Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 3 – Brad Lincoln

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. 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:

3. Brad Lincoln, RHP
2009 Season: Lincoln entered the 2009 season with questions surrounding his potential, but rated the number four prospect in the Pirates’ farm system, behind Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata.  The questions were due to Lincoln’s Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for the entire 2007 season.  Lincoln returned in 2008, making 19 starts between low-A and high-A ball, but recorded a 4.69 ERA in that stretch with a 6.5 K/9, a 1.5 BB/9, and a 1.1 HR/9 ratio.

Despite only 41.2 innings above low-A, Lincoln made the jump to Altoona to start the 2009 season.  Lincoln didn’t look much better to start the 2009 season, with a 4.26 ERA, and a 1.42 WHIP in 19 innings over his first four starts.  In his next start, Lincoln went five shutout innings, striking out eight and walking one.  That sparked a stretch of nine starts in which Lincoln put up a 1.61 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and a 49:12 K/BB ratio in 56 innings.

Lincoln was promoted to Indianapolis at the end of June, where he got off to another rough start.  In his first outing, Lincoln pitched a 6.2 inning, one earned run gem.  In his next three starts he allowed 12 runs in 13.2 innings.  Lincoln once again turned things around after his fourth start, pitching six innings in his next outing, with two runs, no walks, and six strikeouts.  From that start to the end of the season, Lincoln posted a 4.17 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and an impressive 29:2 K/BB ratio in 41 innings pitched.

Overall, Lincoln made 25 starts, with a 3.37 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, a 7.1 K/9, and a 1.8 BB/9 ratio in 136.1 innings pitched.

Lincoln carried his impressive season over to the World Cup, where he helped lead Team USA to a gold medal.  In his four starts, Lincoln had a 2.70 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and a 12:6 K/BB ratio in 23.1 innings pitched.  The strikeout ratio was low, although I don’t think any concern should be expressed, especially since Lincoln posted a 6.2 K/9 in his 61.1 innings at AAA.

Check out Brad Lincoln’s 2009 stats and game logs.

Check out Brad Lincoln’s 2009 World Cup stats.

Information: The Pirates drafted Lincoln in the first round of the 2006 draft, with the fourth overall pick.  Lincoln fell to the curse of Pirates first round pitching prospects in 2007, having Tommy John surgery before the season, and missing the entire year.

Lincoln returned in 2008, and while he had strong strikeout and walk ratios, he posted an ERA of 4.69 in 103.2 innings, partly due to a higher home run ratio, and partly due to a high amount of hits.  The good news was that his velocity returned to it’s 2006 levels, and his ratios weren’t horrible, with a 6.5 K/9 and a 1.5 BB/9 ratio.

Lincoln was rated the number four prospect in the Pirates’ system coming in to the 2009 season, and the top pitching prospect in the organization.  Lincoln is 6′ 0″, 215 pounds, and has a fastball that ranges between 90-93, and touches 95 MPH.  He also has a curveball with a late big break.  Both pitches are plus offerings.

Lincoln had a 1.1 HR/9 ratio in 2008.  He cut the homers in half with a 0.5 HR/9 ratio in Altoona, but saw that number rise to 1.0 in Indianapolis.  Lincoln had a 43.8 percent ground ball ratio in Altoona, and a 10.7 percent line drive ratio, which led to a 7.6 H/9 ratio in his time at the AA level.  Lincoln didn’t have the same success in AAA, with a 10.6 H/9 ratio, three hits per nine innings higher than his AA ratio.  That was in part due to a drop to 34 percent with his ground ball ratio, and a spike to 24.1 percent with his line drive ratio.

Lincoln needs to replicate his AA success in AAA next season, which means he needs to cut down on the line drives, and increase the easier grounders.  Lincoln could also use some work on his changeup to he

lp his success against left handed batters, who hit for a .280 average against him this season, compared to a .242 BAA versus right handers.

2010 Expectations: Lincoln will spend two more months in Indianapolis before likely getting the call to the majors in June, to avoid Super Two status in the future.
Optimistic Projection: Lincoln could be the ace the Pirates lack.  He won’t be a Tim Lincecum level ace, but he could lead the rotation, giving the Pirates a great chance to win every time he takes the mound.
Conservative Projection: A strong number three starter.
Check back tomorrow for prospect number 2…

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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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