Pirates Notebook: T.G.I.F.

You’ll notice that there’s a new poll up on the right side of the site, asking where you would rank Brian Friday in your top 30 prospects list. I usually check to see where my visitors are coming from, and in that process I see when a forum has linked to one of my posts. Yesterday I posted my Mid-Season Top 30 Prospects, which was linked from several Pirates forums. I decided to check the posts out to see some of the reactions.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my rankings. Actually, my expectations are that no one will agree with my rankings, at least in a 1-30 sense. My old job required me to rank fantasy baseball and football players (notice how I present that like it’s a bad thing), and each list included guys who were generally ranked higher or lower by other outlets. I was always right on some guys (EX: Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley in 2009), and wrong on some guys (like our own Lastings Milledge, and Cameron Maybin).

So overall I don’t really react to “I disagree with this list” comments, as everyone has an opinion when it comes to sports, and people usually don’t stray from that opinion easily. That being said, the biggest disagreement was on Brian Friday. There were the random “Robbie Grossman strikes out too much”, or “Bryan Morris has been horrible this year and is injury prone”, or “Where are Singh and Patel” comments, but every forum I went to had at least one person wondering where Brian Friday was.

You’ll notice in my original rankings that I didn’t have Friday very high to start the season. I’ve just never been sold on him as a top prospect. The scouting report on him says his defense is strong, with a strong arm and good range. However, he committed 16 errors at Lynchburg, and has 16 errors this year at Altoona.

I know you have to consider the playing conditions when it comes to minor league errors. As someone who frequents Lynchburg’s stadium, I can vouch that the field is no where near major league quality. That said, the scouting report on Friday also says that he plays on his heels and allows balls to eat him up too often. If he had a normal amount of errors, I’d chalk it up to the field conditions, but the impact of the field conditions can only go so far.

As far as hitting, I don’t know if we’ve had enough time to judge Friday. In Lynchburg he hit .287/.365 in 341 at-bats, with 16 stolen bases. Not bad, considering his highest level previously was State College (which means he skipped West Virginia). When you factor in that he was injured, the numbers don’t look too bad. His numbers this year are a different story.

I’ve always thought that Adam LaRoche gets unfair criticism for struggling in April. A lot of players have one or two bad months out of the year, but it’s less obvious when you bat .200 in the month of June (hello, Jason Bay) versus batting .200 to start the season. When you bat .200 it April, it’s very obvious, sort of a first impression for the season.

Friday opened up the AA season with a bang, batting .500 in the month of April. He missed some time this year with an inner ear infection, following his .500 start. Friday returned in May to bat .264/.338/.417, which is decent for his first full month at AA. From there things went down hill.

In June, Friday hit for a .206 average with a .274 OBP. So far in July he has a .200/.360 line. Considering that Altoona has added Jose Tabata, Gorkys Hernandez, and Pedro Alvarez to the lineup for most of this time, and all of those hitters are batting behind Friday, you’d think he’d be seeing better pitches to hit. Friday is kind of the reverse Adam LaRoche, as people are giving him a lot of credit for his hot start, but ignoring that he’s been hitting around .200 over his last 147 at-bats.

Overall I don’t see Friday as anything more than a bench player in the majors. Ask yourself this: Could you see any other major league team targeting Friday as their shortstop of the future? I think Friday has some skills, but I think he’s being over-valued due to Jack Wilson potentially being shipped out, and due to the lack of shortstop prospects above A ball.

Of course that’s just my opinion on Friday, and why he just missed the cut. In all honesty, he may make the cut for the next prospect list I do (sometime after August 17th), as the last five cuts were hard to make, with players 25-35 very close. That being said, with more top prospects anticipated to join the system (hopefully Miguel Angel Sano, Zach Von Rosenberg, and Billy Cain), I think Friday’s chances of making the top 30 next time around will be even less.

Updates to the Site

I made a few updates to the site today.

First, I added the college commitments to the Draft Pick Signing Tracker for all of the prep players we drafted.

Also on the Draft Pick Signing Tracker, I added a link to a spreadsheet that includes the signing status of every pick by every team in the draft, plus bonus information for every team in the top ten rounds. I’ll be keeping track of this to compare how the Pirates match up in spending and signing picks.

I added a 2009 International Signings list to the Features. I’m no expert in this area, so any analysis will be through the form of links to articles on the players we’ve signed. For the most part this is more for reference. I could never find a site that had a good listing of international signings by year. So each year I will be doing this, that way in 2011, when we’ve got a top prospect from Lithuania, we can look back and easily find the year he was signed.

There’s also the Brian Friday poll.

Other Stuff

-The Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch for 7/15 is up.

-Tyler Yates had Tommy John surgery, his second such procedure in his career, ending his season, and possibly his career with the Pirates. Yates is making $1.3 M this year, and I don’t see the Pirates going to arbitration with him next year, considering he’s 32, recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, and the Pirates have several right handed options, like Evan Meek, Jesse Chavez, and Steven Jackson.

I’ve updated the 25-Man roster page. Yates is on the 15-day DL, but can now be moved to the 60-day DL to clear up space on the 40-man roster. Considering all of the trade rumors we’ve been hearing, I anticipate a need for an extra 40-man roster spot, possibly for all of the incoming prospects we’ll be seeing in the next few weeks.

-Jim at North Side Notch has been counting down his prospect list. #7 Bryan Morris, #6 Gorkys Hernandez, #5 Robbie Grossman, and #4 Tony Sanchez are up since the last time I did a Notebook.

-Pat at WHYGAVS did a great job analyzing Ross Ohlendorf using PitchFX data last week. He does the same on Zach Duke, comparing the 2008 version to the 2009 vers

ion.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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