One underrated prospect at each level of the Pirates’ minor leagues to watch in 2024

Let's examine one prospect at each level of the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system to wtach this year.
May 28, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; West Virginia pitcher Carlson Reed (17) pitches against
May 28, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; West Virginia pitcher Carlson Reed (17) pitches against / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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Pirates Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians
Joe Perez

Last season, the Pirates took a flier on corner infielder/outfielder Joe Perez. Perez was originally a second-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in 2017. After a good start to his pro career, Perez stalled out in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Before getting let go, he was batting a meager .255/.328/.399 with a .328 wOBA and 75 wRC+ in the super hitter-friendly PCL. This also included an unimpressive .145 isolated slugging percentage, a 9.5% walk rate, and a 27.2% strikeout rate.

However, after the Pirates acquired Perez, he went on to bat .317/.434/.592 with a .451 wOBA and 174 wRC+ between Altoona and Indy.

He still struck out a little more than you'd like to see with a 24.8% K%, but it was an improvement nonetheless. He also walked a lot more frequently, with a 15.9% walk rate. After only hitting ten home runs in 87 games and 357 plate appearances to start the year, Perez then went on to hit ten more in only 34 games and 145 plate appearances.

Perez is a corner player, mostly seeing time at third base but also left field, right field, and occasionally first base. He has a strong arm to play the hot corner and corner outfield, but he's not generally considered a great defender overall. His power potential is the key to any future success.

Perez isn't off to a great start, with two hits and six K's, albeit in only five games. If he can produce even a fraction of what he did in the second half of last year with the Pirates' minor league teams, he could become a solid bench bat in the future, someone who can hit left-handed pitching while playing both corner infield and outfield.