Breaking down the potential alternate training site
Alternate training sites will return for the start of the 2021 MLB season. How could this impact the Pittsburgh Pirates?
While the lower minor leagues were never going to start until early May, the original plan was for Triple-A baseball to still start on April 6. Now, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the start of the Triple-A season will be pushed back at least a month. This will allow the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of Major League Baseball to use alternate training sites for a second consecutive season.
Nothing is formalized but it’s a safe bet that, just like last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have their alternate training site located in Altoona. The question then becomes which players will this impact?
Chances are that much of what would have been the opening day roster for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians will now start the season at alternate practice sites. While Wil Crowe and Cody Ponce will be vying for a spot in the opening day roster with the Pittsburgh Pirates this spring, the two were likely heading into the Triple-A starting rotation. The two will likely remain stretched out at the alternate training site as potential backup starting pitcher options for the Pirates.
Two other starting pitchers who could find themselves working at the alternate training site are prospects Miguel Yajure and Cody Bolton. Yajure has skyrocketed in the prospect rankings this offseason, and Bolton remains one of the top starting pitching prospects in the pirate farm system. While neither Yajure nor Bolton were likely to break the Pirates’ starting rotation until June, both will certainly be in the rotation by the end of the regular season and both are players who could be important parts of the next one. winning pirate core. Because of this, the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely let them both work at the alternate training site.
As for the bullpen, relievers who do not make it through the opening day that would normally start the season in the Triple-A bullpen will likely start the season at the alternate practice site. Look for this group to include anyone out of the group of Blake Cederlind, Clay Holmes, David Bednar, Edgar Santana, Geoff Hartlieb, Kyle Crick, Tyler Bashlor, plus up-and-coming prospects Blake Weiman and Nick Mears, don’t crack the day of opening list. Roansy Contreras, who was acquired in the trade from Jameson Taillon, could also be a player to watch.
When it comes to positional players, a lot will depend on who makes and cracks the Opening Day roster. Cole Tucker, Jared Oliva, Phillip Evans, Michael Perez and Rodolfo Castro will all be vying for roster spots this spring. Whatever members of this group are not on the opening day roster will likely end up at the alternate training site.
One interesting thing to watch will be what minor league signings who don’t break the Opening Day rosters choose to do. The Pittsburgh Pirates made four notable minor league rookies this offseason — outfielder Brian Goodwin, reliever Chasen Shreve, cornerman Todd Frazier and serviceman Wilmer Difo. Barring injury, our disastrous spring performance, Goodwin, Shreve and Frazier all look like locks to make the opening day roster.
Difo, however, will be in a battle to crack the opening day roster. If he doesn’t make it, would he accept a minor league assignment which, to start the season, would simply be at the alternate training site? It will be something to watch not just with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but in all of baseball.
The lack of Triple-A baseball to start the 2021 season could impact the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster decisions. This could improve the odds of some minor league signings/unlisted guests making the opening day roster due to a lack of a minor league team they can pitch for. Stay tuned here at Rum Bunter for lineup battles throughout the spring for the Pirates.