Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 31-35

To cap off the end of the 2009 season, I’m going to be counting down my list of the top 50 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. This week I’ll be running through prospects 31-50 in groups of five, with one group a day. Starting next week I’ll be counting down one prospect per day, with an extensive recap on each player, until I reach number one. Check out the previous installments:

Here are prospects 31-35:
2009 Season: Bloom was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 2008 Rule 5 draft, but was returned to the Pirates before the season. Bloom spent his second season in the Altoona rotation, with a 4.05 ERA, a 6.1 K/9, and a 4.9 BB/9 in 104.1 innings pitched. Bloom was excellent against left handers this season, with a .186 BAA. That’s not new for Bloom, as he has a .197 BAA in his minor league career. He’s not too bad against right handers, with a .258 BAA this season, and a .264 BAA in his career.
Information: Bloom was drafted by the Pirates in the fifth round of the 2004 draft. He’s been stuck between high A and AA since the middle of the 2005 season, although his 4.05 ERA this year was his best outing in any season during that time span. He’s 6′ 3″, 185 lbs, and throws in the 88-91 MPH range, with good control of his fastball. Bloom’s problems have been walks, with a career 4.5 BB/9 ratio, including a 4.9 BB/9 ratio this season. While Bloom has been a starter in his minor league career, he is largely viewed as a future reliever. His lefty/righty splits could make him a good LOOGY, although the Pirates seem to prefer relievers who can get batters out on both sides of the plate. Bloom turns 27 in February.
2010 Expectations: Bloom is again Rule 5 eligible, which means he will have to be added to the 40-man roster in order to avoid being taken by another team again. With the shortage in left handed relief in the majors, and Bloom’s strong lefty splits, I could see him in the majors this year. If he’s not added to the major league bullpen, and he avoids being selected in the Rule 5 draft, I think he ends up in the AAA rotation.
Optimistic Projection: John Grabow
Conservative Projection: Sean Burnett
2009 Season: Diaz was added by the Pirates in the trade that sent Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox. Diaz was the 17th best prospect in Boston’s farm system heading in to the 2009 season, mostly due to his defense. He hit for a .253/.309/.310 line in 277 at-bats in AA with the Red Sox before the trade. After the trade, Diaz was moved to AAA by the Pirates. He struggled offensively, hitting for a .233/.273/.240 line in 146 at-bats.
Information: Diaz is a small infielder, at 5′ 11″, 155 lbs. His main strength is his defense, with plus hands, instincts, range, and arm strength. Despite the small size, he’s not fast or a threat on the basepaths. He also lacks plate patience, with a 20.6 percent strikeout rate and a 6.2 percent walk rate between AA and AAA this year. Diaz is only 22 years old, turning 23 in February, so he has some time to develop hitting skills. That time is limited, as he’s currently a member of the 40-man roster, and has to be in the majors by 2012, at which point he would be 25 years old. Diaz has a career .268/.331/.346 line in his minor league career. If he can work to being able to hit near that level in the majors, he could be a serviceable option at short, mostly because of his defense.
2010 Expectations: Diaz should spend the entire season at AAA working on his hitting skills.
Optimistic Projection: Jack Wilson
Conservative Projection: Better version of Luis Cruz
Jim at North Side Notch saw Argenis Diaz in action several times this year, and has a first hand report in this post, and another report with a video of Diaz at the plate in this post. Check it out to read more on Diaz.
2009 Season: Dodson was Baylor’s top recruit, and fell in the draft due to signability concerns. The Pirates selected him in the fourth round with the 115th overall pick, and ended up signing him for $600 K. Dodson only made one appearance as a pro this year, due to signing late, and pitched a perfect inning with one strikeout for the GCL Pirates. In his senior year for Medina Valley, Dodson posted a 1.20 ERA in 64.1 innings pitched, with a 129:36 K/BB ratio, a .132 BAA, and only one homer allowed.
Information: Dodson is 6′ 1″, 190 lbs, and throws in the 91-92 MPH range thanks to his high three quarters delivery. Dodson also has a solid curveball. Dodson’s senior year was no fluke, as he put up a 0.59 ERA in 83.1 innings in his junior year, with a 149:59 K/BB ratio, a .142 BAA, and no homers allowed. Dodson also is strong with the bat, hitting for a .465/.477/.941 line in his senior year of high school, with a team high 11 homers in 101 at-bats. His junior year he hit for a .400/.493/.675 line with seven homers in 120 at-bats. Despite the hitting, the Pirates plan on using Dodson as a pitcher.
2010 Expectations: Dodson should spend his first season in State College, working on commanding his fastball.
Optimistic Projection: It’s hard to tell his upside since he only has one inning pitched as a pro, so I’d say a number 3 starter would be the right amount of optimism at this point.
Conservative Projection: Back of the rotation starter.
2009 Season: Gonzalez played the 2009 season in the Gulf Coast League, after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Gonzalez hit for a .289/.363/.333 line in 159 at-bats with Bradenton. He had a brief appearance with West Virginia, hitting for a .250/.308/.333 line in just 12 at-bats.
Information: Gonzalez could be described as an Argenis Diaz clone. Like Diaz, Gonzalez is small, at 5′ 11″, 160 lbs. He’s also a glove first middle infielder, with excellent hands, and a plus arm. The difference between Gonzalez and Diaz is speed, with Gonzalez running a 6.6-second 60 yard dash. The average time is around 6.9-seconds. Gonzalez also came with concerns over his ability to hit, but fared pretty well in the GCL. By comparison, Diaz hit for a .263/.300/.293 line in 133 GCL at-bats as a 19 year old, putting Gonzalez ahead at this stage in his career. Gonzalez turns 20 in January.
2010 Expectations: Gonzalez ended up in West Virginia by the end of the season, but that seemed like a move to get him more playing time. He should start out in State College in 2010, and could reach West Virginia by the end of the season.
Optimistic Projection: Jack Wilson
Conservative Projection: A better version of Luis Cruz
2009 Season: Ford came in to the season expected to be the second baseman of the future for the Pirates, possibly as early as mid-season 2009. Instead, Ford saw some major struggles at the plate, and ended up getting demoted from AAA to AA, where he continued to struggle. In 298 at-bats in AAA he hit for a .188/.240/.279 line. He followed that up with a .233/.325/.350 line in 103 at-bats in AA.
Information: Ford came in to the season rated the number eight prospect in the Pirates system by Baseball America. He hit for a .285/.338/.458 line in 319 at-bats with Altoona in 2008, after missing the first six weeks of the season. Ford is an offense-first second baseman, although his defense has seen improvements over the last two seasons. He had no problems in AA last year, which makes his 2009 struggles puzzling. Ford turns 25 in December, which still gives him time to rebound from his 2009 struggles.
2010 Expectations: Ford is Rule 5 eligible, which means he needs to be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the draft. Assuming he is added, he should see another attempt at AAA.
Optimistic Projection: Jose Lopez
Conservative Projection: Ramon Vazquez type backup at second base
The top 30 countdown will begin late Sunday night/Monday morning with prospect number 30…
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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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