Prospect Highlights: Big Hits From Two Outfield Prospects

Mel Rojas Jr had an RBI  double on Sunday, shown below. Between Altoona and Indianapolis this season, he has a .299/.378/.439 slash line in 114 games. Rojas has played five seasons in the Pirates system since being drafted in the third round in 2010. He has set career highs this year in RBIs, homers and walks and will likely end up with more hits, total bases and runs, plus finish with his highest average, slugging percentage and OBP. The good part about his season is that he has basically put up the same stats with Indianapolis as he did while with Altoona. The only slight concern might be his strikeout total since moving to AAA, once every four at-bats. That is more in line with his career average, as opposed to what he was doing with Altoona this year, striking out just 34 times in 195 at-bats.

It looks like he will be added to the 40-man roster at some point this year, either as a possible September addition to add depth, or in late November to protect him from the Rule V draft in the off-season. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, one that hits from both sides of the plate, can play all three outfield spots and adds a little speed on the bases. With the Pirates outfield situation and his value at an all-time high right now, he could also be a trade piece in a deal this month.

Willy Garcia homered on Sunday, his 17th of the season. The numbers he is putting up this year are unreal in that almost no one with his walk rate and strikeout rate, has the type of season he is having right now. He is still three weeks short of his 22nd birthday, so he reached AA success at a great age, which would usually make him a top prospect. Garcia has a .277/.308/.509 slash line in 107 games. He is seventh in the Eastern League in slugging, though he ranks 15th in OPS and that’s because he has only 16 walks this year. He also has 123 strikeouts in 375 at-bats.  Those numbers usually don’t lead to success at a higher level and very few Major League players have BB/SO rates like that on their Minor League resume. If they do, it’s usually at a lower level and a young age. Garcia’s three hit game on Sunday broke a recent mini-slump in which he went 2-for-18 over six games. The homer shown below is a nice opposite field shot, displaying his plus power.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • William Wallace

    John: I saw Rojas in WV a couple years ago seemed raw. I was wondering since he is in AAA why would he not be an option for Hurdle’s bench while Cutch is down? Does he look MLB ready?

    • John Dreker

      It’s probably the inexperience and I would imagine that Lambo would get called up before him, probably even Decker. Lambo is hitting better, while Decker has the ML experience. I think we could see him in September and then at some point next year, see him stick in the Majors. He has just under 200 AAA at-bats and while he’s doing good, it’s nothing extraordinary.