April Prospects Rundown: Bradenton Marauders

The Bradenton Marauders have been unreal.  Looking at their stats is like looking at the stats generated from a video game team.  Three starting pitchers have struck out almost a batter per inning, and have a WHIP in the 1.01-1.11 range.  Eight players currently have a .282 batting average or better.  Three of those players are hitting for a .329 average or better.  Five players have an OPS above .800.

The Marauders as a team are hitting for a .286 average, which is first place in the Florida State League, 15 points above the next highest team.  Their OPS is .795, also first place, and 40 points above the second place team.

I plan on going in to this team further tomorrow, but for now let’s look at the individual players.  Here is a quick breakdown of the first month of the season, with players who played up to expectations, some surprises, and some disappointments.

Good as Advertised
Tony Sanchez - Sanchez certainly hasn’t disappointed in the start of his first full season in pro ball.  In the month of April he hit for a .348/.476/.606 line, with three homers in 66 at-bats.  Sanchez had a shoulder injury which limited him to DH work, and impacted his stolen base numbers, with only two caught stealing in 23 attempts this season.  I’d be surprised if he’s still in Bradenton on June 1st, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets promoted to Altoona sooner than that.

Starling Marte - Marte is doing excellent in his debut at the high-A level.  In the month of April he hit for a .345/.448/.473 line with six stolen bases in 55 at-bats.  One of Marte’s problems last year was a high strikeout ratio, at 24.9% in his time in West Virginia.  That hasn’t improved so far in Bradenton, with a 27.3% ratio, and is something he needs to improve on before advancing to a higher level.  No need to rush Marte.  He’s a 21 year old playing in a league where 23 is the average age.

Robbie Grossman - Grossman is not only hitting for average, but he’s also cut back his strikeout totals.  In 2009, Grossman struck out 36.4% of the time in West Virginia.  In the month of April his strikeout ratio was down to 27.3%.  Grossman is putting up impressive numbers, with a .309/.443/.418 line in the month of April.  The power isn’t there yet, but he did have five steals in the month of April.  Grossman is a five tool talent, but he’s also only 20 years old, and power is usually the last thing to develop with prospects.

Bryan Morris - Morris has been outstanding for Bradenton so far this season.  Not only does he sport a 0.98 ERA, but he also has a 26:3 K/BB ratio in 27.2 innings of work, and a 1.89 GO/AO ratio.  I’ve seen a few comments about how Morris is old for the level, which is untrue.  Morris just turned 23 in March.  The average age for the level is 23, which means this is right where Morris is expected to be.  I expect that he’ll be called up soon, especially if he continues with this success.  Hopefully he’s back on track to be a top of the rotation starter, which was his projection before being struck by one injury after another.

Jeff Locke - Locke is also off to a great start, although his ERA is a little inflated compared to Morris, despite similar ratios across the board.  Locke had a 2.89 ERA in four starts in the month of April, with a 20:5 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings of work, and an impressive .194 BAA.  Locke’s numbers look great, but Bradenton’s whole team is putting up XBox numbers, which makes the normal success that Locke is having look kind of disappointing.  Locke is another guy I’d expect to be called up to AA soon.

Diego Moreno - Moreno has been untouchable out of the back of the bullpen.  In seven appearances in the month of April he put up a 0.69 ERA, with a 19:1 K/BB ratio and just five hits allowed in 13 innings of work.  Moreno spent the bulk of the 2009 season in West Virginia, with similar results.  He turns 23 in July, and could be in Altoona by the time his birthday arrives, especially if he continues this dominance.

The Big Surprises

Brock Holt - I expected Holt to start the 2010 season in West Virginia, after spending the 2009 season with the State College Spikes after being drafted in the ninth round.  Instead, Holt jumped over low-A ball, and with his early results, the move looks like the right call.  Holt hit for a .383/.426/.550 line in the month of April, with a 6:5 K/BB ratio in 60 at-bats.  Most of his at-bats came from the top of the order, and he showed his power potential with a home run, a triple, and five doubles.  Holt needs to improve on his walk ratio, but everything else looks great so far.

Jeremy Farrell - Farrell has been a pleasant surprise this season.  The 2008 draft pick hit for a .248/.337/.359 line in 270 at-bats in West Virginia last year, but started off the 2010 season with a bang in Bradenton.  Farrell hit for a .315/.405/.548 line with three homers in 73 at-bats in the month of April.

Quincy Latimore - Latimore has probably been the biggest surprise of the 2010 season.  In 2009, playing the entire season with West Virginia, Latimore had a .251/.295/.411 line in 479 at-bats, with 11 homers.  He also had a 24.2% strikeout ratio.  Latimore started out the month of April with a .298/.333/.476 line, with four homers in 84 at-bats.  Latimore is striking out at a higher rate (28.6%) and isn’t walking much, so he still has a ways to go.  Time will tell whether this start was a fluke, or whether Latimore is finally realizing his potential and putting his skills to work.

Austin McClune - McClune, like Latimore and Farrell, struggled in West Virginia last season, hitting for a .256/.323/.325 line in 308 at-bats.  That changed in the month
of April, as McClune hit for a .286/.333/.452 line in 42 at-bats for Bradenton, getting more playing time as the month went on.

Greg Picart - Picart actually had good numbers with West Virginia in 2009, with a .308/.399/.409 line in 237 at-bats.  That’s similar to his .311/.378/.324 line in the month of April in 74 at-bats for Bradenton. Picart has mostly been hitting from the top of the order in the number two spot, which is an area that suits him.  He has limited power, but can get a few stolen bases, and has great plate patience, with a 7:8 K/BB ratio in the first month of the season.

Nathan Adcock - Adcock spent the entire 2009 season in high-A, with a 5.29 ERA in 126 innings, and an 86:61 K/BB ratio.  In the month of April he put up a 2.70 ERA in four starts, with a 22:6 K/BB ratio in 20 innings of work.  That type of turnaround is great to see, and Adcock continues to impress in to his first start in the month of May.

Kind of Disappointing
Calvin Anderson - Anderson is pretty much the only offensive player who is not destroying the ball, which may highlight his poor numbers even more.  In the month of April he hit for a .239/.321/.352 line in 71 at-bats.  What’s worse is that he only had one homer.  Anderson has a huge frame, but has yet to hit for much power.

Aaron Pribanic - Pribanic has struggled in the jump from low-A to high-A.  After the Jack Wilson trade that brought him to the Pirates, Pribanic put up a 2.15 ERA in 37.2 innings with West Virginia, after having success with Seattle’s low-A affiliate before the deal.  Pribanic started the month of April with a 6.35 ERA in four starts, with a 11:6 K/BB ratio in 17 innings of work.  He’s allowing way too many hits, with a .338 BAA.

Brian Leach - Leach has seen some struggles after a very impressive year with West Virginia, which saw him put up a 2.96 ERA in 109.1 innings pitched, with an 88:39 K/BB ratio.  In the month of April, Leach made five appearances and four starts, with a 6.53 ERA in 20.2 innings and a 15:16 K/BB ratio.  Leach had excellent control in 2009, but it has gone out the window this year.  He held hitters to a .228 BAA in April, but the walks have killed him.

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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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