This year we’re doing a daily simulation of the 2020 season using Out of the Park Baseball.
We are also doing a daily simulation of the 2025 season, separate from the 2020 scenario. To get to the 2025 season for this project, I’ve been simulating all of the seasons leading up to that year, and posting the results on a year-by-year basis. Here are the years we’ve covered so far:
Today we’re recapping the 2023 season. Tomorrow we’ll look at 2024, and on Friday we’ll preview the 2025 season before starting on that daily simulation. The end goal of all of this is to provide a daily look at what the current prospects in the system might do at a time when we’ve got the Pirates projected for their best chance of winning in real life.
Here are our top 20 prospects, per the 2020 Prospect Guide. This looks at how they fared in the 2023 simulation.
Mitch Keller: Keller had a rough year in 2022 after returning from an injury in 2021. He had a much better season in 2023, with a 3.67 ERA in 166.2 innings, an 8.9 K/9, and a 3.2 BB/9.
Ke’Bryan Hayes: Hayes made his MLB debut today in our simulation of the 2020 season. In our look ahead, he had a .748 OPS in 705 plate appearances, with 11 homers and a 3.1 WAR.
Oneil Cruz: Cruz has struggled to get out of Double-A. He had an .820 OPS this year, which is a drop from his .862 OPS last year. That was a drop from his .882 in 2020. For perspective, the 2024 season will be his age 25 season.
Liover Peguero: Made his MLB debut in 2022. He had a .707 OPS in 525 plate appearances in Pittsburgh, with six homers and a 1.8 WAR. Peguero was the starting shortstop in Pittsburgh, and had a +5.7 zone rating at the position this year.
Cody Bolton: Returned to the majors as a reliever. Had a 5.50 ERA in 55.2 innings, with a 54:20 K/BB.
Tahnaj Thomas: Had a 4.84 ERA in 109.2 innings, with a 111:60 K/BB ratio in his return to Bradenton.
Quinn Priester: Made his MLB debut in 2023. Had a 4.60 ERA in 29.1 innings in the majors, with a 26:13 K/BB. Was the fifth starter in the rotation by the end of the year.
Brennan Malone: He’s been a reliever until now, but Malone moved to the rotation in Morgantown, with a 2.41 ERA in 56 innings. He’s still dealing with control problems, but could have a chance to add value as a starter going forward.
Ji-Hwan Bae: Spent most of the year with Altoona, and had a .667 OPS in 541 plate appearances. About to enter his age 24 season, and has struggled to have success above A-ball.
Braxton Ashcraft: Made his MLB debut in 2023, pitching out of the rotation. Had a 5.23 ERA in 74 innings, with a 75:27 K/BB and a 1.8 WAR. Ashcraft will be 24 in the 2023 season.
Michael Burrows: Burrows has struggled to move up beyond A-ball, and had issues in the A-ball bullpens this year.
Travis Swaggerty: Was the starting center fielder in Pittsburgh for the second year in a row, before going down in July with a ruptured medial collateral ligament. The injury should put him out until just before the 2023 season. Had a .768 OPS and 2.3 WAR before the injury.
JT Brubaker: Brubaker was signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent prior to 2022. He made his MLB debut in 2023, with a 2.84 ERA in 6.1 innings over four relief appearances.
Will Craig: Craig had his best season in Indianapolis, with an .804 OPS. He moved up to Pittsburgh for his MLB debut, playing in one game and going 0-for-3 with a walk.
Nick Mears: He spent a brief amount of time in the majors, with four shutout innings over two relief appearances.
Jared Oliva: Oliva was claimed by the Nationals prior to the 2022 season. He was traded to the Twins in a deal for Nick Gordon. He made his MLB debut with the Twins in 2023, with a .932 OPS over 44 plate appearances. He had a .748 OPS in Triple-A, but a .904 OPS in Triple-A last year.
Mason Martin: Hit for an .851 OPS and 15 homers in 439 plate appearances with Altoona. That was a drop from his performance at the same level in 2022.
Calvin Mitchell: Hit for a .778 OPS with Altoona. Moved up to Indianapolis and had a .454 OPS in 65 plate appearances.
Sammy Siani: Spent half the season in Altoona with a .743 OPS. Had two injuries that shortened his season by over three months, dealing with a sprained ankle and fractured hand.
Travis MacGregor: Spent three years in Double-A, then was released by the Pirates at the start of the 2023 season. Signed by the Red Sox, where he returned to Double-A with similar results to his 2022 season.
**The Pirates finished 67-94, fourth place in the NL Central.
**This was a really fun season, despite the poor record, with a lot of surprises by the end of the season. I say they were surprises, because I do nothing but sim the season and check the results at the end. It’s at that point I see who was on the MLB team that season.
**I’ll get the biggest shocker out of the way. Josh Bell left as a free agent after the 2022 season. The new first baseman? Miguel Sano.
You read that right. The Pirates finally got him. They got him on a four-year, $27.6 M deal. This followed an age 29 season where he had an 0.7 WAR with the Twins. He had a 5.6 WAR two years earlier, but dropped to 2.2 in 2021 before taking another drop in 2022.
He bounced back with the Pirates in 2023, hitting 45 home runs, with a .227/.333/.508 line in 673 plate appearances. That resulted in a 2.5 WAR. They’ve got him through the 2026 season.
**There were a lot of interesting MLB debuts and prospect performances, outside of our top 20 guys above. Here they are:
**Perhaps my favorite MLB debut story: Gage Hinsz. He went 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA in 9.2 innings over five appearances. Hinsz also had a 3.86 ERA in 21 innings in Triple-A. He grades out as a below-average reliever in the majors, but I love the fact that he made it in this sim.
**I mentioned that Travis Swaggerty missed the second half of the season above. Lolo Sanchez was one of his primary replacements. Lolo hit for a .268/.342/.430 line in 158 plate appearances.
**Blake Weiman is the closer in the majors. He had a 5.03 ERA in 78.2 innings. Weiman rates as a 45 in the game at this point, and only one reliever on the roster at the end of the season was rated higher. He probably shouldn’t be in a big role, but should be in the majors at this point in the sim.
**Nick Burdi was the closer, until he was traded in mid-July for two minor league prospects. Ironically enough, he signed with the Twins following the 2023 season.
**The Pirates made a trade with the Red Sox, sending starting pitcher Danny Duffy and minor league third baseman Alexander Mojica for two catching prospects. Mojica rates as a 25/45 in the game right now.
**Arden Pabst made his MLB debut with a .557 OPS in 64 plate appearances.
**Jason Martin has been a consistent figure on the MLB bench the last few years in the sim. He had a .774 OPS in 216 PA for an 0.5 WAR in 2023.
**Blake Cederlind made his MLB debut in 2021 and has been in the bullpen since. He went down in mid-July of this simulated year with a torn labrum.
**Third baseman Dylan Busby made an appearance in the majors, with a .732 OPS in 74 plate appearances.
**Stephen Alemais has been a backup shortstop in the majors the last three years with the Pirates, topping out at an 0.5 WAR.
**There was a question in the 2022 article wondering where Max Kranick was. He spent the 2023 season in the Yankees system in Double-A. He had a 2.66 ERA in 61 innings as a reliever. The Pirates released him at the start of the season. He had a 5.28 ERA in 59.2 innings in Double-A the previous season. He grades as a 30 overall with 35 upside.
**Anyone you want to know more about? Ask in the comments and I’ll include the information in the 2024 report, set to run tomorrow.