2021 Preview: Pittsburg Pirates

Welcome to the final TWO DAYS before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is back in less than 48 HOURS! I am overjoyed! At the beginning of March, the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams began. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!

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NL Team: Pittsburg Pirates

Last Year Record: 19-41 last place in the NL Central

Record x2.7: 51.3-110.7

Vegas Projected: Vegas has the Bucs winning 59.5 games which are five games below the next closest team in the Baltimore Orioles. I might be a little low on the Bucs, but I have them winning 50 games, and they have an upside of 55 games.

Impact Departures:

RHP Keone Kela(FA), LHP Derek Holland(FA), RHP Chris Archer(FA), RHP Hector Noesi(FA), 3B Jose Osuna(FA)

Traded:

1B Josh Bell, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP Nik Turley, SP Joe Musgrove, SP Jameson Taillon, 1B Shendrick Apostel

Key Arrivals

Free Agent Signings:

-The Pirates inked RHP Trevor Cahill to a 1yr deal worth $1.5mil and have an opportunity to earn $1mil in incentives. 2020 was kind to Cahill as he posted a 3.24ERA/4.38SIERA over 25IP for the Giants.

-LHP Tyler Anderson to 1yr $2.5mil deal. The 31yo appeared in 13 games with the Giants in 2021, posting a 4.37ERA/5.69SIERA over 59.2IP. The SIERA was the 2nd worst among all pitchers, with at least 50IP in 2020.

Traded:

RHPR Duane Underwood- The 26yo Underwood has thrown 36.1IP out of the Cubs pen over the past three seasons with a 5.20ERA with a 27.7%K rate and 7.7%BB rate.

-OF Dustin Fowler- Fowler ranked as MLB's 88th best prospect in 2018 and rebounded in AAA that season with a .341/.364/.520 slash in 239PA. With the A's that same season, he hit .224/.256/.354 over 203PA. He played in AAA all 2019 and slashed .277/.333/.477 with 25HR, 12SB over 606PA.

RHP Wil Crowe- Crowe made his MLB debut in 2020, getting tagged for 11R over 8.1IP.

OF Hudson Head, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP David Bednar, RHP Drake Fellows, C/OF Endy Rodriquez, RHP Migues Yajure, RHP Roansy Contreras, INF Maikol Escotto, OF Canaan Smith,

-Yajure is likely a #4/5 starter with top of the rotation upside. He has yet to pitch above the AA level. Contreras hasn't yet pitched up the A-ball level but owns a 3.25ERA over 249.1IP in 47starts. Smith is an average defender in LF, with average speed but a high IQ for stealing bases with 21/28 in attempts. He owns a .280/.389/.426 slash in 936PA in the lower levels of the minors. The ability to get on base will carry him through the minors. Escotto, 18yo, only has played in the Yankees DSL in 2019, where he hit .315/.429/.552 in 218PA. Escotto is versatile with the glove as he can play 2B, SS, 3B.

Tendered Contracts:

1B Colin Moran, 2B Adam Frazier, C Jacob Stallings, RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Michael Feliz, RHP Chris Stratton, RHP Richard Rodriguez, SP Chad Khul, SP Steven Brault, SS Erik Gonzalez

Rule 5 additions:

SP Luis Oviedo- Across four seasons in the MiLB, the 21yo has yet to play above the A level. In his time in the MiLB, he holds a 4.66ERA/1.33WHP with 265K-96 over 258.2IP as an SP. I can easily see Oviedo as a reliever going forward.

SP Jose Soriano- The 22yo also has yet to play above the A level. In his four seasons in the MiLB, he holds a 2.76ERA/4.01RA9/1.30WHIP with 218K-134BB over 238IP. Soriano profiles with his 6'3" frame to be a durable SP with upside. But they could end up in pen as a swingman.

Claims:

RHP Ashton Goudeau- The 28yo righty made his debut in 2020 with the Rockies but only had 8.1IP in which he gave up 7ER, 15H, 2BB, 2K. In his MiLB work at AA, he has 78.1IP with a 2.07ERA/2.05FIP and 10.5 K/9.

OF Troy Stokes Jr.- Stokes comes to the Pirates recovering from a broken hamate bone. He brings in a .250/.351/.414 slash over 2355PA

KEY NRI:

INF Todd Frazier- The 35yo, 10-year vet in the MLB has a career .242/.319/.448 over 4909PA. He also has two seasons of 35+HR and 2 All-Star nods. At 3B, he has 20DRS, 24.6UZR in 9100INN at the position.

C Joe Hudson, C Andrew Susac, OF Troy Stokes Jr.- Each has limited not encouraging MLB experience.

OF Brian Goodwin, The 30yo hit just .163/.236/.357 in 55PA with the Reds after a mid-season trade from the Angels. In 2019 he showed well, hitting .262/.326/.470 in 458PA in 136G.

C Tony Wolters- The 28yo, he was the primary catcher for the Rockies the last five seasons due to his glovework(31% caught stealing, excellent pitch framer.) He is a career .238/.323/.319 hitter over 1232PA.

LHRP Chasen Shreve- With the NY Mets in 2020, he pitched to a 3.96ERA over 25IP. He struck out 33% of batters and had a 17.1% swinging-strike rate.

RHP Clay Holmes- He was non-tendered at the deadline back in Dec. But then quickly resigned on 12/4 to the Minors deal with the invite. In 77.2IP in the MLB, he holds a 5.91ERA/5.06FIP with a 9.04K/9. He missed all of 2020 due to a forearm strain.

RHP Chase De Jong- He brings with him a 7.12ERA/6.00FIP over 54.1IP at the MLB level. De Jong has plenty of time still left at 27yo to establish himself as a valuable member of a pen.

INF Wilmer Difo- Difo has a .247/.309/.348 career slash line across 1,060 MLB plate appearances. He's made contact at an above-average rate and drawn a decent number of walks, but Difo has well below-average exit velocities and has never been much of a power threat.

NRI:

RHP Yerry De Los Santos, RHP Jandel Gustave, RHP James Marvel, LHP Braeden Ogle, RHP Shea Spitzbarth, RHP Blake Weiman, C Jason Delay, Christian Kelley, C Arden Pabst, INF Will Craig, OF Kevin Kramer,

Returning from IL:

SS Kevin Newman, CF Anthony Allford, SS Cole Tucker, RHP Tyler Bashlor, RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Clay Holmes, 3B Phillip Evans, RHP Michael Feliz,

Prospect Watch in Camp

INF Nick Gonzales, RHP Quinn Prister, INF Liover Peguero, OF Travis Swaggerty, RHP Cody Bolton, INF Ji-Hwan Bae, OF Cal Mitchell, INF Mason Martin, OF Canaan Smith-Njigba- Each are top prospects in the organization in camp.

-On 3/17, The club optioned Rodolfo Castro, Roansy Contreras, Oneil Cruz, Max Kranick, and Nick Mears. In addition, the Pirates reassigned 10 players to their Minor League complex at Pirate City: Cody Bolton, Jason Delay, Nick Gonzales, Jandel Gustave, Mason Martin, Cal Mitchell, Liover Peguero, Priester, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Travis Swaggerty.

The Rookie I am watching is Ke'Bryan Hayes. All eyes on Hayes! In his 85AB with the team, he slashed .376/.442/.682 and posted a 1.9WAR. Hayes is well on his way to being a superstar and leading the Pirates' next wave of talent.

Fantasy Impact Players

Pitchers- I would AVOID Bucs pitchers in 2021, unless on a major hot-streak.

Position- 2B Adam Frazier, 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, SS Kevin Newman, OF Gregory Polanco.

Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:

-OF Gregory Polanco carries a $12.5mil club option, don't expect him to end the season with the club

-RP Felipe Vazquez carried a $10mil club option for next season; I don't expect him to make it until seasons end with the club.

-P Tyler Anderson and P Trevor Cahill will also be free-agents come season end. However, with a strong showing, both vets could be flipped mid-season.

Storylines to follow

-The NRI I am keeping my eye on is Todd Frazier. The vet doesn't fill any big holes for the team around the INF. However, he brings a decade of experience and has played like an actual big-league his entire career. The 35yo, 10-year vet in the MLB has a career .242/.319/.448 over 4909PA. He also has two seasons of 35+HR and 2 All-Star nods. At 3B, he has 20DRS, 24.6UZR in 9100INN at the position.

-The Pirates don't have anyone left from last season and made no signings with many trades this winter. I am calling a career rebound for LHP Mitch Keller. The Pirates' now ace is primed to take over the team's leadership role and the rotation. The 24yo, almost 25yo, has only pitched 69.2IP, with a -0.5WAR and a 4.30FIP. The ERA was pretty in 2020, sitting at 2.91. However, the 6.74FIP is more telling.

Bold Predictions

-Hayes wins the RoY, and the Bucs win 65 games!

-The breakout is coming for 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes. Let me repost the 2021 rookie of the year bio from above. In his 85AB with the team, he slashed .376/.442/.682 and posted a 1.9WAR. Hayes is well on his way to being a superstar and leading the Pirates' next wave of talent.

Fact Check:

In 1976, five teams wore pillbox-style hats in honor of the National League's centennial season. All except the Pirates ditched them by 1977, but the Pirates rocked them until 1986. They were the team that wore hats in a different shape than every other team.

WE DID IT! WE MADE IT, all 30 teams in 30 days and a day to spare before opening day! Check back tomorrow for my dark horses and surprise teams for 2021. I want to thank my partners over at Repp Sports for RAZE Energy. Thanks to this clean and sufficient energy, I can have the intense focus to deliver content to you guys consistently. Click here to save 15% right now with the code "BALL BOY" at check out.

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