Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/16/11


With the catching woes at the major league level, there have been some calls for top prospect Tony Sanchez to get promoted from Altoona, and take over right now as the catcher of the future. Unfortunately, those calls are a bit short sighted, especially for the development of Sanchez.  There are two big fallacies that surround Sanchez.  First is that he’s a former college player, so the jump to the majors from AA wouldn’t hurt him.  Second is that his defense is ready, which is the only important thing.

On that first item, Sanchez WAS a college player, but college doesn’t translate over to the upper levels of the minors.  At best, it translates over to high-A.  There’s no argument to be made about ignoring AA stats because a guy came from college.  The AA level is tougher than college.  As it stands right now, Sanchez has a .264/.367/.337 line.  The power has been disappointing this season, and even when it rebounded in May (he saw seven of his eight extra base hits this year in May), he only had a .413 slugging percentage.  His bat isn’t ready at this point.

The most important thing is ultimately the defense.  The big misconception here is that the Pirates proclaimed Sanchez as a guy who was already in possession of All-Star defense when he was drafted.  The word on Sanchez at the time of the draft was that he already had major league average defense, and could develop in to an All-Star defender.  In fact, I interviewed him a few months after the 2009 draft, and he even said that he had things to work on.  So the idea that he’s ready now, defensively, is also false.

The thing that hurts Sanchez is his 2010 injuries.  Had he gone with a healthy season, he probably would have made the jump to the AA level in 2010.  We probably would have seen these initial struggles, as the jump to AA is the hardest one to make.  However, Sanchez would have come in to the 2011 season with some AA experience under his belt.  Unfortunately, none of that happened.  In total, Sanchez has about a year’s worth of playing time as a pro, with 178 at-bats above A-ball.  Like any player, even players out of college, he needs further development.  Rushing him to the majors to fill a short term need isn’t going to help that development.  If there’s any prospect the Pirates should call up to fill a need, it would be Eric Fryer, and not Sanchez, as Fryer has at least hit at the AA level, and hasn’t been bad in AAA in his limited time.


Top Pitcher: Kyle McPherson (1-1, 3.09) – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Anthony Norman (.467) – 3-for-4, R

Home Runs: Kelly Aponte (5)


Indianapolis was postponed today due to issues with their flight.


McPherson allowed a run in six innings in his second AA start.

Box Score

Result: Altoona 3 New Britain 1

Starting Pitcher: Kyle McPherson (1-1, 3.09) – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Anthony Norman (.467) – 3-for-4, R

Other Notable Performers

Matt Curry (.298) – 1-for-3, 3B

Brock Holt (.293) – 1-for-3, BB, R

Game Notes: Kyle McPherson gave up a home run in the first inning, then was great through the next five frames, picking up his first win at the AA level.  McPherson allowed three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings in his previous start. Anthony Norman just recently started his 2011 season, and only has 15 at-bats.  He hit for a .220 average in 191 at-bats in Altoona last year.


Baker pitched two innings in relief.

Box Score

Result: Charlotte 10, Bradenton 1

Starting Pitcher: Jason Erickson (1-1, 5.34) – 2.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Benji Gonzalez (.251) – 1-for-3, 2B

Other Notable Performers

Nathan Baker (4.31) – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: Not much offense for the Marauders, as they only managed four hits.  The double by Gonzalez was the only extra base hit.  Tyler Cox (15.43) allowed a lot of the damage in his second appearance of the year, with five runs allowed, four earned, in 1.1 innings.


Maggi went 2-for-3 with a double.

Box Score

Result: West Virginia 4, Lakewood 3

Starting Pitcher: Colton Cain (5-5, 3.31) – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Drew Maggi (.236) – 2-for-3, 2B, R

Other Notable Performers

Mel Rojas Jr. (.248) – 0-for-2, BB, R, SB

Daniel Grovatt (.291) – 1-for-2, 3B, BB, RBI

Porfirio Lopez (3.24) – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: The game was completed early after seven innings.  This was only the third time that Cain has allowed more than two earned runs in his last ten starts.  He’s pitched six innings in each of his last five outings.  The stolen base for Rojas Jr. was his 13th of the season.  Maggi was caught stealing for the 11th time this year.

RK: DSL Pirates (9-4)

The DSL Pirates were postponed today.

RK: VSL Pirates (15-10)

Game One Box Score

Game Two Box Score

Result: Pirates 1, Reds 0; Pirates 7, Reds 3

Starting Pitcher: Oderman Rocha (1-0, 5.40) – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 0 HR; Dan Urbina (7.94) – 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Ulises Montilla (.363) – 3-for-6, 2B, 2 RBI

Other Notable Performers

Kelly Aponte (.273) – 1-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI

Dilson Herrera (.304) – 1-for-4, R

Jose Marrujo (0.96) – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: Marrujo got the save in game one, and now has a 0.96 ERA in 18.2 innings, with a 15:3 K/BB ratio.  This is his second year in the VSL, both as a reliever, so he’s unlikely to be a top pitching prospect.  Montilla went 0-for-2 in game one, then went 3-for-4 in game two.  He only hit for a .276 average and a .758 OPS last year in his first year in the league.  The 5′ 11″, 170 pound outfielder has been strong this year, with a .363 average and an .896 OPS, although he hasn’t hit a homer in his career yet, spanning 229 at-bats.

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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.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/15/11

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Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/17/11

  • Lee Young

    Never heard of Anthony Norman….where’d HE come from? Prob an ‘org’ player, but still….
    They need a baserunning coach for Maggi……lol
    A guy named ‘Ulises’ without a HR? lol

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