This week’s Player of the Week voting came down to the final vote for the overall player. As a side note, we added the lower level teams this week, but kept them out of the overall vote because those leagues have such small sample sizes with large rosters, limited schedules and seven-inning games. Jase Bowen earned the honors this week with his 1.268 OPS in 22 plate appearances, to go along with going 6-for-6 in steals and making starts at three different position. He’s made starts at six different positions over the last four weeks, so it’s quite impressive that he’s able to put so much time into his defensive work, while continuing to hit in a very pitcher-friendly league. What makes it even more impressive is that he’s 21 years old and handling it like a veteran. While his speed and hitting earned him the Pirates Prospect Player of the Week honors this week, his versatility is really what set him apart.
Bowen was a two-sport star in high school when the Pirates signed him to an over-slot deal in the 2019 draft. He went to the Gulf Coast League, where he had decent results in another pitcher-friendly league, while playing errorless ball at four different positions. As with most players, he was home during the canceled 2020 season, then he went to Bradenton last year. He played five positions last year, but saw limited time at three spots, mostly splitting between second base and center field. He added first base this year, giving him a position that is wide open in the system, just waiting for a prospect to take the reins.
At the plate in 2021, Bowen hit .220/.309/.384 in 103 games, which were similar average/OBP numbers as 2019, just with a little more power. He also stole 16 bases in 17 attempts. The league had a .714 OPS, so in that area, he was slightly below average. The offense has dropped in the league this year, and it usually doesn’t get better as the summer goes along and the ball doesn’t travel as well. Despite the downward trend in the league (currently a .678 OPS in the league), Bowen is hitting .269/.353/.421 in 59 games. On top of that, he already has 18 stolen bases, beating last year’s total before we hit the halfway part of the season.
At this point, Bowen should see Greensboro soon. His versatility allows him to join a new team without forcing them to promote a prospect who isn’t ready, or platoon players to make room in the lineup. He can play six positions already. He’s never played shortstop in the pros, but I know that he’s played/practiced there before, so when you throw in the DH spot, you could fill him in at 7-8 positions. He’s really starting to tap into that athleticism that made him such an intriguing draft pick, who passed on a two-sport college offer to go pro.
TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
Player of the Week: Bligh Madris, .391/.417/.565 0 HR, 0 SB, 24 PA
Analysis: Bligh Madris had another productive week, which led to him being promoted to the majors on Monday. His .982 OPS for the week was the best on Indianapolis, and his .904 season OPS is the seventh best in the league, ten spots ahead of Ji-hwan Bae for the lead among Indianapolis players, with no other Indians hitter among the top 40 hitters in the league. After a solid 2021 season in Indianapolis, and a strong spring, Madris really earned his promotion to the majors. Carter Bins had a .913 OPS in 16 plate appearances, hitting .333 with a double and a homer. His .695 OPS in June is his best mark over the first three months of the season. Ji-hwan Bae continues to have a solid season, putting up an .838 OPS in 26 plate appearances, which actually dropped his season OPS a few points.
On the pitching side, Miguel Yajure was strong in two appearances, allowing one earned run over 6.2 innings, with five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Prior to this past week, he pitched just 4.2 innings since being sent to the minors in early May. Matt Eckelman has really struggled this year, but he had a nice week with 3.1 shutout innings over two appearances, picking up seven strikeouts. Jerad Eickhoff allowed one run over 5.2 innings during his start on Friday. Hunter Stratton allowed one run over 3.1 no-hit innings.
DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE
Player of the Week: Matt Gorski .261/.320/.783, 3 HR, 1 SB, 25 PA
Analysis: Matt Gorski got some love for Player of the Week honors thanks to his power showing that led to three more homers, giving him 22 on the season, which is twice as much as the second best home run totals in the system. He has a 1.033 OPS in 59 games this season. Before the halfway point of the season, he’s already halfway to a 40/30 HR/SB season. Besides Gorski, Matt Fraizer had a big week, putting up a .368/.455/.474 slash line in 22 plate appearances. He has a .629 OPS in 52 games this year. Lolo Sanchez put up an .850 OPS in 23 plate appearances. His week was boosted by two homers. He got off to a fast start this year, but he’s now down to a .238 average and a .707 OPS.
On the pitching side, Brad Case put together a nice week in his two outings, allowing one run over 6.2 innings. He has a 1.08 ERA and a .190 BAA in the last month, throwing a total of 16.2 innings. JC Flowers threw four shutout innings over his two appearances. He has a 2.97 ERA in 39.1 innings this year. Noe Toribio was promoted after allowing one earned run in five innings last week, though he allowed ten base runners. He has a 1.85 ERA in 39 innings this year, with a 1.07 WHIP, a 46:13 SO/BB ratio, and a .201 BAA. Nick Dombkowski gave up one run over five innings, while striking out seven batters. At three levels this year, he has a 2.20 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. Bear Bellomy allowed one run in 4.2 innings and Enmanuel Mejia gave up one run in his four innings.
HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS
Player of the Week: Nick Garcia 0.00 ERA, 4:0 K/BB, 7.0 IP
Analysis: Nick Garcia tossed a complete game shutout in the first game of a doubleheader this week, going seven innings, with three hits, no walks and four strikeouts. In his last five starts, he has a 1.73 ERA and a .215 BAA in 26 innings. He was named as the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. Sean Sullivan also had a nice start this weekend, throwing shutout ball for six innings. He wasn’t quite as sharp as Garcia, allowing five hits and three walks, but he worked around the runners to keep the opposition off the board. The rest of the Greensboro staff had their share of issues for the week, allowing 57 runs in four games. On the hitting side, Sammy Siani and Endy Rodriguez each had strong weeks. Siani put up a 1.217 OPS in 20 plate appearances, plus he went 5-for-5 in steals. Rodriguez had a 1.101 OPS in 21 plate appearances, collecting two doubles, a homer and four walks. Dariel Lopez just missed the .800 OPS cutoff, but he gets a mention anyway because he was the third best hitter for the week. He had a .772 OPS in 23 PAs.
LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS
Player of the Week: Jase Bowen .500/.546/.722 , 1 HR, 6 SB, 22 PA
Analysis: Besides Bowen, there wasn’t much going on for Bradenton hitters. Deivis Nadal was the only other player with an OPS over .800 and no one else was within 150 points of that mark. Nadal batted .333 with three doubles in 16 plate appearances, putting up an .867 OPS. He has seven extra-base hits in 18 games this year, after failing to collect any extra-base hits in 36 FCL games last year.
On the pitching side, it was not a great week for Bradenton. Carlos Jimenez had the only performance of note. He went four innings, giving up one run while striking out seven batters. He has a 3.22 ERA in 36.1 innings this year, with 52 strikeouts and a .212 BAA.
FCL: Bubba Chandler 0.00 ERA, 3/8 K/BB 4 IP — .429/.556/1.143 1 HR, 1 SB, 9 PA
DSL: John Zorrilla .385/.500/.923 2 HR, 1 SB, 16 PA+ posts
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.