I traveled to LECOM Park on June 12 ad 13 and saw the Bradenton Marauders face off against the Daytona Tortugas. In the two games I witnessed, I was given something way more important than the Hawaiian shirt giveaway on Margaritaville night; HOPE!! While the Pirates are in the midst of a long painful season in the midst of a long painful rebuild, the Low A Southeast Marauders showcased some really exciting potential future major leaguers. As I have written on these digital pages before, stats in the Florida State League are notoriously muted for hitters and favorable for pitchers. I remind the reader again in case the numbers don’t jump off the page. I am going to focus this article on four players who really impressed me.
Jase Bowen – Bowen was an 11th round pick in 2019. The Pirates gave him a $400k bonus to buy him away from a scholarship the play baseball and football at Michigan State. This year he has primarily played 2B but has also appeared in a handful of games at 3B and in LF. Versatility may be key for him considering Nick Gonzales is ahead of him on the organizational depth chart and seems destined to lock down 2B for the Pirates in the not too distant future. Through 6/29/21, Bowen is slashing .248/.337/.448 with 7 HR and 5 SB. Bowen looked comfortable at 2B and knocked in 3 runs in the two games while hitting in the 3 spot one game and cleanup in the other. The main knock on Bowen is his 6.5% walk rate and 24.1% K rate. Considering he has only had 145 ABs this season after missing 2020, I don’t think it is fair to ding him too much. However, it is best to keep an eye on those numbers going forward. Bowen has the athleticism and is producing in a tough hitting environment. If he continues his strong season, he will certainly find himself on Prospects1500’s 2021 Midseason Pirates Top 50 list.
Sammy Siani – Like Bowen, Siani is a 20-year-old who was a product of the 2019 draft. Siani was taken in the Comp 1st Round, 37th overall. Unlike Bowen, Siani is currently ranked 17th in the Prospects1500 Pirates Top 50. Siani has played all three OF positions this season with the most time in the corner spots. Although he started in CF on June 12 and looked comfortable there as well. Through 6/29/21, Siani is slashing .229/.403/.457 with 7 HR and 6 SB. Siani has a 22% walk rate and 24.2% K rate which suggests that he is not overmatched. Siani hit a very impressive opposite field HR which highlighted the Marauder’s 8-5 win on June 12. It would not surprise me at all if Siani’s .229 BA steadily climbs in the second half of the season. Siani is on the shortlist of Pirates OF prospects in the lower levels. He will compete with Hudson Head, Matthew Fraizer, Calvin Mitchell, and Canaan Smith-Njigba in the coming years to lock down spots in the PNC Park outfield.
Endy Rodriguez – Rodriguez was acquired from the Mets as part of the three-way trade with the Padres involving Joe Musgrove. Rodriguez is the primary catcher for the Marauders but has also played a handful of games at 1B. Although he did not do much in the 2 games I saw, Rodriguez has certainly has been among the most impressive offensive players for the Marauders this season. Through 6/29/21, he is slashing .252/.337/.453 with 6 HR. His 10.5% walk rate and 21% K rate are strong indicators for future success. Coming into the season, Rodriguez was viewed as the top catching prospect in the Pirates system and he has done nothing to change that. Rodriguez did not play in the Sunday afternoon game on June 13. However, from my view behind the dugout, he still impressed. He was lively in the dugout completely engaged in the game speaking both English and Spanish with teammates. He is very clearly a team leader which bodes well for a catcher advancing through the system. I know we typically deal in stats but these kinds of intangibles cannot and should not be ignored.
Hudson Head – Head was acquired from the Padres in the Musgrove deal earlier this year. Like Bowen and Siani, he is also a 2019 draftee. Head has played all three OF positions equally this season. He played CF and RF in the 2 games I saw. He took good routes and made a few catches drifting back to the wall in CF with ease. He went 3 for 10 with 2 2Bs and a HR while leading off both games. On the season, Through 6/29/21, Head is slashing .226/.404/.431 with 7 HR and 3SB. His walk rate is an amazing 20.2% and his K rate is a troubling 30.9%. Like Bowen, he has only had 137 ABs this season after missing 2020. The K rate is clearly something to monitor at this point. Like Siani, Head seems primed to improve his .226 BA as the season moves towards the second half.
Remember, these are young guys playing in their first full season of pro ball in a tough humid hitting environment. There will be ups and downs. However, each of them has the tools, pedigree, and have produced to start the season. They all will have the opportunity to climb the ladder to Pittsburgh. We can only hope.