By: Noah Wright
After losing long time starting shortstop Jordy Mercer, the Pirates are looking at a carousel of who’s starting at shortstop. For one, we have Erik Gonzalez, a former Indians farmhand who they acquired in a trade that sent Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff to Cleveland. Then we have a Seinfeld duo, Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer. Both performed well in the minors, having above .300 batting averages, Kramer showing some power, Newman showing some good speed, and both showing decent fielding work in Triple-A. However once the two made the majors, they struggled to find their footing. Then there’s former Korean star Jung-Ho Kang, who after batting .273/.355/.483 and showing power and a decent glovework at both SS and 3B between 2015-2016, missed all of 2017 and nearly all of 2018 after running into some DUI problems.
The Bucs do have some promising shortstop prospects in Oneil Cruz, and Cole Tucker, but neither have reached Triple-A (Oneil hasn’t even reached AA). The team likely doesn’t want to rush either right now, and mess with their development.
Outside of the organization, things don’t look much more promising. Sure there’s Nick Ahmed, and Jose Iglesias, but both aren’t really good bat options. Right now, their really just glove first shortstops.
But the Pirates already have their starting shortstop. He’s already in their system, and nobody is paying any attention to him. He’s who I like to call Josh Harrison 2.0, Pablo Reyes.
Now Reyes isn’t going to be making any prospect headlines. He’s not even on the team’s top 30 list (according to MLB.com). However Reyes has slowly risen through the minors. Last season, Reyes batted .284/.337/.421 in 447 PA’s (398 in AAA, and 49 in AA). He stole a total 16 bases in 2018 as well. He’s also showed some decent speed throughout his MILB career, as he’s reached 20+ twice before, and at least double digits since appearing in full seasons since 2012. Reyes was very versatile in the minors too. He has ample experience at shortstop, second base, third base, and the outfield.
Last season, the Bucs gave Reyes a chance at the Major League level, and he took advantage of it. In his first 63 big league plate appearances, Reyes batted .293/.349/.483 with 3 home runs and a 127 wRC+.
Defensively, Reyes can play nearly every position adequatley. He had 0 DRS at third base, 1 DRS in left field, and just -1 DRS in right field. Plus, he had an overall 1.4 UZR in the grass, showing he’s capable of tracking down a ball. Fangraphs gives Reyes an overall fielding and throwing rating of 50/50.
Pablo Reyes has shown enough, both in the minors, and in his short stint in the majors, he should be given a shot at shortstop. Afterall, outside of possibly Jung Ho Kang, he’s the best option out of Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, and Erik Gonzalez. Regardless if he gets the chance to play regular at any position, Reyes should definitely be on the MLB roster next year. The Pirates are losing one man who can play anywhere they put him in Josh Harrison, and Adam Frazier looks to solidify second base full time. With that, Reyes could slide in as the team’s super utility man.