Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Five Set for MLB Breakout in 2023

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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) /

Nick Gonzales

Nick Gonzales is the only prospect here that does not have experience at Triple-A. However, given that 2023 will be the second base prospect’s age-24 campaign, he’ll certainly start the year at Indy but also take over second base sometime next season. The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have much in the way of the keystone right now, but Gonzales has all-star potential.

Last year, Gonzales batted .263/.383/.429 through 316 plate appearances. While Gonzales struck out 28.5% of the time, and his isolated slugging percentage fell from .262 last season to .166 last year, he still walked at a fantastic 13.6% rate and overall had a quality 127 wRC+. Another positive is he ended the campaign on a very high note.

Gonzales was on a hot streak before he landed on the injured list in late May and picked things back up when he was healthy. His last 211 plate appearances of the year saw him bat .302/.412/.512 with a .405 wOBA and 153 wRC+. He also improved his strikeout rate to 23.7% and walked at a 13.3% pace. Another positive is that Gonzales improved his walk rate after the injury. After striking out 32.8% of the time in April and May, his post-injury strikeout rate clocked in at just 22.7%. During the last month of his season (August 18th-September 18th), he cut it down even further to just 20.7%.

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Gonzales played some shortstop for Altoona, but only sparingly. He’s a second baseman through and through and probably will not see much time, if any, at the other middle infield position in the major leagues. It’s a surprise that Gonzales did not see any time at Triple-A in 2022, given how well he ended the season.