Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: All Underrated 2023 Lineup
By Noah Wright
Right Field - Rodolfo Nolasco
Last but certainly not least, we have outfield prospect, Rodolfo Nolasco. Nolasco may have one of the highest offensive ceilings among the Pirates' prospects. He's consistently done well throughout the minor leagues, and while last year showed some red flags, Double-A Altoona, the affiliate he will start the 2023 season at, will be the real test for him.
In 321 plate appearances, Nolasco batted .239/.330/.425 with a .351 wOBA, and 116 wRC+. Nolasco did not get off to a great start to the 2022 campaign. At the mid-way point of May, he registered just a 55 wRC+. However, from that point forward, he had a .262/.367/.492 line, and 143 wRC+. At one point in the year, he was scorching hot and nearly 100% better than the league-average hitter. During a stretch from mid-June through the end of the season, he had a 1.068 OPS, .477 wOBA, and 196 wRC+.
Nolasco was injured for a good portion of the season. He missed about two weeks in late July through early August, then a month from August 6th up until September 6th. The second half certainly didn't treat Nolasco great, health-wise, even if he was hitting well through it.
The major concern with Nolasco is his 34% strikeout rate. He did cut that down to just 30% after the start of his mid-June streak, but that's still a tad worrying. But he draws a ton of walks, and it shouldn't be a major issue unless he can't cut that down at Altoona next year. He does project to have a 50-grade hit tool, so there's a possibility he can strike out less.
If Nolasco reaches his ceiling, he could be a .270-.280 hitter who consistently has 30+ home run seasons. Defensively, he might have to move to left field, but he does project to be an average defender with a strong arm. His range isn't great, but the fielding/speed isn't his calling card; it's his offensive upside.