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Pirates minor leaguers “turning heads”

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Young Bucs a big hit in major baseball publication.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by MLB Photos via Getty Images

Several Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers were among those mentioned by Baseball America as prospects who were “turning heads” entering the start of minor league play today.

The subscription publication talked with scouts who sat in on spring training games played in Florida and Arizona, and a few alternate sites as well, and came up with a list of players who looked impressive.

The list featured 28 such players, including a pair of Pirates – right-handed pitchers Carmen Mlodzinski and Tahnaj Thomas.

Baseball America also mentioned 16 other players to “keep an eye on,” and four of those are Pirates – catcher Endy Rodriguez, second baseman Nick Gonzales, shortstop Liover Peguero and outfielder Sergio Campana.

Mlodzinski, taken as a supplemental first-round pick out of South Carolina last year, showed a solid slider in the 90 mph range during spring training and his changeup had similar action to a splitter, according to Baseball America.

Mlodzinski is listed on the High-A Greensboro roster, as is Thomas, who came from Cleveland along with Erik Gonzalez in the deal that sent Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff to the Indians in November 2018.

Thomas flashed a fastball that touched 97 mph in the spring, along with what Baseball America called a “slurvy slider in the 80-82 and a diving changeup in the upper 80s.” His ability to develop that slider could determine if he’s destined for a starting role or a relief role.

Rodriguez was part of the three-way deal that involved Joe Musgrove, as he came from New York in exchange for former Padre Joey Lucchesi.

Rodriguez’s defensive attributes stood out in the spring while Gonzales – the Pirates’ top pick in the draft last year and the seventh selection overall – showed off his line-drive stroke but looked only average defensively at second base.

Scouts told BA that Peguero showed a lot to like but that he “needed to improve his internal clock in the field.” Both Peguero and Gonzales are slated to start the season in Greensboro.

Campana, who just turned 19, played in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 and hit .281 with a .737 OPS in 45 games. He also stole 24 bases in 29 attempts.

Baseball America said the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Campana opened eyes in the spring “thanks to a burgeoning combination of power and speed” and noted that he has plus-range and an average outfield arm. Both Rodriguez and Campana are listed on the low-A Bradenton Marauders roster to start the season.

Finally, Baseball America rated the Pirates’ Greensboro team the fifth most talented roster in the minors to start the season, meaning there is some talent on the come up. If the club manages it right, we could see the dividends in the near future.