Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Prospects Who Could Become Trade Bait
By Noah Wright
Liover Peguero is one of the first prospects the Pirates acquired in the rebuild. He was a key part of the Starling Marte trade, and after significantly building his prospect stock in 2021, Peguero followed that up with an underwhelming and somewhat disappointing 2022 season.
In 521 plate appearances, the top shortstop prospect only batted .259/.305/.386 with a .306 wOBA and 88 wRC+. After showing off some decent game power in 2021, Peguero ended 2022 with a .124 isolated slugging percentage. Peguero may have cut his strikeout rate down from 25.2% to 21.3%, but his walk rate plummeted from 7.9% to just 5.6%.
But it’s not as if Peguero wasn’t ever a good hitter. From July 28th 2021 through June 16th 2022, Peguero was batting .297/.334/.488. Sure, he had a mediocre 5.1% walk rate and 24.1% strikeout rate, but he was hitting for decent pop. Peguero hit 13 home runs and 26 doubles in this 403-plate appearance stretch, ending up with a .191 isolated slugging percentage. Between his solid batting average and plus pop, Peguero had a .355 wOBA and 119 wRC+. He did so well in the first half of 2022 that the Pirates called him up for a game.
Peguero has shown he’s able to handle shortstop but has had trouble with making throws from the position. The Pirates gave him a few games at second base at the end of the season and may see more time there moving forward. Even though Peguero struggled last year, there’s still a potential .280 batter who delivers 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases a season. That's the kind of potential he showed in the second half of 2021 and first half of 2022. Keep in mind that Peguero was only 21 years old at Double-A. The average age of batters in the Eastern League was 23.9 years of age, while the average age of pitchers was even older at 24.5.
But Peguero is far from the Pirates’ only middle infielder, and given his relatively high ceiling, he still has plenty of value. Aside from Peguero, you also have Nick Gonzales, Termarr Johnson, Yordany De Los Santos, Jared Triolo, and Tsung-Che Cheng. Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Ji-Hwan Bae, and Tucupita Marcano are all projected to see playing time at the major league level.
It depends on how Peguero and the other Pirates’ young infielders develop. There’s no such thing as having too much talent. But all it takes is for two of the multitude of young players to grab hold of a regular major league job, and Peguero’s chances of breaking through at the big league level for the Pirates become harder. That could eventually lead to a trade.