Rum Bunter’s Top Ten Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: End of 2022

5 of 11
Pittsburgh Pirates
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) /

Number Seven – 2B/SS Nick Gonzales
Pre-season Ranking: #3

At number seven, we have second base prospect Nick Gonzales. Gonzales fell some from the pre-season, but mainly to no direct fault of his own. He still had a good season, including a strong second half with Altoona, and projects to eventually take over the keystone sometime in the next year for the Pirates.

Gonzales finished out the 2022 season with a .264/.382/.429 triple-slash line. Gonzales only hit seven home runs in 316 plate appearances but also drew walks at a 13.6% rate. The downside is that it came with a 28.5% strikeout rate. But overall, Gonzales still had a quality .811 OPS, .365 wOBA, and 122 wRC+.

Gonzales also got off to a slow start to the campaign. But through his last 211 trips to the plate, the second base prospect had an OPS well over .900 at .927, a wOBA of .405, and a wRC+ clocking in at 153. He struck out in just 23.7% of his plate appearances while still carrying a robust 13.3% walk rate. Once Gonzales came off the injured list in early August, he cut his K% down even further to 22.7%, then again in the year’s final month with a 20.7% strikeout rate.

Altoona played Gonzales at shortstop for 115.1 innings this year, but it’s not a position he’ll see a ton of time at in the major leagues, outside of an occasional spot start. He’s a decent defensive second baseman with more than enough speed to play up the middle. If Gonzales can continue to cut down on the strikeouts, he could be a real National League Rookie of the Year candidate next season.