base and the keystone. He also played a few games in right field this year, though it was just 60 innings and seven games.
The first base situation in the major leagues is not pretty, and that might be an understatement. Currently, the Pirates only have one first baseman listed on their depth chart, and that’s Zack Collins. Given Shackelford’s strong season at Altoona, he deserves at least a shot to secure some major league playing time in Spring Training. Shackelford has arguably surpassed Mason Martin in terms of readiness, so why not see if the late-round NAIA alumni can make something of a major league career?