There are signs of hope in the lower levels of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system.
The Pirates swept the league MVP and Pitcher of the Year awards in their two A-ball leagues.
In Greensboro, RHP Quinn Priester took home the Pitcher of the Year award, while outfielder Matt Fraizer was named the MVP.
One level lower in Bradenton, RHP Adrian Florencio was the Pitcher of the Year and catcher Endy Rodriguez was the MVP.
We’re all looking for some kind of hope that the Pirates will return to winning in the future, while being able to maintain the winning over the long-term. Minor league awards are great to see in that regard, although they don’t always translate to big league success.
One factor here, aside from the quantity of awards in a single season, is the group of award winners and what they say.
Priester is expected to be good. He was a first round pick in 2019, and has been living up to that pick. However, the Pirates didn’t exactly get Pitcher of the Year awards from their former first round pitchers in A-ball.
Fraizer is a story of development. I’ve written several times this year about the strides he has made. The latest is over at Baseball America, where Fraizer is the Pirates’ 2021 Minor League Player of the Year.
Had anyone heard of Adrian Florencio before this season? Probably only the hardcore readers of this site who followed John Dreker’s lower-level reports the last few seasons. He was our Pitcher of the Year over at Pirates Prospects. Getting league Pitcher of the Year results in the process is a great sign from a pitcher who emerged from obscurity.
Then there’s Endy Rodriguez, who the Pirates added from the Mets as one of five prospects in the Joe Musgrove trade. Rodriguez has shown great athletic ability, with the skills to stick behind the plate and a bat to be a two-way catcher. He either provides a great insurance policy for 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis, or has the ability to move to another position and succeed. Don’t rule out second base, where I hear his defense is solid. This isn’t your normal “catcher or corner” player.
A first rounder living up to the hype.
Pure development stories.
A great job of scouting.
These are all positive signs that you can hold onto over the long winter, as we search for reasons why the Pirates might contend in the future.
Because these were far from the only good stories in the system this year. The Pirates also had nine All-Stars between both A-ball levels and Altoona.
Signs of hope.
Song of the Day
“It was gonna be a big summer, you know, a big summer
Every one since then too, “A big summer”
“Gonna be a big summer”
Yet, somehow that’s never the case, is it?
It’s the sprawl of autumn, isn’t it?
It’s the crunch, where one can never daydream
You know living myths can come true
Sometime it might happen to you
Especially if you live outside of time
Anyway, the rhyme you are about to hear isn’t true
But, it isn’t false either
Any resemblance between this rhythm poetic exploration
And reality is purely magical, purely magical”