Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Liover Peguero has performed well this season, but should the Bucs send him to the big league club?
One of the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect who is having a rebound season is Liover Peguero. Peguero was one of the very first prospects the Bucs acquired in the rebuild, as he was one of the players who went the Pirates' way in the Starling Marte trade.
Peguero was making serious gains after 2021 and was considered a consensus top 100 prospect, but then struggled in 2022, despite making it to the major leagues. However, Peguero has seemingly found his groove once again. Because of that, fans should start to ponder should he be the next big promotion the Bucs make.
Peguero has quality numbers on the season. In 291 plate appearances, the middle infielder has a .265/.340/.450 line, along with a .356 wOBA, and 114 wRC+. After having a mediocre 5.6% walk rate in 2022, Peguero is now walking at a strong 10.3% rate. His strikeout rate has also gone from 21.3% to just 17.3%. On top of that, he has an isolated slugging percentage of .183, compared to .128 last season. However, these numbers are bogged down.
Peguero's first two weeks of the 2023 season were horrible. While it was only 42 plate appearances, Peguero had just seven hits and two walks. Peguero also struck out nine times, and only two of his hits went for extra bases. However, neither was a home run. Between Peguero's inability to reach base, collect base hits, or hit for any power, he had a horrendous 18 wRC+.
But since then, Peguero has been nothing but red hot. His last 249 plate appearances have yielded a .282/.361/.491 triple-slash. Peguero now has a strong 11.2% walk rate, along with a healthy 17.3% K-rate. He's also hit for good power, blasting nine home runs, 17 doubles (a 22 home run/41 doubles pace over 600 plate appearances), and .209 isolated slugging percentage. Peguero now has an outstanding 130 wRC+, meaning he's been 30% better than the league-average batter.
Peguero has been even better in the month of June, .295/.367/.545 with a .404 wOBA and 144 wRC+. An OPS over .900 and wOBA above .400 is elite territory. While his walk rate is down a tick to 10.2%, he still has an above-average 18.4% strikeout rate. Plus, he's hitting for even more power with a .250 ISO.
If you followed Peguero last season you'd know that he also got off to a hot start in the first half before falling off. What makes this year any different? The first is Peguero is striking out a lot less often. Before he was promoted, he had a 22.9% strikeout rate. That's not terrible, but significantly higher compared to this year. However, he also had a horrible 3% walk rate, compared to over 10% this season. He also had a .363 batting average on balls in play, compared to only .314 since the second week of the minor league season and .323 since the outset of June.
The Pirates do need a middle infield boost right now. While promoting Nick Gonzales is a step in the right direction, Tucupita Marcano, Ji Hwan Bae, and Rodolfo Castro are in terrible slumps right now. It's as if the whole major league roster has forgotten how to hit all at once. Peguero has made strides with his hitting this year that are promising.
Peguero is also on the 40-man roster. The Pirates protected him in the 2021-2022 offseason from the Rule 5 Draft, which is another thing working in his favor. The Pirates were aggressive with him last year, promoting him straight from Double-A to make his major league debut. Granted, he was only in the major leagues for 2-3 days and made just one appearance.
One thing to remember is that Peguero is still young. He's just 22-years-old, and while there are plenty of players that age or even young in Major League Baseball, Peguero is even young for his level. The average age of batters in the Eastern League is nearly 24-years-old. Peguero is about 22.5 years old.
He also hasn't spent a day at Triple-A yet. Prospects are spending less and less time at the minor league's highest level. Double-A typically has the better quality of competition, and if Peguero is able to hit well against it while still being relatively young for his league, it is worth taking note of.
With Peguero performing so well at Altoona and the Pirates in need of middle infield help, they should seriously consider Peguero, if not promote him straight from Double-A. I personally don't think this is rushing a prospect to the major leagues. Peguero may be young, but 22 is a reasonable age to make the big leagues. He's in his second season at Altoona and is performing well on top of that. At the very least, he has nothing more to prove at Double-A.