Two Players At Each Level Who Should Be Promoted

Around the end of May I took a look at two players who needed to be promoted at each level.  A little over a month later and most of those players mentioned have been promoted:

Indianapolis - Neil Walker and Brad Lincoln both got the call to the majors.  Honorable mentions Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata also got the call.

Altoona - Daniel Moskos got the call to AAA, although Jared Hughes is still in AA.  Honorable mention Justin Wilson is also still in AA, while other honorable mention Ronald Uviedo was traded for Dana Eveland.

Bradenton - Nathan Adcock and Jeff Locke remain in high-A.  Honorable mention Diego Moreno was promoted shortly after the article went up, while other honorable mention Tony Sanchez has dealt with injury issues, and probably won’t see AA this season.

West Virginia - Nathan Baker and Kyle McPherson are still at the level.  Honorable mention Duke Welker was just promoted to Bradenton.  Honorable mention Gabriel Alvarado is also still in West Virginia.

Although the short season leagues have all started, I’m going to hold off on including them in this section, as most of the obvious promotions (the prep pitchers) will probably happen, and the other players probably need more time at the level before moving up to full season leagues.  With that said, here is the updated list of two players at each level who should be promoted.

There’s not much left in Indianapolis as far as prospects go.  Most of the players who deserve a promotion are in the bullpen, and are blocked at the major league level.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pirates make some deals from the bullpen, which could open the way for these two players to get the call:

Vinnie Chulk - Chulk got off to a bad start in April, making five appearances and pitching six innings, with a 24.00 ERA and an 8:4 K/BB ratio.  He also missed time with an injury.  Since returning from that injury, Chulk has been lights out.  In 20 appearances, Chulk has combined for a 0.76 ERA in 23.2 innings of work, with a 26:5 K/BB ratio.

Wilfredo Ledezma - Ledezma has been excellent all season, with a 1.24 ERA in 29 innings over 26 appearances, and a 36:16 K/BB ratio.  Opposing batters are hitting for a .165 BAA versus the lefty reliever.  He’s also holding left handed hitters to a .125 BAA, and isn’t having problems with right handers, with a .185 BAA.
Honorable Mention - Hayden Penn has been impressive since clearing waivers and being outrighted to AAA.  Penn got off to a rough start in May, with a 7.78 ERA in 19.2 innings over four starts.  His 17:9 K/BB ratio wasn’t bad, but his .375 BAA didn’t cut it.  In the month of June, Penn put up a 1.89 ERA in 33.1 innings over six starts, with a 32:9 K/BB ratio, and a .226 BAA.  At this point I’d rather see Penn in the major league rotation over Charlie Morton, who isn’t seeing the same success in his time rehabbing in AAA.
Altoona currently has what I like to call the “Second Wave”, aka the next batch of prospects to reach the majors.  Fortunately a lot of these prospects are pitchers, which is good considering the pitching woes the Pirates have seen this season.  It’s also fortunate that several of these pitchers look ready to get the call to AAA.

Justin Wilson - Wilson has dominated the AA level this season, with a 2.88 ERA in 81.1 innings of work over 15 starts, and a 76:34 K/BB ratio during that span.  Wilson ran in to trouble in April, posting a 6.57 ERA in three starts.  He was then skipped over his next start, and hasn’t had trouble since.  Wilson has a 2.22 ERA in 69 innings since the end of April, and a 65:24 K/BB ratio in that time.  He’s clearly shown he can handle the AA level.

Rudy Owens - Like Wilson, Owens has shown he can handle the AA level.  In 15 starts this year, Owens has a 2.74 ERA in 88.2 innings, with a 67:17 K/BB ratio.  Owens has limited walks the last two months, posting a BB/9 ratio right around 2.0 each month.  He also has an excellent ground ball ratio of 48.7% on the season.  One area of concern is that his strikeout ratio dropped to 5.4 K/9 in the month of June, after being at 8.0 in May, although that drop didn’t hurt Owens at all.
Honorable Mentions - It may be a little early to list Bryan Morris here, but I don’t want to leave him out.  Since being promoted to AA, Morris has posted a 3.35 ERA in eight starts, with a 42:15 K/BB ratio in 45.2 innings.  His ERA is inflated due to a bad outing against Trenton a few weeks ago, which saw him allow eight runs in five innings.  In his other seven starts, Morris has a 1.99 ERA, including two runs allowed in 13

.2 innings since that bad outing.  He probably should see another month at the level before being promoted.

Josh Harrison has been a pleasant surprise this year, hitting for a .313/.364/.425 line in 268 at-bats.  Harrison doesn’t have home run power, but he does hit balls to the gap, and currently ranks second in the Eastern League in doubles with 23, one behind the lead, and tied with teammate Chase d’Arnaud.  What’s most impressive is Harrison’s increased walk ratio.  After posting a 4% walk rate in low-A, and a 4.8% walk rate in high-A, Harrison has jumped to a 6.9% walk rate in AA.  That’s important for Harrison, who could be a top of the order hitter.

There’s not much change in this section, as Adcock and Locke are still looking good, and are still waiting on the call to AA.

Nathan Adcock - Adcock struggled some in June, with a 4.44 ERA in 24.1 innings, plus a 12:10 K/BB ratio.  On the season he looks great, with a 3.01 ERA in 80.2 innings, plus a 73:22 K/BB ratio.  I expect he will get the call to AA once Wilson, Owens, or Morris get the call, although that might not be until the end of July, which gives him time to rebound from his poor month of June.

Jeff Locke - Locke’s ERA made it look like he struggled in June, but he actually improved.  Despite the 4.26 ERA in 25.1 innings in June, Locke posted a 30:3 K/BB ratio and a .257 BAA.  That was an improvement over his 25:4 K/BB ratio in 31.1 innings in May, with a .278 BAA.  On the season, Locke has a 3.58 ERA in 75.1 innings of work, with a 75:12 K/BB ratio.  I also think Locke will get the call when Wilson, Owens, or Morris go to AAA.  The question is, who will get the first call: Locke or Adcock?
Honorable Mention - I should probably cheat and make him the third player who should be promoted from Bradenton, so don’t take the “honorable mention” tag too seriously.  Calvin Anderson has been amazing this season, especially in the last two months.  The 6′ 7″, 240 pound first baseman currently holds a .296/.363/.456 line, with nine homers in 270 at-bats.  In the last two months he’s posted a .317/.378/.492 line, with eight homers in 199 at-bats.
Nathan Baker - Baker had a rough June, with a 4.80 ERA in three starts, spanning 15 innings.  That was mostly due to a rough start in June 8th that saw him allow five runs in five innings, before going on the disabled list for a few weeks.  Baker returned on June 26th, allowing two earned runs on five innings of work.  On the season Baker has a 3.61 ERA in 67.1 innings, with a 44:18 K/BB ratio.  I’d expect him to get the call once Locke and Adcock go to AA.
Kyle McPherson - McPherson continues to look good in the lower levels, coming off a month of June that saw him post a 3.91 ERA in 25.1 innings, with a 26:8 K/BB ratio.  On the season, McPherson has a 3.97 ERA in 79.1 innings over 15 starts, with a 78:18 K/BB ratio.  Like Baker, I expect him to get the call once Locke and Adcock get promoted to AA.
Honorable Mentions - David Rubinstein has been impressive this year, hitting for a .329/.381/.446 line in 213 at-bats.  Rubinstein has the second best average in the South Atlantic League, ranks eighth in on-base percentage, and is tied for sixth in the league in doubles with 22.  Rubinstein’s success falls in to the same surprise category that Alex Presley has been in all year, although he’s not letting up, with a .337/.400/.430 line in 86 at-bats in the month of June.

Phillip Irwin has also had success in West Virginia, with a 3.10 ERA and a 39:8 K/BB ratio in 40.2 innings of work.  Irwin missed some time on the disabled list in early May, and put up a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings since returning, with a 26:2 K/BB ratio.

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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, 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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