Adam Hyzdu

Some great information became available yesterday, as Dan Szymborski (creator of the ZiPS projection system) posted his minor-league-to-major-league translations for every player season of the past 30 years. Dan works very hard to provide this type of information to the general public free of charge, so I would encourage you to follow the link and make some sort of monetary donation. Anyway, I wandered into the comments and found a brief discussion on Adam Hyzdu‘s excellent 2000 season for Altoona. Dan noted that it was a mistake to have Hyzdu in Altoona that year instead of Pittsburgh. This led me over to Hyzdu’s page at The Baseball Cube, where I discovered more Cam Bonifay ineptitude.

I generally remember Hyzdu as a guy who I naively considered a prospect at the time, when in reality he was consistently excelling at levels he was much too old to be a part of. I was only 15 when the Pirates signed him, and I didn’t exactly follow the farm system too closely. In fact, my only clear memory of Hyzdu is the home run he hit during the one Curve game I attended in 1999. However, when I looked more closely at his minor league stats, I saw a different story. Here are his stats for each level in which he accrued at least 100 at-bats, beginning with his age 21 season:

1993 21 A+ 165 0.291 0.393 0.630 1.023
21 AA 302 0.202 0.253 0.318 0.571
1994 22 A+ 210 0.276 0.336 0.552 0.888
22 AA 133 0.263 0.310 0.406 0.716
1995 23 AA 312 0.263 0.362 0.439 0.801
1996 24 AA 374 0.337 0.424 0.618 1.042
1997 25 AAA 413 0.276 0.387 0.499 0.886
1998 26 AAA 100 0.340 0.419 0.550 0.969
1999 27 AA 345 0.316 0.392 0.612 1.004
2000 28 AA 514 0.290 0.405 0.554 0.959
2001 29 AAA 261 0.291 0.332 0.498 0.830

In 1994, Hyzdu struggled in Double-A for the second consecutive season. He improved the following season at age 23, though he didn’t display the same power as he did at High-A. Finally, in 1996, he broke out with a monstrous season. The following season, he continued to progress in Triple-A. He was a bit old for the level, but not so old that his performance deserved to be ignored. In 1998, he only managed 100 at-bats at Triple-A, so I assume there was an injury. He hit well when he did play, posting an OPS of .969. The Pirates got a hold of him in May 1999. Hyzdu had proved he could hit Triple-A pitching the two previous seasons, so the Pirates did the only logical thing with the 27-year-old. They sent him back to Double-A. Hyzdu responded with a dominant season, posting a zMLE of .271/.333/.517. Apparently the Pirates, who gave 371 plate appearances to Brant Brown that season, had no use for that kind of production. In 2000, the Pirates finished 69-93 while Hyzdu went back to Altoona for yet another year. Hyzdu had a legendary season, while Pirates first baseman Kevin Young posted an OPS of .744. According to Hyzdu’s zMLE translation, he would have hit .273/.375/.581 with 41(!) home runs with the Pirates. In 2001, Hyzdu finally received an extended opportunity at Triple-A. He posted decent numbers, but nothing impressive for a 29-year-old. He essentially became a Quad-A player after that.

Hyzdu definitely had flaws in his game. He didn’t hit for a consistent average, and I don’t believe he was much of a fielder (although he did play some center field later in his career). But he had legitimate big league power, and the type of skill set that should have led to a brief but solid peak in the show. However, Bonifay was unwilling to take a chance on Hyzdu, and he let the slugger waste his prime years in Altoona. Hyzdu became a legend with Curve fans, but he missed out on a decent major league career because of more Pirate mismanagement.

Maybe there is something I am missing with Hyzdu’s career. Maybe there was a legitimate reason for keeping him in the minors, one I am not seeing in hindsight. Again, I barely remember his time in the organization. But going strictly from his numbers, this is another clear mistake by Bonifay.




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