Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Very Early Look at Potentially Exciting 2024 Risers

While the 2023 season is far from over, let's take a way too early look at three potentially exciting prospects who could get extended looks next season.

Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out against
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out against / Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content
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Tony Blanco Jr.

The 2021-2022 offseason saw the Pirates land two major international prospects. The highest ranked was Yordany De Los Santos. However, Tony Blanco Jr. was arguably the more intriguing player. Blanco Jr. has not played much yet, but based on potential alone; there’s a reason to be excited to see what he can do.

Blanco Jr.’s best tool and his power potential. The right-handed swinging outfielder already generates above-average raw power because he has the frame of some of baseball’s biggest players. Standing at 6’6”, 245 pounds, Blanco Jr. is listed as the same height and weight as 2017 MVP and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The difference is Stanton is a 33-year-old man, and Blanco Jr. is still two years away from turning 20.

Because of his massive size, there are going to be some questions about his ability to keep strikeouts down. So far, it’s definitely been an issue, as he’s struck out 18 times in his first 45 plate appearances, coming out to a 40% rate. However, it is a small sample size, and he’s displayed strong pitch recognition, which will help him in the long run.

While the Pirates’ signed him as a corner outfielder, he has mostly played first base in 2023. He’s not fast, but he moves well for his size and has a strong arm, which plays in both outfield corners. But again, once he starts to age, his mobility could become a liability, and getting him work in at first base now will only help him in the long run.

Blanco Jr. might start the 2024 season out at the Florida Complex League, but it’s quite possible he will get called up to Bradenton for an extended look before the end of next season. This is a guy with 40 home run potential, but do keep in mind that he’s still years away from the big leagues, further off than Shim and especially Barco. But his immense potential makes him an exciting prospect.

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