Top Performers: Power Surge For Willy Garcia; Mel Rojas Continues Hot Streak

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, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level, rather than combining their stats. 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).

Willy Garcia was the top hitter in the system this week.
Willy Garcia was the top hitter in the system this week.

Willy Garcia has just as much upside as Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson, and has been playing on the same team as the other two players for the last two seasons. The problem is that Garcia hasn’t broken out yet, and has been inconsistent when he shows his potential. He’s got some impressive power potential, and showed that off this week with three homers to take the top spot in the system. Garcia has gone on power surges in the past. He hit six homers in the month of August last year, giving him 18 on the season. He’s got three so far this month, and seven on the year. He could be having another huge month, although he’s going to need to be consistent over the long-term to be in the same class as Polanco and Hanson.

Justin Howard saw an increase to his playing time after Andrew Lambo was promoted, and went 6-for-11 with a homer. Howard doesn’t have a lot of upside, since he doesn’t hit for the power you’d like to see from a corner infielder or a corner outfielder.

One problem with Mel Rojas is that he always struggles with consistency. He’ll show flashes of hitting potential with a huge multi-hit game, then will go on a long slump. On May 9th he went 3-for-4 with a double. Since that point he has a .330/.390/.515 line in 103 at-bats, with six doubles, five triples, and a homer. He’s got some strikeout problems, with a strikeout every four at-bats, although you can live with that if you’re hitting the way he’s hitting lately. Rojas went 8-for-25 last week with a double and two triples to take the third best spot.

Dan Gamache and Jose Osuna tied for the fourth spot this week. Gamache went 8-for-21 with two doubles and a homer, while his Bradenton teammate went 6-for-17 with two doubles and a homer. Gamache is a second base prospect with gap power, but probably doesn’t hit for enough power or play strong enough defense to be a starter in the majors. Osuna has a lot of power potential, and is young, but is like Garcia in that he’s been inconsistent.

Brett Carroll doesn’t profile as a prospect or a guy who could help the Pirates, but he’s doing a great job to help Indianapolis. He went 7-for-21 this week with three doubles, and has a .261 average, .832 OPS and ten homers this season.

Josh Harrison continues to play well in his time with Indianapolis. This week he went 8-for-27 with five doubles and a triple. The problem is he never carries that hitting over to the majors.

Carlos Paulino took the eighth spot, going 6-for-18 with two doubles and a triple. Paulino is a great defensive catcher, but hasn’t done much with the bat. It’s always good to see him hitting, but he hasn’t done that on a consistent basis. The lack of offense could hold him back from being a defensive catcher in the majors.

Andrew Lambo had another good week with Altoona, then was finally promoted to Indianapolis. If you combined his runs created numbers at both levels, he would have been second on the list this week. Lambo hit his first homer with Indianapolis last night, although it came off a position player in the 13th inning on a 62 MPH pitch.

Jared Goedert rounded out the top ten, going 9-for-30 with two doubles. In the past he’s been strong against left-handers, but this year he’s been better against right-handers. That’s unfortunate, since he could provide a platoon option at third base for Pedro Alvarez if the Pirates eventually went that route.