27. Brock Holt, 2B
2009 Season: Holt was selected by the Pirates in the ninth round of the 2009 draft, coming off of his junior year with Rice. Holt hit for a .348/.427/.560 line with 12 homers in 250 at-bats with Rice. Holt signed quickly with the Pirates, accepting a $125 K bonus on June 19th, and going right to work with State College.
Holt was impressive in his time with State College. In 254 at-bats, Holt hit for a .299/.361/.449 line, with six homers and nine stolen bases. He also showed good plate patience, with a 12 percent strikeout rate, and a nine percent walk rate. The most impressive thing was the breakdown of Holt’s season.
Holt started off slow, with a .172/.294/.276 line and one homer in his first 29 at-bats in the month of June. He did better in the month of July, with a .281/.333/.447 line and four homers in 114 at-bats. In August and September, Holt was on fire. He hit for a .326/.374/.477 line in 86 August at-bats, and a .440/.517/.560 line in 25 at-bats over his final six games of the season. In the 111 at-bats over the final month of the season, Holt had just nine strikeouts and walked 12 times, with nine doubles, two triples, and a homer.
For his achievements, Holt was named to the 2009 New York-Penn League All-Star team.
Information: Holt transferred to Rice University at the start of the 2009 season, after attending Navarro Junior College in Texas. Holt hit for a .405 average in 173 at-bats with Navarro, with seven homers. He was originally a shortstop, but moved to second base once he arrived at Rice, thanks to Rick Hague, who is a top 2010 draft prospect.
Holt batted at the top of the order for Rice, with a good ability to hit for average, good control of the strike zone, and gap power from the left side of the plate. Holt continued those skills in his debut in the pros, batting at the top of the order for State College, hitting for average, and showing good control of the strike zone.
On the defensive side of the ball, Holt is very sound. He was named the best defensive player in the 2008 Texas Collegiate Summer League. He’s got arm strength that is good enough to play at shortstop, although the Pirates have shortstop options like Jordy Mercer, Chase d’Arnaud, and Brian Friday above Holt, and shortstops like Benjamin Gonzalez and Jarek Cunningham on the same level as Holt, which makes me think that Holt will stay at second.
Holt can hit for average, has good control of the strike zone, good plate patience, good defense, and hits for good power for a second baseman. He’s kind of like the Chase d’Arnaud version at second base, although he’s a bit smaller at 5′ 10″, 165 lbs, and he hasn’t done this in the pros for a full season. Another season like we saw at State College and I’ll be moving Holt up the rankings.
2010 Expectations: Holt came from college, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him skip West Virginia and move to Lynchburg. However, I think he starts the season at West Virginia, and makes it to Lynchburg by the end of the season, similar to the path d’Arnaud took in 2009.
Optimistic Projection: It’s too early to make any accurate projections, but Holt could be a .300 hitter, with 15 homers and 20 stolen base potential a year. That would make him similar to Brian Roberts, with about half the stolen bases.
Conservative Projection: I think that Holt’s ability to hit for average is legit, based on his low strikeout numbers. The questions I have are his ability to hit for power at higher levels. That would make him similar to Placido Polanco, who is a career .303 hitter with about ten homers per year.
Check back tomorrow for prospect number 26…