Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 36-40

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:

41-45
Here are prospects 36-40:
2009 Season: The 2009 season was the first in the United States for Moreno, after pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007 and 2008. Moreno combined for 50 innings between State College and West Virginia, with 45 of those innings coming in West Virginia. He was impressive this season, with a 2.52 ERA, an 11.0 K/9 ratio, and a 2.7 BB/9 ratio. The highlight of his season came on July 28th when he combined with Hunter Strickland for a no-hitter.
Information: Moreno is 6′ 1″, 177 lbs, and a hard thrower. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 MPH, and consistently is in the mid-90s. Moreno put up a 1.52 ERA with a 37:9 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings pitched in the VSL before arriving in the states. Moreno turned 23 in July.
2010 Expectations: Moreno should start the season in Lynchburg in 2010, and could end up in Altoona before the year is over.
Optimistic Projection: Closer or late inning set up man
Conservative Projection: Solid middle reliever
2009 Season: Harrison came over to the Pirates from the Cubs in the John Grabow/Tom Gorzelanny trade. With the Cubs he hit for a .337/.377/.479 line in A-ball, followed by a .286/.351/.400 line in 70 at-bats in high A ball. With Lynchburg, Harrison hit for a .270/.289/.362 line in 141 at-bats, and was a key piece in the Hillcats’ playoff run.
Information: Harrison was selected by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Cincinnati. He hit for a .378/.437/.559 line in his junior year with Cincinnati, then combined for a .305/.379/.419 line in two levels of A-ball with the Cubs in 2008. Harrison is 5′ 8″, but has a big frame, weighing in at 175 lbs. Harrison doesn’t have a natural position, but has been splitting between third and second base this season. He’s got a lot of speed, which helps his range, and makes him a weapon on the base paths, but he doesn’t have much power, making him a top of the order guy only. One concern is that Harrison doesn’t draw many walks. He had one walk in 155 plate appearances with Lynchburg, and just 23 on the season in 568 plate appearances. On the other hand, he doesn’t strike out often, with just 51 strikeouts in 514 at-bats in 2009. Harrison is the nephew of former MLB player John Shelby, who was a member of two World Series teams, the 1983 Orioles and the 1988 Dodgers. Harrison turned 22 in July.
2010 Expectations: Harrison only had 211 at-bats in high A, and hit for a .275/.310/.374 line in that time. I could see him staying in Lynchburg next season to get some more work, as it could be hard to find playing time in Altoona with Jordy Mercer and Chase d’Arnaud expected to move up. I think he ends up in Altoona by the end of the year.
Optimistic Projection: David Eckstein
Conservative Projection: Utility player able to play second, third, and the corner OF spots
2009 Season: Strickland was acquired by the Pirates from the Boston Red Sox in the Adam LaRoche trade this season. In his first start with West Virginia after the trade, Strickland combined with Diego Moreno for a no-hitter. Strickland played the entire season in A-ball, with a 3.49 ERA, a 5.3 K/9, and a 1.4 BB/9 ratio in 126.1 innings pitched.
Information: Strickland was selected out of high school by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2007 draft. He’s 6′ 5″, 200 lbs, with a projectable frame. Strickland has an easy delivery that doesn’t put a lot of stress on his arm. He has a fastball that ranges 89-91 MPH, tops out at 93, and has good movement. Strickland has great command of his fastball, but is still working on his curveball and changeup. His curve ball is around 79-82 MPH, and acts more like a slurve. His changeup is 83-85 MPH, putting it close to the range of his fastball. He needs to develop some separation between the changeup and the fastball, which could come if he adds some velocity. Strickland turned 21 in September.
2010 Expectations: Strickland pitched a complete season in A-ball this year, and should move up to high A ball next year, where he might spend the entire year.
Optimistic Projection: Number 2-3 starter
Conservative Projection: Back of the rotation starter or long reliever
2009 Season: Hague played his first full professional season in high-A with the Lynchburg Hillcats. In the season, Hague hit for a .293/.356/.412 line, with eight homers and 30 doubles in 454 at-bats. Hague showed good plate patience, with a 67:40 K/BB ratio, and was a key piece to the Hillcats’ Carolina League championship run.
Information: Hague was drafted by the Pirates in the 9th round of the 2008 draft as a senior out of Oklahoma State. Hague is 6′ 3″, 225 lbs, and has good power potential. So far that has translated in to gap power, with 47 doubles in 696 minor league at-bats, although Hague has hit 14 home runs in that time. Hague has a strong arm, which is kind of wasted at first base. He was originally a third baseman in college, but his lack of range forced a position change. Hague would be best suited in right field, where his arm and lack of range plays the best. Hague turned 24 in August.
2010 Expectations: Hague played the entire 2009 season in Lynchburg, and should continue one level per year with Altoona in 2010.
Optimistic Projection: James Loney
Conservative Projection: Casey Kotchman
2009 Season: Freeman played the 2009 season in the Gulf Coast League, and didn’t have a lot of success. He hit for a .210/.275/.344 line with four homers and a 59:14 K/BB ratio in 157 at-bats. Freeman’s problems may have come from those four homers. Twice this season Freeman hit two homers in the span of four games. After each pair of homers, his strikeout rate spiked for the next week, getting as bad as 60.6 percent of the time at one point. It seems Freeman has power potential, but gets a little power happy afterwards. This could lead to bigger swings, which leads to more s

trikeouts.

Information: Freeman was drafted by the Pirates in the 16th round of the 2008 draft, and was given a $150 K signing bonus to break his commitment to Central Florida. Freeman is a very raw talent, but has five tools, with good power potential and speed. He’s 6′ 4″, 215 pounds, and has a slight lift in his swing, which helps his power numbers. Freeman has a strong arm, and his arm and size could make him best suited for a corner outfield position, although his speed plays well in center. He turns 20 in January, and is too far off to make any type of accurate projections.
2010 Expectations: Freeman has spent his first year and a half in professional ball in the Gulf Coast League. He should move up to State College next year.
Optimistic Projection: As I said, it’s hard to project right now, but Freeman could have 30 home run potential
Conservative Projection: A Brandon Moss type bench player with good defense in a corner outfield spot
Prospects 31-35 will be up tomorrow…

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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