The Josh Harrison era in Pittsburgh ended in October when the Pirates bought out the second baseman’s option for 2019.
Harrison’s clubhouse presence won’t be easily replaced, but the Pirates identified a strong candidate to play the keystone. The veteran Adam Frazier put up an .890 OPS in the second half while playing mostly second base.
Pittsburgh also turned up another potential piece for 2019 in the form of September callup Pablo Reyes, who is an undersized underdog who can play everywhere. Just like Harrison.
The 25-year-old Reyes, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, stands just 5-foot-8 and weighs about 170 pounds. Just like Harrison.
Reyes’ climb up the minor league ladder has been gradual. He didn’t reach full-season ball until 2015, his fourth year in the organization, when he played for low Class A West Virginia.
He completed his climb at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2018 by hitting .289/.341/.435 with eight home runs and 13 stolen bases in 110 games. He ranked eighth in the International League batting race.
Like Harrison, Reyes, who bats righthanded, has played all over the diamond, spending time at second base, third base, shortstop and center field.
Reyes made the most of his September callup by hitting .293/.349/.483 in 18 games. He hit three home runs in 58 at-bats and saw time at second, third, left field and right field. None of the Pirates’ other September additions were nearly as successful. Top prospects Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer hit .209 and .135 respectively.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the kid for the steps that he’s taken,” farm director Larry Broadway said. “It’s awesome for him. It’s awesome for us. He has a chance to impact us all over the field . . .
“(Harrison) was an igniter, and even though we didn’t know where he was going to play (when he first came up from the minors), you had to get him on the field. Adam Frazier is the same thing, and now Pablo is showing he’s the same thing. Wherever you put him in the lineup, he’s going to make something happen.”
Reyes’ numbers are reminiscent of Harrison’s. Neither player walks much, but neither strikes out much either. Both showed double-digit home run power and the ability to steal bases when needed.
“You just see that athleticism,” Broadway said of Reyes. “You see that twitch and that fire and that edge. He’s going to go get it. He’s not waiting on you to give it to him.”