Pittsburgh Pirates: One Breakout Prospect to Watch at Each Position

The Pirates could see these prospects breakout in 2024.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Rick Stewart/GettyImages
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Catcher - Axiel Plaz

One of the Pirates' largest international signings in the 2021-2022 off-season was backstop Axiel Plaz, and he's far from our last international signing from that off-season. Plaz burst onto the scene in 2022, batting .382/.500/.706 through 86 plate appearances. With nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (16) and a wOBA well above .500 (.550), Plaz had a wRC+ of 209 in his brief pro debut.

But Plaz's second go around wasn't nearly as good. In 131 plate appearances, Plaz batted just .144/.359/.237 with a wRC+ of 81. Plaz walked even more often as his walk rate rose to 16%%, but his strikeout rate skyrocketed to 31.3%. After racking up 15 extra-base hits and having a .324 ISO in 2022, Plaz had just six extra base hits with an ISO below .100 at .093.

But Plaz is still young and has less than 300 career plate appearances, let alone more than 200 in a full season. Plaz has some power projection. He currently stands at 5'11"/165-LBS at just 18 years old. He could add some muscle to his frame. Plaz has also shown some defensive prowess behind the plate.

Plaz should open the year at the Pirates' Florida Complex League affiliate, but could find himself debuting at Bradenton if he looks anything like he did in 2022. Plaz doesn't turn 19 until the second week of August, so it's going to be a while until we see him in the Majors, but he definitely has some of the most potential of any Pirates catching prospect.

Honorable mention: Samuel Escuerdo, Miguel Sosa