Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects Who Could Develop MLB Roles in 2023
OF/1B Matt Gorski
A former second-round pick, Matt Gorski had a strong breakout season between four levels of the minor leagues. Gorski is a speed/power threat who brings some first base versatility to the mix. The outfield picture could be crowded, as does the first base picture, so could Gorski secure a regular role by the end of the season?
Gorski played essentially half of a major league season, appearing in 81 games and 325 plate appearances. In total, he batted .280/.358/.598. Gorski has always had outstanding power potential but put it together this year. He slugged 24 home runs with an isolated slugging percentage over .300 at .318. Gorski also had a 10.2% walk rate. On top of all that, he swiped 21 bags in 24 attempts. Overall, Gorski ended the year with a .411 wOBA and 152 wRC+.
However, the season wasn’t with its downsides. He struck out 29.8% of the time between Double-A and Triple-A, compared to just 26.7% at High-A Greensboro. He was still highly productive at Altoona, owning a .844 OPS, .370 wOBA, and 133 wRC+, but the increase in strikeouts is still a bit worrying.
Gorski is considered a solid defensive outfielder. He mostly played center, where he had an above-average range factor, but he also had just over 100 innings logged in right field. Gorski had 100 innings at first base, giving him a little more utility.
The same issues with Nunez finding major league playing time are the same issues with Gorski finding it. The outfield is occupied by Bae, Bryan Reynolds, and Jack Suwinski/Connor Joe. Choi and Santana take up first base, and Nunez is likely an option at first base before Gorski. But like Nuñez, there’s a good chance that something happens that opens up playing time. Asking for an entire team to perform well is an arduous task, and asking them to both stay healthy and perform well is impossible.
The fact that Gorski can play both first base and center field is a major plus. The Pirate minor league outfield depth is thin. Their top outfield prospect, per FanGraphs, is Tony Blanco Jr., who’s still years away from being Major League ready. The next closest outfielder with ample Double-A or Triple-A experience is Travis Swaggerty, who now projects as more of a fourth outfielder after his 2021 injury and down 2022. If Gorski is performing well, there will definitely be an opportunity for him to receive regular playing time, given the lack of quality outfielders in the upper levels of the Pirates’ minor league system.