Prospect Q&A: Pirates infielder Peguero
It was a strange offseason for Liover Peguero, but if his early start with Double-A Altoona is any indication, nothing hindered his development. The Pirates’ sixth-ranked prospect, from Higuey, Dominican Republic, signed with the D-backs for $475,000 back in 2017, which meant he would need to be added to the
It was a strange offseason for Liover Peguero, but if his early start with Double-A Altoona is any indication, nothing hindered his development.
The Pirates’ sixth-ranked prospect, from Higuey, Dominican Republic, signed with the D-backs for $475,000 back in 2017, which meant he would need to be added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster after last season as protection from the Rule 5 Draft -- which, of course, did not end up happening. Although the 21-year-old had no Major League experience, he was subjected to the same restrictions as the players within the union during the lockout.
Despite whatever difficulties that may have caused, Peguero has been one of the Eastern League’s best hitters over the first 20 games of the season, batting .346 with a .972 OPS.
Ranked No. 77 overall by MLB Pipeline, Peguero landed with Pittsburgh in the January 2020 trade that sent Starling Marte to Arizona. After the lost season, Peguero made his organizational debut with High-A Greensboro the following year. Over 90 games with the Grasshoppers, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound shortstop batted .270/.332/.444 with 35 extra-base hits (14 homers), 45 RBIs and 28 stolen bases. He also formed a formidable double play combination with the club’s top prospect, Nick Gonzales.
In the latest Prospect Q&A, the affable Peguero discusses his partnership with his “other half” on defense, his offseason training -- which included a stint at the Pirates’ “Get Better at Baseball Camp” in Bradenton, Florida -- and his control of the clubhouse boom box.
MiLB.com: You've gotten off to a great start in Altoona -- what's been working for you?
Liover Peguero: I'm going to be like very easy with it -- all I'm trying to do it just be me. That's how I've been playing. Just trying to have fun in the game and all that. I feel like one of the things right now that's been helping me a lot has been not overthinking and just playing the game the right way. Having fun and all that.
MiLB.com: Was there anything in particular you worked on during the offseason?
Peguero: To be honest, I was just so excited to come back and come to the team and have fun in the games. But I feel like I was more trying to improve on my back leg when it comes to offense. Like, staying behind the ball and just using my back leg a little bit. It's been giving me positive results, and I've been seeing them. I feel like that was the main thing that I was focused on in the offseason.
MiLB.com: How did you determine that was something that would work for you?
Peguero: When you pay attention to yourself a lot of the times, you see what you're doing wrong. I used to just watch myself on videos. I think having a great staff and great people around me too. I was just sitting down with them and talking about some things I've been seeing on video and all that. I think that's the main reason why I was trying to worry about it and start working on it to get better at it.
Peggy is quite the character. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/oRY4srFSLE— Young Bucs (@YoungBucsPIT) February 10, 2021
MiLB.com: What was the story behind the Pirates' "Get Better at Baseball Camp?"
Peguero: To be honest, it was a great camp, I will never forget about it. But I feel like we were all just trying to get better at those little details. Because those little details are the ones that make the difference, you know what I mean? So, I feel like that was there. ... I was more working on my double plays and my feet. And I was also working a lot on the slow grounders, trying to get that balanced position to make my throws. I was also working on my back leg too in that camp, because I've been trying to work on it for a really long time and it's been good.
MiLB.com: How'd you manage to take control of the clubhouse boom box?
Peguero: The boom box, man. I don't know, I'm just always trying to find a way to have fun and I also love to be that guy that is bringing the energy in the field. I feel like whenever we got music on, we see the vibes and we see positive things coming from each other. I feel like music, whenever you're doing whatever you're doing -- it's just great.
MiLB.com: You and Nick Gonzales have developed into a fascinating duo.
Peguero: It's been great. I feel like he's my other half, just to say it like that. Whenever we're together we just try to be on the same page. We just try to be one player combined and all we try to do is just understand each other in every situation. And like I said, we're just always trying to have fun.
MiLB.com: You're clearly comfortable in your current situation, so do you ever look back on the trade from the D-backs or continue to use anything you learned in the Arizona system that is still part of your process?
Peguero: To be honest, it used to hurt a little bit. Any trade is kind of like a restart button when it comes to different teams and different teammates and all that. But right now, we're good. We're in a good spot right now and I feel like I should take advantage of it. It doesn't make a big difference. I feel like I'm on a different team but with the same goal. It doesn't change.
The story of Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero:— Jake Crouse (@JakeCrouseMLB) August 21, 2021
MiLB.com: The Pirates have seen a lot of changes in the past couple years, especially in player development. Have you noticed the differences?
Peguero: I feel like the first thing I saw when I got here was we were all trying to treat each other as a family. We were all treating each other really nice. What we see around here a lot is equality. We're all trying to be on the same page, we're all trying to be nice to each other. And I feel like that was the main thing that made me fall in love with this organization.
MiLB.com: Scouts notice you have a knack for making hard contact. Is this something you tend to emphasize in your at-bats?
Peguero: I'm trying to be myself all the time, which means that no matter where I'm playing I've always got to trust myself and not try to overthink. I feel like the thing that's been helping a lot has been to stay working on the middle part of the field. No matter how big it is, I feel like my mind doesn't have to change and my approach doesn't have to change and just staying on top of the ball and all that. I feel like it's been the same.
MiLB.com: You're one of many younger guys who are important to the organization with a lot of opportunities for a player in your shoes. What is it like to play in that type of environment?
Peguero: The thing I've been doing a lot has been trying to show the organization that I have the ability to be there. To be honest, I was talking to Oneil [Cruz] last week, we were talking about it. We can't wait to be up there together. I feel like that is something that really impacts me on the inside, in a good way. That's something that's been helping me a lot. Just trying to keep my head up and do my best in the field and out of the field, too. To be honest, I can't wait to make it over there and show the team what I got and show that I am that guy.
MiLB.com: What does a successful 2022 season look like to you?
Peguero: That's a hard question. It sounds easy but it's a hard question. I don't know, I feel like I'm just really focused right now on being healthy. It's hard to have a long season without getting hurt. You got to be lucky about it. You got to take care of yourself a lot. I feel like that's the main thing. I'm just trying to be healthy and show what I got because I don't really like to say numbers. Baseball is pretty inconsistent -- today you can be the greatest, but tomorrow you never know. I don't like to talk about numbers and all that, but my main thing right now is to try to be healthy.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.