Top Performers: Do the Pirates Have Their Future First Baseman in Alex Dickerson?

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).

Alex Dickerson was the top hitter in the system for the second week in a row.

Alex Dickerson was the top hitter in the system for the second week in a row.

For the second week in a row, Alex Dickerson is the top hitter in the system. Dickerson went 10-for-22 with two doubles and a homer last week to put up the top score. His bat has been on fire since the beginning of June, with a .353/.394/.622 line in 156 at-bats, with nine homers. This month he is hitting for a .424/.457/.697 line in 66 at-bats, with four homers. That makes him an early favorite for the Player of the Month award. If he keeps this up throughout the end of the season he could emerge as the top first base option in the system.

Jeff Roy came in second this week, going 10-for-18 with three walks. The speedy Roy was taken by the Pirates in the 18th round this year. He has mostly been a singles hitter so far, with all ten of his hits this week going for singles, and 33 of his 35 hits on the year going for singles. He has used his speed to turn a lot of those singles into doubles, with 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts on the year. Roy flashes a good arm and good range due to his speed, but he’s going to need to hit for extra bases to have success in the upper levels.

Barrett Barnes has been hitting well, with a .280/.383/.480 line in 50 at-bats in the month of July. This week he went 7-for-19 with three doubles and a homer for the third best game score. Barnes struggled early in the year, and early in the month of June. Part of that could have been due to the time he missed with minor injuries. Now that he’s had the chance to adjust to low-A hitting he is starting to show some good signs on offense.

Reese McGuire has been hitting ever since he turned pro. This week he went 9-for-23 with three doubles. As of the end of the week he had reached base safely in every game, and had a hit in 12 of his 13 games, with nine multi-hit games.

Walker Gourley went 7-for-19 this week with two doubles and a homer to take the fifth spot. Gourley is hitting for a .325/.365/.427 line in 302 at-bats this year. He’s not hitting for power, but continues to do a good job hitting for average and getting on base.

Stetson Allie and Dan Gamache both had big weeks for Bradenton. Allie has been hitting well for Bradenton lately. He has a .324/.444/.432 line in 37 at-bats over his last ten games, and a .303/.425/.485 line in 66 at-bats in the month of July. Between Allie and Dickerson, the Pirates might have a good chance to develop a power hitting first baseman in the majors in the next few years.

Justin Howard went 7-for-18 with a homer this week. He has been getting more playing time with Matt Curry on the disabled list. So far this season Howard has a .320/.432/.418 line in 153 at-bats. He’s not hitting for a lot of power, but has a good average and a good on-base percentage.

2013 11th round pick Erich Weiss made a strong debut this week, going 6-for-16 with a double and two triples.

Dilson Herrera rounded out the top ten going 5-for-12 with a double and a triple. Herrera has been struggling since the start of June, so hopefully this is a sign that he’s beginning to turn things around.

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.

Share This Post On
  • smurph

    Very timely info on Dickerson. He has really taken off recently. He hasn’t gotten a lot of attention as far as the top prospects go, but if he keeps this up, he should possibly get some ABs at AAA this season.

  • CalipariFan506

    Dickerson still has a lot to prove, to me at least. He needs to start a season as well as he finishes it. He is proving right now he can stay healthy. There were lots of questions pertaining his back and he is playing 1B and RF this summer.

    And secondly, does anybody else think Barnes at West Virginia is a complete waste of a season? He was a top 50 draft pick from a Big 12 college. He simply should be further along.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      It would be nice to see an even level of production from Dickerson but love what I’ve seen so far. As for Barnes, it doesn’t matter where he’s from, if he has stuff to work on, that’s where he needs to be. Once he gets that down pat, he’ll move up.

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

      Barnes is definitely behind, but it’s because of injuries. He missed a lot of time last year, and then again this year.

      He could still get back on track. Dickerson is in his second full season and will likely finish the year in Double-A, with maybe some playoff experience in Triple-A. Barnes could go to high-A next year, and make it to Altoona by mid-season if he continues to hit well.

      The big thing for him will be staying healthy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

      Barnes is 21, which isn’t unusual age for West Virginia. Would it be nicer if he was hitting .330 for the Power? Sure. Or maybe the Pirates should have been more aggressive and moved him directly to Bradenton like they did with Alex Dickerson. Although Dickerson was a year older when he went to Bradenton. I would expect Barnes to go to Bradenton next year, in which case he’ll be the same age Dickerson was.
      .
      Also by comparison, Pedro Alvarez started his pro career at the age of 22 in Lynchburg, which was the Pirates A+ affiliate in 2009 (before Bradenton). I could be wrong the Pirates (under NH management team) seem pretty consistent with getting college draft picks to the A+ team by the time they are 22 years old (never earlier). I’m not sure why 22 years old is the magic number.
      .
      Here is a list of 4year collage and junior collage draft picks in the top 15 or so rounds:
      .
      Jordy Mercer – 22 years old at A+ Lynchburg
      Chase d’Arnaud – Actually started in West Virginia before being moved to A+ Lynchburg during his age 22 season.
      Matt Hague – 23 years old at A+ Lynchburg
      Tony Sanchez – 22 years old first full season A+ Bradenton
      Brock Holt – 22 years old at A+ Bradenton
      Dan Grovatt – 23 years old at A+ Bradenton
      Mel Rojas – 22 years old at A+ Bradenton
      Dan Gamache – 22 years old at A+ Bradenton
      Jacob Stallings – 23 years old at A+ Bradenton
      D.J. Crumlich – 23 years old at A+ Bradenton
      .
      Tony Sanchez is the only exception as he played 3 games for Lynchburg during his age 21 season. Who knows, Barnes might be the other exception this year and get a few games in Bradenton.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        I just realized that Barrett Barnes will turn 22 on July 29th.
        .
        I wonder if the Pirates have some sort of birthday cutoff as far as determining what level a player should be at. Who knows, maybe Barnes gets promoted to Bradenton in August because he’ll be 22.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

          Well, I mean what level a player should start at.

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

            They don’t really care where a guy starts. They care where he finishes the year.

            • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

              Tru Dat!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        It’s kind of weird. Look at the Bradenton roster this year, the only position players that are under the age of 22 are international guys who turned pro when they were 18 or younger (Willy Garcia, Jose Osuna, Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco). Polanco of course has since been promoted to Altoona.
        .
        Even last year the only player under the age of 22 tha played for Bradenton was Junior Sosa. He’s playing for Bradenton this year as a 22 year old.
        .
        Looking back 3 or 4 years , it’s generally only players who signed internationally or draft picks out of high school that play at the A+ level before they are 22 years old.
        .
        I think the difference thow between the college and high school draft picks is that once the college draft pick gets to the A+ level, he can move up to AAA faster (assuming he is playing well) than a high school draft pick.
        .

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

          Ack, thow should be though lol

    • moose7195

      Dickerson was relatively inexperienced when he was sent to AA. Your expectations are a little high if you expected him to hit 290 for an entire season. A little bit of an adjustment period should be acceptable, it is only AA

    • buster09

      Did you say the same thing about Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte when they made the transition to AA ? I doubt it. Both struggled for a couple of months before they figured it out in Altoona. Actually,Dickerson had a shorter learning period than either of those two.If you get an opportunity,try to see Dickerson in a few games. You might be surprised.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    I don’t know if I am getting the compete article. There is a huge gap in the middle, I was hoping there was an exclamation for why Dickerson isn’t getting time at 1B. I tweeted the the Altoona curve last night and they said that’s his position and that’s where he played in college. I understand that but I also know he was drafted as a 1Bmen. He is listed on MLB.com as a top 10 1B prospect in the game. I would think that he would be getting developed as a 1st basemen seen how we currently have 0 significant 1B prospects and the organization is loaded with OF prospects. Dickerson isn’t going to make the PNC outfield with Cutch.Marte and Polanco the outfield of the future, which will be the best OF in baseball IMO. If Dickerson turns out to have a bat worthy of the Major Leagues,you would think they would want him at 1B and developed by the time his bat is ready

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

      This article is just a weekly top performers article. Dickerson was the top hitter this week.

      He’s in RF this year because Matt Curry was at 1B. Curry is out with hamate surgery, but could be back soon. They just decided to keep Dickerson in RF while he was out, and put Justin Howard at 1B.

  • rburgh

    Can’t be bad to see AD getting some position flexibility.

    On a related note, John Sickels has his review of the Bucs’ preseason top 20 (actually top 22) and notes that Josh Bell has a .972 OPS against LHP.

    • Ecbucs

      I do wonder about him not playing first. He didn’t play it much in college so unless the Bucs have decided that defense doesn’t matter at first (going back to the old time theory anyone with a glove can play there) it seems like he should be getting some reps there.

      I would hope if the team expects him to be a first baseman then next year he will play there. Even with Curry on roster, I’m surprised that Dickerson didn’t play at least some at first. That is the main reason I wonder whether the Bucs really think he is a prospect (his stats seem to show he is but they may feel there is a flaw to his approach or talent that he is going to max out in AA or AAA.

  • emjayinTN

    Tim: Is that Russ Canzler about midway down the list? Can he possibly be a help to the Pirates down the stretch? Dickerson was one of those draft picks that you hope works out, and it seems as if he has found his best stroke in AA – better than at Lo A or Hi A. With the power this kid has, is he a possibility in September? In the picture it looks as if he has taken his conditioning seriously since leaving college.

  • da bux

    Is Elvis Escobar hurt? I just read that he only has 4 AB’s in Jamestown’s past 5 games. It seems like ever since the recently added draft picks arrived (Roy, Jacoby OF-SS etc..) , Escobar’ s playing time drastically reduced. Frankly, I would not prefer org guys like Vazquez or Aponte (LF yesterday) getting PT over EE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Bell has a .972 OPS vs LHPs? Then, it must be much lower batting LH and I think that is where his hitch is?

    Not good.

    Foo

    • CalipariFan506

      Well, I’m a little less concerned with Bell than I am Barnes. Both are in their first full pro seasons but Barnes had three college seasons.

      I do wonder if Barnes would be in Bradenton if Polanco wasn’t blocking him to start the season. Maybe he would have started there but since he did start in WV and hasn’t dominated or stayed healthy, they don’t see the need to move him to where he probably should be.

  • Nuke Laloosh

    Dickerson is a hitter, no doubt about it. He hits at every level and has shown the ability to adjust. He should only get better and IS the f 1B of the future(2015).