Left Field - Rodolfo Nolasco
Most outfielders start their careers out in center field. You don’t find too many who were drafted, or signed internationally as a left fielder or right fielder. Because of that, I am taking some liberties here, but as of right now, Rodolfo Nolasco is the Pirates’ best left field prospect. Nolasco has major risk, but also major upside. Despite being part of the organization since 2018, Nolasco just turned 22 in late-September.
Nolasco had an interesting year for Bradenton. In 444 plate appearances, he batted .214/.351/.440 with a .372 wOBA, and 116 wRC+. Nolasco was a full-on three-true-outcomes hitter. He struck out 34.6% of the time, but he also walked in 16% of his plate appearances, and hit 20 home runs with a .227 isolated slugging percentage.
There were very few players as three-true-outcomes-like as Nolasco. Of all the minor league batters with at least 300 plate appearances, only 15 had struck out at least a third of the time, walked in 12% of their plate appearances, and had an ISO of at least .200. Nolasco was one of the better ones, ranking in the top half of wRC+ (6th), and wOBA (5th).
Nolasco is powerful. He has 60-grade raw power, and has consistently been one of the best power hitting prospects in the Pirates’ system. He’s also a patient batter. This is the third year in a row he’s posted an 11%+ walk rate. But his strikeout rate has steadily been climbing since 2021. 34.2% was only a .2% uptick from 2022, but an uptick nonetheless.
Nolasco is an okay runner, and can steal a base when asked. He was 11-13 in attempts this year. He’s also not a horrible fielder either, and comes with a plus arm. His range, however, is a question. He is solely a corner outfielder, but probably plays best in left field, the position he primarily played this year.
But the bat is Nolasco’s meal ticket, and how he’s played the last two years is concerning. To his credit, he has fully embraced the three-true-outcomes approach, but while that has worked for him at A-Ball, it might become an issue as he gets to higher levels. But he still has another year or so before you can fully rule him out. Let’s see if he can make some adjustments at Greensboro next year, and become a more complete hitter.