Recent

0

Minor League Depth — Outfield, Part 2

The outfield ranks at the lower levels of the Pirates’ system are loaded with very toolsy players who have a ways to go in their development. In most cases, getting better control of the strike zone is the primary mission. The odds are that most of these players won’t develop, but if one or two do, they could have significant ceilings. Unless and until that happens, the Pirates will probably go through a sorting process in which the players who show the most progress get increasing playing time.

Parentheses indicate a reasonable chance that the player won’t open 2012 at the indicated level.

West Virginia (Low A)

Josh Bell, Wes Freeman, (Rodarrick Jones), (Taylor Lewis), (Willie Garcia), (Gregory Polanco), (Carlos Mesa)

The only two sure things here are Bell and Freeman. The former is the Pirates’ best power-hitting prospect by a huge margin and, despite not having played yet as a pro, is considered advanced enough that he’s a safe bet to open with the Power. Freeman struggled for over two years in an effort to put his considerable athletic gifts to use, then suddenly started figuring things out mid-way through the State College season in 2011.  He still has significant strike zone issues, but at least he’s gotten untracked.

Jones, Lewis, Garcia and Polanco are all toolsy players who’ll probably have to compete for the third outfield spot, as well as DH time. Jones and Lewis were 2011 college draftees, but Jones never played much in college due to academic issues and Lewis played at a northern school where he probably didn’t see top competition. Jones did well in a brief debut after signing and appears to have some power.  Lewis is more of a prototype centerfielder, but he struggled as the Spikes’ regular at that position, apart from showing a willingness to take walks. Garcia and Polanco both made good progress in the GCL and could earn promotions to full season ball. Garcia started hitting for power, while Polanco has excellent speed and good defensive potential. Mesa is a Cuban defector who hit well at State College in 2011, but who is a little old for the low minors and may profile more as an organizational player.

Of all of the possibilities, Lewis is the one who projects the best in center. Freeman, Polanco and Garcia have all played there, though, and will likely do so some of the time in 2012. If Lewis is not a starter for the Power, Freeman will probably be the regular in center.

State College (Short-Season)

(Rodarrick Jones), (Taylor Lewis), (Willie Garcia), (Gregory Polanco), (Carlos Mesa), Candon Myles, Junior Sosa, Gavi Nivar, Alex Fuselier, Exicardo Cayonez, (Luis Urena)

The State College outfield in 2012 will depend heavily on which players make the West Virginia roster. Garcia and Polanco are still young and would get plenty of playing time if they’re with the Spikes.  Jones and Lewis, being older, are probably more likely to get pushed to low A. Myles is a very speedy, 2011 high school draftee, and is probably the best bet to be the Spikes’ regular centerfielder. Cayonez received one of the highest bonuses the Pirates have paid to a Latin American amateur, but he was overwhelmed at State College in 2011 before recovering back in the GCL after a demotion. He’ll probably return to the Spikes and try it again in 2012.

The crowded outfield situation may not leave a lot of playing time for organizational and long-shot type players, especially considering that the Pirates will almost certainly draft one or two college outfielders. Fuselier is a centerfielder drafted out of college who figures to be an organizational player. Sosa and Nivar also have the ability to play center and Sosa has been a prolific base stealer, but neither has shown a good ceiling with the bat. They could be candidates to be released. Urena is an athletic player with power potential, but he’s extremely raw. He made solid progress in the GCL in 2011, but the Pirates are being very cautious with him and he’s more likely to return there than to move up.

Gulf Coast League Pirates (Rookie)

Raul Fortunato, Jesus Vasquez, (Luis Urena)

The GCL outfield will be made up of 2012 draftees, players promoted from the Latin American summer leagues, and probably Urena. Fortunato and Vasquez will almost certainly move up from the Dominican Summer League, where they both enjoyed big seasons in 2011. Both were in their third year in the DSL and so will be a little old for the GCL. The Pirates often will move an older player—we’re talking 20 or so here—straight to State College, skipping the GCL, but with so many outfielders available, it’s hard to see how there will be room for them at State College. Fortunato was the regular centerfielder in the DSL and also stole 34 bases, so he figures to play there in 2012. Urena and Vasquez, though, both have the athleticism to play there some as well, and both offer power potential.

Share This Article

WTM

Wilbur Miller joined the site in July 2010. He has long been known for his excellent Player Profiles, which he brought to the site in February 2011, combining them with the existing Pirates Prospects Player Pages. Wilbur maintains the player pages section of the site, and provides regular articles to the main portion of the site, including a weekly Prospects Trend piece, featuring the best and worst prospects from the previous week.

Winter League Playoffs 1/9 — Hernandez And Moss Homer

Next Story »

Winter League Playoffs 1/10 — Another Homer For Moss

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.s.myers Robert S. Myers

    I got one for you, why dont the bucs go for 
    Fernando Martinez.  I know he has pretty much sucked so far but he is still only 23 years old.  I would take a chance w him.  Noting ventured, nothing gained.

    • Lee Young

      I saw that, too. I agree, he’d be worth a shot.

    • Anonymous

      Martinez has just always been injury-prone and his stats, while better than age appropriate for his levels, have been bland.  There is nothing he does extremely well — average speed, below average range/defense in LF, so-so power.  If his name was Frank Martin (not the Transporter guy) no one would care about him.

  • Lee Young

    WTM…..at this level, a lot of these guys could go either way….bomb out or ‘stud out’. Like you said, tho, the ones to hope for are Bell, Freeman, Cayonez and Polanco. At least we appear to have some good OF depth in the minors…..so far. :)

    • Anonymous

      I actually like Garcia a lot.

      • Lee Young

        Great………that makes FIVE OF prospects. Now, if only ONE of them could play SS. :)

Latest Analysis

  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    9 hours ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    2 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    3 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    4 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    5 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    1 week ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    1 week ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Peacock Nevarez

    Will One of These Pirates Minor League Pitchers Be the Next John Holdzkom?

    2 weeks ago

    By now you probably know that John Holdzkom rose from independent ball last year and made it to the majors. It was one of the best stories in ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More