Pittsburgh Pirates fans have gotten a taste of the future this season with the debuts of Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales, Jared Triolo, Osvaldo Bido, and Carmen Mlodzinski. As the front office continues to explore the potential of the players in the farm system, let's take a look at one player to watch from each of the Pirates' seven minor league affiliate teams.
Indianapolis Indians (AAA) - Endy Rodriguez, C/1B/OF, 23 y/o
2023 AAA Stats: 63 G, .258 BA, .342 OBP, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 4 SB
The Pirate issues at the catcher position are complex. Current everyday catcher Austin Hedges is the worst hitter on the team by a large margin, but his ability to frame pitches and help out the pitching staff is among the league's best (He's also being paid $5 million in 2023).
Of course, many fans would rather have a consistently good hitter than a good pitch framer who can't get the bat going. The Pirates brought up Henry Davis, a batting stud with the ability to play catcher, but they've stuck him in right field/DH since his promotion. With the current catching woes, fans are itching to see what Endy Rodriguez can do at the plate on offense and behind the plate on defense.
Altoona Curve (AA) - Liover Peguero, SS/2B, 22 y/o
2023 AA Stats: 69 G, .260 BA, .333 OBP, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 19 SB
Liover Peguero has MLB experience (one game in the Majors in 2022) and a big league bat in the infield. With the Pirate issues at second base and shortstop since ONeil Cruz's injury, I could see Peguero making another MLB appearance by the end of 2023. His unique mix of power and speed combined with his fielding abilities make him an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on as the season continues to progress.
Greensboro Grasshoppers (A+) - Jase Bowen, 2B/OF, 22 y/o
2023 A+ Stats: 64 G, .257 BA, .333 OBP, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 12 SB
Jase Bowen is a threat to go yard every time he steps into the batter's box. The 2019 11th-round draft pick has 15 homers in 64 games this season, and if he can limit his strikeouts as he continues to develop, he can be a phenomenal hitter on the major league level. The 6'0, 190-pound righty is a player to keep an eye on for the next couple of seasons.
Bradenton Marauders (A) - Shalin Polanco, OF, 19 y/o
2023 A Stats: 61 G, .246 BA, .330 OBP, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 15 SB
The Bradenton Marauders are possibly the most exciting team in the Pirate minor league system. Players like Termarr Johnson, Enmanuel Terrero, and Derek Diamond all stand out as potential big league names in the future. The team's leading slugger, Shalin Polanco, is poised to storm through the minors with his ability to hit bombs and steal bases. Playing every outfield position, the Dominican teenager is the 25th-ranked Pirates prospect on mlb.com.
FCL Pirates (Rookie) - Michael Kennedy, LHP, 18 y/o
2023 Rookie Ball Stats: 4 G, 14.2 IP, 0.61 ERA, 23 K, 1.091 WHIP, 14 K/9
In limited action (almost 15 innings across 4 games) in rookie ball this season, Michael Kennedy has been phenomenal on the mound. The 2022 4th Round pick is just 18 years old and has only allowed 5 hits and a single run this season while striking out 23 batters. MLB.com has him ranked as the 19th-best Pirates prospect, and his arm talent should continue to develop as he grows older and stronger. Kennedy is definitely an ace to keep an eye on as time progresses.
DSL Pirates Gold (Foreign Rookie) - Juan Machado, OF/2B, 20 y/o
2023 DSL Stats: 19 G, .315 BA, .493 OBP, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 11 SB
The Dominican Summer League (DSL) is a great way for teams to find talented young players from Central America and bring them into the organization's minor league system. 20-year-old Venezuelan Juan Machado has been impressive in his 19 DSL games, stealing eleven bags and getting on base in almost half of his plate appearances.
DSL Pirates Black (Foreign Rookie) - Carlos Caro, 2B/3B, 18 y/o
2023 DSL Stats: 20 G, .300 BA, .447 OBP, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB
The other Pirates DSL affiliate has a young infielder with a ton of potential, 18-year-old Dominican Carlos Caro, who is batting an impressive .300 in 60 at-bats this summer. Another player to watch on this Pirates Black team is pitcher Clevari Tejada, who has a 2.30 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, walking an impressive 3 out of 61 batters so far.