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Projected Minor League Assignments in the Pirate System

By David Finoli

As in stages of grief, which Pirate fans have certainly become accustomed to for the most part of the past 40 plus seasons, there are stages of baseball reconstruction. The first is admitting your team and system sucks (check). Then there is the hiring of a new general manager and staff (check). Next is the selling off of what few valuable parts you have for prospects (check). The slow, painful part follows, watching the new draft picks and prospects acquired in trades go through the lower parts of your system, hoping that some continue to show major league promise. If they don’t at this point, it may be time to begin the process over again. If they do this is when the light at the end of the tunnel begins to this case, we can give the Pirate regime a check. The next to last step is the excitement of seeing potential major league talent at the AA and AAA level and finally graduating them to the majors, and, of course, hopefully begin to challenge for a post season spot. I’m sure there are some steps I’m missing but in this scenario, luckily, the Bucs have come to the next to last step which should lead to a fun campaign within the system.

Normally, your AAA roster is a mixture of potential prospects, aged veterans looking for a final shot and also to fill out the roster, and a selection of Quad A players. The players we know aren’t really good enough to star or even start in the majors, but can fill spots in an emergency when an injury occurs at the major league level (or you just don’t have enough good players yet in the majors...AKA Ben Gamel).

This year, the Indianapolis Indians are chock full of prospects who have the potential to make a mark at the major league level. This really hasn’t happened at this level for the franchise in a very long time. While we don’t know if it will be as productive as this crew, it harkens back to the days of the 1968 Columbus Jets, a team that had the likes of Bruce Dal Canton, Manny Sanguillen, Richie Hebner, Dock Ellis, Al Oliver, Freddie Patek and Bobby Robertson, who was on the roster but

missed the season with a kidney obstruction. Each were either valuable members of the Pirate franchise that would capture the 1971 World Series and dominate the National League East in the first half of the 1970s or pieces the team used in trades to garner more of those pieces.

By far, the best and brightest of the franchises top prospects will be found in Indy, many of whom will get the opportunity to finally contribute at the major league level this season. In parentheses are the players rating within the system by Baseball America. Those with no ratings are prospects either to new to be rated or who have a chance to play at the majors at some point. As you can see below, the strength of the system is its depth.

Some of the Indy crew, such as Rodriguez, Peguero and Ortiz, have a shot of making the major league roster out of Bradenton in March. Most likely though, they will get some reps at AAA first, which is what they probably need, especially Rodriguez who has only 22 at bats at the AAA level and Ortiz, who needs to master his control first.

There are others such as Henry Davis and Nick Gonzales who potentially could have graduated to Indianapolis this season. However both have spent more time on injured reserve last season than the field, and it gives them a shot to get valuable time at the AA level while players who are closer to the majors (such as Rodriguez and Peguero) can get their time at AAA. If all goes well with both Davis and Gonzales, they will make their way to the Indians by mid-season once Endy and Liover have found there ways to Pittsburgh.

The fun part of this, thanks to effective drafts over the past two seasons, is we also see quite a few potential prospects at the lower level, too. This is necessary to continue to keep the flow of top players in the system throughout when the crop at Indy begins to graduate to the Pirates. This didn’t occur in the mid 2010’s when the major league team was in the playoffs three consecutive seasons. They didn’t have the players to fill the holes in the minor league system when players at the major league level began to leave Pittsburgh.

So let the season begin, where hopefully the major league careers of Endy Rodriguez, Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester and many others will begin with a bang. And where former top prospects like Travis Swaggerty and Tahnaj Thomas can correct what issues they have and can be what the organization hoped they’d be when they drafted (Swaggerty) and traded for (Thomas) these players. Most importantly, let this season start the final step of baseball reconstruction for the Bucs...and a hopeful trip back to the post-season in the next couple seasons. Play ball!


(1) Endy Rodriguez- CA

(4) Luis Ortiz- P

(5) Quinn Priester- P

(7) Liover Peguero- SS

(9) Mike Burrows- P

(14) Kyle Nicolas- P

(15) Jared Triolo- 3B

(16) Matt Gorski- OF

(19) Canaan Smith-Njigba- OF

(20) Malcom Nunez- 1B

(21) Carmen Mlodzinski- P

(22) Cody Bolton- P

(25) Colin Selby- P

(29) Andres Alvarez- INF

(30) Tyler Samaniego- P

Travis Swaggerty- OF

Tahnaj Thomas- P

Nick Dombrowski- P

JC Flowers- P

Nathan Webb- P


(3) Henry Davis- CA

(8) Nick Gonzales- 2B

(11) Jared Jones- P

(23) Dariel Lopez- 3B

Ricky DeVito- P


(13) Anthony Solometo- P

(24) Tsung- Che Cheng- SS

(26) Rodolfo Nolasco- OF

Po-Yu Chen- P

Abrahan Gutierrez- CA

Jack Brannigan- 3B/ P


(2)Termarr Johnson- 2B

(6) Bubba Chandler- P/DH

(10) Thomas Harrington- P

(17) Hunter Barco- P

(28) Lonnie White Jr.- OF

Yordanny DeLosSantos-3B

Owen Kellington- P


(18) Michael Kennedy- P

(27) Axiel Plaz- CA

Jun-Seok Shin- P

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