A look at the five candidates for Opening Day second baseman for the Pirates

Which of the Pirates' five second basemen on the 40-man roster could be the team's Opening Day option?

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Nick Gonzales

Ben Cherington’s first ever draft pick as the Pirates’ general manager definitely has a shot at the second base job. Nick Gonzales has looked decent thus far in his brief sample size of plate appearances with five hits in 17 plate appearances. Three of said hits are two-baggers, and he’s only struck out twice. However, he has yet to draw a walk.

Gonzales’ brief MLB time did not go well. He only had 147 plate appearances but hit .209/.268/.348 with a .268 wOBA and 64 wRC+. Gonzales’ walk rate was just under 5% at 4.7%, and he struck out in 28.1% of his plate appearances. When he did make contact, it was mostly poor contact, as he had just an 85.5 MPH exit velocity and a 3.7% barrel rate. But it was a small sample size of playing time, and he was much better at Triple-A, especially during the summer months.

From the start of June through the end of the year, Gonzales 265 plate appearances where he had a 302/.408/.550 triple-slash, .418 wOBA, and 139 wRC+. He was hitting for a lot more power with a .248 isolated slugging percentage. Gonzales had a manageable 23% strikeout rate, which was about league average in the International League, along with an above average 13.2% walk rate in this stretch. He was especially good in the second half of the season with a .977 OPS, .420 wOBA, and 141 wRC+.

Defensively, Gonzales was solid at second base with -1 DRS, but +1 OAA. He also saw a handful of games at shortstop, both in the Majors and minor leagues, as well as the hot corner at Triple-A. Gonzales is best suited to play second base, but can occasionally fill-in at both short and third.

I’ve been a fan of Gonzales for years, but I would definitely put Triolo and Peguero above him on the depth chart right now. I think he’ll settle into a utility role, seeing time all over the infield while providing some power.