Take what you’re about to read with a grain of salt, because I’m talking about a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect and we all know what happens to them.
Ji-Hwan Bae should be making his way onto more and more fantasy radars in deeper formats. And for good reason. The South Korean speedster has been steadily improving in the Pittsburgh farm system and could be ready to make a deep league fantasy impact this year.
The Ability To Get On Base:
What problem do we often see with speed guys? Getting on base. Bae has shown steady improvement in this category with very encouraging signs to support that it’s no fluke. Last season, in AA, Bae walked in 10.4% of his plate appearances and then improved to a 12% walk rate during fall ball. So far in 2022, in his first season at the AAA level, Bae is walking in 12.7% of his plate appearances. He’s doing an excellent job of showing continued discipline even as the competitive level increases.
In 2021, Bae posted a strikeout rate of 22.7% in AA and improved upon that in the fall league by striking out in 19.4% of his plate appearances. This season at AAA he has continued to show better plate discipline while striking out in 16.3% of his plate appearances. After posting a 2.52 K/BB ratio in 2021, these trends continued in fall ball with a 1.6 K/BB. In 2022, Bae has a 1.29 K/BB which is very encouraging to anyone keeping an eye on him.
2022 Fantasy Outlook:
This season he has been caught stealing at a 55% clip as opposed to 40% last year. I do believe, though, that he will figure out and adjust this part of his game as well. With Bae getting on base more, we are seeing his SB/PA rise from 5.5% last season to 6.6% this year. Who knew getting on base would be the key to being able to steal more bags?
As I stated in the intro, take all of this with a grain of salt because he is a Pirate, which means we will likely either see him stuck at AAA because of their talent log jam at 2B, or traded for a bag of sunflower seeds closer to the trade deadline. That being said, if you’re in a deeper format league and have the need for speed, you may want to consider stashing Ji-Hwan Bae…Before Anyone Else.