Following a strong minor league season, utility man Ji-Hwan Bae made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in late September and turned heads
Every season there are players that fans of baseball teams want to see promoted from the minor leagues and given an opportunity in the majors. For fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of these players during the 2022 season was utility man Ji-Hwan Bae.
Bae started the 2022 season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. This was Bae’s first taste of competition at the Triple-A level. With the Indians, all the left-handed hitting Korean native did was hit.
The 23-year-old Bae, who started the season just 22-years-old, hit for a .289/.362/.430 slash lien to go with a 112 wRC+ in 473 plate appearances at Triple-A. Bae drew walks at a strong 10.1% rate, while striking out in just 16.9% of his trips to the plate. He also stole 30 bases during his time with the Indians.
A middle infielder by trait, Bae played all over the field in 2022. He played third base, second base, shortstop, left field, and center field at Triple-A. In the majors, Bae played second base, center field and left field.
Bae’s performance in the minors led to many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates spending much of the season calling for him to be promoted to the majors. The struggles of the Pirate offense only fueled these calls further.
In late September, Pirate fans finally got their wish. Bae would go on to accumulate the first 37 PAs of his MLB career. In this 37 PAs Bae drew walks at a 5.4% clip, struck out at a 16.2% rate, and hit for a .333/.405/.424 slash line to go with a 139 wRC+.
It may have been a very small sample size but Bae did not disappoint in his MLB time last season. Moving forward, the young super utility player could become a huge part of the core of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Looking ahead to 2023, there is no reason for Bae to not start the season in the majors. To be honest, Bae should be playing every day and batting leadoff for the Pirates when the 2023 season begins.