State College Spikes 2011 Season Recap: Top Prospects

Stetson Allie was the top prospect in State College this year.

Our top 10 overall prospects for the State College Spikes factors in all of the individual rankings.  Along with the individual rankings, we also include the best pitcher, hitter, biggest surprise, and biggest disappointments of the year.  The rankings factor in all of the players at the level throughout the year, regardless of whether they’ve been promoted to the majors, and regardless of whether they’ve lost their prospect status.  As long as they had prospect eligibility entering the year, they qualify for the lists.  Playing time is also considered.  A player needs 60 at-bats, 20+ innings pitched, or 10 relief appearances. This prevented Rodarrick Jones and all of the late season GCL players from consideration.

2011 State College Spikes: Hitters
2011 State College Spikes: Pitchers
2011 State College Spikes: Top 10 Prospects

Overall Top 10 Prospects

1. Stetson Allie, RHP
2. Nick Kingham, RHP
3. Alex Dickerson, 1B
4. Wes Freeman, OF
5. Ryan Hafner, RHP
6. Jordan Cooper, RHP
7. Samuel Gonzalez, C
8. Josh Poytress, LHP
9. Taylor Lewis, CF
10. Mike Jefferson, LHP

Tim Williams

1. Stetson Allie
2. Nick Kingham
3. Alex Dickerson
4. Wes Freeman
5. Ryan Hafner
6. Taylor Lewis
7. Josh Poytress
8. Jordan Cooper
9. Dan Gamache
10. Carlos Mesa

Best Hitter: Wes Freeman and Alex Dickerson finished with similar stat lines, although Freeman was on fire for the final month at the level.  When he was hitting, he was clearly the best hitter at the level.

Best Pitcher: Nick Kingham had the best season by far.

Biggest Surprise: Wes Freeman’s late season surge was a huge surprise, not only because of the big offensive numbers, but because he really cut down on his strikeouts.

Biggest Disappointment: Exicardo Cayonez moved up to State College at the start of the year, but was seriously overmatched at the plate, and ended up getting demoted back to the GCL.

Matt Bandi

1. Stetson Allie
2. Alex Dickerson
3. Nick Kingham
4. Wes Freeman
5. Ryan Hafner
6. Michael Jefferson
7. Samuel Gonzalez
8. Josh Poytress
9. Jordan Cooper
10. Matt Benedict

Best Hitter - Alex Dickerson had a nice start to his career, as he was one of the few offensive threats in the State College lineup. Dickerson got a bit of a late start to the season, but he was far and away the team’s best hitter once he arrived. His bat has some of the best power potential in the system, but he will need to approach his full potential to have much of an impact as a first base only guy.

Best Pitcher - Nick Kingham quietly dominated down the stretch. His strikeout rate was a bit underwhelming, but that’s just nitpicking after the season he had. He should be in West Virginia in 2012.

Biggest Surprise – Wes Freeman was awful in his first three seasons, and seemingly entered the year in danger of being released. Suddenly, he started hitting, and that hot streak lasted throughout the end of the season. Freeman still struck out in about 25% of his plate appearances with a walk rate under 5%, so he isn’t out of the woods yet. But for a guy who struggled to hit .200 in the previous three years, it was a nice rebound.

Biggest Disappointment - Stetson Allie was known to be a project entering the season, but I think most people expected quite a bit more out of him in his debut. Allie’s walk rate soared, leading to an ERA approaching 7.00. When he did manage to throw strikes, he missed plenty of bats and struck out more than 20% of opposing hitters. That swing-and-miss stuff keeps him at the top of my top 10 list, but he has a long way to go to figure things out.

Kevin Creagh

1. Nick Kingham
2. Stetson Allie
3. Alex Dickerson
4. Ryan Hafner
5. Samuel Gonzalez
6. Wes Freeman
7. Carlos Mesa
8. Mike Jefferson
9. Jordan Cooper
10. Matt Benedict

Best Hitter - Back in mid-July, Wes Freeman was well on his way to playing his way out of the Pirates organization and maybe all of organized baseball. Then he started hitting some home runs and people’s ears perked up. And then in August, he put up a .381/.429/.577 (1006 OPS) line with 7 walks and 22 strikeouts in 97 AB’s, both huge improvements in his rates. I’m not ready to say he’s back to being a top prospect, but it will be interesting to watch him in 2012.

Best Pitcher - Nick Kingham has quietly put together one of the better performances in 2011 by a Pirate pitching prospect. He pitched 71 innings, giving up 63 hits, only 15 walks and 47 strikeouts. This resulted in a 2.15 ERA, helped by the fact that the last time Kingham gave up more than 1 ER in a start was July 2nd.

Biggest Surprise - Is it cheating to nominate Wes Freeman for this as well? Let me preface this by saying it was just one hot month in an otherwise dismal 3+ year career, but Freeman has at least bought himself a full 2012 season in West Virginia with his performance of late.

Biggest Disappointment - Exicardo Cayones was a major international free agent signing in 2008. His stateside debut last year in the GCL was respectable enough to get into the Top 20 of our prospect list. But his 2011 season has been largely forgettable. He had a groin injury in Spring Training that may have prevented him from being assigned to West Virginia, which in retrospect was good. His State College debut of 2 for 32 and a 298 OPS got him a demotion back to the GCL. It would probably be nice if he hit his first stateside home run at some point, too.

John Dreker

1. Stetson Allie
2. Nick Kingham
3. Alex Dickerson
4. Ryan Hafner
5. Wes Freeman
6. Jordan Cooper
7. Vincent Payne
8. Samuel Gonzalez
9. Trent Stevenson
10. Taylor Lewis

Best Pitcher – Nick Kingham had an extremely impressive run of starts where he allowed either one or no runs. Easy choice for the best pitcher and it pushed him well up my prospect list.

Best Hitter - Could’ve went with Freeman or Dickerson but I picked Freeman due to the extra time he got in and the fact he added 11 stolen bases and led the team in homers. Overall they were about the same, Dickerson got on base more but Freeman did more when he was on base.

Biggest Surprise - Wes Freeman started off slow and we all said here we go again but he finished off very strong and finally showed the tools we heard about when he was drafted which resulted in a late promotion to West Virginia.

Biggest Disappointment - I’m probably being too hard on him but we all expected a lot more from Stetson Allie. We knew he was raw but I think it was a surprise just how raw he is. I am more disappointed in the fact he wasn’t left in the starting role and never returned to it.

Wilbur Miller

1. Stetson Allie
2. Nick Kingham
3. Alex Dickerson
4. Ryan Hafner
5. Samuel Gonzalez
6. Wes Freeman
7. Dan Gamache
8. Jordan Cooper
9. Mike Jefferson
10. Josh Poytress

Best Hitter - Alex Dickerson wins out over Wes Freeman due to much better plate discipline. Hopefully, some of Dickerson’s doubles will start turning into HRs once he gets used to wood bats.

Best Pitcher - Nick Kingham wins hands down. He was neck and neck with Ryan Hafner for much of the season, but he finished on a roll.

Biggest Surprise - Wes Freeman was the biggest surprise in the system. It was a surprise just to see him avoid getting cut and, after he started the season struggling like he did in his first three pro seasons, he looked like a goner. The poor plate discipline, though, is going to be a barrier to any further success if he doesn’t address it.

Biggest Disappointment - It’s tempting to name Stetson Allie, but it wasn’t really surprising that he’d struggle with his control. He has very little pitching experience and, even then, as a high school senior he apparently focused mainly on lighting up the radar gun. For a guy trying to build from the ground up, the New York-Penn League was a challenging first assignment. I also could tab Exicardo Cayones or Jorge Bishop, both of whom flamed out in about two weeks, but they were at State College so briefly it hardly seems fair to count them. So I’m going to go with Taylor Lewis, who seems to have some interesting tools but who never got untracked with the bat. State College was the place to be if you liked disappointments, because I could have gone with Trent Stevenson, too.

Author: 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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