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Liover Peguero Focuses On Defensive Work



It would be easy to assume the Pirates are stocked with shortstop prospects.

Three of their top five prospects are listed as shortstops, including impact hitter Oneil Cruz and 2020 first-rounder Nick Gonzales. That trio also includes Liover Peguero, whom the Pirates acquired with righthander Brennan Malone in early 2020 from the D-backs in a trade for Starling Marte.

Shortstop is the hardest position to field, thus making it difficult for even the most talented athlete to stick at the position. Perhaps that’s why general manager Ben Cherington isn’t ready to claim the Pirates have depth there.

The best bet to stick at the position appears to be the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Peguero.

This spring had already seen Cruz play in center field and Gonzales play second base. The Pirates haven’t seen Peguero play yet, after the 20-year-old was a late arrival to camp. His work had been the opposite of Cruz and Gonzales, focusing on skills to help his chances at remaining at shortstop.

The biggest thing Peguero is focusing on is speed.

“I’ve been working a lot on my hips, try to be quicker,” Peguero said. “I used to be slow with my hips, but now I’m working more on it. It’s been a great change for me.”

Peguero, who hit .326/.382/485 in 60 games between short-season ball and Rookie-level Missoula in 2019, said the focus on his speed has helped him move around the field, where he said he’s feeling “really comfortable” with “a lot of confidence” at the spot.

Peguero is an all-out player with at least average tools across the board. He makes solid contact, with the chance to be a plus hitter with average power and above-average speed. He could be an impact player for the Pirates, especially if his defense catches up to his bat.

While the other top shortstop prospects in the system have been getting experience at other positions, Peguero has been focusing on improving his defensive skills.

Peguero will finally get a chance to show off his skills this season, probably at High-A.

BURIED TREASURE

— The Pirates made their first round of cuts from big league camp in mid March, sending out 18 prospects over two days. That list included Peguero, Cruz and Gonzales, along with Ji-Hwan Bae, Cody Bolton, Rodolfo Castro, Roansy Contreras, Max Kranick, Mason Martin, Cal Mitchell, Quinn Priester, Canaan Smith-Njigba, and Travis Swaggerty.

— The Pirates traded first base prospect Shendrik Apostel to the Cubs for righthander Duane Underwood Jr. Apostel has combined for an .844 OPS and 11 home runs in 218 at-bats over two Dominican Summer League seasons.

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