Prospect Primer for Trade Partners – Hitters
This is the second article of three that will help acclimate any fans of other teams that are searching for information about potential Pirate prospects in upcoming trades. It can also help with existing Pirate fans that may not be familiar with the minor leagues to see what we may be losing in any potential upcoming trades.
The first article, highlighting Starting Pitchers, can be found here.
The players will be listed not in prospect order, but rather by classification from AAA down to Low A. It is not assumed, for purposes of this article, that any short-season players will be included in potential trades. The age listed is the player’s 2011 season age, using July 1st as the cutoff date.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some potential hitters available in trades. The numbers shown are their batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage with the OPS in parentheses.
Alex Presley (25) OF — .336/.389/.500 (889 OPS) – Presley has been on a little bit of a hot streak. That is, if you define a hot streak as being 2 years long. Prior to 2010, Presley was viewed as maybe being a organizational player, but a discussion about hitting with then-teammate Jim Negrych changed Presley’s approach. In 2010’s breakout season, Presley hit .320/.373/.494 (867 OPS) with 12 HR’s and 13 SB’s over the AA and AAA levels. His 2011 line is shown above with 8 HR’s and 18 SB’s already. This earned him a promotion to Pittsburgh when Jose Tabata was injured. He has not disappointed in Pittsburgh, as he is off to a .365/.424/.577 (1001 OPS) in his first 52 at-bats. Viewed as a good 4th OF before the season started, his consistent play and impressive showing in Pittsburgh has some thinking he could be an everyday starter.
Chase d’Arnaud (24) SS — .280/.347/.418 (755 OPS) – d’Arnaud had a poor 2010 season in Altoona that was not in line with previous lines put up in 2008 and 2009. He was promoted to AAA to start 2011 and has shown that 2010 was the outlier in his model. d’Arnaud will probably not be a flashy Gold-Glove type of SS, but he can field the position, in addition to 3B and 2B. He is a prototypical #2 hitter with good abilities to draw walks, bunt, and hit the other way. He is a strong contender to be the Pirates starting SS in 2012. Like Presley, he was recently called up to Pittsburgh and has put up a .221/.243/.309 (552 OPS) in his first 68 major league at-bats. One of the more under-appreciated aspects of d’Arnaud’s game is his speed, as he had 17 SB’s in AAA and 5 already in Pittsburgh.
Matt Hague (25) 1B — .321/.378/.479 (857 OPS) – Hague is a hitter. Let’s get that part out of the way. What he may not be, to this point, is a power hitter which is a problem when you are a 1B. Since being drafted in 2008, Hague has never hit lower than .293. However, his HR totals by season are 6, 8, 15, and 8 (to date in 2011). He is more of a doubles guy and contact guy. He has excellent career BB/K numbers and above-average defense at 1B. Hague may be a J.T. Snow-esque type of 1B and could fill a bench spot for the Pirates later this year.
Gorkys Hernandez (23) OF — .289/.345/.403 (748 OPS) – Hernandez is reputed to be the top defensive CF in the minors right now. His speed and range are without question. What has been questioned is his ability to hit at the major league level, which may limit him to being a 4th or 5th OF as his ceiling. Hernandez is having a resurgent year after a down 2010. He could be a great low-cost starting CF solution for some teams who value his defense more than potential offensive contributions.
Josh Harrison (24) 3B — .318/.363/.439 (802 OPS) – Harrison has always been a good contact hitter in the minors and does not strike out very much, but has never been one to draw many walks. His defensive skills at 3B, SS, and 2B are below-average, as well, which makes him more of a super-utility guy long-term. Those kinds of guys are tossed in to trades all the time, like Harrison was in 2009 when he came over from the Cubs. Harrison has spent a good portion of the year with Pittsburgh (or on the major league DL) and has put up a .274/.282/.321 (604 OPS) in 84 at-bats.
Jordy Mercer (24) SS — .263/.333/.480 (814 OPS, combined over AA and AAA – When d’Arnaud was promoted to Pittsburgh, Mercer was bumped up to AAA to take his place at SS. Mercer has had a huge revival this year with his power output. Last year in AA, he hit 3 HR’s all year, but now in 2011 he already has 15, including 2 in AAA already. Mercer has always been regarded as a solid defensive shortstop, so if his power potential can be realized he will be a tremendous future asset.
Starling Marte (22) OF — .314/.351/.455 (806 OPS) – In the Starting Pitcher article, the writeup for Jameson Taillon said he was untouchable and not going anywhere in a trade. As much as I would love to say that Marte is the same, the fact is that if a long-term piece was offered to the Pirates for 2012 and beyond, Marte may need to be part of the package. He is an excellent defensive CF because of his gazelle-like speed and range. He’s a great hitter for average, but is prone to higher than usual K rates and lower than ideal BB rates. Marte is an excellent threat on the bases with 16 already this year. Marte could potentially move Andrew McCutchen to LF in 2012 and become the Pirates starting CF at some point.
Tony Sanchez (23) C — .239/.344/.307 (650 OPS) – Sanchez is viewed as the catcher-of-the-future for the Pirates. That future became cloudy last year when Sanchez missed the 2nd half of the season after being hit in the jaw with a pitch. He seems to have not fully recovered from that missed time, as his season has been disappointing to date. Sanchez is viewed as a defensive catcher than can contribute 10 HR’s and draw some walks for the Pirates, similar to Yadier Molina.
Matt Curry (22) 1B — .307/.398/.531 (929 OPS, combined between Low A and AA) – Curry was promoted in June from Low A to AA and has struggled at times with the adjustment. In 40 games at AA, Curry has a 688 OPS, but has been on an upswing of late. Curry’s defense at 1B is average, but improving.
Jeremy Farrell (24) 3B — .285/.359/.419 (778 OPS) – Farrell has a decent bat, a smattering of power, and a reputation for being sub-par defensively. Farrell would be a good piece to add into a package to an American League team, as his defense will not play in the National League.
Brock Holt (23) 2B — .287/.342/.385 (727 OPS) – Holt does not have the arm to stick at SS, so he is relegated to 2B. Holt does not offer much power (1 HR in 2011) and strikes out a bit too much for someone with his offensive profile. Holt seems to be a utility infielder in the long-term.
Ramon Cabrera (21) C — .345/.409/.476 (885 OPS) – Cabrera will always be questioned because of his height (5’-7”) and how it may affect his long-term ability to play the position. But Cabrera’s bat sure seems able to play, as evidenced by more walks (21) than strikeouts (14) in 168 at-bats.
Robbie Grossman (21) OF — .277/.418/.387 (805 OPS) – Grossman was seen as somewhat of a disappointment up until this season. He has had a serious contact issue that he has improved each year in full-season ball. This season he has more walks (76) than strikeouts (69). Although his K rate is still high (22.3%) and he is repeating High A, Grossman has re-established himself as a viable long-term option for the Pirates.
Jarek Cunningham (21) 2B — .262/.322/.530 (852 OPS) – Cunningham is a perplexing prospect. He offers a huge power component for a middle infielder (15 HR, 23 2B, 6 3B’s), but his defense is rough to say the least. Cunningham also has a poor BB/K rate of 17 walks and 81 strikeouts in 298 at-bats. Ultimately, his bat will be given every chance possible, even if it means a move to a corner OF position.
Dan Grovatt (22) OF — .281/.391/.410 (801 OPS) – Grovatt brings an array of solid, if not flashy, skills to the table. He has an above average ability to draw walks (51 in 288 at-bats), a good amount of gap power (21 2B, 2 3B, and 4 HR) and decent stolen base abilities (13 in 20 attempts).
West Virginia has been diminished by the promotion of Matt Curry, an injury to Gift Ngeope, and disappointing years from Drew Maggi, Mel Rojas, and Eric Avila.