June Prospects Rundown: West Virginia Power

West Virginia still doesn’t have many top prospects in the Pirates’ farm system, with most of the top guys in the level falling in the 11-20 range at best, and probably in the 30s in some cases.  A lot of the guys having success this year in West Virginia draw questions as to the legitimacy of their success.  That’s either because they’ve been at the level before, because they’re a year or two old for the level, or both.  While the production is nice to see, it has to be seen at the higher levels before those players can be considered legit prospects.

Here is a quick breakdown of the month of June, with players who played up to expectations, some surprises, and some disappointments.
Good as Advertised
Jarek Cunningham - Cunningham had a huge bounce back month in June, with a .317/.404/.573 line in 82 at-bats, with three homers.  Cunningham saw a big increase in his walks, which was a great sign, leading to a .977 OPS.
Evan Chambers - Chambers didn’t hit for a good average in June, only posting a .226 average in 84 at-bats.  However, his .387 OBP and his .452 slugging were excellent, especially when you consider the poor batting average supporting both of those numbers.  Chambers finally showed some power, hitting five homers in the month of June.  He also displayed a great ability to get on base, with 22 walks in 23 games.  He was 7-for-10 in steals this month, and has already passed 20 steals on the season.
Phillip Irwin - Irwin didn’t have a good ERA, posting a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 innings in June, although his secondary numbers were great.  Irwin had a 21:2 K/BB ratio in the month of June, along with a 2.75 GO/AO ratio.  Irwin’s strikeout ratio might be due to playing at a level too low, as he was a college junior in 2009 before being drafted, and probably should be in high-A right now.  If he does maintain this K/BB ratio in the higher levels, he would end up a steal as a 21st round draft choice.
The Big Surprises

David Rubinstein - Rubinstein not only continued his hot start from April and May, but he improved on his May numbers, hitting for a .337/.400/.430 line in the month of June.  Rubinstein doesn’t hit for much power, and isn’t great at stealing bases, but his average and OBP are strong this year.  He draws a big asterisk for being too old for the level, after spending parts of two years in State College.
Kyle McPherson - McPherson followed up his strong month of Ma

y with another good month in June.  In five starts, McPherson had a 3.91 ERA in 25.1 innings, and a 26:8 K/BB ratio.  He also held hitters to a .214 average.  It’s hard to say whether this success is due to his second tour of West Virginia, or if he’s actually establishing himself as a legit prospect, even if he’s only a back of the rotation candidate at best.  That can only be answered with his performance once McPherson gets promoted up the ranks.

Jason Erickson - Erickson had a strong month in the rotation, making five starts and putting up a 2.25 ERA in 28 innings of work, with a 22:5 K/BB ratio.  Erickson had no problems last year in State College, and isn’t having a tough time this year in West Virginia.  However, at 23 years old he should at least be in Bradenton by now.
Kind of Disappointing
Aaron Baker - Baker showed some power in June, with five homers in 78 at-bats, but that was about it for the first baseman.  Baker hit for a .179 average, and his .293 OBP wasn’t much better, although good considering his low average.  Baker has done well the first two months of the season, so hopefully the struggles in June were just a minor setback.
Ramon Cabrera - Cabrera has been slipping at the plate each month this year, and only got worse in June.  After a .681 OPS in April, and a .625 OPS in May, Cabrera posted a .521 OPS in June in 77 at-bats.  He’s not striking out a lot, which is a good sign, and his walk ratio took a big spike to a respectable level, so hopefully that is laying the foundation for future success.

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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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