No time to hit showers, Peguero leaves Altoona for Pittsburgh

Pirates' No. 5 prospect earns first promotion to Majors ahead of series opener at PNC Park

June 18th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Liover Peguero thought he was in trouble.

Peguero had just finished up practice at Peoples Natural Gas Field, home of the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, when he was called into the office of Altoona manager Kieran Mattison. Peguero was scared. He didn’t think he had done anything wrong. He didn’t know what his manager was about to say.

The Pirates needed to get someone to Pittsburgh to round out their roster -- and fast -- with Tucupita Marcano being placed on the COVID IL. Peguero was only two hours away in Altoona. Mattison told his shortstop that he’d be donning another uniform on Friday night.

“I was like, ‘Man, don’t play with my life like that. You’re playing with my heart,’” Peguero said.

Peguero, ranked as Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was called up for the first time in his Major League career just hours prior to the Pirates’ 2-0 loss to the Giants at PNC Park. The promotion is, yes, a product of circumstance and geography. For Peguero, those factors don’t dilute the experience one bit.

“I still can't believe this,” Peguero said. “To be honest, at first I didn't even believe that I was gonna be here. Then, it was like I just blinked once and I was already here. So, it’s kind of crazy.”

The last couple hours were a haze for Peguero. After being told that his services were needed in Pittsburgh, he threw his stuff in a bag, hastily put on his street clothes and hit the road.

“I didn’t even take a shower,” Peguero said with a smile.

Even with the abundance of adrenaline, Peguero avoided the temptation to speed his way from Altoona to Pittsburgh -- Interstate 22 generally has a speed limit of 55 mph -- and he arrived prior to first pitch. Peguero didn’t play in the series opener, but that almost came secondary to the fact that he is a Major Leaguer.

Marcano can relate to what Peguero just experienced. When Bryan Reynolds and Cole Tucker were placed on the COVID IL on April 26, Marcano and Jack Suwinski, who were playing for Altoona, were called up and made the unexpected two-hour drive from Akron to Pittsburgh. Peguero remembers his conversation with Marcano when he returned to Altoona shortly after.

“I asked him, ‘How was it?’” Peguero said. “He was like, ‘Bro, I blacked out. I didn't know what was happening. I was just there. I wasn't even feeling my body.’”

The question now is how long Peguero remains on the big league roster. In terms of Pirates shortstop prospects on the verge of a callup, No. 22 overall Oneil Cruz, of course, is the player who comes to mind.

Peguero has been exceptional with Altoona, slashing .292/.315/.469 with five home runs and 14 steals, but he still has some growing to do down on the farm.

Bucs manager Derek Shelton said after Friday’s game that, as of right now, he expects Peguero to be with the team on Saturday. Whether that means playing or just filling out the roster remains to be seen. Regardless of whether Peguero gets the chance to make his debut, he will be sent back down to the Minors by the end of the homestand.

For the time being, Peguero can relish the fact that he is on a Major League roster. Maybe he’ll play in his first game. Maybe he’ll get his first hit. This wasn’t how he expected to arrive at PNC Park, but he’s going to be sure to soak in the experience.

And if Peguero gets called to Shelton’s office?

“I'm going to be scared,” Peguero said. “I'm going to be scared for sure. Getting a call to the office, I don't think it's a good thing.”