The Pirates announced Thursday that they’ve signed infielder Sergio Alcantara and righty Hunter Stratton to minor league deals and invited them to spring training. They’re two of a slate of eight NRIs announced by Pittsburgh today, although the other six — outfielders Gilberto Celestino and Billy McKinney, righties Ben Heller and Ryder Ryan, infielder Jake Lamb, lefty Michael Plassmeyer — have all been previously reported.
Alcantara, 27, has appeared in three big league seasons, spending time with the Tigers, Cubs, Padres and Diamondbacks. He’s a career .209/.281/.343 hitter in 502 MLB plate appearances and carries a .275/.389/.412 slash in a comparable amount of playing time at the Triple-A level. Alcantara is an above-average runner with a plus glove and arm at shortstop, but his sub-par track record at the plate leaves plenty to be desired. He’s played shortstop, third base and second base in his limited big league career to date and will give the Bucs some depth all around their infield.
Stratton, 27, was the Pirates’ 16th-round pick back in 2017. He made his MLB debut this past season and pitched well in a small sample, holding opponents to three runs on nine hits and three walks with 10 punchouts in a dozen innings of work. Pittsburgh non-tendered him earlier this winter.
Stratton has long demonstrated worrying command issues in the minor leagues, however, and those were on full display again in 2023. Stratton notched a solid 3.99 ERA with a hefty 30.6% strikeout rate in 56 1/3 Triple-A frames, but that was accompanied by a 12.8% walk rate. He’s never posted a single-season walk rate south of 11.8% and has issued a free pass to 13.1% of the opponents he’s faced as a professional. Add in 24 hit batters in his career, and nearly 16% of Stratton’s opponents have reached base without needing to put a ball in play. Stratton throws hard, sitting just shy of 96 mph with his heater, and can clearly miss bats in bunches, but he’ll likely need to improve his command to carve out a longer look at the MLB level.