Today is the 78th birthday of Pittsburgh Pirates’ legendary second baseman Bill Mazeroski, so what better day to take a quick look at the depth at second base in the Pirates’ system. As a side note, you can read a bio of Mazeroski here, which was posted two years ago today on the blog site.
The depth at second base obviously starts with Alen Hanson, who is the only top prospect among second baseman in the system right now. He’s only been depth at second base since early August when he made the move over from shortstop. Hanson will need some time to get used to the position, which will happen in Winter ball and next year at Indianapolis. His bat and base running will be good enough that he should be an above average player at the top of the Pirates lineup, even if his defense is subpar.
After Hanson, you get a bunch of names that have potential to reach the Majors, but none of them are legit prospects yet. The best defensive second baseman is Gift Ngoepe, who also provides excellent defense at shortstop. Ngoepe was hitting early in the year at Altoona, but the numbers really dropped off in the second half. He can add value with his glove and speed, but there is a chance he won’t hit enough to make the Majors. At 24, he posted a .699 OPS this year, but he had an .871 on May 1st. After that date, he had a .661 OPS, with 113 strikeouts in 362 at-bats. His potential seems like a possible back-up middle infielder, late-inning defensive replacement/pinch-runner.
When you go down to Bradenton, you have Max Moroff, who struggled at the plate, but he was young for the level. We saw yesterday that Jose Osuna didn’t do so well at a young age last year at Bradenton, then had a strong season repeating the level this year. If Moroff can bounce back next year, then he will be back on track to be a prospect. Bradenton might run into some trouble for playing time with JaCoby Jones and Erich Weiss making the move there next year, which would cover Moroff’s two positions. It doesn’t seem like he did enough to move to Altoona, so something will have to give.
Bradenton also had Adam Frazier, who played the entire season at shortstop. He has played second base in the recent past and he made 36 errors at shortstop, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play second base again in the future. He really didn’t hit well this year, but he will be 23 next year and as pointed out with Moroff, there already looks like a logjam at Bradenton, so expect Frazier to move up. He had a great June, posting a .355 average and .824 OPS. The other four months were disasters at the plate.
We covered Weiss here the other day, saying he looks like a solid all-around player, but limited upside due to his age and overall performance at a low level. Weiss is actually 13 months older than Hanson and 20 months older than Moroff. Defensively he looked good at second base, he has average speed and drew some walks, while hitting for average. On the flip side, he had a high strikeout total and didn’t hit for any power, plus he doesn’t have any tools that stand out other than baseball smarts.
If you go down to the lower levels, there are three players to watch. Pablo Reyes at Bristol, Sam Kennelly in the GCL and Raul Siri in the DSL. Reyes and Siri are both pure hitters that make solid contact, with plenty of upside possible from their bat. Siri has better speed and defense, while Reyes looked good two levels higher. Kennelly was signed as a shortstop, but saw very little time there this year. He’s played all four infield positions, spending most of his time this year at second base. Kennelly is just 18 years old and he put up a better OPS than first round pick Cole Tucker this year at the same level. He made good contact in his first year as a pro, striking out once every 7.2 plate appearances.
The depth is basically Hanson, with some marginal players in full-season ball, then you get three players with upside at the lower levels, but none of them are top prospects yet. You could also throw in JaCoby Jones as a possibility if he can’t stick at shortstop, because he has played second base in the past with success. The hope is that Hanson holds the position down in the future and you develop at least one top prospect among the rest. Even if there isn’t room for them in the Majors, you have a strong trade piece for the future.
Pirates Game Graph
The Pirates were off on Thursday
Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 5.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead and 1.5 games behind both Atlanta and Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. They are 4.5 games behind San Francisco for the first spot.
Bradenton: The Marauders lost their best-of-three series against Fort Myers on Wednesday night.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates were off yesterday. They begin a three game road series against the Cubs this afternoon with Vance Worley on the mound. He faced the Cubs once this year, back on June 21st at Wrigley. Worley picked up the victory by allowing three runs on five hits and a walk over 6.2 innings. The minor league season is over. Bradenton was the only affiliate to make the playoffs. They lost their series Wednesday night. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. We will post other season recaps soon.
MLB: Pittsburgh (71-68) @ Cubs (64-76) 2:20 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (3.01 ERA, 60:16 K/BB, 86.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)
AA: Altoona (61-81)
High-A: Bradenton (78-61)
Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)
Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)
RK: Bristol (22-46)
GCL: Pirates (20-40)
DSL: Pirates (34-36)
With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will continue to do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of Sam Kennelly, who we talked about above in the second base depth. He had a .284/.388/.343 slash line in 30 games this year.
9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.
9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.
9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list
9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.
8/30: Brent Morel promoted to Pittsburgh. Jeff Locke sent to Indianapolis.
8/30: Blake Davis activated from disabled list.
8/29: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
8/29: Tommy Field sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/29: Andrew Lambo promoted to Pirates. Gerrit Cole sent to Bristol.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including Bill Mazeroski, whose bio can be found at the top of this article. Also born on this date, pitcher Lefty Leifield, who played eight seasons for the Pirates. His first Pirates claim to fame was his start on September 26,1906 against the Phillies, which resulted in the first no-hitter in team history. The second claim to fame was being a major part of the 1909 Pirates, the first World Series winners in franchise history. Leifield had 109 wins with the Pirates and owns the best ERA(2.38) for any pitcher with more than 1250 innings for the team.
Also included in today’s history is a game recap from the 1990 season, when the Pirates tried to overcome recent struggles against a Mets team that had won two NL East titles in the previous four seasons. You can find that recap, along with the four bios(including Leifield) all in this link here.