The Pirates have called infielder Liover Peguero up from Double-A to the active roster. Tucupita Marcano was placed on the COVID-related injured list, in the corresponding move.
The somewhat unexpected promotion may be simply a late reaction to Marcano’s absence, as noted by Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Peguero could more easily make the trip to Pittsburgh since he was playing in nearby Altoona – the Pirates ‘Triple-A affiliate is in Georgia tonight facing the Braves’ top farm team.
This would explain why Peguero got the call and not the top prospect Oneil Cruz, whose return to the big leagues has been expected more or less since Opening Day. Depending on how long Marcano is absent, Peguero also might not be in the big leagues for that long, should Marcano’s placement on the COVID list only be due to a close-contact situation or symptoms, rather than an actual positive test.
Still, while Cruz’s situation continues to dominate attention in Pittsburgh, Peguero is a very notable prospect in his own right. In current rankings, MLB Pipeline has Peguero as the 58th-best prospect in baseball, Baseball America has him 67th – prior to the season, Baseball Prospectus had Peguero in their # 38 spot, while The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked him 77th.
Acquired from the Diamondbacks as part of the Starling Marte trade in January 2020, Peguero has posted solid (if not outstanding) numbers in his climb up the minor league ladder. Over 236 PA with Altoona this year, Peguero has hit .292 / .315 / .469 with five home runs in his first time at the Double-A level. This extra power is a good sign, though the relatively low OBP and 54 strikeouts are indicative of how Peguero still has to correct being overly aggressive at the plate. When he does make contact, Peguero has posted high exit velocities and exhibits tremendous bat speed, speaking to his potential as a hitter if he can smooth out his approach.
Peguero has plenty of speed and athleticism, and Baseball America’s scouting report doesn’t rule out a potential move to the outfield down the road. However, since Cruz faces more questions about his long-term fielding future, Peguero may be the favorite of the two to settle in as the Pirates’ long-term shortstop of the future, with Nick Gonzales likely ticketed for second base if his own glovework holds up.
There could potentially be a bit of a logjam should all of these prospects develop as expected, though the Bucs will happily welcome such an issue if it means all of these highly-regarded youngsters are MLB-level contributors. The Pirates have been increasingly turning over more and more of its roster to its better prospects, as the club’s lengthy rebuild is now starting to translate into players who are ready for a look in the Show. Should Peguero play particularly well, he could catch on for a Pittsburgh team that has nothing to lose, though the more probable result could be Peguero sent to Triple-A if or when Cruz is ready in the near future.