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Top Performers: Felix Pie Starts Hitting, While Josh Bell Continues

Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level, rather than combining their stats. Notes on the top ten players from the last week can be found below the chart.

*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).

A week ago I was talking about how the Pirates should replace Felix Pie in Indianapolis and bring up Andrew Lambo. Since then, Pie’s bat has woken up in Triple-A, going 9-for-27 last week with three homers and five walks to put up the highest runs created in the system this past week. Lambo kept up his hitting, going 8-for-24 with two homers in the last week, and taking the number four spot. He’s been playing all around the field, and you’d like to see Lambo get a shot in Triple-A. I doubt that would happen with Pie hitting well.

Josh Bell was the second best hitter in the system last week.

Josh Bell was the second best hitter in the system last week.

Josh Bell continued his strong hitting of late, finishing right behind Pie. Bell went 10-for-24 with two homers and four walks in the last week. This is the second week in a row that Bell has been in the top three. On the season he is hitting for a .299/.359/.518 line in 137 at-bats, and has six homers. He’s dealt with some strikeout problems, but is really cutting down in that area. In the month of May he has a 9:8 BB/K ratio in 36 at-bats. In April he had a 5:27 BB/K ratio in 101 at-bats. So far this month he’s hitting for a .361/.489/.611 line.

Dilson Herrera hasn’t been putting up the Alen Hanson type numbers yet, but he is hitting in West Virginia. This past week he went 7-for-17 with two homers. On the season he has a .288/.353/.449 line in 118 at-bats. He’s been on fire so far in May, hitting for a .324/.333/.559 line. There haven’t been a lot of walks lately, although Herrera did have 11 walks and a .361 OBP in April, so that’s not as big of a concern with him as it would be with someone like Stetson Allie.

As I mentioned above, Lambo was the number four hitter this week, and has been getting time at first base. That could give him another avenue to move up to Triple-A. However, Matt Hague was the fifth best hitter this week, going 10-for-27 with a double and a triple. Hague has a .309/.392/.419 line, and has been crushing lefties this year with a 1.044 OPS in 38 at-bats. It would be hard to see the Pirates benching him for Lambo.

Bradenton had a few hitters in the second half of the top ten. Benji Gonzalez went 6-for-22 with a triple and a homer to take the number six spot this week. Taylor Lewis finished eighth by going 7-for-18 with a triple. Dan Gamache was right behind him at number nine, going 6-for-20 with two doubles. Of the three, Gamache is the only guy who projects to have a chance at making the majors.

Brett Carroll is another guy who has been getting regular playing time with Indianapolis, and who I previously suggested should lose time to Andrew Lambo. Carroll went 4-for-15 last week with two homers, taking the number seven spot.

Rounding out the top ten was Jerry Sands, who went 6-for-23 with two doubles. Sands hasn’t been mentioned much this year for his offense, with a .159/.286/.195 line in 113 at-bats on the year. His two doubles last week doubled the amount of extra base hits he has on the season. Sands has always been strong against lefties, and his numbers have picked up against lefties lately, with a .698 OPS compared to a .416 OPS against right-handers. If he continues to hit lefties, he could be a great candidate to pair with Travis Snider in a platoon, assuming Jose Tabata doesn’t work out in the role.

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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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