What could the 2023 season have in store for Pittsburgh Pirates middle infield prospect Liover Peguero?
In February 2020 Ben Cherington made his first major trade as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first trade that indicated a true fire sale when he sent multi-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winning center fielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks. When Marte was traded the centerpiece in the trade was shortstop Liover Peguero.
Since joining the Pirate organization Peguero has had some ups and downs. He did not play in 2020 due to the minor league season being canceled as a result of COVID. In 2021 he had an inconsistent season at High-A, but it ended with him posting a 108 wRC+.
The 2022 season is one that Peguero will never forget. With the Pittsburgh Pirates in a bind and in need of an infielder, Peguero was promoted to the majors for the first time for a weekend series in June. During this series, Peguero was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Outside of this cup of coffee in the majors Peguero spent the entire season with Double-A Altoona. With the Curve he struggled. Peguero hit for a .259/.305/.387 slash line wtih an 88 wRC+. He walked at a 5.6% rate, struck out in 21.3% of his trips to the plate, and struggled mightily with power with an isolated slugging of just .128.
Peguero taking a step back offensively in 2022 was certainly concerning. Especially since his ability to be an above-average hitter at the shortstop position is a major factor in Peguero being viewed as such a highly touted prospect. After all, there remains a lot of questions about his defensive ability leading many to believe his long-term home in the majors is at second base.
Looking ahead to 2023, many prospect sites remain high on Peguero. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 4th best prospect in the Pirate farm system and the 62nd best prospect in all of baseball. Per FanGraphs, Peguero still ranks as the organization's 6th best prospect.
Peguero will likely open up the season playing shortstop at Triple-A Indianapolis. It will be important for Peguero to bounce back offensively in 2023. If Peguero's offensive struggles continue, then his future as a prospect will start to become murkier.
If Peguero is able to bounce back offensively there could be a path for him to become a regular contributor at second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023. Obviously, Oneil Cruz has shortstop locked down. As for second base, while it will likely be Rodolfo Castro to start the season there is no guarantee that he is the long-term answer at the position.
If Castro struggles next season it could open the door for Peguero to get an opportunity at second base with the Pirates. However, this will hinge on Peguero turning a corner as a hitter this season. Peguero improving as a hitter is certainly a possibility. He just turned 22-years-old on New Year's Eve. So, as that young of a hitter, there is plenty of reason to believe he can take a step forward as a hitter this season.