June Prospects Rundown: State College Spikes

State College started their season in mid-June, shortly after the 2010 MLB draft.  It’s hard enough to draw any conclusions about the performance of the players at the level based on two weeks of play.  What makes things harder is that development is often hard to pinpoint at the lower levels.  The pitchers are throwing mostly fastballs, focused more on their control and command of the pitch than they are of their ERAs.  Most of the hitters having success came from the college level, which means they probably should be having success at the State College level.

For the full season leagues I split my monthly breakdown in to “good, surprising, and disappointing” categories.  For the short season leagues I’m just making notes on certain players, without getting in to the expectations, because truthfully at this level, there aren’t any great expectations on the individual performances of players.  Right now it’s more about development than it is results, which is why I don’t see a need to label the results “good, surprising, or disappointing”.

That said, here are the notable players from the month of June, broken down by pitchers and hitters.

Zach Von Rosenberg - ZVR is easily the top prospect at the level, which is why his 6.75 ERA in the first four starts may draw some concerns.  The only concern I’d have is that he’s not dominating hitters as well as he could.  ZVR showed great control in June, with three walks in 12 innings of work, but he only managed four strikeouts in that time.  In his first start in July he pitched four innings, with one walk and four strikeouts, which was a good sign.  Those are the numbers the Pirates need to see from ZVR more often in order to warrant a promotion to West Virginia.
Zack Dodson - Dodson has had some trouble with his control, allowing eight walks in 10.2 innings in the month of June, with just five strikeouts.  He’s shown improvement in the strikeout department, striking out four in three innings of work in his final start of the month, then striking out five in four innings in his first start in July.  Dodson is doing great against left handers, with a .190 BAA and a 6:2 K/BB ratio in 6.2 innings.  He’s struggling against right handers, with a .300 BAA and a 4:6 K/BB ratio in eight innings of work.
Tyler Waldron - Waldron is one of the most interesting pitchers that has signed so far from the 2010 draft class.  The fifth rounder probably profiles best in the long term as a reliever, but he’s starting most likely to get as many innings as possible.  Waldron made two starts in the month of June, with a 4:4 K/BB ratio in seven innings, but since then he has put up a 9:0 K/BB ratio in ten innings of work.  If he keeps that up, he could warrant a promotion to low-A, as the college arm doesn’t have much to learn at State College if he can demonstrate that kind of control.
Brooks Pounders - Poun

ders displayed great control in June, with a 8:0 K/BB ratio in 13 innings of work.  He ran in to some trouble in his first start in July, with a 2:2 K/BB ratio, plus two hit batters in 1.1 innings of work.  He also allowed six stolen bases in six attempts.  He only allowed two steals in his previous three starts, although he has yet to catch anyone in eight attempts this year, so maybe the recent start has identified a problem with his game.

Jhonatan Ramos - Ramos started the year in West Virginia, then was demoted to State College, where he has been excellent.  Ramos allowed just one hit in his first nine innings, with an 8:1 K/BB ratio.  He struggled in his next start, getting just one out, and allowing two runs on three hits, with a 1:1 K/BB ratio.  Ramos got hit a lot in West Virginia, but did post a 13:2 K/BB ratio in 15 innings, which is an encouraging sign.
Eliecer Navarro - The season is young, but State College has already seen one promotion, with Navarro being promoted after just 8.2 innings of work.  In those innings, Navarro posted an 11:1 K/BB ratio and a .194 BAA.  The left handers has had similar success since moving up to West Virginia, with a 5:2 K/BB ratio in five innings of work, and a .263 BAA.

Adalberto Santos - Santos has been impressive in his pro debut, although the success should be expected considering he was a college senior.  Santos has hit for a .355/.474/.516 line with two homers in 62 at-bats.  He also has six steals in eight attempts, and a 8:13 K/BB ratio.  Santos needs to be in West Virginia at the least for these numbers to be impressive.
Chase Lyles - Lyles is kind of in the same boat as Santos.  He came from the JuCo ranks, and is 23 years old, so he’s a little too mature for the New York-Penn League.  Lyles has gotten off to a great start, hitting for a .311/.393/.514 line, with three homers in 74 at-bats.  He also has an 11:8 K/BB ratio.  Like Santos, Lyles probably needs to be in West Virginia.
Gift Ngoepe - Gift has been very impressive so far in his second professional season.  The big thing has been his walk rate.  On the season, Gift has 19 walks, leading to a .450 OBP, which is almost 200 points higher than his .254 batting average.  The walk total has Gift in the New York-Penn League lead, four ahead of second place.  He hasn’t displayed much power, with five extra base hits, but considering his background, two of the most important things right now are his pitch recognition and plate patience, and he’s having no problems with those two aspects.
Walker Gourley - Gourley was drafted out of high school in 2009, and signed away from a commitment to East Carolina as a 13th round pick.  The assignment to State College might be a little aggressive, and might be the reason Gourley is struggling so much.  That’s not just the .171/.220/.250 line in 76 at-bats, but the 26:3 K/BB ratio he’s put up.  Gourley has the third worst strikeout numbers in the New York-Penn League.  The problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better, so the Pirates might want to consider moving him down to the GCL before he goes the way of Wes Freeman with the strikeouts.

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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.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 7/8/10

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