The Pittsburgh Pirates still need a right-handed hitting infielder on the major league roster. The free agent market does not hold many good options, but Jared Triolo could fill that role perfectly.
One of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ under-the-radar prospects in the upper levels of the minor leagues is Jared Triolo. A former second-round pick, Triolo has consistently been an above-average batter throughout the minor leagues while displaying solid plate discipline. He’s also an outstanding defensive infielder with some versatility. With the Pirates still needing a decent bench bat, could Triolo open the year in a utility role at the major league level in 2023?
Last season, Triolo hit for a .282/.376/.419 slash line. Triolo walked at a 12.7% rate and his 17.6% strikeout rate marked the third straight season he had a sub-20% strikeout rate. Triolo also had a .356 wOBA, and 121 wRC+. This is also the third straight season he had a wRC+ of at least 110. The downside was he had a .136 isolated slugging percentage, a decrease from .176 the year prior. However, Triolo still had a fantastic season.
From the start of June through the end of the year, the third base prospect hit .293/.391/.487 with a .385 wOBA, and 140 wRC+. This also included a 14.1% walk rate and a 15.7% strikeout rate. He was also red hot in the second half of the season, posting an OPS approaching one-thousand at .994, a wOBA over .400 at .424, as well as a wRC+ well over 150 at 165.
One of the main things the Pirates still need on their roster before the season starts is a right-handed bat who can handle the middle infield. As of right now, the only player on the roster with major league experience and is right-handed who has played both second base and shortstop is Rodolfo Castro. Both Ji-Hwan Bae and Tucupita Marcano are left-handed, meaning the only other right-handed middle infield bats on the 40-man are Liover Peguero, who still needs another year in the minor leagues, and Triolo.
Triolo is familiar with shortstop. He’s an outstanding defender at third base and has seen some time in the outfield grass. However, while he has never logged a single inning at second base, he’s generally considered to field short well, and has stated in the past he would be willing to play on the right side of the infield. At this point in the offseason, the Pirates would not have a better option on the free agent market. The best right-handed middle infielder available is long-time veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus. His wRC+ over the last three seasons is just 87.
Triolo is an excellent defensive infielder who can play wherever the Pirates need him to. He can also help offset some of the defensive struggles of Cruz and Castro. The Pirates also seem fairly confident in the infield prospect. They opted to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft by adding him to their 40-man roster. If the Pirates still feel that having a right-handed hitting infielder who can play up the middle is a need, then they should give Triolo the call.