The hitting in Bradenton this year was bad. The top prospect, Alex Dickerson, had some good results in the second half, but his overall year was inconsistent. A lot of the high upside guys with raw tools didn’t pan out, with some of them starting to flame out. No one really broke out, unlike last year with guys like Robbie Grossman or Ramon Cabrera. Looking through the list of hitters, there wasn’t one standout story this year on Bradenton’s hitting side, unlike last year when Bradenton’s hitters were the highlight of the Pirates’ system.
Below are the stats from each hitter in Bradenton, broken down by age groups. The first age group is where you’ll find the majority of prospects. The second group can include prospects, but these guys are getting closer to being too old for the level. The final group is mostly organizational depth. A breakdown of each group can be found below.
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22 and Under
The top hitting prospect at the level was Alex Dickerson. However, Dickerson didn’t start off hot, struggling in the early part of the season. The first baseman had a .668 OPS in April and a .727 OPS in May. He picked up the pace in June, with a .906 OPS. He followed that up with a .924 OPS in July, and a .767 OPS in August. That’s not bad, but not really the type of season you want to see from a top college hitter.
Mel Rojas has a lot of upside to his game, but he’s been very raw, and that didn’t change this year. Rojas was streaky, usually having a big multi-hit game, and following it up with a big slump the next few days. On the season he posted a .657 OPS with not a lot of power. He remains a project, and he’s getting a little too old to still have that project status.
Carlos Paulino had an impressive season last year, hitting for a .299 average and a .790 OPS. That looks to be a fluke, as he returned to the level and had a .251 average and a .681 OPS this year. Paulino has a strong arm and good defense behind the plate, so he could still have a future as a catcher. His hitting this year erases hope that he could be a starter one day.
Gift Ngoepe didn’t have the best numbers, but his results were encouraging. He added some power to his game, hitting nine homers and putting up a .106 ISO. He also showed a good walk rate, although his strikeouts could use some improvement. Ngoepe is the best defensive infielder in the system, with the ability to play shortstop. He’s still raw at the plate, which is understandable considering his background, but he’s trending in the right direction with some of his secondary numbers.
Dan Grovatt had a nice second half, with a .276 average and a .784 OPS, although you’d expect more from a college hitter in his second year in the pros.
Drew Maggi and Evan Chambers are both raw, and a little old for the level. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Pirates gave up on either player, but they didn’t treat them like prospects. Both were moved up to Altoona despite poor numbers in Bradenton. Maggi got somewhat regular playing time, shifting to the outfield to fill a need in Altoona. Chambers didn’t get much time in Altoona, and only had 277 at-bats on the season. The lack of playing time for each player says a lot about their standings on the depth charts.
Stefan Welch was an interesting addition this year. He was entering his fourth year in the Florida State League, which meant that his hitting had to be taken with a grain of salt. He went on to hit in Altoona, finishing the year with 13 homers in 440 at-bats, and a .150 ISO. He’s probably just an upper level organizational guy, but stood out while he was in Bradenton.
Ages 25 and Up
Justin Howard hits well and gets on base at a good rate, but he doesn’t hit for much power, which makes the first baseman more of an organizational guy right now.