3 internal options that could replace Rowdy Tellez at first base for Pirates

Rowdy Tellez has struggled tremendously this season. Let's take a look at three minor leaguers that could replace Tellez.
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Rowdy Tellez has been one of the worst hitters in the league in 2024, and there is speculation that he could be designated for assignment in the coming days. If he were to be designated for assignment, there would be a big hole in the active roster at first base. Connor Joe has been performing solidly at first base this season, but the Pirates view him more as a platoon option, which is why Tellez was signed in the first place.

While Pittsburgh could eventually aim bigger if they intend to replace Tellez, there are three potential first base options lingering at the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis.

3 Pirates internal candidates to replace Rowdy Tellez

Jake Lamb

Jake Lamb was signed to a minor league deal this offseason to provide depth at the corner infield positions. He had a solid Spring Training, but was kept off of the 40-man roster. Lamb has been playing very well for Indianapolis. At first, it was just a great two-week stretch, but now he has been producing great numbers through 34 games.

This season, Lamb has a batting average of .344 with three home runs and 23 runs batted in. He also has an OPS of .940, which includes an on-base percentage of .432 and a slugging percentage of .508. His wRC+ is very impressive at 142 and he is walking at a 13.5% rate. Last season with the Angels, Lamb struck out at a rate of 27.8%. He has dropped that all the way down to 16.1% this season.

Lamb has been very impressive this season, but remains off of the 40-man roster. He is a left-handed hitter, so the righty-lefty platoon could remain in order if the Pirates called up Lamb.

Matt Gorski

Matt Gorski was drafted by the Pirates in 2019 and has reached every level of the Pirates' minor-league system. Primarily an outfielder, Gorski has played first base in the minor leagues for multiple seasons -- not a ton of innings, but he is capable of playing. He began the season off to a slow start, but he has heated up recently, which could result in a promotion.

This season, Gorski has a batting average of .282 with seven home runs and 33 runs batted in. He also has an OPS of .913, which includes an on-base percentage of .315 and a slugging percentage of .598. His wRC+ is great at 120, but he strikes out a lot at a 29.7% rate. His strikeouts are up about 5% this season from last year, but he still has time to halt and reverse that escalation.

Gorski is hot right now and has a ton of power upside. He has yet to make his major league debut, but with his bat being hot, that might change soon.

Malcom Nuñez

Malcom Nuñez was one of two players to return to the Pirates in the Jose Quintana trade. Since being acquired, Nuñez has battled various injuries, but has been a solid hitter when healthy. He plays the corner infield positions, but he has the most innings at first base in his career. Nuñez has changed some things with his approach this year and it has benefited him, but it has not quite translated into production just yet.

This season, Nuñez has a batting average of .270 with six home runs and 23 runs batted in. He also has an OPS of .778, which includes an on-base percentage of .339 and a slugging percentage of .439. His wRC+ is decent at 98, which is something to watch for, but he has increased his walk percentage to 8.8% and has dropped his strikeout percentage to 19.3%. Nuñez has shown a better feel for the strike zone this year, and that is a big-time improvement.

Nuñez has improved at the plate and is healthy. As a primary first baseman, his experience at the position is an important plus that the other options do not have.

All three of these players would need to be added to the 40-man roster before they could come to Pittsburgh. Each of them provide different value to this team, and have shown that they can be serviceable at first base.