Honorable Mention: Outfielder Jase Bowen
Another wild card option that the Pittsburgh Pirates could protect is 23-year-old outfielder, Jase Bowen. After an impressive 2023 campaign in High-A Greensboro, Jase Bowen rose up prospect rankings and quickly became a Top 30 prospect in the Pirates farm system. In High-A, Bowen hit .257/.333/.469, with 23 home runs, drove in 88 RBI, stole 24 bases, and had a 117 wRC+ across 493 plate appearances. Bowen also struck out 24.5% and only walked 7.1% at the plate, so he did struggle in those spots. However, his elite athleticism, versatility, and base stealing ability (like Cheng) is something to strongly consider having on this Pirates 40-Man roster.
Bowen had a brief stint in Double-A Altoona, but it was nothing compared to his dominant campaign in the Arizona Fall League, where Bowen posted a .290 batting average and had a .855 OPS across 25 games. Bowen is still pretty raw as a prospect and it is potentially unlikely that he will be added to the 40-Man, but it is something that Ben Cherington should take into consideration before the deadline.
While these three prospects are impressive, one thing to consider is that they are all very inexperienced at the Double-A level and still need to develop against better competition. Other prospects that are Rule 5 eligible like Malcom Nunez, Maikol Escotto, Matt Frazier, Matt Gorski, and others, have a slim to none possibility of being protected, but anything is possible. All we can do now is trust in Ben Cherington’s decision and see who he decides to add and leave off the 40-Man roster before tonight’s deadline.