Ji-hwan Bae took a strange journey from the Atlanta Braves to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He had been one of the 13 prospects that went back into free agency due to the multitude of violations that the Braves had committed in the international market. Bae, who was set to sign in Atlanta, instead found himself with the Pirates, signing for $1.25 million.
Atlanta Braves see what they lost with Ji-hwan Bae debut with Pittsburgh Pirates
Six years after that scandal and his unexpected signing in Pittsburgh, Bae is ready to make his debut. According to reports, he will be promoted to the majors, getting a look over the final two weeks of the season as the Pirates try to find pieces for their future core.
Bae could be a part of that future. He put together a solid .289/.362/.430 batting line in his 473 plate appearances at Triple-A, hitting eight homers and 23 doubles while stealing 30 bases. He drew 48 walks while striking out just 80 times as he has displayed a knack for making contact.
That matches his scouting report. Bae has an above average hit tool, using his ability to make contact and his excellent speed to get base hits. While he may not have much power, he could eventually reach double digit homers in the majors. His ability to make contact, work the count, and plus speed make him a possible leadoff candidate.
The issue is finding a place for him on the diamond. Bae had begun his career as a shortstop but has seen far more time at second over the past two years. He has also gotten time in the outfield, primarily in center, where his speed would be an asset.
It is just a matter of finding that spot. The Pirates have enough openings around the diamond where Bae can find a home. Even if he ends up as a super utility type, he could still get enough plate appearances to essentially be a starter. It all depends on how well he can hit at the major league level.
Ji-hwan Bae is set to make his Pittsburgh Pirates debut. The Atlanta Braves get to see what they missed out on due to their transgressions.