Pittsburgh Pirates: Players Who Could Get Promoted Soon
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Miguel Andújar late last season from the New York Yankees. Andújar was a former top prospect and American League Rookie of the Year runner-up back in 2018 when he batted .297/.328/.527 with a .361 wOBA and 127 wRC+. Andújar hit 27 home runs and a franchise record-setting 47 doubles and finished behind Shohei Ohtani in ROY voting. The massive downside to Andújar’s season was that he struggled with defense, with -21 defensive runs saved, a -24.5 UZR/150, and -7 outs above average.
But he looked like a long-term piece of the Yankee core, which at the time also included 3rd place ROY finisher Gleyber Torres, 2017 Rookie of the Year winner Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luis Severino. However, things quickly went south for Andújar. Andújar would only step to the plate 376 more times between 2019 and 2022, suffering many injuries. In the few sporadic times he played, he managed a wRC+ of just 56 (44% worse than the league-average batter). In that time, he lost his starting third base job to the likes of Gio Urshela and Josh Donaldson and moved to left field as his primary position.
That’s when the Yankees decided to move on from the former top rookie and when the Pirates claimed him. Andújar only appeared in nine games with 40 plate appearances, and he had his ups and downs. He collected a hit in six of his contests with two multi-hit efforts and only struck out five times. But he also walked just twice and had an exit velocity of 85.5 MPH.
After signing Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates designated Andújar for assignment this past off-season. However, Andujar has gotten off to a nice start to 2023, batting .298/.379/.524 through 95 plate appearances at Indy. He’s walked 11 times with just 11 strikeouts, with eight doubles and three long balls to his credit. Andújar hasn’t played any third base, with most of his time spent at first base, both outfield corners, and designated hitter.
I would guess Andújar is the likeliest candidate to get promoted. He can play first base and both corner outfield spots, and DH. It’s not like the Pirates don’t already have competent starting players at all those positions, either, unlike last year when Josh VanMeter got semi-regular playing time. Plus, he’s not a player that you’d be wasting his development with once/twice a week starts with, so there’s also that to consider. The only downside is the Pirates would have to make room on the 40-man roster.