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).
The Pirates drafted Nick Buckner in the 14th round of the 2013 draft, and signed him to an above-slot $135,000 bonus. That amount was surprising, as Buckner was seen as a difficult sign, and in the end he only cost the Pirates $35,000 against their draft pool. He was highly touted for his raw power and quick bat. There were also concerns that his swing was long, and that he lacked the ability to make contact. So far this season, Buckner has shown some concerns at the plate, hitting for a .248/.298/.358 line in 137 at-bats, with 38 strikeouts (28%).
Buckner has picked up the production in the last week. He was the top hitter in the system this week, going 10-for-23 with three doubles and a homer. In the last few weeks he has been hitting for a .297/.333/.453 line with five doubles, a triple, and a homer, showing off some of his power potential. The downside is that his strikeouts have been bad, and have only gotten worse lately, with a 33% rate in his last ten games. He’s also not drawing a lot of walks. None of this is a huge concern at the moment. Buckner is only 17 and just out of high school. He’s a project for the long-term, and considering the outfield depth, he’s a bonus if he does put it all together. At this point it’s better to see him showing signs of his power, and the concern about his strikeouts isn’t as big of a concern due to the age.
If the season ended today, West Virginia would be in the South Atlantic League playoffs. A big reason why they are in the spot they’re in right now has been their impressive pitching this year. However, they’ve had a few organizational players step up with some production lately, including three guys in the top five this week. Francisco Diaz went 7-f0r-14 with a double, triple, and a homer to take the second best score. Jimmy Rider just joined the team and went 5-for-9 with a double and two homers last week for the third best score. Raul Fortunato had the fifth best score, going 11-for-29 with three doubles.
Enyel Vallejo has been impressive in the GCL this month. In the last week he went 11-for-28 with three doubles and a triple. Vallejo is an athletic fielder who started out at shortstop and has been playing more outfield in the GCL this year. He has been tearing it up in the month of August, with a .362/.373/.586 line in 58 at-bats. It’s a small sample size, and he doesn’t draw walks, which isn’t uncommon from players out of the Dominican Republic.
Alen Hanson is starting to heat up in Altoona. This week he went 10-for-27 with a double and two triples. Hanson went 0-for-3 to start the week, then picked up his ten hits in a six game hitting streak. It takes some time to adjust to the jump to Double-A. Hopefully this is a sign that Hanson is starting to make that adjustment.
Indianapolis will be raided at the end of the week when rosters expand in September. The Pirates will be adding a lot of hitters who can help fill out the bench and play key roles. A few of those hitters finished in the second half of the top ten. Alex Presley is sure to be called up, and went 10-for-21 this past week. Matt Hague has a chance to be called up due to his ability to hit lefties and the extra base power he’s showing this year. Hague went 8-for-23 with three doubles and a homer. Jared Goedert was the other player in the top ten, going 8-for-22 with four doubles. Goedert will remain with Indianapolis, helping them with their playoff run.
Jarek Cunningham rounded out the top ten, going 9-for-24 with a double and a triple. Cunningham has a .323/.371/.419 line in 31 at-bats in his last ten games.