It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to depend on a plethora of rookies in 2022. On a roster short of veterans and full of waiver claims and Minor League free agents, players drafted and developed tend to stand out the most.
This may be the case for the Pirates in 2023, but 2022 is explanatory by trade acquisitions that were molded and crafted by the Bucs before making an impact on the Majors.
The similarity between them? Hit the long ball.
2022 marked the first time in Pirates' history that three rookies smashed 10 or more home runs for the big league club.
This is the first time in franchise history that we have had three different rookies with 10+ home runs in a single season! pic.twitter.com/9St370PYAv— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 28, 2022
Diego Castillo, Jack Suwinski, and Oneil Cruz all arrive in Pittsburgh at different times and with varying levels of interest, but combined forces to rewrite Pirates history.
Castillo, previously of the Yankees organization, made the Opening Day roster following an impressive spring hitting .371. The 24-year-old shortstop turned utility man broke spring for the first time in his career and found playing time with the Bucs in his first opportunity.
The right-handed batting Castillo has hit 11 home runs with 28 RBI this year, splitting time between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis.
D.C. stands for Diego Castillo!!! pic.twitter.com/tWCxcRKzzJ— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 29, 2022
Suwinski arrived in the Pirates organization from San Diego in the Adam Frazier trade at the 2021 deadline. Suwinski, 24, also made his MLB debut this season, jumping from Double-A Altoona on April 26 against Milwaukee.
He has been one of the Pirates’ top home-run hitters, crushing 18 homers in 100 games including three against San Francisco on June 19.
PNC Park has been a safe haven for the lefty batter, hitting 15 of his 18 long balls at home.
Like Castillo, Suwinski has struggled to hit for average and sits under the Mendoza Line at .194 in 309 at-bats. His 34 RBI are also noticeable with 29 at home and most coming on home runs.
Cruz was called up to the Majors for the final two games of last season and hit his first dinger against the Reds. He’s hit 17 in only 82 games, driving in 53 runs and registering a .231/.285/.458 slash line.
Castillo, Suwinski, and Cruz all have different levels of importance in the Pirates’ future plans moving forward, but their accomplishments in 2022 leave an impact quite the same.
Batting average aside, the home run ball creates instant offense for a team desperate to score more runs. These history makers laid the foundation and now it's time to build.