Pirates Prospects » Top Performers http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:06:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Josh Bell is the Pirates Prospects 2014 Minor League Player of the Year http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/josh-bell-is-the-pirates-prospects-2014-minor-league-player-of-the-year.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/josh-bell-is-the-pirates-prospects-2014-minor-league-player-of-the-year.html#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 16:39:50 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87680 The Pittsburgh Pirates had several top candidates for the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year award. The race ultimately came down to three players, with Josh Bell, JaCoby Jones, and Keon Broxton putting up the best numbers out of all of the full-season players. In the end, Bell was chosen as the Pirates Prospects 2014 Minor League Player of the Year, making this the fourth year in a row that an outfielder has won the award.

The decision to go with Bell over Jones and Broxton was made with the decision to put less weight on Bell’s Double-A numbers. Bell had a .335/.384/.502 line in 363 plate appearances with Bradenton, putting up better numbers at his original level than Broxton and Jones did at their levels. He eventually moved up to Altoona, where he had a .287/.343/.309 line in 102 plate appearances. The average and OBP were fine, but the power dropped in his initial run through the new level.

While Bell was challenged with a new level, Broxton and Jones got to stay at the same level all year. That led to a huge finish to the season for each player, which came after they established they could hit at the level. Even with that advantage, and even with Bell’s struggles at a new level, they were only slightly ahead of him as far as basic numbers. Bell had an .834 OPS in 465 plate appearances, while Broxton was at .853 in 471 plate appearances and Jones was at .851 in 501 plate appearances.

The advanced metrics show that Bell was ahead of those two, even with his jump to Altoona. He posted a .382 wOBA and a 138 wRC+. Jones was right behind him, with a .381 wOBA and a 134 wRC+. Broxton was up there with a .377 wOBA and a 134 wRC+.

The age and experience factor also worked to Bell’s benefit. This was his age 21 season, and his first at the High-A level. This was Broxton’s age 24 season, and his second run through the Double-A level. Jones is 22, and played in a major college program at LSU for three years, which is about the equivalent of what he saw in Low-A. Bell’s age and lack of experience at his two levels this year make his numbers even more impressive.

When he was drafted, Bell was projected to be a guy who could eventually hit for plus average from both sides of the plate, and plus power from both sides of the plate. The sky was seen to be the limit, with the potential for a .300 average and 25-30 homers a year. Bell made some great strides in Bradenton this year, showing improvements with his ability to hit for average and hit against left-handers. He also displayed some solid power, mostly in the form of gap power, but also some power that will translate better in a league that isn’t so pitcher friendly. His struggles in the power department in 102 plate appearances in Double-A don’t raise many concerns, since it’s common for a hitter to struggle initially when making that jump.

Bell looks to be a big part of the future for the Pirates. He won’t fit in the outfield plans in the long-term, which is why the Pirates are moving him to first base in the Arizona Fall League this off-season. He should carry that over to next year, where he will likely start the season back in Altoona. If he has success in the AFL this off-season, and carries that success over to the season next year like Gregory Polanco did this year, then he could work his way to the majors by the end of the year. A more conservative timeline has him taking over as the starting first baseman in 2016.

Josh Bell is the Pirates Prospects 2014 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo credit: David Hague)

Josh Bell is the Pirates Prospects 2014 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo credit: David Hague)

Below you will find our Minor League Players of the Year for each level in the farm system, our previous overall award winners, and the 2014 monthly awards.

Previous Pirates Prospects Minor League Players of the Year

2013 – Andrew Lambo

2012 - Gregory Polanco

2011 - Starling Marte

2014 Pirates Prospects Minor League Players of the Year By Level

Indianapolis – Gregory Polanco, OF (.328/.390/.504, 7 HR, 305 PA)

Altoona – Keon Broxton, OF (.275/.369/.484, 15 HR, 471 PA)

Bradenton – Josh Bell, OF (.325/.375/.459, 9 HR, 465 PA)

West Virginia – JaCoby Jones, SS (.288/.347/.503, 23 HR, 501 PA)

Jamestown – Chase Simpson, 3B (.286/.369/.481, 7 HR, 224 PA)

Bristol – Jerrick Suiter, 1B/OF (.279/.403/.358, 1 HR, 238 PA)

GCL Pirates – Tito Polo, OF (.291/.374/.475, 3 HR, 186 PA)

2014 Pirates Prospects Player of the Month Awards

April

Overall - Gregory Polanco

Indianapolis – Gregory Polanco

Altoona – Stetson Allie

Bradenton – Josh Bell

West Virginia – Erich Weiss

May

Overall - Keon Broxton

Indianapolis – Chris Dickerson

Altoona – Keon Broxton

Bradenton – Josh Bell

West Virginia – JaCoby Jones

June

Overall - Josh Bell

Indianapolis – Chris Dickerson

Altoona – Willy Garcia

Bradenton – Josh Bell

West Virginia – Harold Ramirez

July

Overall - JaCoby Jones

Indianapolis – Tony Sanchez

Altoona – Keon Broxton

Bradenton – Jose Osuna

West Virginia – JaCoby Jones

Jamestown – Kevin Krause

Bristol – Enyel Vallejo

GCL Pirates – Carlos Munoz

August

Overall - Keon Broxton

Indianapolis – Andrew Lambo

Altoona – Keon Broxton

Bradenton – Jose Osuna

West Virginia – Austin Meadows

Jamestown – Chase Simpson

Bristol – Danny Arribas

GCL Pirates – Henrry Rosario

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Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-is-the-pirates-prospects-2014-minor-league-pitcher-of-the-year.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-is-the-pirates-prospects-2014-minor-league-pitcher-of-the-year.html#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 15:15:05 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87632 For the second year in a row, Tyler Glasnow has been named the Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Glasnow won last year after dominating the South Atlantic League with a 2.18 ERA and a 164:61 K/BB ratio in 111.1 innings. His numbers didn’t see much of a drop in his move up to High-A this year, with a 1.74 ERA in 124.1 innings, along with a 157:57 K/BB ratio.

Glasnow saw a slight decline in his strikeout rate, going from 36.3% last year to 31.9%. The latter number is still amazing, ranking sixth among 676 qualified pitchers in the minor leagues this season. It was also the best mark in the Pirates’ system, excluding guys who didn’t have many innings. The only player who exceeded that amount, and had a decent amount of innings, was 2014 draft pick John Sever, who had a 37.7% strikeout rate in 40.2 innings in Bristol. Sever was named our Pitcher of the Year in Bristol.

The strikeouts were encouraging once again, but the best sign was the decline in walks. On the season, Glasnow only saw a slight drop, going from a 13.5% walk rate in 2013 to an 11.6% walk rate in 2014. Those numbers improved as the season went on, as seen in the table below.

Month K% BB%
April/May

27.2

16.2

June

29.3

14.1

July

33.1

7.4

August

37.2

8.8

By the end of the season, Glasnow was putting up amazing strikeout numbers, along with respectable walk numbers. To put the walk numbers in perspective, 7.7% is the league average in the majors this season, while 20.3% is the average strikeout rate. If Glasnow can just put up league average walk numbers to go with his amazing strikeout numbers, then he’ll continue putting up video game numbers with his overall results.

From a development standpoint, Glasnow made some big strides with the changeup, getting more comfortable with the pitch and developing it to where it was an average offering. The changeup, combined with his improved control, makes it more likely that he could eventually be a top of the rotation starter in the majors. He’s going to have to work on his composure in games, avoiding a big inning, or avoiding a big inning turning into multiple big innings. That’s something that will come with more challenging competition, as it is clear that Glasnow didn’t see much of a challenge the last two years in A-ball. Now that his control has improved, and his changeup has developed, he can focus on the in-game skills. That work should begin in the off-season, as Glasnow will be heading to the Arizona Fall League to pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row.

Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row.

Below you will find our Minor League Pitchers of the Year for each level in the farm system, our previous overall award winners, and the 2014 monthly awards.

Previous Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitchers of the Year

2013 – Tyler Glasnow

2012 – Jeff Locke

2011 – Kyle McPherson

2014 Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitchers of the Year By Level

Indianapolis – Casey Sadler, RHP (3.03 ERA, 124.2 IP, 77:24 K/BB)

Altoona – Adrian Sampson, RHP (2.55 ERA, 148 IP, 99:30 K/BB)

Bradenton – Tyler Glasnow, RHP (1.74 ERA, 124.1 IP, 157:57 K/BB)

West Virginia – Buddy Borden, RHP (3.16 ERA, 128 IP, 122:48 K/BB)

Jamestown – Montana DuRapau, RHP (2.21 ERA, 61 IP, 57:8 K/BB)

Bristol – John Sever, LHP (1.33 ERA, 40.2 IP, 63:17 K/BB)

GCL Pirates – Mitch Keller, RHP (1.98 ERA, 27.1 IP, 29:13 K/BB)

2014 Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month Awards

April

Overall - Casey Sadler

Indianapolis – Casey Sadler

Altoona – Adrian Sampson

Bradenton – Pat Ludwig

West Virginia – Buddy Borden

May

Overall - Adrian Sampson

Indianapolis – Jake Brigham

Altoona – Adrian Sampson

Bradenton – Orlando Castro

West Virginia – Shane Carle

June

Overall - Nick Kingham

Indianapolis – Nick Kingham

Altoona – Joely Rodriguez

Bradenton – Tyler Glasnow

West Virginia – Yhonathan Barrios

July

Overall - Tyler Glasnow

Indianapolis – Rafael Perez

Altoona – Adrian Sampson

Bradenton – Tyler Glasnow

West Virginia – Buddy Borden

Jamestown – Frank Duncan

Bristol – John Sever

GCL Pirates – Dario Agrazal

August

Overall - Tyler Glasnow

Indianapolis – Rafael Perez

Altoona – Zack Dodson

Bradenton – Tyler Glasnow

West Virginia – Buddy Borden

Jamestown – Tyler Eppler

Bristol – John Sever

GCL Pirates – Mitch Keller

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Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month For August http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-is-the-pirates-prospects-pitcher-of-the-month-for-august.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-is-the-pirates-prospects-pitcher-of-the-month-for-august.html#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:59:09 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87582 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 average pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of August. The rankings include every pitcher who made at least four starts for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility. The Game Score listed is the average of all of their Game Scores for the month.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

Pitcher of the Month

For the second month in a row, Tyler Glasnow has been named our Pitcher of the Month in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system. Glasnow had an impressive month in July, posting a 1.82 ERA in 29.2 innings, with a 40:9 K/BB ratio. He was even better this month, with a 1.73 ERA in 36.1 innings, along with a 51:12 K/BB ratio.

This is also the third month in a row where Glasnow has been our Pitcher of the Month in Bradenton. He has a 1.47 ERA in 91.2 innings since the start of June, along with a 120:35 K/BB ratio. The 11.8 K/9 is impressive, but the 3.4 BB/9 is the most encouraging thing, showing improvements in Glasnow’s control as the season has gone on.

In June and July, the Pitcher of the Month race was a close one between Glasnow and Nick Kingham, with Kingham winning in June. This time the race was close, only it was between Glasnow and Tyler Eppler. Eppler had an 0.62 ERA in 29 innings with Jamestown, along with a 23:3 K/BB ratio. Eppler has been posting some great numbers since being drafted in the sixth round this year, with a 2.49 ERA in 68.2 innings, along with a 6.4 K/9 and a 1.4 BB/9. Ultimately, Glasnow got the edge due to a much higher strikeout rate, and due to the fact that he’s a year younger than Eppler and having success two levels higher.

Minor League Affiliates

Here were the Pitchers of the Month for each minor league affiliate.

Indianapolis Indians (AAA) - Rafael Perez, LHP (2.52 ERA, 24:6 K/BB, 35.2 IP)

Altoona Curve (AA) - Zack Dodson, LHP (3.16 ERA, 22:11 K/BB, 31.1 IP)

Bradenton Marauders (A+) - Tyler Glasnow, RHP (1.73 ERA, 51:12 K/BB, 36.1 IP)

West Virginia Power (A) - Buddy Borden, RHP (2.00 ERA, 33:4 K/BB, 27 IP)

Jamestown Jammers (A-) - Tyler Eppler, RHP (0.62 ERA, 23:3 K/BB, 29 IP)

Bristol Pirates (RK) - John Sever, LHP (1.90 ERA, 33:11 K/BB, 23.2 IP)

GCL Pirates (RK) - Mitch Keller, RHP (1.76 ERA, 17:11 K/BB, 15.1 IP)

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Keon Broxton is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month For August http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/keon-broxton-is-the-pirates-prospects-player-of-the-month-for-august.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/keon-broxton-is-the-pirates-prospects-player-of-the-month-for-august.html#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:47:41 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87569 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 August. 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

At the end of Spring Training, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a move that was hardly a blip on the radar. They traded for minor league outfielder Keon Broxton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, sending a PTBNL or cash considerations in the deal. The move looked to be the addition of an organizational player. Broxton was a third round pick in 2009, and ranked as the number 10 prospect in Arizona’s system in 2011, while also finishing in Baseball America’s top 20 in 2010, 2012, and 2013. However, he struggled in his jump to Double-A, and wasn’t even one of the top 30 prospects in Baseball America’s rankings in 2014.

Broxton’s season in Altoona this year was a huge surprise. He ended up hitting for a .275/.369/.484 line in 407 at-bats, with 15 homers and 25 stolen bases. He was our Player of the Month in the minor league system during the month of May. Broxton was also our Altoona Player of the Month in July. And now, after finishing strong over the final month of the season, he is once again our Player of the Month, this time for the month of August.

The outfielder hit for a 1.061 OPS in the month of August, while adding a 2-for-4 performance with a double on September 1st. That was good enough to beat out some very strong performances this month, including seven homers from JaCoby Jones in West Virginia, Austin Meadows posting a .986 OPS, and Jose Osuna and Andrew Lambo catching fire down the stretch.

Broxton led the organization in average (.356), OBP (.458), and finished second in slugging (.611) in August and September. He tied for fourth in homers (4), tied for first in triples (3), ranked third in walks (15), and tied for third in stolen bases (8).

The results for Broxton this year will raise an interesting question about what the Pirates should do with him over the off-season. His upside would still be a strong fourth outfielder, rather than a starter. They certainly don’t need him to be a starter, but could use him as depth. He’s Rule 5 eligible, but so is Mel Rojas, who also had a breakout year, and made it up to Triple-A. I would think Broxton would be a risk to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, based on his numbers and skills, plus the fact that he’s only 24. The Pirates certainly would have room to protect him on the 40-man roster. He could join Rojas as depth out of Triple-A next year.

Minor League Affiliates

Here were the Players of the Month for each minor league affiliate.

Indianapolis Indians (AAA) - Andrew Lambo, OF (.310/.362/.563, 6 HR, 94 PA)

Altoona Curve (AA) - Keon Broxton, OF (.356/.458/.611, 4 HR, 107 PA)

Bradenton Marauders (A+) - Jose Osuna, 1B (.343/.415/.514, 3 HR, 124 PA)

West Virginia Power (A) - Austin Meadows, CF (.325/.408/.578, 3 HR, 100 PA)

Jamestown Jammers (A-) - Chase Simpson, 3B (.315/.354/.517, 3 HR, 96 PA)

Bristol Pirates (RK) - Danny Arribas, C (.324/.390/.456, 1 HR, 77 PA)

GCL Pirates (RK) - Henrry Rosario, OF (.318/.426/.435, 0 HR, 103 PA)

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Top 10 Pitchers: Glasnow Leads Amazing Week; Heredia Might Be Turning Things Around http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-glasnow-leads-amazing-week-heredia-might-be-turning-things-around.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-glasnow-leads-amazing-week-heredia-might-be-turning-things-around.html#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:49:34 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=86578 Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten scores are highlighted in the write-up below. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

In terms of pitching game scores, anything that scores a 65 or better is considered a “gem”. The Pirates farm system had 13 “gems” this week. Normally a gem gets you one of the top scores in the system. You needed a game score of 60 or better just to get in the top 20 this week. Because of that, we’re expanding this week’s writeup to 13 pitchers, to highlight all of the gems. Here are the top performers.

1. Tyler Glasnow - Glasnow was the top pitcher this week, making this list twice with two gems. His best start came on Sunday, when he threw seven shutout innings, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out eight. I wrote about that start in Sunday’s Prospect Watch. For those of you wondering when Glasnow will be promoted, I also wrote about that, noting that Glasnow feels that he will remain in Bradenton the rest of the season. Finally, I asked this week if Glasnow is now the top prospect in the system. My thoughts right now: yes.

2. Tom Harlan - Harlan pitched well in the Bradenton bullpen this year, putting up a 2.49 ERA in 50.2 innings in long-relief. He moved up to Altoona mid-season, and has been pitching well as a starter. He has a 2.93 ERA in 46 innings, with a 23:11 K/BB ratio. That includes this week’s start, when he threw seven shutout innings. I don’t see Harlan as a starter in the long-term, but he’s put up great numbers at every level, and could be a guy who reaches the majors as a bullpen option.

3. Luis Heredia - Over the last few years, West Virginia has seen a lot of pitchers struggle during the first half of the season, only to see things come together in the second half. That could be happening with Heredia. He had two strong starts last week. The best one saw him throw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks, and striking out five. The second outing saw one earned run on nine hits and a walk in five innings, with three strikeouts. Heredia has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings this month, with just six walks. The walks have been an issue for him this year, although he’s cutting down on that issue with a 2.2 BB/9 in 41.1 innings over his last seven starts. He has a 3.05 ERA during that span. Heredia still needs to improve his strikeouts, which will only come if he finds a breaking pitch that works for him. The drop in his walk rate is a good start for him to revive his prospect status.

4. Tyler Eppler - Eppler has been a regular on this weekly list this year, and has been one of the best performers in the middle rounds of the 2014 draft. He has a 2.70 ERA in 56.2 innings in Jamestown this year, with a 40:10 K/BB ratio. This week he threw six shutout innings, with three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. I liked Eppler when he was drafted in the sixth round because he was a tall, big framed pitcher who could hit 95 MPH. I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows the Adrian Sampson/Chad Kuhl route and goes directly to Bradenton next year, skipping over Low-A after posting strong numbers in short-season ball after the draft.

5t. Nick Kingham - Kingham hit a rough patch in Indianapolis last month, but looks like he could be making his way out of that. He gave up one run on three hits and four walks in seven innings last week, striking out six in the process. He followed that up with two runs on four hits and two walks in eight innings last night, which will probably put him in the top ten again next week. Kingham doesn’t look like he’ll be an option for the Pirates down the stretch, but he should be up in the rotation next year in the first half of the season.

5t. Trey Supak - Supak has struggled for most of his pro debut, but had a great outing last week, throwing five shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, no walks, and struck out four in the process. The Pirates drafted Supak with their competitive balance pick in the second round, after taking Mitch Keller a few picks earlier. Based on what I’ve seen, Keller looks more like a first rounder who is more polished out of high school. Supak looks more like your typical mid-round projectable pitcher. There is a lot of upside here, but he’s very raw, which isn’t going to lead to the best numbers right now.

5t. Hector Garcia - Garcia received an aggressive push, going right from the DSL to Bristol at the age of 18. He has responded well, putting up a 3.83 ERA in 40 innings, with a 40:15 K/BB ratio. That includes his start last week, when he pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits, no walks, and striking out six. I’m skeptical about a lot of lefties who have success in the lower levels, although I like Garcia a bit more due to the fact that he can get his fastball up to 92 MPH.

8. Tyler Glasnow - Glasnow’s second gem of the week saw him give up one run on four hits and three walks in 6.1 innings, with 10 strikeouts.

9. Dario Agrazal - I wrote last week about how Agrazal has been impressive. He continued that run with five shutout innings, giving up one hit, no walks, and striking out three. He’s got a 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings this year, along with a 30:4 K/BB ratio. Because of his age (turns 20 this off-season), control, and success this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a push to West Virginia next season.

10t. Buddy Borden - Also in last week’s article, I wrote about how Buddy Borden is breaking out. He continued that by throwing five shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks, and striking out eight. Borden has a 3.03 ERA in 119 innings this year, with a 111:48 K/BB ratio. He’s been on fire in August, giving up one run in 18 innings over three starts, with a 22:4 K/BB ratio. It will be interesting to see if Borden gets promoted to Bradenton at the end of the year for their playoff run. He will definitely be in Bradenton next year, and could see a trip to Altoona in the second half if all goes well.

10t. Frank Duncan - Duncan is a college senior drafted in the 13th round this year. He has put up impressive numbers, with a 3.22 ERA in 50.1 innings in Jamestown, along with a 38:9 K/BB ratio. This week he gave up one run on five hits in six innings, with nine strikeouts. That was easily his best start of the year, and set a season-high for him in strikeouts.

10t. Gerardo Navarro - Navarro doesn’t have the most impressive stuff, but gets the job done in the lower levels. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up one hit, no walks, and striking out two. Due to his lack of a strong fastball, and lack of a strikeout pitch, I don’t see him moving up through the system as a starting pitching prospect.

13. Montana DuRapau - DuRapau is a college senior who was taken in the 32nd round this year. Like Duncan, he has also seen a lot of success with Jamestown, posting a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings, along with a 38:6 K/BB ratio. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up three hits, no walks, and striking out five. It’s hard to say where these two will end up next year. There might not be a spot for both of them in the Bradenton rotation. They could start in West Virginia, then move up mid-season if a spot opens in Bradenton. They could also move to long-relief, although with their numbers, you’d want to give them a chance in the rotation first.

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Top 10 Hitters: JaCoby Jones Has Huge Week, While a Second Baseman Makes Third Straight Top 10 List http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-jacoby-jones-has-huge-week-while-a-second-baseman-makes-third-straight-top-10-list.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-jacoby-jones-has-huge-week-while-a-second-baseman-makes-third-straight-top-10-list.html#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:36:11 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=86499 JaCoby 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, with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. 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 Top Ten

1. JaCoby Jones, SS -  Jones was easily the best hitter in the system this week and it looks like he will finish as the best hitter in the system this year. He and Josh Bell had similar stats going into last week, but Jones had ten hits, which included four homers, and Bell has been out with a bruised knee. Jones leads all Pirates players with 22 homers and 217 total bases. He has the top OPS of any player with more than 275 plate appearances and he is just three stolen bases away from being the first 20/20 HR/SB player in the Pirates system since 2007. He still has the flaws that keep him from being among the top ten prospects in the system, but it’s a group he could join next year with another solid season. He has to improve his defense at shortstop to stick at the position, but even if he doesn’t, he’s athletic enough to play many other spots. If he keeps hitting as he moves up the system, then getting his bat into the lineup won’t be a problem, it just gives him the most value if he can do it at shortstop. Jones will need to improve his 33:128 BB/K ratio to succeed at the highest levels.

2. Jordan Steranka, 1B - Steranka is having a solid season and showing improvements over last year. He still projects to be an organizational player because his only position is first base and he doesn’t hit enough, or add other value elsewhere(running, fielding). Steranka has a .719 OPS this year and he had 11 hits this week, including four doubles. His career 25:157 BB/K ratio really holds him back.

3. Elvis Escobar, OF -  Escobar came into this season as a possible sleeper prospect and really hasn’t lived up to that hype, although he was rushed to West Virginia when both Barrett Barnes and Austin Meadows went down with long-term injuries. Harold Ramirez also missed time and that moved Escobar up to fill-in for the Power. His stats weren’t the best there, but since joining Jamestown, which is where he was projected to start, he has hit .330/.375/.412 in 26 games. He is still shy of his 20th birthday, so he will be a very good age next year in the West Virginia outfield. Escobar can play center field well and he has a little more speed than he has shown so far. Just like the previous two players, he suffers from poor plate patience, which could hold him back.

4. Chris McGuiness, 1B - Some people might be shocked to learn that McGuiness has been on the 40-man roster all year, playing everyday at Indianapolis, and he leads the organization in doubles. That’s because he hasn’t been one of the many call-ups during the season, so his season has been overlooked. He has a .756 OPS and has drawn 53 walks, so while his stats aren’t great, he’s been solid. There is a chance he could be a lefty bat off the bench in September. Clint Hurdle has said that he never wants to be short-handed late in a September game with playoff implications, so McGuiness could be around. With lefties Ike Davis and Andrew Lambo presumably ahead of him(Besides Gaby Sanchez and possibly Pedro Alvarez), his playing time would likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties.

5. Pablo Reyes, 2B - Last week I went a little in depth into Reyes when he made the top ten list for the second straight week. Basically, he was called the best pure hitter in the DSL last year and he has carried that into Bristol this season, jumping right over the GCL. Reyes has obviously been on a hot streak for awhile now, you can’t make the top ten for three straight weeks and not be hitting well. I expect him to move to West Virginia next year and be a possible breakout prospect. There aren’t any infield prospects ahead of him at Jamestown and his bat should be good enough to handle Low-A ball next year.

6. Henrry Rosario, OF -  Rosario is 21 years old and in his second season in the GCL, so you can’t take too much from the stats he is putting up. This is his best season by far, posting an .833 OPS through his first 39 games, so it’s always possible he is a late bloomer. He’s going to need to put up similar numbers at a higher level next year(higher than Bristol) to truly show his numbers aren’t just a result of an older player beating up on younger pitching.

7. Edwin Espinal, 1B -  Espinal is a huge human at 6’3″ at at least 240 pounds(his 210 listed weight is definitely wrong). He hits the ball hard and is more of a line drive hitter now. He has a chance to add power to his game and at 20 years old, he is still filling out and holding his own in Low-A ball. He is going to have to make it far on his bat and that will depend on whether or not he does add power. He has one homer in his last 47 games and only hit four in his first 65 contests. Espinal is painfully slow and average at best at first base. He does have a great arm, but he is limited to first base, so that doesn’t add much value.

8. Eduardo Figueroa, OF - Earlier this week, I did a comparison/update on Tito Polo and Alexis Bastardo, two toolsy outfielders with the GCL Pirates. They were teammates last year with Figueroa, who was basically called the poor man’s version of those two players, toolsy, but not as good. As it turned out, Figueroa moved up to Bristol this year, which doesn’t necessarily make him the better player. The 20-year-old Figueroa is listed at 5’10″, 156 pounds and he bats and throws lefty.  He is part of a common theme with the players this week, sporting an 11:40 BB/K rate that needs work. He has some tools, so you can’t write him off due to his .593 OPS this year, but until he shows more  with the bat, he will remain more of a suspect than prospect.

9. Michael Fransoso, IF - Fransoso is a 24-year-old in low-A ball. That’s about all you need to know for his future. He’s a decent player, whose value lies in the fact he can play multiple positions, including shortstop

10. Tony Sanchez, C - It seems like the promotion of Elias Diaz to AAA sparked something with Sanchez. He had five hits and drove in five runs in two games since Diaz joined Indianapolis. On the season at AAA, Sanchez has struggled. He is hitting .229/.340/.432 in 70 games. On defense, he has made nine errors and thrown out 11% of runners attempting to steal, which is his lowest career total. He should still be joining the Pirates on or around September 1st, but it will be interesting to see just how much playing time he gets.

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Top 10 Hitters: Meadows Starting to Live Up to Expectations http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-meadows-starting-to-live-up-to-expectations.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-meadows-starting-to-live-up-to-expectations.html#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:00:50 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=86083 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, with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. 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 Top Ten

1. Austin Meadows, CF - Austin Meadows has been back in the lineup regularly for about a month now, after missing the start of the season with a hamstring injury. This week’s performance was good enough to earn his the South Atlantic League Player of the Week award. He’s showing the hitting that everyone hoped to see from him this year, with a .337/.375/.469 slash line through 24 games with West Virginia. He’s playing center field regularly and has hit seven doubles and two homers, all as a 19-year-old(which he will still be at the start of the 2015 season). If he finishes off the season strong, there is a chance that this won’t be a lost year and he could still move up to Bradenton to start next season.

2. Mel Rojas, OF - Rojas had just 14 at-bats this week, but four extra-base hits gave him the second best week among Pirates players. We featured one of those hits in the Prospect Highlights today and summed up the season for him. Basically, Rojas is having the best season of his career and other than some extra strikeouts, his performance hasn’t dropped off at all with the move to AAA. It’s possible that he could make his Major League debut this September to add depth to the Pirates bench for a playoff run. The combination of speed, switch-hitting and the ability to play all three outfield spots, makes him appealing for a September role this year and possible fourth outfielder role next year.

3. JaCoby Jones, SS - Jones went 8-for-27 this week, hitting his 18th homer, which leads all Pirates minor league players. He also has 17 stolen bases, as he closes in on a 20-20 season, which is made even more impressive by the fact he is a shortstop. He could very well be having the best season of any Pirates hitter in the minors. There are still some flaws to his game. He needs work on defense, which could come around just from repetition at shortstop. His 32/120 BB/SO ratio in 409 at-bats in one of the worst in the system and he is 22 in Low-A ball. Coming from someone who spent three years at a major college program, that takes a little luster off his season. Still, despite those current flaws, if he continues to hit as he moves up the system and can remain at shortstop, he’s going to be a very valuable player for the Pirates some day.

4. Jacob Stallings, C - Stallings is known more for his defense than his hitting, and it’s not really close. He went 6-for-11 this week, with a double and homer. The 6’5″ backstop will go as far as his glove takes him in pro ball, unless his fine hitting this week becomes something he starts doing more on a regular basis.

5. Andrew Lambo, OF - Lambo was hitting well early in the year when a thumb injury shut him down for an extended time. The timing was bad as the Pirates had a hole in right field that he could have filled. Lambo hasn’t missed a beat since coming back to AAA, though his rehab outings with Jamestown and in the GCL didn’t go so well. He went 9-for-21 this week and he’s batting .341/.407/.547 in 47 games at Indianapolis this year. He should be making an appearance in Pittsburgh in about three weeks, adding a strong lefty bat off the bench for the playoff run. There isn’t much more for him to show at AAA at this point. He’s proving that the thumb is healthy now and he deserves a chance to show what he can do in the Majors.

6. Pablo Reyes, 2B -  Pablo Reyes isn’t a name most Pirates fans know, but maybe you should. He spent last year in the DSL and skipped over the GCL this year, going right to Bristol. While doing the 2013 DSL recap last year, I was told by multiple sources that Reyes was the best pure hitter on the team. That’s a team that included Michael de la Cruz, who was our 20th ranked prospect this year. The push to Bristol was an advanced placement for the 20-year-old second baseman and his overall stats aren’t that impressive. In 43 games, he has a .259/.350/.353 slash line.

Over his 154 game career in the pros, Reyes has 69 walks and 63 strikeouts, showing a good eye at the plate and impressive contact. His 7-for-16 performance this week is just a sample of the current 16-for-40(.400 avg) streak that he is on right now in his last ten games. With a lot of light-hitting infielders at Jamestown this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Pirates challenge Reyes next year in Low-A ball with West Virginia. If he can handle that jump like he is handling the one this year, Pablo Reyes will be a name that a lot more Pirates fans know.

7. Elias Diaz, C - We have been mentioning Diaz a lot recently and it’s because he has continued to have a breakout season and the batting doesn’t seem to be going away. The 23-year-old catcher has a .324 average and .812 OPS this season, which are obviously strong numbers, but his defense is his strong suit. He has basically gone from someone that looked like he could make the Majors at some point, to someone that could be a solid backup catcher soon in Pittsburgh. He will need to be added to the 40-man roster this year and Diaz also needs to show he can continue to hit at AAA before he becomes a top prospect in the system.

8. Jarek Cunningham, 3B - If it seems like Jarek Cunningham has been around forever, it’s because he has. Now in his third full season at Altoona and standing at third base instead of second base, he has raised his average, cut down on his strikeouts and drawn some extra walks. Unfortunately, he’s now hitting for less power and as a 24-year-old, he is no longer young for the level.

9. Max Moroff, 2B - Moroff has 27 doubles and five triples this year, which is pretty good for a 21-year-old in High-A ball. He also has one homer, 107 strikeouts, a .662 OPS and has been caught stealing 14 times in 32 attempts, so there are some flaws. Luckily age is on his side, even if he repeats the level next year. He had three doubles and drew five walks this past week.

10. Chris Diaz, 2B - There isn’t much to say about Diaz that isn’t summed up by being a 23-year-old with a .586 OPS in Low-A. On the good side, he’s a versatile fielder that you don’t mind sticking out there on defense at SS/2B/3B.

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Top 10 Pitchers: A Breakout Pitcher You Should Follow, Not Named Adrian Sampson http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-a-breakout-pitcher-you-should-follow-not-named-adrian-sampson.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-a-breakout-pitcher-you-should-follow-not-named-adrian-sampson.html#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:12:26 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=86085 Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten scores are highlighted in the write-up below. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

In terms of pitching game scores, anything that scores a 65 or better is considered a “gem”. The Pirates farm system had nine “gems” this week. Here are the top performers.

1. Buddy Borden - Buddy Borden had all of the makings of a breakout candidate this year. He had a fastball that could hit 96 MPH with good movement, and a low 80s curveball that has some nice movement and generates strikeouts. Borden has dealt with command issues, and those issues led to a poor stretch in the middle of the season. The right-hander started the year with a 2.53 ERA in 46.1 innings through his first ten starts. He had a 45:18 K/BB ratio in that span. That’s when Borden started to struggle over his next five outings, with a 6.55 ERA in 22 innings, along with an 8:13 K/BB ratio. He was even moved to the bullpen for an outing, where he threw two shutout innings.

Since then, Borden has been back on track. He has a 2.27 ERA over his last eight starts since that bullpen appearance, with a 46:13 K/BB ratio in 43.2 innings. There has only been one outing where he had poor control, which was on July 18th when he walked five in three innings. Every other start during this stretch has featured 5+ innings and two or fewer walks. He’s got an electric arm with the potential to be more than just a back of the rotation guy, and outside of a few weeks in June, his season has been outstanding. Borden took the top spot this week, throwing six shutout innings with two hits, no walks, and ten strikeouts. He also had another gem this week that finished fourth on the list.

2. Tyler Glasnow - Tyler Glasnow continued doing Tyler Glasnow things this week. He struck out 11 batters in six shutout innings, giving up two walks and two hits in the process. It was the fourth time he has recorded double-digit strikeouts this season, including the third time in his last six games. That stretch also includes one game with nine strikeouts. Glasnow had four walks per game in each of his last two games, but saw his control bounce back this time around. Glasnow’s numbers on the year are great, but if you take out his rough start in April and early May, he has been on fire. He’s got a 1.13 ERA in 80 innings during that stretch, with a 107:36 K/BB ratio. The numbers during this recent six game stretch? An 0.51 ERA in 35 innings, with a 50:14 K/BB ratio. Glasnow probably deserves a promotion to Altoona as of several starts ago, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Pirates keep him in Bradenton all year to give him experience in a playoff race, along with extra starts pitching in the post-season.

3. Jhonathan Ramos - Ramos hasn’t had the best stuff this year for Altoona, with a 4.26 ERA in 50.2 innings, along with a 4.8 K/9 and a 2.7 BB/9 ratio. He was very efficient in a start this week, throwing six shutout innings with one hit, no walks, and two strikeouts. He only needed 72 pitches to get through the frame. Ramos doesn’t seem like an option for the majors, due to the lack of strikeouts in the upper levels. However, he should be a good organizational arm who can either start or fill out a long relief role in the upper levels.

4. Buddy Borden - Borden’s second start saw him give up one run on two hits in seven innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.

5. Adrian Sampson - As Ryan Palencer reported earlier today, Adrian Sampson has been promoted to Indianapolis. He has been the breakout pitcher in the system this year, posting a 2.55 ERA in 148 innings with Altoona, along with a 6.0 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9 ratio. His final start in Altoona saw him give up one run on four hits in seven innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. Sampson has outstanding command of his fastball, which sits in the low-to-mid 90s. He pairs that with a nice breaking ball that can generate strikeouts, and an improved changeup that has been a key to his success this year. He has just destroyed right-handed hitters, allowing only a .538 OPS on the season. The changeup is helping his numbers against lefties, with a .692 OPS this year, down from a .908 OPS last year at a lower level.

6. Cody Dickson - Dickson was my choice for the breakout pitcher in West Virginia this year. He hasn’t fared as well as Borden, but there are encouraging signs in the second half. The lefty had a 5.58 ERA in 59.2 innings, with a 47:29 K/BB ratio. A lack of control was said to be one of his issues when he was drafted last year, and that was present for the first half of the season. In his last ten starts he has done much better, with a 2.61 ERA in 51.2 innings, along with a 40:21 K/BB ratio. When it comes to evaluating guys in West Virginia, it’s better to look at the trends as the season goes on, rather than the overall numbers. Guys like Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes have posted some average overall numbers in previous years, made up of poor first half results and great second half results. Kingham went on to carry his success to the higher levels, while Holmes has been out for the year this season. John Kuchno is another example of this, posting a 5.02 ERA in 66.1 innings last year in the first half, followed by a 2.84 ERA in 57 innings in the final two months. He’s now having a strong season in Bradenton. The fact that Dickson is joining this trend is a great sign, and speaks well for his future.

7. Tyler Eppler - The Pirates took Eppler in the sixth round this year, and so far he has been putting up some impressive numbers with Jamestown. He has a 3.02 ERA in 50.2 innings, with a 6.2 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9 ratio. Eppler made the list twice this week, throwing two shutout appearances. His best outing saw five shutout innings, giving up two hits, a walk, and striking out five. He’s a big framed pitcher at 6′ 6″, 220 pounds who can hit as high as 95 MPH with his fastball, but usually sitting in the low 90s. He’ll need to develop a good secondary pitch to increase his strikeout rates. Right now he has a four pitch mix, with a chance to make it as a starter in the majors one day.

8t. Frank Duncan - Duncan was a 13th round pick and a college senior in the 2014 draft. His results have been surprising this year, with a 3.45 ERA in 44.1 innings out of the Jamestown rotation, along with a 5.9 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9 ratio. He’s got a 90-93 MPH fastball and good control. He also has a big frame, at 6′ 4″, 212 pounds. Just like Eppler, he throws four pitches, but needs to develop a good out pitch. The key difference between the two is that Duncan is a year older, making his potential ceiling a little bit lower.

8t. Dario Agrazal - I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen out of Agrazal in the GCL this year. He has a 2.83 ERA in 41.1 innings, with a 5.9 K/9 and an 0.9 BB/9. The impressive thing is that he has some great command of his fastball, and throws 90-93 MPH with almost no effort at all. Agrazal has a good frame, at 6′ 3″, 190 pounds, which should allow him to hold up as a starter over the long-run. I could see him getting an aggressive promotion next year, skipping over the two short-season leagues and going to West Virginia at the age of 20. He’s too far off to project what he could become, but right now he looks like one of the better arms in the short-season ranks, and a guy who should continue getting a big role going forward.

10t. Chad Kuhl - Kuhl has been posting some strong numbers in Bradenton this year, with a 3.43 ERA in 131.1 innings, along with a 5.8 K/9 and a 2.4 BB/9. He’s a sinkerball guy who gets a ton of ground balls, with a 58% ground ball rate this year. The one downside is that he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, mostly pitching to contact and getting quick outs. That means his upside could be similar to Casey Sadler or Brandon Cumpton, with the ability to be a back of the rotation starter, but more likely ending up as a reliever or depth starter in the long-term for the Pirates, due to the quality of pitchers they have in the upper levels.

10t. Tyler Eppler - Eppler’s second best outing this week saw him throw six shutout innings, with six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts.

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Top 10 Pitchers: Walks or No Walks, Tyler Glasnow Continues to Dominate http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-walks-or-no-walks-tyler-glasnow-continues-to-dominate.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-pitchers-walks-or-no-walks-tyler-glasnow-continues-to-dominate.html#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 18:02:30 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=85469 Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten scores are highlighted in the write-up below. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

In terms of pitching game scores, anything that scores a 65 or better is considered a “gem”. The Pirates farm system had four “gems” this week. Here are the top performers.

1. Rafael Perez - For the second week in a row, Perez is the top pitcher in the system. He’s not a prospect at all, at age 32 and with plenty of MLB experience. The question is whether he help the Pirates in the majors this year. The numbers from Perez have been great, but the stuff hasn’t matched the numbers. His fastball has been sitting in the low-to-mid 80s, and he’s been working mostly with off-speed stuff. That’s not an approach that would have a lot of success in the big leagues, and it’s not how Perez had success as a reliever in the past.

2. Tyler Glasnow - Two weeks ago I wrote that Glasnow had been seeing a big decline in his walks. Right after that article, Glasnow walked four batters in 5.2 innings in his next start, and followed that up with four walks in six innings this past week. He’s still dominating opponents, with a 1.28 ERA in 56.1 innings over his last ten starts, along with a 70:23 K/BB ratio. I’m surprised that Glasnow hasn’t been promoted to Altoona yet, although I’d imagine he’ll make it up by the end of the year for a few starts, only to spend most of the 2015 season at the Double-A level.

3. Cesilio Pimentel - Pimentel has been working as a piggyback starter, getting a lot of innings in relief. This week he threw five shutout innings in a relief appearance, giving up two hits and striking out four. He’s been posting good numbers this year out of the bullpen, with a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings, along with a 23:5 K/BB ratio. He only sits 88-91 MPH with the fastball, usually on the lower end of that scale, which limits his upside.

4. Felipe Gonzalez - Gonzalez owed two of the top starts in the system this week, with both ending up in the top five. The best outing came earlier in the week, when he pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out two…

5t. Felipe Gonzalez - The next start for Gonzalez saw him give up one run on three hits and two walks in six innings, with four strikeouts. He’s had good numbers this year in West Virginia, with a 2.48 ERA in 80 innings, along with a 74:20 K/BB ratio. Gonzalez has received time as a starter, and is getting back to that role recently, with three straight starts after the promotion of Shane Carle to Bradenton.

5t. Jay Jackson - Jackson picked up four innings in relief on Sunday, and was outstanding in his appearance. He gave up two hits, no walks, and struck out six. Jackson has a 4.89 ERA in 84.2 innings this year, with an 87:36 K/BB ratio. He’s unlikely to make the majors with the Pirates, but should be used as depth in Triple-A if the Pirates need a call up later in the year.

7. Hector Garcia - Garcia is a lefty who has been putting up some nice numbers in the Bristol rotation. He has a 3.68 ERA in 29.1 innings, with a 31:11 K/BB ratio. He can get his fastball up to 92 MPH, and is showing better control than what he had last year in the DSL. I’m skeptical of most left-handers in the lower levels until they have success in the upper levels. Garcia is no exception, although it looks like he’ll continue getting a big role as a starter if he keeps putting up these numbers going forward.

8. Buddy Borden - Borden has looked great this season, outing of a rough stretch in the early part of June. He has recovered from that to put up a 2.89 ERA in 46.2 innings over his last ten starts, with a 45:18 K/BB ratio. Control has been an issue for him at times, but he seems to be doing a better job of that lately. He gave up just two walks in his last start, and has just five walks in 18 innings over his last three outings. Borden has one of the best arms in the system, and is definitely a starter to follow as he continues to progress through the minors.

9. Montana DuRapau - DuRapau was taken in the 32nd round this year, and quickly moved to a starting role with Jamestown due to his strong performance. That continued this week, as he gave up one run in five innings in a piggyback start. He has a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings this year, with a 29:5 K/BB ratio.

10t. Alex McRae - McRae was taken by the Pirates in the 10th round of the 2014 draft. So far with Jamestown he has a 3.38 ERA in 45.1 innings, along with a 33:7 K/BB ratio. He sits 90-93 MPH with his fastball, mixing in a low 80s changeup and a low 80s slider. Will Cleveland wrote about one of his recent starts here.

10t. Adrian Sampson - Sampson has been the breakout pitcher of the year in the Pirates’ system. He continued his success this week, giving up one earned run in seven innings. Sampson has a 2.62 ERA in 141 innings, with a 95:30 K/BB ratio. In four starts since the All-Star break, he has a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings, with an 11:3 K/BB ratio.

10t. Shane Carle - Carle has struggled since moving up to Bradenton. He has a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings, with a 17:9 K/BB ratio. His most recent outing was much better, with one earned run in six innings. He also posted a much better ground ball rate, which was something that was present in West Virginia, but missing over the last few starts.

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Top 10 Hitters: A Sleeper Catching Prospect in the Lower Levels http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-a-sleeper-catching-prospect-in-the-lower-levels.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/top-10-hitters-a-sleeper-catching-prospect-in-the-lower-levels.html#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:44:23 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=85403 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, with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. 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 Top Ten

1. Danny Arribas, C - The Pirates have no shortage of interesting catching prospects in the lower levels of the system. Reese McGuire is one of the top catching prospects in the game. Taylor Gushue and Kevin Krause were both taken in the top ten rounds of the 2014 draft, and both have gotten off to good starts in their careers. Yoel Gonzalez was given a $300,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic, and is currently playing in the GCL. One guy who gets overlooked is Danny Arribas.

The Pirates signed Arribas out of The Netherlands back in 2011. He spent two seasons in the DSL before making the jump to the US in 2013. He was playing on the same team as McGuire, which meant his time behind the plate was limited. He got more time at first base than he did at catcher. This year he has been moved back behind the plate in Bristol. He threw out 40% of runners last year, but is only at 17% this year. Offensively he has been strong, with a .291/.388/.417 line in 103 at-bats. Arribas is very athletic, to the point where he can play the corner infield spots, along with catching. He’s going to have a lot of competition at catcher, but he’s a sleeper prospect due to the athleticism, and a good ability to hit for average and get on base.

2. Willy Garcia, RF - Garcia is having a bit of a breakout season from a power standpoint. He’s got a .508 slugging percentage, 24 doubles, and 16 homers in Altoona this year. Since the start of June he has a .323/.338/.550 line in 189 at-bats, with nine of those homers. The downside for Garcia is that he doesn’t walk enough and strikes out too much. He’s got a 31.5% strikeout rate this year, and a 3.7% walk rate. He can be productive without the walks. Starling Marte only had a 3.8% walk rate in Altoona. However, Marte only had a 17.5% strikeout rate, and was never above 23.3% in the minors. Garcia has some impressive power, but his strikeout issues raises questions about his future in the majors.

3. Jose Osuna, 1B - The Pirates don’t have many first base options in their system, so the fact that Jose Osuna is heating up is encouraging. He had an .834 OPS during the month of July, and has a 1.099 OPS over his last ten games, just ending a 13 game hitting streak. Osuna also has a low walk rate, but at 5.1% he’s not as low as Garcia. He has an 18.6% strikeout rate, which is better than most Latin American players who have come through the system. The key to Osuna’s value will be his power. That is starting to pick up lately, but he’s going to need more than one month of hitting to show that his performance is legit.

4. Elias Diaz, C - Diaz has been one of the minor breakout players this year, emerging as a potential backup catcher in the majors in the next few years. He’s always had the defense to reach the majors, but now he’s starting to put things together offensively, with a .320/.367/.432 line in 303 at-bats this season. Just like Osuna and Garcia, his walk rate is low, at 7.4%. However, his strikeout rate is extremely low, at 14.8%. If Diaz continues hitting like this for the long-term, he could have a shot at being more than just a backup.

5. Josh Bell, RF - Bell got off to a slow start in Altoona, which is to be expected, since the jump from A-ball to Double-A is the hardest to make for hitters. He’s starting to adjust to the level and heat up, with a .368/.415/.421 line in 38 at-bats over his last ten games. Last year Gregory Polanco only had a .762 OPS in his time in Altoona, before tearing up Winter Ball and Triple-A. I don’t know if Bell is going to make the same quick adjustment, but I’m not concerned with his slow start to a difficult level, and his recent success is an encouraging sign that he’s starting to get over those early struggles.

6. Stetson Allie, 1B - Stetson Allie has had a mixed season. He’s hitting for power and getting on base, with a .183 ISO and a 12.6% walk rate. However, he’s not hitting for average and striking out too much, with a 26.4% strikeout rate. The strikeouts are actually lower than what he’s done in the lower levels, so that’s encouraging. He could be a three true outcomes guy (with most of his plate appearances ending in a walk, strikeout, or home run), but the problem with that is most three outcomes guys in the minors don’t make it to the majors. He’s hitting well lately, with a .368/.455/.500 line in 38 at-bats over his last ten games. Allie has stretches like this, but lacks consistency to do this on a regular basis.

7. Justin Maffei, OF - Maffei has been impressive in Bradenton this year, with a .387/.471/.520 line in 75 at-bats. He did have a .239/.353/.279 line in 226 at-bats in West Virginia earlier in the year, which makes it likely that his success at the new level is just due to a small sample size. He wasn’t close to this production last year in the GCL or NYPL, making it even less likely that this is legit.

8. Enyel Vallejo, LF - Vallejo has been one of the best players in Bristol this year, hitting for a .320/.341/.469 line in 128 at-bats.  This comes a year after he broke out in the GCL with a .306/.325/.468 line in 111 at-bats. Continuing a trend, Vallejo only has a 2.2% walk rate, but also keeps the strikeouts relatively low at 21.6%. He’s showing some power, with a .148 ISO. Vallejo is nothing more than a sleeper prospect to watch, but he really stands out on a Bristol team that has lacked a lot of good hitting prospects.

9. Carlos Ozuna, SS - Ozuna is on a hot streak lately, hitting for a .421/.436/.579 line in 38 at-bats over his last ten games. That doesn’t match up with his season numbers, as he has a .247/.316/.348 line in 89 at-bats in Bristol. A lot of that was due to the fact that he started the season going 2-for-28 during the month of June. Ozuna also struggled at the plate in the GCL, although he did show some promising defense up the middle, which should keep him in the lineup.

10. Pablo Reyes, 2B - Reyes is in a similar situation to Ozuna. His hitting has been poor this year, although he’s coming off a good week where he went 8-for-22 with two doubles and two walks. He shows some promise up the middle defensively, with the ability to play shortstop, so he’ll continue to get looks, despite the poor hitting.

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