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Pirates Minor League Report: Heel injury sidelines Nick Gonzales

Pirates’ top pick in 2020 goes on 60-day injured list; Priester shines in Double-A debut.

Fall Stars Game Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

With all the euphoria surrounding the recent success of Pittsburgh Pirates rookies Oneil Cruz, Jack Suwinski and Bligh Madris, a bit of bad news emanated from Bucco camp Tuesday.

According to MLB.com, Nick Gonzales was moved from the seven-day injured list to the 60-day injured list with a heel issue. So, unless my math is faulty, and I’m not clear on the machinations of the injured list, it looks like the soonest Gonzales will be able to play is the beginning of August, given that his last game action came on May 31.

If that forecast proves to play out, that would give him less than two months of regular-season action remaining, as Altoona’s season ends Sept. 18.

Gonzales, 23, was the Pirates’ top pick in the 2020 draft and the seventh selection overall. He was playing at Double-A Altoona, where he was hitting .247 with a .366 on-base percentage and a.377 slugging mark for an OPS of .743.

Gonzales had 186 plate appearances and put up four home runs and 15 RBIs. He also was sporting a 33 percent strikeout rate and a 13 percent walk rate before being sidelined.

Reports had Gonzales injuring his heel while running on the bases in a game played May 31.

A look at the remaining Top-10 prospects who haven’t yet been promoted to Pittsburgh:

No. 2 prospect Henry Davis, who missed time after sustaining a wrist fracture when he was hit by a pitch, is back at Altoona, where he has played six games since ending a rehab stint at Bradenton.

Davis, 22, who spent the bulk of his season at High-A Greensboro, where he hit .342/1.035 to earn his promotion, has scuffled with the Curve, as he managed just two hits in his first 23 post-injury at-bats and had not driven in a run. Davis struck out seven times in his first 27 plate appearances at the Double-A level after returning to Altoona.

Davis has been hit by pitches a mind-boggling 15 times in 143 plate appearances split among four levels.

No. 4 prospect Quinn Priester, whose season got off to a late start due to an oblique injury, finally reached his anticipated destination – Altoona – and had a solid first outing Sunday.

Priester got the start against the Erie SeaWolves and needed just 36 pitches to complete three scoreless innings.

Priester, a 21-year-old right-hander who was the Bucs’ top pick in the 2019 draft, allowed just one hit and did not walk a batter while striking out three.

Priester’s start was his first at Altoona; his previous outing came on June 14 at High-A Greensboro, where he gave up six hits and five runs – all earned – in 2 2/3 innings of his lone start at that level. His only other action this year came at Low-A Bradenton on June 9 when he pitched three scoreless – and hitless – innings.

No. 5 Liover Peguero is back in Altoona after his brief stay in Pittsburgh. Going into Tuesday night’s action, the 21-year-old shortstop was hitting .292 with a .784 OPS in 236 plate appearances. Peguero has five home runs, 33 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. With the glove, Peguero has committed 12 errors in 45 games at shortstop and three miscues in four games at second base.

Endy Rodriguez, the club’s No. 7 prospect, has cooled off after a hot start and is hitting .251 with a .774 OPS in 222 plate appearances at Greensboro. So far in June, the 22-year-old Rodriguez is batting just .204 with a .680 OPS in 60 plate appearances.

No. 8 Anthony Solometo, a second-round pick last year, has had a nice start with Bradenton, where he has appeared in four games, three of them starts.

In his most recent outing, which came on June 6, the 19-year-old left-hander gave up two earned runs, three hits and a walk while striking out three in two innings. In four appearances, Solometo has worked 13 innings and has yielded nine hits, three earned runs and five walks. He has struck out 13.

Bubba Chandler, the Pirates’ No. 9 prospect, has four hits in his first 10 at-bats for the Bradenton club in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. The two-way prospect has two homers and four RBIs. On the mound, Chandler has made three appearances and has thrown a total of five innings. He’s given up three hits and three walks but has struck out nine.

Rounding out the Top 10 is outfielder Matt Fraizer, who has raised his average to .220 and his OPS to .629 after an exceptionally slow start. The No. 10 prospect. Fraizer has played a bit better in June; he’s hitting .245 with a .707 OPS during that 15-game stretch. In 58 plate appearances, Fraizer has collected 13 hits and driven in four runs.