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.

Hanson is the top prospect at 2B, but there are other possibilities for the position (Photo credit: David Hague)
Hanson is the top prospect at 2B, but there are other possibilities for the position (Photo credit: David Hague)

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

Playoff Push

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 Schedule

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)

Highlights

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.

Recent Transactions

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.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Really enjoying these morning reports, John.

    Adam Frazier has been a disappointment as an advanced college sign with little expected upside, but high enough floor as a sure handed, good OBP type to hopefully contribute. Looks like both the bat and glove turned out to be less.

    I think Gift is useful to the organization as the Clint Barmes backup shortstop type that doesn’t require a 25-man roster spot. He can be stashed in Indy for three years and called up when injury dictates. Frees up a 25-man spot to be used on a pinch hit bat.

    • That might be a good idea NMR in using Ngoepe in that way. He obviously plays some 2nd base right now, and I can’t see how he can possibly be any worse with the bat than Michael Martinez.

    • I would rate Drew Maggi ahead of Gamache because Maggi is a more complete player, but I don’t think either will get a real shot at the big leagues. Maggi has better defense and can play more positions, more patient at the plate, makes better contact and has good speed.

      • Not much power, slaps the ball a lot, Gamache squares the ball up better, though you say Maggi makes better contact.

  2. Saw Hanson a few times this year and just wasn’t impressed with his defense. I know there’s an increased emphasis on offense from middle infielders these days, but Hanson needs improvement if he is going to hold down a middle infield position defensively.

    • I saw Hanson a lot this year, and his offensive impact will certainly offset any defensive problems he might have …..at second base,not SS. He has far more range than Walker for one thing.

      • Sure Hanson has more speed and range than Walker, but that’s not a high hurdle to clear. What bothered me is that I never felt certain he was going to make a play – there were too many bobbled catches and off target throws for my comfort.

        It remains to be seen how Hanson’s bat will play in AAA, and MLB is another level all together. Walker’s offensive numbers at MLB are better than Hanson’s number at AA this year.

        Still, I hope Hanson develops into a good infielder in the next couple years.

        • Why does every one have to take comparisons and make them into a contest ? I wasn’t doing anything more than pointing out that Hanson has much more speed and range than Walker,not that he is better RIGHT AT THIS TIME. Obviously,you never saw Walker play when he was at the AA level. He didn’t show much of anything offensively, and was just a fair third baseman at that time. And I watched him for almost an entire season.

          • You stated a comparison, I just added my viewpoint on that comparison. I wasn’t trying to one up you. We’re on the same “team” here, I think; hopefully we can get along well.

            All I was saying is that from what I’ve seen, Hanson has a long way to go to become a serviceable major league middle infielder. I’m not convinced he’s going to get there (although, as I already said, I hope he does).

            You’re right, I never saw Walker in the minors (had to go look things up to be sure, but he was in AAA before I started going to AA games somewhat regularly. I live a long way from Altoona, but catch them when they play locally.) I do remember thinking his advancement was slow and wondering if he was ever going to get to the majors.

            At the risk of another comparison, … Ngoepe’s defense is much more impressive to my eye. If his bat comes around I think he’ll make a fine shortstop. When I’ve seen him, he’s been a better hitter from the right side than the left (although a check of the numbers shows his power comes right handed, but his average is higher left handed). Any thoughts about having him go back to hitting from the right side all the time?

            • Ok, no reason for me to continue our disagreement. But your mentioning Ngoepe’s fielding leads me back to my original point. Which is this : Hanson’s bat will play in MLB soon,even if his fielding isn’t that caliber immediately, while Ngoepe has no way to get to MLB with his issues with the bat. I think he is a very good defensive player right now, and has even more room to improve. That being said, his swing and miss rate is hard to overcome. However, I happen to agree with you, I would have him hit one side or the other so he can get more swings. It would be a shame to see all that speed and quickness on defense go to waste.

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