Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. We also recap each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of July. 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.
*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).
Player of the Month
There’s no question about who has been the breakout hitter in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system this year. JaCoby Jones has been impressive in West Virginia all year, and continued that during the month of July. The shortstop hit for a .336/.379/.602 line with eight homers in 113 at-bats, which was good enough for him to be named the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for the month of July.
Jones led the system this month in hits (38), home runs (8), slugging percentage (.602). He was second in RBIs (18) and OPS (.981), although he had about 40 more at-bats over the OPS leader, Justin Maffei. He also finished in the top ten in batting average.
Jones has been putting up good numbers during the first three months of the season. He had a .788 OPS in April, a .790 OPS in May, and then slumped with a .614 OPS in June. The .981 OPS this month was a breakout in a big way. A lot of the production from Jones comes from his power, with an impressive 16 home runs so far this season in 371 at-bats. That’s tied for first overall in the farm system, and his 19 doubles are in the top ten. Alen Hanson was the last shortstop prospect to hit 16 homers in a season. He did this during the 2012 season in West Virginia, hitting 16 in 489 at-bats. Jordy Mercer hit 19 in 491 at-bats between Altoona and Indianapolis in 2011, although he also played second and third base in those years.
The Pirates converted Jones to the shortstop position this year. He was drafted as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, after playing center field and second base at LSU. He’s got a big frame for the position, at 6′ 3″, 200 pounds, but he’s athletic enough that he can field the position. There are mixed reports on whether he can stick at shortstop, and it’s probably too early to tell either way, since he is only in his first season at the position. If Jones can stick at shortstop, he’d bring a lot of value, with power that is rare from that position.
Minor League Affiliates
Here were the Players of the Month for each minor league affiliate.
Indianapolis Indians (AAA) - Tony Sanchez, C (.266/.404/.519, 3 HR, 99 PA)
Altoona Curve (AA) - Keon Broxton, OF (.268/.379/.588, 7 HR, 97 PA)
Bradenton Marauders (A+) - Jose Osuna, 1B (.297/.324/.505, 4 HR, 109 PA)
West Virginia Power (A) - JaCoby Jones, SS (.336/.379/.602, 8 HR, 125 PA)
Jamestown Jammers (A-) - Kevin Krause, C (.278/.365/.528, 4 HR, 86 PA)
Bristol Pirates (RK) - Enyel Vallejo, OF (.341/.371/.529, 1 HR, 91 PA)
GCL Pirates (RK) - Carlos Munoz, 1B (.338/.429/.519, 3 HR, 91 PA)