Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Best Second Halves Of 2023

These Pirates prospects had outstanding second halves to the 2023 season.

Jul 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Nick Gonzales (39) runs
Jul 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Nick Gonzales (39) runs / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Jack Brannigan

Jack Brannigan was the Pirates' third-round draft pick in 2022. Brannigan had a nice final year at Notre Dame as a two-way player. The Pirates, however, have had Brannigan focus solely on his skills as a position player since getting drafted. While Brannigan had already started to hit prior to the all-star break, he carried that into the second half.

In Brannigan's final 189 plate appearances of the season, the infielder batted .288/.365/.583. Brannigan hit for a ton of pop, as his isolated slugging percentage was just a few ticks from .300 at .294. He blasted 13 home runs, which was a pace of over 40 dingers in 600 plate appearances. Brannigan also walked in 11.1% of his plate appearances but struck out over 30% of the time, 32.8% to be exact. But despite the strikeouts, Brannigan ended the second half with a .412 wOBA and 149 wRC+.

As I stated earlier, it's not as if Brannigan had just found his way in the second half. From May 27th up through the All-Star Break, Brannigan was a .292/.444/.547, .460 wOBA, and 169 wRC+ batter. He both walked (18.5%) and struck out (25.9%) at better rates, though he hit for less power, indicated by his .255 isolated slugging percentage. But Brannigan was able to take his abilities to High-A Greensboro and continue to hit there in the second half.

Brannigan is a power-hitting infielder who has some hit tool risk. He's also a decent runner with a great glove. Brannigan might take over shortstop next season at Altoona, given how sound of a defender he has shown to be. There's no question about his arm. He fired upper-90s fastballs in college, so he should be able to play on the left side of the infield with no trouble making the deep throws. If Brannigan continues to hit through Altoona, look for him to force his way into future plan conversations.