Ten players on the current 40-man roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates made their major league debuts this year. with four logging enough time to be considered second-year players next season. Today, we’l take a look at the Pirates’ swabbie crew of position players and how they fared in their first season—or, in Kevin Newman’s case, first full season—in the Show. Note that they are listed according to their debut dates and not by their performances. Stats are as of September twenty-second. Late call-ups and those who did not spend enough time with the Pirates to break their rookie status this year won’t be included.
Kevin Newman, IF
Newman didn’t exactly set the world on fire when he first came up last season. In 91 ABs, he hit a paltry .209 with no homers and six RBIs, with equally paltry slugging and on-base percentages. Turns out that he was just warming up. In 2019, he has positively thrived in the leadoff spot, batting .311 (eighth in the NL) with 10 home runs, 59 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. Defensively, he’s solid but not spectacular. In his 98 games at shortstop, he had a fielding percentage of .970 with 10 errors and 36 double plays. He showed his versatility at second base too, committing no errors and ten DPs in 23 games. As the Pirates’ 2016 first-round pick, he seems to be fulfilling that promise.
Bryan Reynolds, OF
Reynolds has often been called the surprise Buc of 2019, consistently being in the top five in National League batting averages since he became eligible—right now he’s fifth with a .318 BA. However, batting over .300 has been his norm since his Vanderbilt days. Only a stumble of .188 in last year’s Arizona Fall League mars his pretty impressive record at the plate. His current OPS of .894 is an improvement over his career .872. He’s also a strong defensive player, averaging a .987 fielding percentage rotating through the outfield with only four errors; his overall percentage including NCAA and the minors is .980. He’s shown remarkable poise both at the plate and in the field, which is always good to see in a rookie. It’s way too early to call him a star, but he’s making a good case for himself.
Cole Tucker, SS
Tucker made his major league debut the same day as Reynolds, but the Pirates’ 2014 first-round pick hasn’t shown the stamina so far to stay. In 55 games this year, he’s batting .210 with two homers and 11 RBI. At shortstop, he has a respectable .985 fielding percentage, involved in 19 double plays and committing two errors. However, as of yet he doesn’t show the versatility that Newman has at position play, and his offensive output is nowhere near Newman’s. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates work with him to make him a better utility guy, since Newman basically has a lock on the shortstop position and other than six games at second base in Indianapolis he’s played shortstop exclusively throughout his career.
Next up: the pitchers.