The Pirates have claimed outfielder Ryan Vilade off waivers from the Rockies, per announcements from both clubs. Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster is now full.
Vilade, 23, was the No. 48 overall pick in the 2017 draft and ranked among the Rockies’ best prospects just last offseason, landing No. 6 on Baseball America’s organizational rankings. The team over at BA also placed Vilade tenth among Rox farmhands just this past summer.
Despite replaying the Triple-A level for a second time in 2022, Vilade had a season to forget, hitting just .249/.345/.352 with five home runs and ten stolen bases in 99 games. The Oklahoma native was drafted as a shortstop but has quickly slid down the defensive spectrum, first moving to third base and now spending the bulk of his time in the outfield corners. Vilade’s glove was never his carrying tool, however, as he was viewed as a bat-first prospect from the time of his selection.
Vilade’s bat indeed stood out in the lower minors, but after the canceled 2020 minor league season he jumped from High-A in 2019 directly to Triple-A and turned in lackluster results. He’s now played 216 games at that level and owns a .269/.342/.385 slash in 948 plate appearances. He made a brief MLB debut in 2021 but went hitless in seven plate appearances.
The Pirates will hope that a change of scenery and some new coaching can help coax another level out of Vilade’s bat in the upper minors. He won’t turn 24 until February and has a pair of minor league options remaining, so he can give the Bucs some flexible outfield depth if he survives the offseason on the 40-man roster.
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