Josh Bell showed a glimpse of his power in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Top Performers: West Virginia Hitters Leading a Playoff Push

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).

West Virginia had five of the top ten hitters in the system this week, led by Jordan Steranka. The first baseman went 11-for-26 with four doubles and a homer for the top runs created total. On the season, Steranka has a .281/.293/.344 line in 160 at-bats. He’s a lower level organizational guy, since he doesn’t draw walks, and doesn’t hit for power. He has been hitting for average lately, with some gap power, which is good for West Virginia in their second half playoff run.

Josh Bell leads the Pirates minor league system in doubles. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Josh Bell leads the Pirates minor league system in doubles. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Eric Wood and Josh Bell had the third and fourth best scores this week. Wood went 12-for-27 with three doubles, while Bell went 9-for-23 with six doubles. Wood got off to a great start in April, but has struggled ever since, with an OPS below .700 in May, and below .600 in June and July. In his last ten games he has a .378/.385/.486 line in 37 at-bats. Bell has been hitting for power mostly in the form of doubles this year. His 35 doubles put him in the system lead, four ahead of Alex Dickerson and Matt Hague.

Further down the list, West Virginia had Walker Gourley eighth and Raul Fortunato ninth this week. Gourley went 9-for-26 with a double and three walks, while Fortunato went 7-for-19 with two doubles. With all of this production from the West Virginia offense, it’s no surprise that they have a 2.5 game lead in the standings in the second half of the season.

Justin Howard was the top non-West Virginia player this week, coming in second overall. Howard went 9-for-17 with two doubles and a homer. Ever since Matt Curry went down, Howard has been getting a lot of time at first base. In that time he has a .357/.463/.452 line in 168 at-bats. Howard does a great job of hitting for average and getting on base, but he doesn’t hit for the power you’d want from a corner player. If he keeps this average and walk rate up, he could be an upper level organizational guy with a shot at grinding his way to being a bench option in the majors one day.

Adalberto Santos was the fifth best hitter this week, going 10-for-24 with four doubles. He has been hot and cold this year. He started off with two great weeks in April, then went down with an injury. Santos returned in May and put up a .589 OPS, then bounced back in June with a .900 OPS. In July he slumped again with a .773 OPS. He has been hot lately, and is currently riding a ten game hitting streak, with a .366/.447/.488 line in 41 at-bats during that stretch.

Jose Osuna was the sixth best hitter this week. He’s been streaky with his power this year, but showed it off this week with three homers. On the season Osuna has seven homers, which is less than half of the 16 he had last year.

Matt Hague has been hitting well lately, and went 9-for-26 with two doubles last week for the seventh best score. Hague has been crushing left-handers this year with a .929 OPS in 95 at-bats. That lines up with his career numbers. The success against lefties could make him a bench option for the Pirates when September rolls around.

Danny Arribas rounded off the top ten by going 6-for-17 with two doubles and four walks in the GCL. Arribas is hitting for a .311/.413/.396 line in 106 at-bats this year. He’s showing a good ability to get on base, and a good approach at the plate. With Reese McGuire splitting the catching duties, Arribas has spent about half of his games at first base this year.

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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, 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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