Note: Park joins ranks; Kellington signs
PITTSBURGH -- There was a vocal contingent of Yankees fans on social media who called for prospect Hoy Park’s promotion this season. He ended up with only one at-bat in New York that ended in a groundout.
Now with a young and retooling Pirates club, Park will get more extended looks. That process began Saturday when Pittsburgh recalled Park and optioned outfielder Jared Oliva to Triple-A Indianapolis.
A player with a team-first mentality, Park never took it too hard that the Yankees didn’t give him much time in the Bronx before shipping him to Pittsburgh with infielder Diego Castillo for right-handed reliever Clay Holmes.
“That just happens,” Park told reporters at PNC Park on Saturday. “This [opportunity] is what I need. I’m trying to get better. I just keep working hard.”
That work has paid off this season in terms of his results, far beyond any other in his seven years as a pro. The 25-year old hit .327/.475/.567 with nine doubles, a triple and 10 homers with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Across Double-A and Triple-A this season, Park has had more walks (56) than strikeouts (52).
“Like with most things, I just try to be on time and look for good pitches to hit,” Park said. “I try to be as simple as I can.”
As far as his defensive capabilities, Park has gotten the vast majority of his reps at second base and shortstop. With Adam Frazier traded to the Padres and Kevin Newman having one of the worst seasons on offense in franchise history (.527 OPS), there’s certainly competition at those spots in the short term.
Park is also slowly picking up some outfield tools. He played five games in left field for Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and his two innings with the Yankees came in right.
“There's a chance he can bounce out there,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We really like his versatility.”
Park didn’t begin his tenure in Pittsburgh without a few friendly faces at PNC Park. Before he took batting practice, he caught up with Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorious, who spent time with Park in four Spring Trainings with the Yankees.
The young Buc is also familiar with some guys in his new organization, including prospects like Miguel Yajure, who pitched at Trenton in 2019 while Park was there. But the player Park spoke the most highly of was Ben Gamel, whom the Pirates claimed off waivers on May 9 from Cleveland and who was a member of the Yankees’ organization from 2010-16.
“He’s kind of like my big brother,” Park said. “My first two years with the Yankees, I was asking him everything about baseball. He answered everything, told me the right things. So he’s my guy.”
Final Draftee signs
The Pirates signed fourth-round pick Owen Kellington, a Vermont prep pitcher, on Saturday, a deal one source told MLB.com came with a $600,000 bonus. Kellington was the last remaining signing to complete from the club’s top 11 selections in the 2021 MLB Draft, all of which counted toward its bonus pool allotted by MLB.
The $600,000 bonus pushed the Pirates to exactly 5 percent over their bonus-pool allotment of $14,394,000, which means they will incur a 75 percent tax on their signing bonuses. Beyond that overage threshold, the organization would have incurred the loss of draft picks in next year’s event.
Kellington blew away his competition in Vermont as the ace of the U-32 HS team in Montpelier. He struck out 91 percent of batters in his high school circuit as a senior before attending the MLB Draft Combine, where Pirates general manager Ben Cherington and his staff got to see Kellington match up against some of the best talent in the nation.
“We think he has all of the traits to develop as a starting pitcher, and we’re hoping and looking forward to working with him for a long time,” Cherington said.
Per a source, Kellington was the final signing from the 2021 Draft class, which means the Pirates didn't agree to terms with 12th-rounder Chazz Martinez (junior college pitcher) and Daniel Corona (high school shortstop). However, they were able to nab five of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Draft prospects: catcher Henry Davis (No. 5 prospect, 1st round), left-hander Anthony Solometo (No. 17, 2nd round), right-hander/shortstop Bubba Chandler (No. 21, 3rd round), outfielder Lonnie White Jr. (No. 72, Competitive Balance Round B) and outfielder Braylon Bishop (No. 94, 14th round).