Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Future Top 100 Prospects
By Noah Wright
Axiel Plaz has already started to get some prospect attention from the mainstream media. Plaz was ranked as one of the Pirates' top 20 prospects by ESPN. While they may not be as thorough in their rankings as FanGraphs, or even MLB Pipeline, the fact that he's getting some attention at least shows that he's trending in the right direction.
Believe it or not, Plaz wasn't even the biggest catch of the Pirates' 2021-2022 international class. We'll talk about that player here in a little bit. Plaz was given a $350,000 signing bonus, which was the sixth highest and tied with Carlos Tirado. Although he was given the sixth most, he produced at a very high level, albeit in a small sample size and at the Dominican Summer League.
DSL stats may not mean all that much in the long term, but you still can't help but be impressed by the numbers Plaz put up. In 86 plate appearances, Plaz batted .382/.500/.706 with a .550 wOBA, and 209 wRC+, meaning he was still 109% better than the league-average batter at this level. Plaz had an impressive 13:16 BB:K ratio and more than half of his hits went for extra bases. He hit 11 doubles, a triple, and three home runs to go along with 11 singles.
Plaz was praised for his defensive ability behind the dish when the Pirates signed him. On top of that, he showed that he could eventually grow into plus power potential. Plaz stands at 5'11", and 165 pounds at just 17 years old. That gives him plenty of time to add strength and muscle to his frame. There were some questions about his hit tool, but at 17, it's not as if he doesn't have time to sharpen up parts of his game.
Even though you should take his DSL stats with a grain of salt, a 209 wRC+ is still nothing to scoff at. Plaz is still young but was one of the better prospects the Pirates got out of their 2021-2022 international class. It should be fun to see how he continues to develop.