NL Rookie of the Year: Surprise player making early impression

The Pirates have found themselves a surprise entrant into the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Acquired in the Adam Frazier trade (along with current Pirate Tucupita Marcano) between the Pirates and Padres, Jack Suwinski certainly did not jump off the page as the centerpiece heading to Pittsburgh at the time.

In parts of five seasons in the Padres’ minor league system, Suwinski had yet to top a .255 batting average and 12 home runs in a full season. He looked better than he had in years past at the time of the trade (.269 with 15 HR through 66 games) but didn’t immediately appear as anything of note.

Here we are, a few months into the 2022 regular season and Suwinski has made himself into an everyday option for the Pirates and became an instant legend in Pittsburgh when he became the first rookie ever to hit three home runs in a game with the third being a walk-off bomb.

The historic performance for the 23-year old outfielder came on Father’s Day with the rookie’s father in attendance for the game.

FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray noted Suwinski as a potential NL Rookie of the Year candidate on The Baseball Insiders podcast, and one no one expected at the beginning of the season.

The Pirates have a surprise entrant in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion

Suwinski’s first promotion to the big leagues came in April of this year after the Pirates lost both Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds to the COVID-IL. He notched his first major league hit later that day against the Brewers and has not looked back since, turning into quite the fan favorite along the way.

With Tucker leaving Pittsburgh via waiver claim by the Diamondbacks, consistent at bats have opened the door for Suwinski and he has taken the opportunity and ran with it; hitting 11 home runs and posting an OPS+ of 119 through his first 49 big league games.

The ever-rebuilding Pirates have plenty of opportunities to give to their young players; including Oneil Cruz, Bligh Madris, Cal Mitchell and Suwinski, who all currently find themselves near-everyday starters.

With nearly all of the playing time in left field going to Suwinski the Father’s Day hero, the Pirates seem to have unearthed a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate this season.

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