Pirates 2021 Season Preview


Josh Hoerner

Spring training is finally upon us, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With the pandemic upon us, baseball season looks like a go. Only 9 players and 3 staff of the whole major league tested positive for the coronavirus (0.3 percent of the league). With spring training starting, let’s take a look at what the new Pittsburgh Pirates team looks like.

Rebuild in Full Scale

The glory days with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte are over. The Pirates are officially in rebuild mode. Truly, I believe they are starting it the right way. Ben Cherington knew the direction he wanted to take this team, and so far promise has shown in light of the bad season last year.

First, the hiring of General Manager Derek Shelton was a step in the right direction. In Minnesota, you could see the change happen with now Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli. As a Pirates fan, trading away great players such as Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove, and others is painful but necessary. Now, the Pirates have the 4th ranked farm system according to ESPN’s Keith Law.  Development will be key. Leading that farm system is Pirates’ future star gold glover Ke’Bryan Hayes.  A bonified top 10 prospect, Hayes showed so much promise last year when he was called up. Showing all 5 tools (speed, power, average, fielding, and arm strength), his ceiling is so high. He is the future of the franchise.

Next, are two middle infielders who could be stars. 6’7 shortstop O’Neill Cruz is an anomaly, to say the least. All 5 tools to his game are present, just like Hayes. And at 6’7, his power could become endless. At shortstop, his future duo partner could be the number 6 overall draft pick in last year’s draft, second baseman Nick Gonzales. Although he is only 5’10, he has all the tools necessary to become a great second baseman. At New Mexico State, Gonzales was near a .340 average in the spring. Although only 5’10, he has sneaky power and defense. He was a steal for the Pirates at number 6, since the Orioles took Heston Kjerstad.

Although hard-throwing right-hander Quinn Priester probably will not see the big leagues anytime soon, his ceiling is also high. With the 2 fastball punch, Priester could become a great pitcher in this league. Liover Peguiro shows so much flash as a shortstop, with plus exit velocities, and athletic ability. Hudson Head shows the potential to be a great outfielder, with all 5 tools in his game. Two hard-throwing right-handed pitchers lie behind him, Eddy Yean, and Brennon Malone. But, there is one thing we all may be forgetting.

How the Pirates Can Easily Win This Years Draft

With the first overall pick, it’s hard to lose. If anybody other than Kumar Rocker’s name is called, this draft is automatically a disappointment. The right hander from Vanderbilt showed so much potential. A good fastball that can get up to 97-99 MPH at times presents the ability to be a dominant pitch. A wipeout slider got all 19 of his strikeouts during his no hitter. To me, he is almost a locker for the number 1 pick. With a pick in the latter 20’s hometown outfielder Ben Montgomery should be the target. With a 6’4 frame, Montgomery has raw power potential. Already at a 70 run grade with a plus arm, as long as he is still on the board, he should be the pick.

This Year’s Team

There is no question that this year’s team will be bad, but it has the right pieces in place to become a contending team in 2023-2025 with prospect development. The Tampa Bay Rays are a good example of this. An amazing farm system, with a limited budget, can be managed. The Houston Astros were awful from 2013-2016, but are now a powerhouse contender. The team needs to know when to go in the right direction. Losing and rebuilding is ok. The best years for this team are ahead.

In conclusion, although a down year is ahead, the future can only get better for this team. Hopefully, we will all get to see at least one championship Pirates team in our lifetime, and maybe Ke’Bryan Hayes can be the star of the team.