Top Ten Hitters and Pitchers for Week 18 of the Minor League Season

With the full-season minor league teams having every Monday off this year, we get to do weekly recaps based on the action from Tuesday to Sunday each week. Below you’ll find a list of the top hitters and pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the last week. The batters are sorted by OPS and they each had at least 18 plate appearances last week. I lowered the minimum this week because of how few players actually reached 20 PAs last week. That small change made this lowest OPS rise 396 points for this week’s top ten. The pitchers are sorted by ERA and they pitched at least four innings.

Top Hitters

  1. Mike Jarvis, FCL Pirates – This year’s sixth round pick batted .500/.611/1.071 in 18 plate appearances last week, with a double, two triples and his first career home run. He now has a 1.110 OPS in 11 games. At 23 years old, he’s old for the FCL, though the elimination of Bristol and Morgantown this year makes this level better than before, and it also limits where the advanced players can go. In a normal year, only 1-2 saw more than a handful of games in full-season ball, so this season appears to be no different in that sense.
  2. Rodolfo Nolasco, FCL Pirates – In 2019, Nolasco had more 100+ MPH exit velocities for the DSL Pirates than everyone else on the two teams combined. He was slowed by a Spring Training injury this year, but he appears to be picking things up now. He hit .385/.579/1.077 in 19 plate appearances last week, with three homers, five walks and one strikeout. He has a .918 OPS in 37 games this season.
  3. Brenden Dixon, FCL Pirates – Dixon was a 20th round draft pick out of college this year, but he’s only 20 years old, so unlike Jarvis, he’s not too old for this new mixed level they call the Florida Complex League. Dixon hit .400/.500/.933 in 18 plate appearances last week. He has a 1.182 OPS in nine games.
  4. Tsung-Che Cheng, FCL Pirates – Cheng put up a .500/.722/.700 OPS last week in 18 plate appearances. He had almost as many walks (eight) as at-bats (ten). He’s now hitting .299/.441/.486 in 33 games this season, with four homers, 13 steals and a 26:18 BB/SO ratio.
  5. Nick Gonzales, Greensboro – If I didn’t lower the minimum plate appearances this week from 20 to 18, then Gonzales would have been the top hitter. He batted .364/.440/.944 in 25 PAs, with two doubles, a triple, three homers and 11 RBIs. For the season he is batting .303/.371/.575 in 71 games. He still has a huge home/road split, putting up a 1.094 OPS in Greensboro, but his .761 road OPS is now above league average, so that takes away some of the concern. Gonzales ranked fourth in last week’s article. He was also named as the league’s Player of the Month for August.
  6. Endy Rodriguez, Bradenton – In 19 PAs, Rodriguez put up a .313/.421/.875 slash line, with one double, one triple and two homers. He’s now hitting .285/.378/.492 in 86 games, with 21 doubles and 12 homers. He’s near the top of the league in almost every category on offense. Rodriguez ranked third in last week’s article.
  7. Diego Castillo, Indianapolis – In 22 PAs last week, Castillo had a .400/.545/.733 slash line, with six walks, two doubles and his first Triple-A homer. It was a strong first week at Indianapolis after he put up a .787 OPS in 28 games at Altoona since coming over in the Clay Holmes trade.
  8. Jonah Davis, Greensboro – Davis hitting .333/.474/.800 in 19 plate appearances, with a double, three walks and two homers. He has a .992 OPS in 23 games since being demoted from Altoona. Davis was the top hitter in last week’s article.
  9. Bligh Madris, Indianapolis – In 22 PAs last week, Madris had a .450/.500/.750 slash line, with three doubles, a homer, two walks and no strikeouts. He has a .786 OPS in 87 games for Indianapolis this year, which is 42 points above league average.
  10. Will Matthiessen, Greensboro –  Matthiessen quieted a little after his ridiculous stretch of 22 RBIs in 31 at-bats recently, but he put up big numbers this past week with a .375/.474/.750 slash line in 19 plate appearances. He has a .796 OPS in 78 games this year.

Top Pitchers

  1. Quinn Priester, Greensboro – How do you follow up your best game as a pro? Priester did it by throwing six shutout innings on four hits, three walks and six strikeouts. That obviously a far cry from one hit and 13 strikeouts in the previous week, but they can’t all be career days and I’m sure most people won’t care how he throws six shutout innings once he gets to Pittsburgh. He has a 2.67 ERA in 91 innings, with 93 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP.
  2. Jared Jones, Bradenton – He had an odd outing this week. It almost looked like he wouldn’t get out of the first inning, giving up three runs, though they were all unearned. He ends up going five innings with no earned runs, four hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Jones has 96 strikeouts in 60.1 innings this season.
  3. Arlinthon De Dios, FCL Pirates – De Dios had a very impressive relief outing this past week, going four shutout innings on two hits, no walks and nine strikeouts. He set a career high with strikeouts, topping the eight he picked up in the GCL in 2019. This year he had 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings before this outing, so he really improved his K rate in one game.
  4. Luis Ortiz, Bradenton – Ortiz gave up one run over six innings, with five hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Since a blow up game on June 15th, he has not allowed more than two runs in a start, covering a stretch of ten games. During that time he has a 2.00 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 54 innings.
  5. Jorge Ramos, FCL Pirates – Ramos went five innings in relief, allowing one run on three hits, one walk and six strikeouts. The 19-year-old right-hander has a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings, with 19 strikeouts.
  6. Jeffrey Passantino, Altoona – He allowed one run over five innings during his start this week, giving up four hits and one walk, while striking out three batters. Passantino has struggled at times this year, pitched very well at others. That has led to a 4.76 ERA in 70 innings for Altoona.
  7. JC Flowers, Greensboro – In 4.1 innings, Flowers allowed one run on five hits, one walk and five strikeouts. He was showing up in this feature quite often early on, but he has mostly struggled with the jump to Greensboro, posting a 5.70 ERA in July and a 5.68 ERA in August. That was after a 2.12 ERA in May with Bradenton and a 1.50 ERA in June after being promoted to Greensboro.
  8. Cristopher Cruz, FCL Pirates- Cruz leads a three-way tie for eighth place, with all three pitchers allowing one earned run in four innings. He gave up four hits, two walks and struck out two batters. After a slow start to his season, he has given up two runs over 9.2 innings in his last three games combined.
  9. Nick Garcia, Bradenton – Garcia’s four-inning outing included four hits, one walk and four strikeouts. He had a recent three-week stretch in which he had a 7.88 ERA in 16 innings, but his overall numbers are still decent, with a 4.23 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 66 innings.
  10. Wilkin Ramos, FCL Pirates – While he allowed just one earned run in four innings, this wasn’t a strong performance. Ramos gave up two runs on two hits and four walks. He has a 3.90 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 30 innings, with 26 strikeouts.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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