The Pittsburgh Pirates will have a decision to make when Adam Frazier is ready to come off the disabled list. Which infielder should be the odd man out when Frazier is healthy?
The management team of the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to have to decide in the near future how they want to shape the 25 man roster once Adam Frazier is ready to return. It looks like Frazier will not be ready to return right away, but the decision is still looming. Realistically, there are only a few players that are going to be considered, and there is one that should be at the top of the list.
The Case for The Gift
Gift Ngoepe has only been with the big club since April 26th, but he has shown his renowned defense in his short time with Pittsburgh. He has always been known for his glove, but small sample size aside, he has done well at the plate so far. He is walking at a 22.2 percent clip, which will certainly come down to something closer to the 9.1 percent he was putting up before his promotion. His BABIP of .538 will also tumble down at some point, but if he can be somewhere near an average hitter and maintain his above average defense, he’ll be a a very useful player off the bench with the occasional start.
That being said, it’s probably safe to say that Ngoepe will not be demoted once Frazier is ready to return. At the very least he can be a tremendous late inning defensive replacement who has the potential to keep maturing as a hitter.
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Has Hanson Used Up His Final Shot?
Alen Hanson is another player that should be considered when Frazier returns, but he should also be retained on the major league roster. Hanson has struggled so far this season, slashing a pretty horrendous .182/.206/.303 in 33 at-bats. However, Hanson has great speed and can cause trouble for opposing pitchers on the basepaths (he stole at least 35 bases three times in the minor leagues). In his two seasons with Indianapolis, he hit .266 last season and .263 in 2015, so there is reason to believe that he should be able to get his batting average up into at least the .250 range.
But the main reason that Hanson should remain with the Pittsburgh Pirates is that he does not have any options left and therefore cannot be sent to the minors unless he clears waivers. Given that Hanson was the team’s 16th best prospect heading into 2017 and was even ranked the third best as late as 2013, it’s hard to see the team risking the loss of him through waivers. It’s almost a guarantee that another club will pick him up given the potential that he has shown in the minors.
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So that leaves Phil Gosselin as the most likely player to be impacted by Frazier’s return. Granted it has only been 27 plate appearances, but Gosselin has a putrid 3.7 percent walk rate and only one hit that went for extra bases. Also, he is not someone who came up through the system, so the team does not have as much invested in him as the others. It also seems that Gosselin’s production is what you can expect from him at this point. Both Hanson and Ngoepe still could transform into better players that can help the team moving forward.
Gosselin has minor league options left, so the Pittsburgh Pirates can easily send him to Triple-A Indianapolis and allow him to play every day. If his bat rounds into form as a result, the club has a viable call-up option for injury or ineffectiveness. If not, the team has no commitment to the utilityman beyond this year.
It makes too much sense for anyone other than Gosselin to be the odd man out upon Frazier’s return, and that is the move the Pittsburgh Pirates should make.
image credit – Flickr Creative Commons