Predicting Minor League Assignments – 2B/3B/SS

I have decided to group the positions of 2B, 3B and SS together. In a lot of cases the Pirates have players who might play 2 or all 3 of these positions this season, for that reason it seems too trivial to try and separate the positions.

AAA: Josh Harrison, Chase d’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer, Josh Rodriguez

With Navarro and Nunez likely being the favorites for the MLB bench middle infield job that leaves Harrison, d’Arnaud and Mercer to man 2B, 3B and SS. Chances are all 3 of them will play all 3 positions at least to some minor extent. If I would have to guess on the most frequent alignment it would be Harrison at 2nd, Mercer at 3rd and d’Arnaud at SS. I am assuming Navarro beats Nunez out for the MLB bench role so but if he does not it further complicates things. Even without Navarro in the picture the Pirates still have Brock Holt, Josh Rodriguez, Brian Friday and Aaron Hernandez competing for the AAA bench role. Holt is the most legitimate prospect of the bunch so I doubt the Pirates put him on the bench so that leaves it to the final 3. I am guessing due to his versatility that Rodriguez will get the nod although we could see any combination of the players I have mentioned.

AA: Adalberto Santos, Elevys Gonzalez, Brock Holt, Greg Picart

Second base in AA would appear to be Jarek Cunningham’s position but due to his injury plagues season last year I am guessing the Pirates will not be aggressive with him. In his absence the most logical option would be to give Adalberto Santos a chance to play the position everyday. 3rd base should be handled by Elevys Gonzalez as he showed himself very capable in A+ last season. At SS the Pirates have no real option as Benji Gonzalez did not prove himself ready but due to the log jam at AAA, Holt will likely repeat this level and since he has the ability to play SS I am guessing he will. Picart is your classic organizational player and will likely once again serve as a bench player and translator. Keoni De Renne and Yunesky Sanchez are other possibilities to start off in AA but I am assuming they will not. Vince Harrison, Josh’s older brother will serve as a coach.

A+: Jarek Cunningham, Andy Vasquez, Drew Maggi, Benji Gonzalez

If Cunningham does not the start the year in A+ the Pirates have no real prospect to fill the position, they could be aggressive with Mpho Gift Ngoepe and promote him to this levl but I don’t see it. I have Cunningham repeating this level and hopefully being promoted in short order. Third base was supposed to belong to Eric Avila this season but he is coming off a miserable season and will likely not be promoted leaving the job open for Andy Vasquez. Vasquez is an organizational player but he had a good showing A ball last year so he is deserving of more playing time. Drew Maggi is a solid prospect and while he did not have a great season in A ball should be ready to handle SS in A+. I would give the bench role to Kelson Brown but since I don’t have Gonzalez moving up to AA I had to slot him somewhere and having him repeat A+ and try to improve his offensive game is as good a place as any.

A: Gift Ngoepe, Eric Avila, Dan Gamache, Kirk Singer

Since I am holding back 2nd baseman it becomes rather obvious that Gift Ngoepe will get the start here. Ngoepe like Cunningham also had an injury plagued 2011. Should he be pushed to A+ Dan Gamache would likely get the call. Ngoepe is a raw player and has a lot of developing ahead of him but he is a very interesting prospect. Gamache was drafted a 3B in college but the Pirates when drafting him announced him as a 2B so he will likely be transitioning this season. If Ngoepe starts off here it is possible Gamache will receive some playing time at 3B but I am expecting most of that to go to Eric Avila.  The Pirates have no shortstop to place here (unless they aggressive push a GCL player like Alen Hanson) so I am guessing the role goes to an organizational player like Kirk Singer. In my alignment Ngoepe would be the back up shortstop because outside of Singer he is the only one capable of playing SS. Kevin Mort is another possibility to start here but that probably would only happen if Ngoepe starts in A+.

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