First Pitch: Pirates Still Looking For Long Term Corner Outfield Solutions

After posting the 2012 corner outfield recap, I looked back at last year’s recap. The story was about the same, only with a few new faces. Last year the Pirates were relying on Alex Presley and Jose Tabata to be their solutions for 2012. They had Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman in the upper levels, and then a lot of guys with potential in the lower levels who were too far off to consider for the short-term. The hope was that Presley and Tabata could hold things down in the short-term, and then two of the four upper level options would emerge as long-term solutions.

At the end of the 2012 season, the Pirates are in a similar situation. Presley and Tabata both struggled in the starting spots this year, and both were demoted at times to Triple-A. Starling Marte made his debut in the majors. He showed a lot of his potential, but his debut wasn’t dominant. Plus, as we’ve seen with Presley and Tabata, having a good rookie season doesn’t guarantee anything for the future. Grossman was traded away, but Travis Snider was brought in.

Heading in to the 2013 season the Pirates are in the same situation as they were in last year. They’ve got some options in the majors who can provide a short-term solution, and the hope is that two of the four options can step forward and become long-term solutions. There are also still high upside guys in the lower levels who could factor in to the long-term plans, but not until 2014-2015 at the earliest.

If I had to pick two guys to start in 2013, it would be Marte and Snider. Both players have a lot of upside, and they’re the only two who could potentially be impact players. Presley seems to me like more of a strong fourth outfielder at best. Tabata did see some improvements in the final two months, hitting for a .284/.376/.370 line in 81 at-bats. The power isn’t there, but those on-base numbers would look good at the top of the lineup. The problem is that Tabata has been a streaky hitter. Those 81 at-bats are already a small sample size. When you consider Tabata’s history, they could just be chalked up to another hot streak, which might not continue in the long-term.

The one benefit this year is that the Pirates have options. It’s not Tabata-Presley and wait for Marte to arrive. Hopefully those options will spark competition. Most of these guys have shown that they have the talent to be successful in the majors. Tabata and Presley got off to good starts, but struggled after the league adjusted to them. Marte and Snider were both top prospects, and are both still young enough to realize their potential. Ideally the competition will push some of these players to realize their potential, knowing that if they don’t perform, there will be another guy to step in. Worst case scenario, Garrett Jones could get some time in the outfield, although that would require Gaby Sanchez or someone else to handle first base full-time.

The chances for the Pirates are slightly better. It’s less likely that four players will fail, compared to just two players failing last year. But the Pirates are in the same situation they were in last year. They’ve got some options, but still have two long-term spots open in the outfield, and no one has stepped up to claim those spots.

Links and Notes

**Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/16.

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Season Recap: Corner Outfield.

**A few weeks ago we talked about the farm system that Neal Huntington inherited. R.J. Reynolds at Bucs Dugout did a WAR comparison of all 30 teams, looking at what each farm system has produced. That gives a pretty good idea of where the Pirates stack up compared to other teams.

Tim Williams

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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  • wtmiller

    The BD piece was r.j. reynolds.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      The new SB Nation threw me off. When I went to the Fanposts section it said “Vlad” under author. Apparently that was for the latest comment in the thread.

      • wtmiller

        The new look hasn’t exactly been widely acclaimed.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    Snider showed zero power coming over. 1 HR over 50 games isn’t even close to Presley, or even Tabata. Assuming Jones plays first(a big assumption), that should leave it to Marte and Presley if you are going by recent history. If by pay, it will be Tabata and probably Marte. Don’t be shocked when Jose Tabata starts the year in right. All the problems the Yankees had with him, and why they were willing to deal him, have shown up in spades. Still wondering where the replacement level player store is, the Pirates need to shop there for shortstops.

    • whiteAngus

      i think you’ll probably see a platoon of Snider and Tabata in RF to start the season. and shortstop is not the problem. the bucs need a little bit more pitching.

      • RandyLinville

        I agree with you. I don’t think the starting rotation is a big need.

  • Lee Young

    I have to wonder if Snyder’s power outage was due to his leg problems. He’s shown he has power. Right now, his 162 gm avg on B-Ref is 34 2bs & 18 HRs a season, which isn’t bad, but he does have the potential for 20+ HRs, imho.

    I think him and Tabby should platoon. Presley could spell Marte at times.

  • john.alcorn

    Well you could chalk up Tabata being good from June on (190 pa’s) to a hot streak or you could chalk his April/May up to a cold streak. His career numbers suggest the latter and not the former. I still think Tabata and Marte are your solutions, but there is no harm in having Travis Snider push them.

  • leadoff

    First base will determine to a large degree what the Pirate outfield will look like, they need a first basemen that can hit and play defense, I don’t know where they can get one of those.
    Jones is a terrible 1st baseman, but a decent right fielder, Jones, McCutchen and Marte make a pretty good outfield with a lot of potential, Presley should be the backup because he can play all three positions. Tabata and Snider should both be trade bait.
    I rank them McCutcheon, Marte, Jones, Presley, Snider, Tabata. Another one of Hurdle’s brainstorms was to use Tabata in right field for defense, easily the worst defense right fielder they have! while I watch pop-ups drop in front of him with regularity.