During 2007 Pirates prospect Steve Pearce hit a combined .333 with 31 home runs, 40 doubles, 113 RBI, and a .622 slugging percentage. The soon-to-be 25 year-old was named both Offensive Player of the Year by MiLB.com and the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. He ranks #43 on Kevin Goldstein’s Top 100 Prospects list for 2008 and received a callup last September. Yet, as of Monday he was reportedly sweating it when the team announced several cuts.
Pearce had played first base since he was drafted, but with the Pirates looking to locking up Adam LaRoche long term the team rerouted him to the outfield. The Pirates flirted with the transition late last year, giving Pearce 10 games in right prior to his call-up. Once in Pittsburgh he started 17 games in right field and only two at first. He hit .294/.342/.397 over 68 plate appearances; his bat appears nearly Major League ready.
Jason Bay and Xavier Nady await, each simmering on the hot stove. It’s a poorly guarded secret the Pirates would love to ditch Nady, but a recent chat with the Mets didn’t go anywhere. Bay was also the subject of several trade talks during the offseason and would likely come closer to fetching the young pitching prospects GM Neal Huntington craves (his short list is unlikely to include Scott Schoeneweis).
This all puts Huntington in a fairly comfortable position. He can afford to send Pearce back to Indy to get a few more reps at the new position while he waits for the right deal. But with Pearce’s bat looking to be big league ready, how long are Pirates fans willing to wait?