Center Field – Ji-Hwan Bae
You know the Pirates see something in Ji-Hwan Bae if they were confident enough in moving Reynolds to left field in the final week of the season to give Bae some reps up the middle. Bae’s primary position is second base and shortstop. However, in the last two seasons, he has seen an increasing amount of time in the outfield.
Bae did quite well in his brief major league promotion. In 37 plate appearances, Bae collected 11 total hits, three of which were doubles. He didn’t hit a home run and only drew two walks, but he struck out just six times and was three-for-three in stolen base attempts.
Bae did well at Triple-A this year. In 473 trips to the dish, Bae batted .289/.362/.430. His .141 isolated slugging percentage isn’t great, but he’s slowly seen it rise over the past two seasons. Bae has always been known for his plate discipline, and he drew walks at a 10.1% rate with a K% of just 16.9%. Bae uses his ability to reach base at a healthy rate to swipe a ton of bases. He was 30-for-38 in stolen base attempts, marking the second season of his pro career he’s taken 30+ bases.
Bae has done nothing but hit, and he’s a prime lead-off candidate. He gets on base a ton, hits for average, and steals bases. He’s the kind of guy you want hitting in front of Bryan Reynolds and Oneil Cruz because he’ll give both a ton of opportunities to score runs. He can easily go from first to third on a single or first to home on a double.