Star prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes hasn’t participated in the Pirates’ camp, and manager Derek Shelton revealed today (with Hayes’ permission) that the 23-year-old has tested positive for the coronavirus. Shelton told MLB.com’s Adam Berry and other reporters that Hayes was still in quarantine, though gave no hint as to when Hayes could be ready to participate. Since Hayes never arrived at camp, it can be assumed that he tested positive during the initial round of intake tests.
Hayes is seen as both Pittsburgh’s top position player prospect and one of the more intriguing minor leaguers in the sport, featuring highly on top-100 prospect lists. Prior to the 2020 season, Fangraphs was the most bullish on Hayes with a #30 ranking, while Baseball Prospectus’ 63rd-place ranking was the third baseman’s lowest showing. Picked 32nd overall in the 2015 draft, Hayes has already drawn raves for his fielding ability at third base, while his bat has shown promise (.279/.354/.399 over 1991 minor league plate appearances) but was still something of a work in progress.
Hayes was seen as a lock to debut sometime in 2020, and presumably could still be in line for some playing time at the MLB level should he recover relatively soon. Depending on how long Hayes is out and how long it would take him to prepare in a training camp scenario, however, the Pirates could decide to hold off on starting his service time clock until the 2021 season. Beyond the contractual control logistics, the Bucs also naturally want to be as safe as possible with their star youngster, and bring him along in a way that doesn’t impede his development.