The Pittsburgh Pirates will be sending five players to the Arizona Fall League this off-season. The five players selected this year are Adalberto Santos, Gift Ngoepe, Matt Curry, Brandon Cumpton and Tyler Waldron.
Santos has put up an impressive season, hitting for a .344/.433/.439 line in 212 at-bats with Altoona. The 2010 22nd round pick missed some time with an injury this year, but was hitting before the injury and didn’t stop after the injury. Most of his numbers have been him hitting for average, with very little power, so despite the impressive stat line he still profiles as a utility guy for now. But the fact that he’s been selected for the AFL shows that the Pirates think of him as a legit prospect.
Ngoepe has been a great story. The expectations were low after he was signed out of South Africa in October 2008. But Ngoepe has turned in to a real prospect. Offensively he hasn’t done much. He showed some power this year, hitting nine homers in 438 at-bats in high-A. He also put up a good walk rate, leading to an OBP almost 100 points higher than his average. But he didn’t hit for average (.235) and struck out 28% of the time. He’s still got some work to do offensively, but the added power is nice. What makes Gift a prospect is his defense. He’s probably the best defensive infielder in the entire system, and can easily stick at shortstop. Add in the increased power this year, and he could be a big sleeper if he polishes up his hitting and starts hitting for average down the line.
Matt Curry got off to a decent start this year, hitting for a .781 OPS in April and a .778 OPS in May. He went on a tear in June, hitting for a 1.275 OPS in an injury-limited 39 at-bats. He carried that over in to July, hitting for an .868 OPS in 81 at-bats. Since the Eastern League All-Star break he has struggled, hitting for a .247/.318/.398 line in 93 at-bats. I’ve heard him compared to Mike Carp, which doesn’t speak well for his chances of being the starting first baseman in Pittsburgh one day. The extra plate appearances in the AFL should help him out, as he needs to move up to Triple-A next year with Alex Dickerson moving to Altoona.
Brandon Cumpton had a great start to the year, with a 3.40 ERA in 100.2 innings prior to the All-Star break. In that time he had a 63:29 K/BB ratio, a 2.28 GO/AO ratio, and a .234 BAA. After the break he had a 5.82 ERA in 38.2 innings, with a 19:14 K/BB ratio, a 1.54 GO/AO ratio, and a .317 BAA. Most of the damage came in August. Cumpton throws 89-93, and lives on the inside half of the plate. He also has a curveball, which has been inconsistent in the past. Long term he profiles as a back of the rotation starter, or a late inning reliever, as he’s gotten his fastball up to 96 in shorter outings in the past.
Waldron moved up to Altoona in August, after posting an unimpressive 5.09 ERA in 115 innings in high-A. In his first two starts with Altoona, the right-hander combined to give up eight earned runs in seven innings, with a 3:2 K/BB ratio. Since then he has given up three earned runs in 17.2 innings, with an 11:7 K/BB ratio. He has a 1.95 GO/AO ratio, which has always been a strong point in his game. However, he’s dealt with home run issues the past two years, leaving his low 90s fastball up in the zone. He profiles better as a reliever, getting his fastball up to 95 MPH in shorter outings in the past.