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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Top Performers: Elias Diaz Showing Off a Bat to Pair With His Strong Defense

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. 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).

The Top Ten

1. Adam Frazier, SS – The Pirates drafted Frazier in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. He was considered the top college shortstop prospect in the draft, albeit in a weak class. Frazier has a lot of speed and does a good job of getting on base. However, his game lacks power. This week he went 9-for-23 with a double and a triple. Those extra base hits were his first extra base hits of the year. Last year he had an .041 ISO with Jamestown. Without additional power, Frazier’s upside is a utility player.

2. Danny Collins, RF – Collins continues to hit with West Virginia, going 6-for-14 this week with two doubles and a homer. So far this season he has a .326/.388/.512 line in 43 at-bats. That’s a small sample size, but it’s good to see, since Collins is going to need his bat to carry him beyond A-ball. He has been adding corner outfield work to his resume with all of the injuries to the West Virginia outfield, which should help give him some value. His only positions right now are bat first positions, so the hitting needs to continue, even if he is in the outfield.

3. Justin Maffei, OF – He is getting an opportunity in West Virginia due to the injuries to Harold Ramirez and Barrett Barnes. Maffei went 6-for-14 with a double and a home run this past week. He profiles as organizational depth in the lower levels, but should continue to get opportunities as an injury replacement.

Elias Diaz is showing off some nice hitting to go with his defense this year.
Elias Diaz is showing off some nice hitting to go with his defense this year.

4. Elias Diaz, C – Diaz is a prospect in large part due to his defense behind the plate. However, he has been hitting well this year in a small sample size, with a .424 average and a .972 OPS in 33 at-bats. His hitting improved in the second half in Bradenton last year, so it remains to be seen whether this is just a fluke or a continuation of his second half success. He’s got the defense to make it to the majors, but if the offense clicks, he could turn into an interesting catching prospect.

5. Willy Garcia, RF – Garcia had an eventful week, going 5-for-18 with two doubles and a home run. The home run can be seen here. He also showed off his arm, which is the best in the system among right field prospects, gunning down a runner at third base. His hitting got him to the top ten this week, but he has a .654 OPS on the season, and will need that to improve to make it beyond Double-A.

6. Walker Gourley, 3B – Gourley currently has a six game hitting streak, and went 6-for-17 with two doubles in the past week. He’s a very athletic player who can play anywhere on the field. He had been playing third base with the Marauders, but will see his playing time decreased there with Eric Wood returning recently. Gourley is an organizational player, but could reach the upper levels of the minors due to his versatility.

7. Brent Morel, 3B – Morel is pretty much the only true third base depth the Pirates have behind Pedro Alvarez, so to see him hitting is a good sign. On the season he has a .294 average and a .793 OPS with Indianapolis, spanning 51 at-bats. Last week he went 6-for-19 with a double.

8. Gregory Polanco, RF – Polanco finds himself in the top ten once again, although he didn’t have the monster numbers he put up last week. The right fielder looked a bit more human this week, going 6-for-21 with two doubles and a walk. He still hasn’t seen his first big slump yet, and he has reached base safely in nine of his last ten games.

9. Edwin Espinal, 1B – This was a short week due to all of the rainouts in the system. For that reason, it didn’t take much to make the final few spots on this list. Espinal only had nine at-bats, but was productive during that time, with four hits and one double. He’s got a ton of raw power potential, but his bat can also be described as raw, with a .427 OPS on the season.

10. Chris Dickerson, OF/Jonathan Schwind, OF/Jose Osuna, 1B – Dickerson went 5-for-19 with a home run for Indianapolis. Schwind went 5-for-14 with a double. Jose Osuna went 5-for-17 with a double and three walks. All three tied for the final spot with a 2.40 RC.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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