TODAY: The Pirates have officially called Hayes up, and also promoted recent waiver claim Anthony Alford to the active roster. Southpaw Brandon Waddell and outfielder Jason Martin were optioned to the club’s alternate training site in corresponding moves.
AUGUST 31: The Pirates will promote top third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes before their game against the Cubs on Tuesday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Hayes’ promotion was slowed thanks in part to a positive coronavirus test in July.
Now 23 years old, Hayes was a 2015 first-round pick (No. 32) who has established himself as a high-end major league prospect since the Pirates drafted him. In fact, Kiley McDaniel of ESPN (No. 26), FanGraphs (30), MLB.com (45), Keith Law of The Athletic (46) and Baseball America (59) recently placed Hayes among the game’s 60 best farmhands. McDaniel wrote that Hayes, the son of ex-major leaguer Charlie Hayes, possesses “plus speed, a plus arm and a potential 70 glove,” and if he proves to be a capable offensive player in the majors, the package could make him a star.
So far, Hayes has not necessarily thrived against minor league pitching. He owns a .752 OPS in the minors, and in his most recent showing at the lower levels in 2019, he batted .265/.336/.415 (92 wRC+) with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases across 480 Triple-A plate appearances. Still, his promotion makes for a rare bit of excitement in a Pittsburgh season that has largely been devoid of it.
The Pirates are a major league-worst 10-21 and have received below-average production from the third base tandem of Erik Gonzalez and JT Riddle, two players who probably won’t be part of the solution over the long haul. Hayes, on the other hand, has a chance to emerge as a franchise cornerstone for years to come. Because the Pirates are waiting until Sept. 1 to call him up, he’ll miss out on Super Two status and won’t be on track to reach free agency until after 2026.