Pittsburgh Pirates’ Top 5 Prospects Post-Trade Deadlineby Jamie Gatlin August 18, 2021 1 comment
The Pittsburgh Pirates were busy adding to their prospect pool at this year’s trade deadline. With the departure of veterans such as Adam Frazier and Richard Rodriguez, that process has been further emphasized. Now, this current collection of Pirates prospects ranks top five in all of baseball. Let’s dive into an updated ranking of the Pirates’ top five prospects after this year’s deadline.
Make sure to check out all of our Updated Prospect Articles.
1. Nick Gonzales 2B
Gonzales has been one of the Pirates’ top prospects since being selected seventh overall in the 2020 MLB Draft. The Arizona native was one of the best pure hitters in his draft class. He finished his collegiate career with a .399 average and has continued to rake in the minors. In his first professional season, the New Mexico State product is batting .280 and has shown some power with 20 extra-base hits. While Gonzales was drafted only a year ago, he expected to move quickly through the minors.
When the Pirates selected Gonzales, he was viewed as an advanced college player. This season he has dealt with injuries but has been on fire lately. The 22-year-old is batting .333 in August with three home runs. In that span, he has 16 hits and is having the best month of his pro career. His quick bat speed has been on full display, and he is getting on base at a high rate. Gonzales could make it to the majors next season and is essential to the Pirates’ future success.
2. Quinn Priester RP
Over the past year, Priester’s stock has been on the rise. The former 18th overall pick has a fastball that reaches the high 90’s and a plus curveball. In 24 minor league starts, he has posted a 2.93 ERA. Entering the 2021 season, Priester focused on getting stronger, and the results have paid off. If he can continue to improve his off-speed pitches, his future in Pittsburgh is bright.
Priester is the pitcher with the most promise in Pittsburgh’s system. This season he has shown encouraging signs with Greensboro, as his strikeout rate has increased. In his last start, Priester struck out a career-high 10 batters as his potential was on full display. Over the next year, his progress will be closely monitored as he hopes to lead the Pirates staff for years to come. He is the fourth-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
Quinn Priester, Immaculate inning. pic.twitter.com/jkJbNbOfcI
— O'ki (@27imokemp) August 14, 2021
3. Oneil Cruz SS
Cruz began his baseball journey when the Dodgers signed him in 2015. He was traded to Pittsburgh two years later, at the 2017 trade deadline for Tony Watson. Since the trade, Cruz has become one of the Pirates’ most promising players. The 22-year-old has impressive power and the ability to barrel up the ball. In the minors, he has been lethal with the bat and had an average exit velocity of 92.4 mph in 2019. In 43 games this year, Cruz has hit nine home runs and posted a .289 average.
Over the last few years, there has been speculation that Cruz will move to the outfield. He has a cannon of an arm but has struggled with accuracy. The Dominican native would, however, bring unique power to the shortstop position. He has also shown the ability to get on base and has only hit below .237 once in the minors. Regardless of Cruz’s position, he will be a lethal bat in the Pirates’ lineup. He has dealt with injuries this year, but Cruz’s bat is expected to be in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.
4. Liover Peguero SS
Like Cruz, Peguero was acquired via trade. The talented infielder was part of the Starling Marte deal and is a promising prospect. In 66 games at High-A, Peguero is hitting .261 this year with 26 extra-base hits. While the 20-year-old has struggled with strikeouts, he has hit a career-high 11 home runs. The Pirates’ fourth-best prospect has a knack for barreling up the baseball, which will only improve as he gets stronger.
The Dominican native also possesses plus speed and range at shortstop. He is also known for his infectious energy and will be a player to watch as he gets more experience. With Cruz and Peguero at shortstop, the Pirates infield has a bright future. As Peguero moves through the system, he will be fun to watch as his approach at the plate sets him apart from other prospects.
5. Hudson Head OF
A two-sport standout in High School, Head was a key part of the Joe Musgrove return. Since the trade Head has become one of the best prospects in the Pirates’ system. He possesses impressive bat speed and raw power. While the Texas native is only batting .208 this year, he has hit 12 home runs. In his second minor league season, Head has struggled to make contact but has done a good job of hitting the ball the other way. As the 23-yeat-old gets closer to the majors, he will need to cut down on strikeouts. In 2021 his power has been on display at times. If Head can do that, then the Pirates will have a dangerous outfield.
What Does the Pirates’ Future Hold?
Since Ben Cherrington took over in 2019, the Pirates have focused on rebuilding the farm system. That has involved the trade of talented veterans for young talent. Those efforts have made an impact as Pittsburgh has the fourth-best prospect pool in the majors. While most of their prospects are two years away from the majors, Pittsburgh has a bright future. Next season some of these key pieces should see some time in the majors as the Pirates playoff window inches closer.
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