5 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects who are turning their seasons around

A handful of the Pirates' top prospects didn't get off to good starts to 2024, but have started to turn their campaigns around for the better.
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick Termarr Johnson,  the fourth overall player drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, enters the dugout for batting practice before the Pirates host the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick Termarr Johnson, the fourth overall player drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, enters the dugout for batting practice before the Pirates host the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Tsung-Che Cheng

Tsung-Che Cheng is another prospect who projects similarly to Mitch Jebb. Although he might not hit for much power, he should have a good hit tool, get on base at a quality rate, and use his speed to put himself into scoring position. Still, his numbers at Double-A as late as May 30 were not pretty.

Cheng was only batting .210/.335/.336 with a .319 wOBA and 98 wRC+. Although these were not terrible numbers, they also weren’t good. Cheng was hitting for little power, with a .126 isolated slugging percentage, but more worrisome was his 24% strikeout rate. Like with some other names on today’s list, his BABIP was holding him back at .255, but overall, the only positive was his 14% walk rate.

On May 31, Cheng went 1-for-4 with a walk, and has continued to hit relatively well since. Over his last 116 plate appearances, the infielder is now hitting .290/.335/.480. Cheng is hitting for more power with a .190 isolated slugging percentage. The one thing that stands out is his 8.6% walk rate and 25% strikeout rate, both of which moved in the wrong direction since his early season struggles, but Cheng still has a strong .372 wOBA and 132 wRC+.

Cheng is yet another middle infield prospect the Pirates have in their system. Hopefully, they will unload some of their pitching and middle infielders at the end of July for some outfield help. Either way, Cheng has done really well, which is promising after he had both an inconsistent stint at Double-A last year and a poor start to 2024.