Timing Is Everything For The Pirates' Jared Triolo
Jared Triolo isn’t your typical leadoff hitter.
And yet the 6-foot-3, 212-pound third baseman led off in more than half his games for Double-A Altoona.
The reasons were obvious. The 24-year-old posted a .376 on-base percentage and stole 24 bases in 29 tries. Additionally, the 2019 second-rounder out of Houston wasn't tapping into his power, with an isolated slugging percentage of just .043 through May.
All season, Triolo worked with Altoona hitting coach Jon Nunnally and development coach Blake Butler, who tried to unlock his power with an important message.
“Leadoff guys don't just have to be slap hitters,” said Triolo of the message from his coaches.
The focus for Triolo was driving the ball more and looking for his pitch as the season progressed. The goal was to catch the ball out in front of the plate, which is something he wasn't timing up earlier in the season.
“That's kind of my difference that I've made,” Triolo said. “Just getting on time with pitches.”
Triolo was increasingly on time as the season progressed. He hit .315/.395/.539 in his final two months. Those numbers will play anywhere in the lineup.
What makes Triolo a prospect to watch is his glove. He has been a fixture on minor league Best Tools results the past two seasons. He was voted best defensive third baseman by managers in the Eastern League in 2022 and the High-A South Atlantic League in 2021.
Before the pitcher delivers the pitch, Triolo is always watching and waiting for the exact moment that each play begins.
“I've been doing that since college,” Triolo said. “I definitely think it gives me an advantage getting to the balls and getting to the spot I need to be.”
The Pirates have a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman in Pittsburgh already with Ke’Bryan Hayes. Still, they protected Triolo from the Rule 5 draft.
That's one reason why the athletic Triolo also spent time at shortstop and center field in 2022. That defensive versatility combined with his emerging offensive production will make it easier to claim an MLB starting role.
— The Pirates signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a one year, $6.7 million deal. First base is one of the thinner positions on the Pirates’ minor league depth chart, and the organization has no prospects ready to take over immediately.
The best bet to arrive in 2023 is Malcom Nuñez, who was acquired from the Cardinals in the Jose Quintana trade. Nuñez hit .286/.381/.476 in 29 games for Double-A Altoona after the trade. Pittsburgh left Nuñez unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. If he goes unselected, he will head to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2023.
— In addition to Jared Triolo, the Pirates also added catcher Endy Rodriguez and righthanders Mike Burrows and Colin Selby to the 40-man roster. The most surprising addition might be Selby, but the reliever had a breakthrough at Double-A Altoona with a 2.20 ERA and 41 strikeout sin 32.3 innings. He has an upper 90s fastball that can hit triple digits and a plus slider.