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The Cole Tucker conundrum

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Seattle Mariners v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I feel like I have been saying this for months now, but with the dawn of the 2020 season approaching, I’m still left with the same question; where does shortstop Cole Tucker fit on this Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster and what kind of playing time will he receive?

With the signing of shortstop J.T. Riddle, the continued presence of shortstop Erik Gonzalez, and the promise of continued growth for shortstop Kevin Newman, I’m starting to become annoyed with the idea of Tucker receiving anywhere close to the amount of playing time he will need to effectively grow as a major league every day player.

Adam Frazier is still on the roster; whether or not that’s true two weeks from now, no one knows for sure. But even that prospect means that Newman sliding to second base is not an option aside from a monumental implosion in defense or offense from Frazier. Even then, Tucker will have to duke it out with both Gonzalez and Riddle for playing time. While I (and I think most) believe that Cole is the superior player to the other two shortstops on the roster, he will need sustained playing time to prove that true.

Tucker is a first-round draft choice. No, he has not quite demonstrated the star-power that would demand extended playing time at the major league level. But the pedigree of his selection, his performance in Triple-A, and his higher potential than that of Gonzalez and Riddle should pave the way for playing time in 2020.

I’m a self-avowed Cole Tucker fanboy; I have been preaching a middle infield of Tucker and Newman as one of the keys to the Pirates’ success in future years since the middle of last season. The kid deserves to have his shot at shortstop when the time comes. For that to happen, a Frazier trade, a relegation of Riddle and/or Gonzalez to a utility role, and a Newman slide to second base seems like the only answer.