Finally, the outfielders. The Pirates’ growing obsession with “versatility” has meant that they’re probably going to cover the outfield beyond their starters with players who are really infielders. They’ve even got guys like Adam Frazier and Jose Osuna listed as outfielders on their web site.
Of course, things could change a lot if Andrew McCutchen gets traded.
Adam Frazier (No. 26): A nice showing in 2016 has probably won Frazier a job on the major league bench. He’s been an infielder nearly his whole career, but the Pirates don’t seem to like him there defensively, or at least not at short, and their roster lists him as an outfielder. He hasn’t been terribly good defensively there, but lack of experience could be a factor.
Starling Marte (6)
Andrew McCutchen (22)
Jose Osuna (64): Osuna has probably more or less replaced Jason Rogers on the depth chart. He seemed to be headed for minor league free agency after a string of .760-ish OPSes, not good enough for a corner player, but a 291/333/482 line after a mid-season promotion to Indianapolis in 2016 got him on the roster. He’s mainly been a first baseman for several years and is a better fit there as a platoon or bench player, as he’s solid defensively at first and doesn’t have the range for the outfield. He has some history of mashing LHPs, which helps. Barring an injury or trade, Osuna isn’t likely to make the major league roster out of spring training, but he could be a callup option during the season.
Gregory Polanco (25)
Barrett Barnes (79): His 458 plate appearances in 2016 were more than Barnes totaled in his first three pro seasons. He mostly struggled through the first three months of 2016 at Altoona, then exploded to hit .404 in July, and then hit eight of his nine HRs in August. Barnes is strictly a corner outfielder now and doesn’t have a good arm, which may partially explain why he survived the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates will probably want to see whether his late-season surge carries over to AAA. I’m not sure what his potential role would be going forward, as the Pirates appear to be getting fanatical about bench players being able to handle multiple positions and Barnes doesn’t project as a starter.
Austin Meadows (77): The Pirates’ top position prospect isn’t on the roster and will undoubtedly open in AAA even if McCutchen is traded, but he should get a chance to make an impression.
Danny Ortiz (69): Ortiz spent last year in Indianapolis and re-signed with the Pirates just after they lost Willy Garcia. He can play center, which they probably like, but he’s never shown anything in three AAA seasons (his career OBP in AAA is .285) to indicate that he’s likely to hit in the majors.
Eury Perez (27): Perez probably has the best, albeit very outside, chance of any NRI outfielder to stick with the Pirates. He’s very fast, plays center, and managed a .331 OBP in his one significant exposure to the majors in 2015. He’s a career 298/347/393 hitter in AAA, although he struggled there last year. I’m not sure about his current status, though, as he left a winter league playoff game (sub. req’d) a few days ago with some sort of ankle injury.