2011 Prospect Watching: Chambers and Hernandez

Continuing to work our way up the chain of outfielders in the Pirates’ organization, today looking at two from the 2009 draft.

Evan Chambers  –  R/R,  5′ 11″,  210 lbs
Chambers is a Florida native who will turn 22 years old next month.   He was chosen by the Pirates in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft.  After a slow start at State College that season, he picked it up in the last month of the season, to finish 2009 with a .245 average, 4 homers, and 22 RBI in 58 games.  Chambers was promoted to A level West Virginia for the 2010 season, and he spent the whole year there, as the team’s starting center fielder.  Chambers appeared in 116 games, all but one in center field.  He has reasonable speed and a reasonable throwing arm  – he had 12 outfield assists in 2010.  At the plate, Chambers has shown a lot of patience, which turns out to be both his strength and his weakness.  He led the South Atlantic League in walks with 92 (18%).  But, sometimes he also watched strike three go by, averaging one strikeout per game (116,  28%).  That added up to a low batting average for most of the season.  He did hit .284 in May, then dropped back down to .226 in June and .294 in July.  Chambers started pulling it together in August, hitting .311 in the first half of the month, but then had his hot streak abruptly halted when he was hit in the head by a pitch.  When he returned to the line-up two weeks later, he went 1-for-19, then finished with a pop, going 3-for-4 on the last day of the season.  He showed some power, with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 12 homers, and 52 RBI.  Chambers hits righties and lefties about the same (.236 vs. .247).  When he does get on base, he can steal.  He stole 35 bases, though was thrown out 17 times.  Chambers should move up to A+ Bradenton for 2011, where he’ll need to work on dropping that strikeout rate.   More hitting will also mean more power numbers.

 
Jose Hernandez  – Bats Right / Throws Left,  5′ 11″,  190 lb
Hernandez was the Pirates’ 23rd round pick in the 2009 draft, taken in his senior year of college (University of  Texas – San Antonio).  That makes him on the older side for playing in West Virginia last year (24 years old) and presumably Bradenton in 2011.   He reported to State College after being drafted in 2009, but only got into 8 games before being sidelined by an ankle injury.  Hernandez was assigned to West Virginia for 2010, despite so little time at State College, and once he got some playing time, he was able to get going.  He hit .242 in May, but popped up to .319 in June, with 5 homers and 14 RBI.  The average dipped to .267 in July, but he kept up the power, with 4 more home runs and 18 RBI.  He was back to .312 in August, adding 3 homers and 13 RBI.  His strikeout rate was high (81, 22%), but not as high as Chambers’.  Hernandez was steady in the outfield, both left and right, and he also did a lot of DH-ing.  He may not be a regular in the outfield in Bradenton, but they will be happy to have his bat in the lineup, so look for him to DH quite a bit.

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Power Finish With A Win, Curve Save It For The Playoffs

Just two more games on Labor Day…� The Marauders have the day off today, then begin the first round of the playoffs tomorrow.

West Virginia Power� 7,� Hagerstown Suns� 3 ….�� (box)

The Power wrapped up their season with a win over the Suns.� Everyone finished the season with hits, as the Power posted 16 hits, and each memeber of the batting order had at least one hit.� CF Evan Chambers and SS Elevys Gonzalez had 3 hits each.

The Power threatened in the bottom of the 1st, when RF David Rubinstein led off with a double into left field, and Chambers made it runners on the corners with a single.� Chambers stole second base, but both runners were left stranded after a strikeout and a flyout.� They did get onto the scoreboard in the 4th inning.� With one out, 1B Kyle Morgan walked, and LF Rogelios Noris blasted his 15th homer of the season for 2 runs.� After the home run, C Jairo Marquez doubled, and singles by Gonzalez and Rubinstein brought in Marquez, giving the Power a 3-0 lead.

Starter Brett Lorin pitched 4 scoreless innings, allowing only a single and a walk in the 2nd, and a lead-off single in the 4th.� He was relieved by Justin Ennis, who retired the side in order in the 5th.� Ennis did give up a run in the 6th, on a triple and a single, to cut the Power lead to 3-1.� The Power came right back in the bottom of that inning, though, adding 2 runs on 4 singles:� by 3B Andy Vasquez, Gonzalez, 2B Jarek Cunningham (RBI), and Chambers (RBI).

With the score at 5-1, neither team scored in the 7th, but both teams added 2 runs in the 8th.� Marc Baca took the mound to begin the inning, and he gave up a single, followed by two stolen bases (2nd and 3rd).� Then a 2-run homer got the Suns a little closer, 5-3.� The Power answered with their two in the bottom of the 8th, with a triple by Marquez and their own 2-run homer, by Gonzalez.� Baca retired the Suns in order in the 9th, ending the game and the season.

Pitchers Gabriel Alvarado and Phillip Irwin were both promoted to the A+ Marauders, where they will assist in the Marauders’ playoff run.

The Power finished the first half of the season in 7th (last) place in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division, 11 games back, with a 31-39 record.� They did better in the second half, finishing tied for 3rd and 8 games back, with a 34-35 record.� That gives them an overall 65-74 record for the season.

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Marauders Win Second Half Title; Walk-Off Homer For Gonzalez

Sunday’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates… this is the season finale for the Spikes, and the regular season finale for the Marauders.

West Virginia Power� 4,� Hagerstown Suns� 3 ….��� (box)

Elevys Gonzalez was the hero in the bottom of the 10th inning with a blast over the right-center field wall for a walk-off homer.� The Suns had scored first with a solo home run off Power starter Eliecer Navarro to lead off the 2nd inning and another solo blast to begin the 4th inning.� Navarro scattered 5 more hits over the rest of the first 5 innings without allowing a run to score.� He began the 6th inning by giving up a walk, then an RBI double to give the Suns their third run.� Maurice Bankston relieved Navarro to finish the 6th inning, then went on to pitch 2 scoreless innings.

The Power got one run back in the bottom of the 4th, with the help of 3 consecutive walks.� CF Evan Chambers walked first, but was caught stealing second base.� Walks to 1B Aaron Baker and DH Jose Hernandez put two runners on base, then C Ramon Cabrera skipped a ground-rule double over the left-center field wall, scoring Baker.� A pop out ended the inning without any further scoring.

The bottom of the 7th began with the Power trailing 3-1.� Cabrera led off with a line drive single up the middle, then LF Rogelios Noris doubled, and 3B Andy Vasquez tripled, tying the score as both Cabrera and Noris scored.� Vasquez was cut down after rounding third base, on the throw in from the outfield.

Bankston hit a batter with a pitch in the bottom of the 8th, but left him stranded.� Jhonathan Ramos pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.� The Power went down in order in ther 8th.� Noris singled and stole second base in the bottom of the 9th, but could not come around to score, and the game went into extra innings.� Ramos gave up a one-out single in the top of the 10th, but then struck out the next two batters.� That set up the bottom of the 10th, when Elevys Gonzalez greeted the new Suns’ reliever with the game-winning homer.

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Marauders Clinch Playoff Spot

On Friday night, all of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost.� On Saturday night, all but State College won….

Bradenton Marauders� 4,� Charlotte Stone Crabs� 2 …���� (box)

The Marauders assured themselves at least a spot in the playoffs with this win tonight.� Nate Adcock won his 11th game of the season with 2 runs allowed in 5.2 innings of work.� He gave up a run in the bottom of the 1st, with a 2-out walk, a wild pitch, and two singles.� He surrendered another run on a walk and a double to lead off the 3rd inning.� He scattered 4 more hits, but left two stranded and erased two with double plays.� In the top of the 6th, Adcock got two outs and gave up a single, then that runner stole both second and third base.� He was relieved by Kyle McPherson, who finished that inning with a strikeout, then gave up just one hit over the next 2 innings, including 3 more strikeouts.� Noah Krol earned his league-leading 34th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning, working around a missed catch error.

Bradenton picked up one run in the 2nd inning, when C Eric Fryer singled, then moved to second base on a groundout.� 3B Adam Davis’ RBI single brought in Fryer.� The Marauders were on the receiving end of several walks over the next few innings — one in the 3rd to SS Shelby Ford, one in the 4th to Fryer, three in the 5th to DH Jordan Newton, 2B James Skelton, and RF Robbie Grossman to load the bases — but all were left on base.� They did score again in the 6th, when LF Quincy Latimore led off with a single.� He was forced out at second on Fryer’s grounder, leaving Fryer at first.� Davis singled again, advancing Fryer to third bse, then Newton doubled in both Fryer and Davis, to take a 3-2 lead.� They added an insurance run in the 4th.� Grossman singled with one out, then scored on CF Starling Marte’s double.� The Marauders threatened again in the 8th, as Davis was hit by a pitch and Newton walked, then Skelton bunted them both into scoring position.� A strikeout and a ground out ended the inning, but it turned out to not matter, and the Marauders season is going to continue beyond the weekend.

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Losses All Around

Losses for all of the Pirates’ affiliates on Friday night:

Reading Phillies� 9,� Altoona Curve� 4 …������� (box)

The R-Phils attacked Curve starter Jared Hughes early, and the Curve bats could not keep up.� Hughes retired the side in order in the 1st inning, but gave up 3 unearned runs on a walk, a single, and two errors in the 2nd inning — the throwing error was by Hughes.� A walk, a double, and a single added 2 more runs in the 3rd inning.� In the 4th inning, Hughes gave up another 3 runs on two singles, a triple, and a double by former Indy Indian Tagg Bozied.� Hughes was done after those 4 innings, having allowed 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, though he struck out 6 batters.

The Curve hitters were hitless in the first 4 innings.� The only batter to get on base was CF Anthony Norman, who reached in the 3rd on Bozied’s fielding error at first.� Two home runs, one by C Kris Watts in the 5th, and one by 2B Chase d’Arnaud in the 6th, got the Indians onto the scoreboard, but they were still trailing 8-2.

Each team scored in the 7th.� Tom Boleska had relieved Hughes to begin the 5th inning, and he retired the first 7 batters he faced in order.� Then in the 7th, he walked Bozied, then gave up a single and a double, allowing Bozied to score.� In the bottom of the frame, 1B Matt Hague led off with a single, then scored on singles by Watts and Norman, to make it 9-3.� The Curve added one more run in the bottom of the 9th, when SS Jordy Mercer, Hague, and RF Miles Durham led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases.� Watts’ sacrifice fly plated Mercer, but two ground outs ended the inning without any further scoring.� Bryan Morris pitched two perfect innings to wrap it up for the Curve.

The Curve have won the Eastern League’s Western Division title, and will begin the first round of playoffs on Wednesday.� None of the other playoff slots have been settled yet.� The Bowie Baysox and the Harrisburg Senators are tied for second place in the Western Division.� The Trenton Thunder are in first place in the Eastern Division, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2.5 games behind, with 3 games left to play.

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