Indianapolis - Utiltiy Aaron Shackelford
It’s easy to overlook anyone on Indianapolis’ roster, given how much talent they now have. Even guys like Malcom Nunez, Jared Triolo, and Colin Selby are now getting overlooked because of who is now at Triple-A. One player who has just been a role player throughout his minor league career is Aaron Shackelford, who’s posted respectable numbers at every level despite being considered a non-prospect by most.
An NAIA selection, the Pirates took Shackelford in the 14th round of the 2019 draft. Shackelford had a monstrous year in his final season at The Masters University, where he went deep 36 times in only 242 plate appearances. While he hasn’t been able to maintain Barry Bonds-esque production as a pro, he’s certainly been more than serviceable at every level.
This year, Shackelford is batting .246/.381/.455. Shackelford has been a surprising power/speed threat, swatting eight home runs and swiping six bags in seven attempts. Overall, he has a quality .210 isolated slugging percentage. Shackelford has always been a patient batter, drawing a ton of walks, and currently has a 16.1% walk rate, which would be a major uptick from the 8.7% rate he had in 2022. However, this has come at the cost of his strikeouts. His 28.8% strikeout rate is only a 0.6% upgrade from 2022.
Shackelford has moved all around the diamond as a pro player. He’s split most of his time at first base and second base but has a handful of games spent at the hot corner. He also played some right field last season. While he might not be renowned for his defense, he’s played a respectable glove at whatever position he’s been asked to play.
Shackelford is definitely the most underdog name we’ve discussed today. A 26-year-old who came from an NAIA school and was drafted in the 14th round doesn’t scream ‘top prospect.’ However, it would make for a great story if Shackelford were to become a productive major leaguer. He might not become the Pirates’ next superstar, but he has the potential to be a bench player who can provide some pop and utility. Personally, I’d certainly like to see him more than Mark Mathias.