Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 46-50

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. Here are prospects 46-50:

2009 Season: Aguero split the season between West Virginia, Lynchburg, and Altoona. In 84 innings between the three levels, Aguero posted a 3.86 ERA, with an 8.04 K/9, a 3.32 BB/9, and an 0.64 HR/9. Aguero was too old for West Virginia, and a little too old for Lynchburg, but he’s the right age for Altoona.
Information: When the Pirates originally signed Aguero, around the 2006 season, they believed he was Samuel Vasquez, and that his age in 2006 was 17. When Neal Huntington and company arrived, they found out Aguero’s actual identity, and that he was actually four years older than he claimed. That forced them to move him through the system faster, sending him to State College last year, rather than the Gulf Coast League. Aguero is 6′ 4″, 175 pounds, and consistently throws 95-96 MPH. The age issue doesn’t seem like an issue since he’s shown the ability to perform at higher levels. Aguero turns 25 in December.
2010 Expectations: Aguero should start out in Altoona, and might even be in the majors by the end of the season.
Optimistic Projection: Closer candidate in the majors
Conservative Projection: Jesse Chavez
2009 Season: The Pirates drafted Irwin in the 21st round of the 2009 draft out of Mississippi. Irwin posted a 3.84 ERA with a 7.6 K/9 and a 2.1 BB/9 in his junior year at Ole Miss. In his time with State College he put up a 2.12 ERA, a 9.7 K/9, and a 1.8 BB/9 in 29.2 innings pitched.
Information: Irwin is 6′ 3″, 215 pounds. Irwin isn’t a dominant pitcher, but throws three average pitches for strikes. Those pitches are a fastball that touches the low 90s, a big breaking curveball, and a changeup. Irwin turns 23 in February.
2010 Expectations: Irwin should start the 2010 season in West Virginia, and could make it to Lynchburg by the end of the season.
Optimistic Projection: Number three starter.
Conservative Projection: Jeff Karstens.
2009 Season: Baker was selected by the Pirates in the 11th round of the 2009 draft. He came from Oklahoma, where he hit for a .284/.411/.564 line in his junior year in 2009, with 15 homers in 225 at-bats. Baker started his professional career with State College, hitting for a .247/.341/.414 line with three homers in 227 at-bats. Baker had a lot of extra base hits, including seven triples, which is surprising considering his size.
Information: Baker is 6′ 3″, 232 lbs according to Baseball America. He bats left and shows a lot of power. His swing is big, which leads to some holes, explaining his 54 strikeouts in 227 at-bats in State College. Baker does have solid plate patience, with 32 walks this season. Most of his power has been shown with extra base hits so far. 25 of his 56 hits went for extra bases in State College, including 15 doubles and 7 triples. He’s strong defensively, and even caught in high school and some in college this year, throwing out 5 of 11 base stealers in 2009 at Oklahoma. Baker turned 22 in September.
2010 Expectations: Baker should take over first base in West Virginia with Calvin Anderson expected to move up to Lynchburg.
Optimistic Projection: An Adam LaRoche type first baseman.
Conservative Projection: Steve Pearce
2009 Season: Pereira finished the year with a 4.35 ERA in 49.2 innings pitched, with a 10.1 K/9, a 5.1 BB/9, and a 0.7 HR/9 ratio. Pereira struggled the first few outings of the season, but was solid after that. From July 16th on he pitched 37.2 innings, with a 2.15 ERA, and a 40:17 K/BB ratio. That was after putting up a 11.25 ERA and a 16:11 K/BB ratio in his first 12 innings. He really solved his control issues, and showed his true potential after those first five starts.
Information: Pereira is a 5′ 11″, 180 pound left hander who was signed in 2006 by the Pirates. He has a fastball that sits in the mid to high 80s, topping out around 90. He has an above average curveball and changeup. He’s showed good control in his minor league career, and the ability to miss bats with his pitches. Pereira turns 21 in February.
2010 Expectations: Pereira has gone a level a year the last few seasons and should make the jump to West Virginia next season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a Rudy Owens type breakout season, although it wouldn’t be as big of a surprise coming from Pereira, since he has a career 2.78 ERA in 223.1 innings in the minors so far.
Optimistic Projection: 3-5 pitcher in the rotation
Conservative Projection: Bullpen arm
2009 Season: Baker, like Phillip Irwin, also pitched for Mississippi in the 2009 season before being selected by the Pirates in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. While at Mississippi, Baker put up a 3.63 ERA, a 9.3 K/9, and a 2.1 BB/9 ratio. Baker signed later than Irwin, and only pitched 16 innings in State College. In those innings he posted a 1.69 ERA, a 5.1 K/9, and a 1.1 BB/9, with no homers allowed.
Information: Baker is 6′ 3″, 205 lbs. He throws an 88-92 MPH fastball, which touches 94 at times. His slider saw improvements in 2009, hitting the high 70s on the radar gun. He also throws a good changeup, giving him three solid-average pitches. Some scouts believe that Baker is best used in shorter outings, while other teams have an interest in stretching him out as a starter. Baker turns 22 in December.
2010 Expectations: Baker should start the 2010 season in West Virginia, although I could see him making an aggressive jump to Lynchburg, just like we saw with Justin Wilson in 2009.
Optimistic Projection: 3-5 starter in the rotation
Conservative Projection: Late inning reliever
Prospects 41-45 will be up tomorrow…
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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, 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.

An alternate 2009 – Part two

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The starting rotation

  • Yukudukes

    I just think your 5 win valuation is higher than Upton deserves which also accounts for their demands seemingly reduced. When a guy averages 3.4 wins over his 5 year career (4.1 if you only count the last 4 and project this season at 2.2 wins), you have to put more of your value on what they’ve actually done and not projection. If the Pirates give up 5 wins per year worth of value for Upton, I’d be very disappointed.

    • john.alcorn

      If you don’t include projection than any prospects we give up are worth zero wins. Upton was 21,22 years old for his early years, you have to project him since he is not yet near his prime. There is a very good chance that he could be worth much more than 5 wins a year as soon as next season.
      I think he will go cheaper than expecte dbecause of the natural human tendency to looak at his brother’s failure to live up to his tools and apply it to Justin. Its hard to divorce the head/commitment issues between the brothers.

  • Kirk Lee

    3.5 years at $12 MM wouldn’t be as bad as Kendall. But yeah, the deal carries considerable risk. Also considerable reward. While I can imagine just how much we’d all kick ourselves if we traded Marte and Lincoln and they both flourished while Upton bombed at $12MM/year, I can also imagine McCutchen and Upton shredding up the majors together on a daily basis and bringing us a world series ring at some point in the next 3 years. Which is pretty intense, since I have had trouble even imagining the Pirates as a playoff team until extremely recently.

  • IC Bob

    Tim I am curious how many players in the minors do we have that are talented that will likely need to be on the 40 man roster next year that are not at this time? If we have a logjam then I am all for getting a star player and trading players that we may not be able to keep anyways. If we are still not having to risk any talent (like the last few years) then I would question the logic of a blockbuster for Upton.

    • Tim Williams

      Funny you should ask that. I’m working on an article on that very topic. It should be up this afternoon.

  • st1300b

    I could be way off on this, especially because I really like Marte – but it could be the huge emergence of a player like Greg Polanco in WV that the team feels stronger about dealing a Marte. Especially when you consider Bell and the 1A drafted OF this year… A lot of talented OF’s lower in the minors make Marte (or any 1 outfielder) less important to the long term plans.

  • Sam Henzler

    Rosenthal said today that Marte could be a bust. He could be another Tabata, and that’s it. Trade him for Upton because Upton is proven as a star, and Marte could be, but apparently won’t be, so I say trade him now, to be safe. If I were Neal, this would be the ideal Upton trade:
    Pirates get: Justin Upton
    D-Backs get: Starling Marte, Rudy Owens or Jeff Locke, Robbie Grossman, Kyle McPherson, and Alex Dickerson

  • Nate

    I’m of the line of thinking that Upton’s attitude (if it is even an issue) would definitely improve here. He would be coming to a city/team that would want him and he’d be playing alongside of Cutch, I think he’d pick Upton up.

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