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Pirates spring training outfielders: Who are these guys?

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Milwaukee Brewers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Now the outfielders. I won’t include guys who’ll definitely make the team: Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez (the team’s web site lists the last two as outfielders).

Prior installments:

Catchers
Infielders

Christopher Bostick (No. 44): After a nice year in AAA last year, which included good gap power and significant improvement in plate discipline, Bostick seems like a candidate for a utility job. Unfortunately, he got swept into the Pirates’ recent obsession with turning solid-hitting infielders into weak-hitting outfielders. He’s also facing their renewed obsession with old bench players. If he doesn’t get designated for assignment to make room for another marginal, aging backup, he has a reasonable chance at a brief callup or two, but there are a lot of players ahead of him.

Chance of contributing in 2018: Moderate

Todd Cunningham (No. 27): Cunningham is this year’s version of Danny Ortiz: A veteran outfielder with solid AAA credentials and the ability to play all three outfield spots. Unlike Ortiz, he has a little major league experience and has shown pretty good on-base ability, but doesn’t have much power. Cunningham is a switch hitter who hasn’t had a platoon split. His best chance of a callup would be an injury to Marte, as the Pirates aren’t likely to want to play Polanco in center. That would leave Cunningham, Frazier and Austin Meadows as the only other possibilities.

Chance of contributing in 2018: Moderate

Jordan Luplow (No. 47): After hitting 26 HRs in a breakout season in 2017, you’d think Luplow would have the vacant left field job locked down, but he doesn’t. The Pirates have said Frazier is a possibility and Nava no doubt will get a shot as well. Since neither Frazier nor Nava has much power, that’s pretty hard to understand, but this is the “We don’t need no stinkin’ power” Pirates. In any event, Luplow should get a good deal of time in the majors in 2018.

Chance of contributing in 2018: High

Jason Martin (No. 90): Martin was the fourth guy in the Gerrit Cole trade. He was originally considered a player with average tools who had a chance to play center. He hasn’t shown the defensive ability to be a full-time center fielder, but he suddenly started hitting for power in 2016, albeit with shaky plate discipline. The big caveat is that nobody saw fit to select him in the Rule 5 draft last December. He got 300 at-bats in AA in 2017, so he should at least get a chance to earn a spot at Indianapolis. If he does and handles it well, he could have an outside chance at reaching the majors in 2018, especially since the Pirates will have to add him to the 40-man roster after the season anyway. Martin’s ceiling is probably fourth outfielder.

Chance of contributing in 2018: Low

Austin Meadows (No. 17): Along with Tyler Glasnow, Meadows is one of the few Pirates currently with a shot at becoming an impact player. The problem is, his issues last year weren’t limited to his increasing inability to stay healthy. He also flat-out didn’t hit well when he was able to play. So his expected arrival in the majors moved from 2017 to 2018. If he rebounds this year, he should finish it as a starter in the Pirates’ outfield. If not, ugh.

Chance of contributing in 2018: High

Daniel Nava (No. 15): Nava has an up and down history of hitting for average and getting on base, without hitting for more than modest power, if that. He’s strictly a corner outfielder. He bounced back from rough, injury-plagued seasons in 2015-16 to hit 301/393/421 with the Phillies in 2017, although he still lost over half the season to injuries. He’s a switch hitter who can’t hit LHPs. There’s a very high chance he’ll make the roster out of spring training. He’ll be 35 when the season opens and is even more fragile than Gregory Polanco. He profiles as a bench bat, but he probably has a good chance of veteraning his way to the starting left field job, or at least the long end of a platoon there.

Chance of contributing in 2018: High

Bryan Reynolds (No. 91): In his two seasons since the Giants drafted him in the second round, Reynolds has hit for high averages with borderline plate discipline and limited power. Some observers, though, seem to think he still has the potential to ramp up the power. If he does, he’s a potential starter. If he doesn’t, his ceiling is fourth outfielder, since he can play center, although not especially well. He spent all of 2017 in high A, so he’s almost certainly ticketed for AA in 2018. He doesn’t have to go on the 40-man roster until after the 2019 season.

Chance of contributing in 2018: Low