Peguero sees 'dream come true' with debut, 1st hit

June 19th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- The length of 's stay in Pittsburgh has yet to be determined. His call-up was a function of necessity. Realistically, he’ll be sent back down to the Minors some time in the next couple of days. Those factors are out of his control.

Regardless of what unfolds, Peguero, the No. 58 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, won’t be leaving the Steel City without a couple of milestones under his belt.

In his Major League debut, Peguero collected his first career hit -- a slapped single to right field -- and first walk in the Pirates’ 7-5 loss to the Giants at PNC Park. For the 21-year-old, the first person to play for the Pirates who was born in this millennium, Saturday was a sampler platter of what his career might be like down the line.

“I was really excited to see my dream come true,” Peguero said. “It was a very amazing thing to experience.”

The last day and a half has been an emotional whirlwind. Around 2 p.m. ET on Friday, the Pirates learned that utility man Tucupita Marcano would need to be put on the COVID IL. They needed a replacement, and they chose Peguero, who was two hours east of Pittsburgh in Altoona, the team’s Double-A affiliate.

Peguero dashed to Pittsburgh, arriving just prior to game time. He played spectator on Friday. On Saturday, his name was called.

Peguero’s first plate appearance was a true “welcome to The Show” moment. Alex Wood, San Francisco’s funky lefty, sent Peguero packing on three pitches, striking out the rookie on an elevated fastball. He wasn’t in Altoona anymore.

In the next plate appearance, Peguero knocked his first hit off his bucket list, swatting a 106.7 mph single to right field. The Giants ensured the baseball made it safely back to Pittsburgh’s dugout, avoiding Friday’s mishap with Cam Vieaux’s first strikeout ball. First-base coach Tarrik Brock congratulated the young buck with a hug.

Peguero’s single came during a relatively low-pressure moment in the ball game with Pittsburgh leading by two runs in the fourth inning. Several frames later, Peguero found himself in a spot that got his heart beating out of his chest.

With two on, two out and the Pirates trailing by one, Peguero stepped to the plate against Dominic Leone in the bottom of the eighth inning with an opportunity to tie the game, if not more. The setup -- the rookie getting a chance at the big hit in his first game -- almost felt cliché.

The count ran full. Leone tossed a tempting slider. Peguero laid off. He kept the line moving with a walk.

“I was just trying to be really focused and simplify myself,” Peguero said. “It was really tough. The first two pitches were really tough for me, but I stepped off and breathed a little bit. I got back in [the batter’s box] really focused. I tried to battle and won the battle right there.”

Peguero won the battle and the day. It was an afternoon upon which he can build -- even if that building is done somewhere other than Pittsburgh.

The rookie is on borrowed time right now. His run with the Pirates will, in all likelihood, be very short. The carryover effect of being here, though, could propel Peguero for the rest of the season.

Peguero may be optioned Sunday or early next week, but he’d return to the Minors as a Major Leaguer. He gained the confidence of having success at this level, however small that success might be. He had the chance to experience a game’s flow, to see how his peers operate. Peguero arrived in Pittsburgh ahead of schedule due to circumstance, but the value of this brush with the bigs cannot be overlooked.

“When you go back to whatever level you’re at, to be able to talk about it with your teammates and be honest about it is extremely important,” said manager Derek Shelton pregame. “Anybody that plays in the big leagues, I think that you should carry yourself in a way that’s a little bit different in a positive way. Not in an arrogant way of, ‘Hey, I’m a big leaguer,’ but, ‘OK, this is what it’s about. This is what you should do, and this is what we are doing.’

“They can go back and say, ‘This is how the Major League players reacted. This is how the Major League staff [reacted].’ Any experience like that is valuable experience, regardless of the limited amount of time or long exposure of time.”