I wake up every day ready to be surprised by the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

I go to sleep every night surprised enough to be disappointed.

They find new ways to steal my sleep and shiver me timbers every seventeen hours or so.

No offense to Tucupita Marcano or Jack Suwinski or Jack Sparrow, who’s down bad but seems to be bouncing back if you’re tracking the Youtube trial. Anyway, talented players, all, but even from a team-control perspective, I can’t understand why anyone would promote these guys and bench Diego Castillo. 

Before we even consider the Oneil Cruz angle, taken from the most extreme tank-forever lens, how does it make sense? Maybe Castillo is hurt but not injured and just needs a day and this is just me spinning my wheels, which is really what being a baseball fan is all about, sometimes. It’s all an intricate but elaborate board game, and we like to play along with the teams, and it’s just impossible to play along with Pittsburgh. No functional POV perspective for this game. Can’t even select the Pirates in Franchise Mode of your favorite video games, probably–so alien is their approach to applying eye liner and operating a baseball team.

But let’s not dwell here where three rivers meet. There’s a whole ocean of baseball islands to explore.

Starting out with an early bird situation for you scuba divers, Detroit 2B/OF Carlos Mendoza is hitting .394/.535/.545 in 33 at bats in Low A with three doubles, one triple, and zero home runs. He’s just 5’7” but has the kind of barrel control that portends production beyond his raw thump. This kind of statline isn’t new for Mendoza either. He slashed .415/.589/.523 in 26 GCL games last year then posted a .422 OBP in 21 games in Low-A and even ended his stateside debut season in AA for a couple games, scoring a couple runs there. He’s 22 years old, so he probably won’t be young for his level at any point in his minor league timeline. I’m going to zero in over the next few weeks as best I can because this could get noisy in a hurry if Mendoza can find even a tiny jolt of power. Plan for now is to fit him in where I can while I can. 

I was high on Tampa 1B Kyle Manzardo heading into FYPD season this winter, but it wasn’t enough. Cut to sad Towlie, “When is being high really being low?” Now, Towlie. I don’t have Manzardo on any teams, so his 30.8% walk rate and 11.5 percent strikeout rate in High-A as a 21-year-old have no meaning to me. He’s also slugging .563, so he’s not just punching Judy, or whatever the hell that saying is. Punch and Judy? Am I making this up? Feels like a fever dream. Anyway, he’s hitting the ball hard, walking a lot, and rarely striking out, but at least I have Robert Suarez, so that turned out great. I suppose I could try to overpay and pry Manzardo away from his teamzardos, but I feel like his horse has flown the coop in my leagues. Maybe you can still get him in yours. 

Washington OF Josh Palacios got lost in the shuffle among Toronto’s stash of quality field players and wound up in the nation’s capital. Well, Rochester for now, ripping through International League pitching with a .360/.500/.600 slash line, 3 HR, 2 SB, and a 21.9%/12.5% BB/K rate. The Nats might be patient during their bumpy ride with Lane Thomas, but they probably want to see if this hot streak from Palacios can carry over to the show. 

It’s a double-dip from the Palacios family this week, as Josh’s younger brother Cleveland SS/OF Richie Palacios was recalled to cover for some Covid-list trips and picked up two hits in his debut on Tuesday. He’s not an awe-inducing prospect at first glance but makes hay with a smart plate approach and plus contact skills. He can also play pretty much anywhere in the field and fits well with Cleveland’s pesky, pitch-spoiling group of youngsters. Probably just a cameo this week while the team’s in need, but every window is also a door, or something. 

The aforementioned Pittsburgh 2B Tucupita Marcano didn’t necessarily graduate AA, slashing .250/.364/.333 with a 29.5 percents strikeout rate, but his name does make me think of a McCaw, which makes me think Parrot, which makes me think Pirate, so he’s got that going for him. Not much to see here for our purposes though. 

Pittsburgh OF Jack Suwinksi on the other hand did play his way out of AA and into the big league lineup Tuesday night by slashing .353/.451/.686 with 3 HR and 1 SB in 13 games. It’s fitting that he and Marcano took the trip together because they also traveled as a pair from San Diego in the Adam Frazier trade. Suwinski features legitimate big league power with just enough plate discipline and hit tool to invite optimism about his chances to actualize if given the runway to do so. I doubt he has that here, but as I say in the intro, I have no idea what’s going on aboard that ship. 

One last Pittsburgh based note this week: SS Liover Peguero has 15 RBI in 13 AA games along with four stolen bases, two home runs and a .327/.351/.564 slash line. The plate patience isn’t where it will be, but I’m glad to see he’s bringing an aggressive approach and doing damage in the early going. Should get the bump to AAA whenever that spot is vacated by the enormous human holding it down for now. 

From one tooled-up NL Central shortstop to another, St. Louis SS Masyn Winn has transcended his plane of existence in High-A, slashing .415/.469/.683 with four stolen bases and one home run. He slashed .209/.240/.304 in 36 games at the level last season, so it’s thrilling to see him make this leap, and it feels fairly sustainable as long as he’s striking out and walking about 13 percent of the time. The skill growth, I mean, feels sustainable enough. I’ll take the under on a .415 batting average and double down on the .683 slugging percentage. Winn was a hot property early last year but ended the season with a fairly quiet line, so he might be available in a league or two for you. 

Worth your time to make a quick sweep across your leagues in search of Colorado SS Adael Amador, who has similarly transcended his level in the early going. A 19-year-old in A ball, Amador has walked more than he’s struck out while slashing .339/.457/.607 with four home runs and three stolen bases in 15 games. He displayed great plate skills in the complex league last year: 13.5% BB, 14.5% K, so that’s starting to feel a little sticky at this point. Gonna be a slow road, but like Pirates, all I’ve got is time, just out here floating in the ocean on an endless treasure hunt. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.