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Pittsburgh Pirates 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates

Ke'Bryan Hayes is the first arrival from the Pirates' talent-laden farm system as Pittsburgh hopes to start its climb from the NL Central basement 

The Pittsburgh Pirates head into the second year of a major rebuild that has produced plenty of losses at the major league level.

Ben Cherington took over as general manager in November 2019 and watched the Pirates go 19–41 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for the worst record in the major leagues. He began tearing apart the roster that winter and into last season, when the Pirates were 61–101. They finished last in the National League Central for a third straight year.

The Pirates have restocked their organization with young talent, and many analysts rate their farm system among the best in the game. However, the Pirates are likely to struggle at the major league level again in 2022.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates logo

"There's not a whole lot to get excited about at the big-league level besides Bryan Reynolds in center, and nobody would be shocked if they sell high on him and make a trade. That's what they did with Jacob Stallings. They brought back Yoshi Tsutsugo at first base because he showed he could hit the high fastball, and they're hoping that Cole Tucker will finally get going. Ke'Bryan Hayes' bat will come along with time, and he's about to start winning a lot of Gold Gloves at third. He just makes everything look so easy. I'm curious to see what Oneil Cruz can do at shortstop — he's got a ton of power potential. Their pitching staff flopped last season, but there's no reason why JT Brubaker shouldn't be a solid mid-rotation guy at minimum, and while Bryse Wilson and Dillon Peters are not overpowering, they can be serviceable command guys. Their best pitcher was David Bednar, who has three nasty pitches, including a splitter he learned from Hideo Nomo, and it'll be worth watching to see if Roansy Contreras can earn a spot in the rotation — he looks like a keeper."

Beyond the Box Score

Happy Pirate Center fielder Bryan Reynolds started in the All-Star Game. While fans have clamored for the Pirates to sign Reynolds to a long-term contract extension, management isn't sure the 27-year-old is young enough to be a big part of the organization's future. Reynolds says he is amenable to listening to a potential offer, though. "I've been saying all year I like Pittsburgh," Reynolds said during the final week of last season. "I like the staff we've got here. I like the players. I like the city. So yeah, I like it here."

Pittsburgh Pirates 2022 Baseball Cover

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Dream come true Reliever David Bednar realized a dream last season by playing for the Pirates after being acquired from the Padres the previous offseason. He grew up as a Pirates fan in Pittsburgh's northern suburbs. "Every single day, it still brings a smile to my face, walking from the (parking) garage to the field to the dugout," Bednar said late last season. "Every day I'll just kind of look back at the skyline and just kind of smile like, 'Man, this is awesome.' Every day I have to pinch myself. It just keeps getting cooler and cooler."

Future fan favorite Infielder/outfielder Michael Chavis played in just 12 games for the Pirates last season. However, his hustling style and outgoing nature make him a potential hit with Pirates fans. "What you see is what you get," Chavis says. "You're going to see the same goofy dude with a smiley face hat. Maybe not a smiley face, but maybe something else. I just try to be me. I really enjoy playing baseball and I enjoy the relationships that are established through this grind that we go through."

New direction The Pirates will have a new hitting coach this season as Andy Haines replaces David Eckstein, who was fired last September. Haines was the Brewers' hitting coach the last four seasons. The Pirates were last in the major leagues in runs scored (3.76 per game), home runs (124) and slugging percentage (.364) last season in Eckstein's third year with the club.

Catching turnover The Pirates traded Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings to the Marlins for three players, then signed Roberto Perez as a free agent. Perez, a two-time AL Gold Glove winner with Cleveland, got a one-year, $5 million contract. Stallings was projected to receive a salary of approximately $2.5 million in arbitration. The Pirates were willing to spend an additional $2.5 million because they felt it was worth the cost to acquire righthander Zach Thompson and two prospects from the Marlins.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

3B    Ke'Bryan Hayes (R)
DH   Yoshi Tsutsugo (L)
CF    Bryan Reynolds (S)
1B    Daniel Vogelbach (L)
RF    Ben Gamel (L)
LF    Anthony Alford (R)
SS    Oneil Cruz (L)
C     Roberto Pérez (R)
2B    Cole Tucker (R)

BENCH

C     Michael Pérez (L)
INF  Kevin Newman (R)
OF   Greg Allen (S)
INF  Michael Chavis (R)

ROTATION

LHP    José Quintana
RHP    JT Brubaker
RHP    Zach Thompson
RHP    Bryse Wilson
RHP    Wil Crowe

BULLPEN

RHP    David Bednar (C)
RHP    Chris Stratton
LHP    Anthony Banda
RHP    Heath Hembree
RHP    Duane Underwood Jr.
LHP    Sam Howard
RHP    Nick Mears
RHP    Eric Hanhold

2022 Prediction: 5th in NL Central