First Pitch: A Future Infield You Can Build A Contender Around

It’s not a good practice to bank on the production of prospects and young players when trying to build a future winning team.

It’s also unavoidable for some franchises.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of those franchises.

This week we’ve been recapping and looking ahead at the infield positions, breaking down third base, shortstop, and second base.

By the 2023 season, the dream formation at those positions, made up of players currently in the system, would have the following:

3B: Ke’Bryan Hayes

SS: Liover Peguero

2B: Nick Gonzales

That combo would give the Pirates the best group both offensively and defensively in the system at those three spots. The only way it could be better is if Oneil Cruz becomes a solid defending, elite power hitting shortstop. To me, that’s a different type of dream than the one above. I see Cruz adding to this trio from the outfield in the future, or possibly even first base.

It’s easier to count on Hayes from this group. We’ve seen him in the majors for a limited sample size, and he has a much longer track record in pro ball than the other two.

Peguero hasn’t played above short-season ball, and is still a teenager until December 31st this year. Gonzales was just drafted out of college and has yet to play in a pro game.

With these two, you can see the risk. How can you accurately project a future infield with two guys who haven’t even played in full-season ball? The answer is that you can’t accurately project this trio. You can only project them out and hope for the best.

That’s the game when projecting prospects. The “best” might just be Ke’Bryan Hayes living up to his ceiling, with the other two falling short and allowing other players to enter the discussion.

The Pirates obviously hope that “the best” means one of Peguero or Gonzales will work out as well, in addition to Hayes.

The good news is that they have plenty of depth for their middle infield spots, and plenty of alternatives if Peguero or Gonzales don’t pan out.

I can see the Pirates being a contending team with a trio of Hayes/Peguero/Gonzales in a future infield, backed by Cruz at another position.

The questions going forward will be how close can the Pirates get to that outcome?

And how can they supplement things when someone falls short?

The 2020 Prospect Guide returns to print for our tenth¬† we are releasing three variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Visit our shop page to order these extremely limited items!


First Pitch