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:
Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 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…