3:27pm: Pittsburgh formally selected Bae’s contract. Catcher Tyler Heineman has been placed on the seven-day concussion injured list to clear an active roster spot. The Pirates 40-man tally now sits at 39.
8:51am: The Pirates are set to promote infield prospect Ji-hwan Bae, as first reported by Ryan Palencer of PiratesProspects.com (Twitter link). He’ll need to have his contract formally selected to the 40-man roster, though the Pirates currently have two vacancies in that regard, so Bae’s promotion will only require a corresponding 28-man roster move.
Now 23, Bae originally planned to sign with the Braves as an international amateur in 2017, but his agreement was dissolved when the Braves were penalized in 2017 for a bevy of rule violations ono the international market. The South Korean-born Bae instead signed a $1.25MM bonus with the Pirates a year later.
Bae currently ranks 11th among Pittsburgh farmhands at MLB.com and sits 23rd on Baseball America’s midseason ranking of the system. He’s spent the entire season with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, batting .289/.362/.430 with eight home runs, 23 doubles, six triples and 30 stolen bases (in 38 attempts). Bae has fanned in 16.9% of his plate appearances while walking at a 10.1% clip.
Scouting reports on Bae tout his 70-grade speed (on the 20-80 scale) and his above-average contact skills, though his eventual defensive home is rather unsettled. After spending much of his early pro career at shortstop, he’s played more second base in recent seasons and now begun to add further positions to his repertoire. The Bucs have played him primarily at second base (457 innings), shortstop (177) and in center field (161) in 2022, but he’s also had briefer looks in left field and at third base.
Bae was found guilty by a South Korean court in 2018 of assaulting his former girlfriend, and was subsequently ordered to pay a trivial sum to the victim (about $1,750 U.S. dollars, which she donated to charity). Major League Baseball conducted its own investigation into the matter, ultimately suspending Bae for 30 games of the 2019 season under the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.