Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trade deadline deal

A lot happened in the week, I was gone. The Pirates split a 4 game set with Atlanta and lost game 1 (and now game 2) with the Phils. We did get cheated by the Umps that cost us a game. We really need to end this on an up note with a big win tomorrow.

To that end, Derrick Lee is now a Pittsburgh Pirate. We traded away Aaron Baker to get him. That is a great deal. Baker was probably below Matt Hague coming into the season. Hague has had a great year and Baker only so-so. He has power, and was hot a couple of times, but still strikes out a lot. Matt Curry clearly jumped him in Curry's first full season. Not just on the prospect list, but actually jumped over the High A league where he was to play AA ball. Curry has done well there too, so that pushes Baker to 3rd on the prospect list. The Pirates 3rd round choice of Alex Dickerson, who is learning first base in State College, drops Baker to 4th on the prospect list. One assumes Dickerson will improve on the defense. This means the Pirates traded away the 4th best first basemen for an upgrade right now at the major league level. I will take it.

Add in the fact that everyone thinks Alvarez will end up at first, and the fact that Justin Howard hits for nice average behind Baker, and really this is a great deal because the Pirates are not giving up anything.

As for the debate about whether Derrick Lee at this point in his career is better than Overbay, I think he is. Overbay has not hit well, and is lacking power. Even if Lee only hits for the same average, he has a bigger power threat than Overbay. The defense is probably the same, as Overbay has not been as good as year's past. Plus, just the morale boast of the Pirates front office trading to get pieces is important. That should be a shot in the arm for the whole team.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A win, but not a good series

The Pirates suffered a set back in this series with the Cards. Yes, we won one at the end in dramatic fashion to gain that game back and if the Brewers lose (currently they are tied with the Giants), the Pirates will be tied for first. Yet, the Pirates offense looked real bad in every game except the first one. The pitching suffered. Even Morton, who had a nice game today was shaky at times. He got out of serious trouble in the 5th giving up only one run. That trouble was his fault with lead off walk and a wild pitch that Fryer may have been confused on. He seemed to be thinking it was outside rather than inside.

The only real positive is Chase d'Arnaud. He hit the ball well this series. He has had some rockets that have just been caught coming into this series, but a 2 for 4 night last night and a 1 for 4 night tonight with the walk off sac-fly. His one hit today was a double that just missed being a two run homer. He needs to heat up if the PIrates are going to continue with him as their third baseman.

Eric Fryer had an interesting night. He was 2 for 4 and scored a run. He was a little shaky catching, I thought. The Wild PItch seemed like a communication problem. He dropped a few out of his glove that concern me. Overall, I think that this is an area of highest need for the Buccos.

I will not be posting for a few days, but will be back for a week in review next weekend.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Still winning, but getting worried

The Pirates won on a great night of pitching, and the Cards lost, although the Brewers are going to win.

The Pirates came out swinging and they put up a base hit, a double, and an RBI ground out. That would be half of the hits they got all night and the only run. Harrison had the single, Walker the double, extending his hit streak. Later Lyle Overbay would get a two out base hit. And even later Alex Presley would get a lead off base hit before getting thrown out stealing. In Presley's defense that may have been a hit and run, which I would have approved of in that situation. Harrison usually puts the ball in play, the count favored the hitter, and Presley is speedy. Harrison swung ugly, and Presley just got tagged before the bag. Later the Pirates would lose pinch runner Xavier Paul by a mile.

McDonald was on fire for five innings. He struck out seven and was not very high in the pitch count. In the 80's I think when the 7th started. He lead off with a walk, and then got an out on a bunt. The next one was a bang-band play at first giving the runner an infield hit. McDonald got a visit from the pitching coach. A walk anyway, and they pulled him. This was the only real chance the Reds had all day. Biemel got pinch hitter Jay Bruce to strike out, and then Resop got Stubbs to ground out to end the threat.

Hanrahan made it interesting giving up two base hits with two outs. Jay Bruce came up again, but grounded weakly to first. You have to love the Pirates making the rest of the Central play catch up to them. A win tomorrow would really put a hurt on the Reds chances.

Monday, July 18, 2011

First place all alone

Tony Watson is great!!! He really stepped up tonight. He pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Morton, who struggled but did not allow any runs. This was real important heading into these stretch of series. We need a rested bullpen, and coming off an extra inning affair having Watson eat innings was good. He did fail to get out of the eighth but it was because of a questionable catcher's interference call. Although judging by the reaction of McKenry after the final out of the inning was recorded, it may have been. That help was Daniel McCutchen who needed just a few pitches to get the pop out. Hanrahan, who blew a save last night, nailed this one down with ease.

There was not much in the hitting department. d'Arnaud broke out of his slump with a hit, an aggressive base running play allowed him to score on a McCutchen ground out. He went first to third on a Walker base hit. He took a knee to the head and left later with a stiff neck. Walker continued his now 12 game hitting streak. McCutchen continued his mini-slump, but did get that RBI ground out. He is closer to his 100 run and 100 RBI season. That has not happened since Jason Bay was still a Pirate.

Morton got the win, but was very wild. How he avoided giving up runs is beyond me. He plunked two guys. He made it through 5, but was close to 100 pitches by that point. Watson did the rest.

The Pirates go for the series win tomorrow. The Brewers lost out in Arizona in what promises to be a tough series for them, so this is the time for the Pirates to grab a division lead, put the Reds out of it, and go into the Cards series on a roll. The Pirates are now 6-1 against the Reds this year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Strike outs, but a win

The Pirates blew a couple of leads, and Hanrahan actually blew his first save (although it was a run that went to Veras), but the Pirates still win. One thing that the PIrates still need to improve upon is strike outs. They struck out 11 times. It is far too much.

However, winning a game where McCutchen goes hitless in five at-bats is a plus. Although in fairness he reached on an error that lead to a run. Presley came up with a couple of big hits. Fryer got a hit. Correia helped his own cause with a two run double.

The Cards lost so the Pirates are a half game behind the Brew-crew with the Cards coming up. I think that d'Arnaud's time is over. Pearce is on fire in AAA, and even Alvarez is hitting some. He hit a homer tonight as well. Harrison has been on the bench two straight games. I think d'Arnaud goes down for Cedano in the next couple of days. Wood will be the back up short stop. I think Wood is getting a look because Pearce will require a decision between Harrison and Wood. Wood has shown some hitting in these last two games, so I think you have to keep him.

Trade rumors are flying. I have not loved any of them so far, but we will see what they do. I will not bother reporting on rumors, just analyze it when it happens. It does appear that they will make one.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blown call leads to blown game

The Pirates lost. Thanks to one of the worst calls I have ever seen.

Malholm started off rocky, and the Pirates left 7 guys on base in the first four innings. However, they were hitting the ball hard. d'Arnaud had rocket with the bases loaded, but it was right at someone. Overbay had a rocket to the deepest part of the park and it was caught at the wall. Finally, those hits started to fall in the right places, namely over the fence. Walker homered as part of his four hit night. He had a great leaping catch as well. Overbay did clear the wall later and Wood tied it with a third homer. Walker then had a basehit to give the Pirates the lead.
Enter Jose Veras. Veras was not sharp. He had a runner on third with one out. Bouncer to d'Arnaud and he comes home. The quick tag applied clearly got the runner before he slid across the plate. The ump disagreed and called him safe. The ump was in position, and had the best angle. Somehow despite an enraged Hurdle, the call stood. Just a horrible call. This led to an error to put runners on first and third, a base hit to score a go-ahead run and then another run scored, but I was so mad I don't remember how. Now we are a game back of Saint Louis.

The good news was from the farm system. Jordy Mercer had an insane night that included a homer, but he left after getting plunked. They put Pearce at SHORT. No kidding. Pearce by the way was 2 for 4.

Altoona saw multiple hits from Tony Sanchez and Starling Marte (both 2 for 5) including a Sanchez homer. Matt Curry also had two hits (2 for 3). He is on the upswing again.

Bradenton had a bad night. Robbie Grossman had a hit. In fact almost everybody got one, but they lost.

Mel Rojas got a hit then left the game. Dan Grovatt was 2 for 4. Justin Howard was 2 for 4. Drew Maggi had a hit. Brooks Pounders was great, Victor Black had a solid inning and got the win. The bad was Tyler Waldron. He got beat around pretty good.

State College stinks, but Lashmet had a hit and Alex Dickerson had a double in his debut game.

Neverauskas pitched his first game and he was good. 2 innings 1 walk 1 strike out and 2 hits. No runs. I will take it.
The bad was Jason Jarmillo again. He failed to record a hit. I think he will not be on the 40 man after the season. The emergence of McKenry means Jarmillo is gone.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Top of the Heap

The Pirates are now in a three way tie for first place. However, it was only a so-so game offensively. McCutchen, Presley, Harrison, and Walker all got one hit and d'Arnaud got two. That was it. They just managed to get them in bunches. Walker got a key hit in the first to take a 1-0 lead. McCutchen got a nice triple in the 3rd to plate Presley and d'Arnaud for a 3-0 lead. Then it went ugly. Except for Karstens that is. He sailed. His only real trouble was in the ninth when he had first and third with one out. He got a grounder right up the middle, but d'Arnaud was positioned perfectly. He got it, flipped it backhand style to Walker, who tagged second and sent it on to first for the inning ending double play. Then just to kill any hopes the Astros had the Bucs played small ball. Jones got on because of a walk, and Hurdle went to the pinch runner: Xavier Paul. It worked as the Pirates got home the insurance run. Karstens gave the bullpen the night off and the Pirates win 4-0.

Interesting night in the minors as well. Taillon got hit around, but only walked one and struck out 5 in 5 innings. Two bad outings in a row, but he is going further than he ever has before and putting some innings on his arm is important right now. He is not walking batters, and still getting strike outs at the same time. Getting hit is not something I am worried about at this level.

Luis Heredia only lasted 1.1 innings. He gave up a couple of runs, and walked 3 so that he hit his pitch limit. However, every out he got was a strike out. All four. He has impressive stuff.

State College actually won. It took Nick Kingham dominating, which is always good to see. Chris Lashmet had multiple hits and an RBI. He is actually the only one hitting consistently.

Robbie Grossman hit a homer and a triple in a four RBI day. Steven Pearce had a homer in his rehab start where Brad Lincoln had a quality start. Yhonathon Barrios was 4-8. Seriously. Logan Penvy had five scoreless. Matt Curry had a multi-hit day as well.

All good signs.

Welcome back baseball. It has been a long two days.

Rudy Owens - close to ready?

The Pirates did some interesting things the other day. Joe Biemel is back and Moskos was sent down. Pearce hit a homer at AAA, but overall the most interesting things for me was Rudy Owens.

Owens has had a tough year with higher walks and lower strikeouts. This has lead to a lot of hits, and a lot of runs. He still gets ground balls, but is just getting hit a lot. However, a corner may have been turned. His last outing saw him get 8 strikeouts, his best result of the year. So, I was anxiously waiting this game. He did not disappoint. He struck out 7, and walked only 1. He also only gave up 5 hits, a lower number than last game.

The month of June has already seen Rudy's highest strike out total of any month. He probably has at least one more start left too. It would be nice to see Rudy put in a few good starts so that perhaps he could get the call up in September. We need Rudy to break camp with us next year as one way or another we will probably be without Maholm.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is left for a good draft?

First, let me note the International Signings. The Pirates did sign a big name for over a million bucks in Harold Rameriz, a 16 year old outfielder. They also handed out some big bonuses to Caesar Lopez and Elvis Escobar, a Right handed pitcher and outfielder respectively. Other than that it is pretty quite. Juan Mendoza is a hard thrower but 25. I don't think I have seen him on any team yet. Danny Arribas is playing in the Dominican, but he is having a bad year so far. He plays both catcher and third. The other one that interests me is Carlos Mesa, a 20 year old from Cuba. I hope to see him in GCL next year.

The Pirates have now signed 17 guys. They just inked Alex Dickerson the third round pick, who can hopefully add some hitting to State College. They also have fourth round pick Corey Brewer lined up to go to GCL Pirates. Jason Creasy was signed the other day as well, 8th round high school pitcher. Dan Gamache is hurt, but signed and 10th round pick Taylor Lewis is already playing at State College and is struggling, but has a surprising triple total. The other signees are all expected signs who are long shots at the majors with the exception of Josh Poytress, a hard throwing 18th round pick from Fresno State. He could have bullpen potential. And I can always hold out hope for Derek Trent at catcher.

So what would it take to make this draft a real success? We can expect the Pirates will get a deal done with Cole, so let us go ahead and call it 18 people signed. Let us paint two scenarios. One with Josh Bell, and one without.

With Bell I think the Pirates have a good draft, but probably ought to sign one or two more people. 21 is a good number if Bell is one of them. I heard that 5th round pick Tyler Glasnow would be an easy sign. He needs to sign. That way the PIrates have signed all of the first 6 rounds, and then they could add one more prep guy, and it really would not matter who. In my opinion if they can do that, then the Pirates are in great shape with this draft.

Without Bell is a bit more interesting. It does not immediately mean they had a bad draft. They still need to sign Glasnow, but two other names pop up as important. Clay Holmes and Kody Watts. The Pirates would have to sign one of these two guys to make up for the loss of Bell. Both are top 150 prospects. Signing them both would make a good draft for sure. I would like to see the number signed go up as well. 24 would be one to shoot for. Candon Myles is someone I would like to see the Pirates sign if they lose Bell. He has a ton of speed and potential. Frankly, I hope the Pirates get him no matter what, but losing the bat of Bell would make Myles more important. One of the Aaron Brown and Jordan Dunatov group would be important as well. And of course the Pirates could make a run at one of their top 10 pick Jake Burnette. That leaves one more that could be anyone.

So, in my opinion the Pirates are close to having a really good draft. I think they will get both Cole and Bell. MLB has announced high school signings. This means now we can expect to see some of the signings to start flowing in. Keep an eye on those important names, action on the draft front will now start to get fast and furious.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prospect Update

It is midseason, time to see how my Top 50 Prospects are doing.

I'll just put the updates in bold, so we can see my thoughts from last year.

1. Jameson Tallion. Taillon has plus pitches already. Not potential, but already. High 90’s, great curve. Slider. Knows a change up, but that is probably the pitch that will get the most work. Staff Ace, almost sure fire all star. Just needs to avoid arm problems. West Virginia will be worth seeing play baseball next year. Maybe a hotter ticket than the Pirates.
Nothing but good news here. He is having a good showing in his first full season. Some tiredness, but that is to be expected.
2. Rudy Owens – why Rudy Owens so high? Well,7.5 K/9 and more importantly 1.4 BB/9. That is the best of all pitching prospects in the system. Also 47% ground ball rate is good. And he did it all at AA. No lower competition in these numbers.
Oh my. What has happened. Owens has been lit up. Walks surprisingly up, strike outs down. He did strike out 8 in his last outing, so maybe that is a good sign, but he will be dropping.
3. Stetson Allie. The only question with this guy is if he can be a starter. I see no reason why not. He can reach 100 mph, and I think his control on those pitches will come. His other stuff is already good, and that makes him a potential staff ace.
His control is not good, but that is improvable. That is why he started a level below Taillon. Still he has the ability to strike out the side. Looks good.
4. Sterling Marte. Marte was poised for a promotion before the injury to his hand. He suffered a rehab set back to lose more time, but still came back with the same level of good hitting (.333 AVG and .877 OPS), and good fielding. I think Marte has answered any questions about being able to compete at the higher levels. Still could develop some power, and thus looks to be a future starting outfielder for the Pirates. Can play any position in the outfield.
Has not missed a beat. Probably will be getting a call up to AAA soon.
5. Tony Sanchez. A real shame that he got hit in the face and missed so much time. He gets beaned a lot. His defense is good. His bat continues to be better than had hoped for (.314 AVG and .870 OPS). He hits more line drives than I thought. About a 25% clip. I am starting to be a believer in Sanchez. However, he is not a world changing prospect. I think he is over rated by those who put him in the top two or three.
Started off well in AA, but has regressed. No power right now, but he was not really a power hitter when we drafted him. Some questions about his defense have arisen and that is bad. Disappointing year so far, but on the good side, no ill affects from his injuries.
6. Jeff Locke. 8.5 K/9 and a 1.5 BB/9 along with 43% ground ball rate is great. Throw in the promotion in the middle of the year to AA without missing a beat, and I am a believer. I think Locke is a key move by Hunington in the unofficial project 2012. By 2012 the Pirates will have a new pitching staff, and Locke will be a part of it.
Just an awful year for Jeff. He has not taken a step forward and is not looking to get a promotion soon. He has been very hittable.
7. Chase D’Arnaud. A rough year for his average, but he got better as the year went on. Part of the reason he has dropped a little. Still, he hits lots of doubles (32), which is a good thing. Power potential. Probably will have to play second at the big leagues. He is only 23.
He has played okay in the majors. Was hitting very well in AAA. He was asked to play 3B in the majors and did so-so. His time at short has shown that he is probably not a major league short stop. Still, his speed is scary and his hitting looks like it will be decent in the majors.
8. Colton Cain – why Cain this high? He is 19 and has an 8.35 k/9 and a 1.06 WHIP. That is really good. Sure he walked three guys for every 9 innings, but that is something that should improve with age. I am ready for him to get a shot at a full season. Seems early injury troubles did not slow him down.
Expect Colton to move up the list. He has been great. He has admitted to some tiredness, but so far he is a top prospect and projects well.
9. Zack Von Rosenburg. He does not have the K’s Cain has, but much better control. Only a 1.94 BB/9 and a 44% ground ball rate to boot. He might start next year at A+, especially since one has to think Allie and Taillon are going to start at West Virginia (A). If he stays at WV can you imagine the starting rotation (Taillon, Allie, ZVR, and Cain). Wow.
He has gotten hammered and is giving up as many homers as walks. So he is clearly leaving the ball up. However, the walks are low and he is still getting decent strike out numbers. The leaving the ball up is fixable.
10. Andrew Lambo. What a steal the Pirates got here. An outfielder who is still very young and hitting great. Signs of power at the AA level. Might even be higher, but a history of substance abuse has me worried. The next suspension would break his career. Hope the Pirates can find a place for this guy in their line up.
He had to be demoted after not being able to handle AAA pitching. Bad sign, bad news.
11. Jordy Mercer. I am not sure why everyone over looks Jordy. Better defense than Chase, and higher average this year as well (.279). High double count, and history of good RBI production. About a 20% line drive rate. Add to that the fact that he can play 3B, 2B, and SS, and you have a highly valued prospect.
Mercer has lowered his strike out rate, re-discovered power, and still is a good defender. He had a little bit of a slow start to AAA, but is showing power there too.
12. Luis Heredia. The hype is there, but I cannot put him above some of the guys that are producing at AA level. I hope he lives up to it, but before this 16 year old throws a professional pitch, I cannot put him in the top 10. But over 90 MPH as a 16 year old is great news for the Pirates. Expect to see him GCL next year.
Okay, he can pitch. He will be in the top 10 now that he has thrown his first professional pitches. The kid has velocity and is doing better than you would think at the GCL as a 16 year old.
13. Bryan Morris. Okay Morris had a good year, but I am not sold. He has more bad ones than good ones and he should have dominated A+ at his age considering it was not his first time in it. Most people have him in the top 10. I hope that his new mechanics have made him that much better, but he has a history of attitude problems as well. He needs more than one good year to jump up to the top 10. If he does it next year at AAA, then the Pirates have just won the Jason Bay trade.
Morris did not keep up his resurgence. He is now a bullpen guy, but doing okay from the pen. He could be a part of the pen next year, maybe even in September call ups if they elevate him to AAA soon.
14. Nick Kingham. Okay, here is where I put him. Projects as at least a 3rd starter. Maybe higher. His first taste of pitching at Rookie league looked good. Strikeouts, no runs, multiple innings. He should be in the top 15 of the Pirates Prospects.
A little inconsistent, but you can see the promise. He had one dominating start and a few other okay and one rocky. Still, Kingham looks good.
15. Brock Holt. Holt was on fire before his injury. Plus, this was all done at the A+ level. I did not expect him to jump to that level this year, but he showed he was up for he challenge. .354 AVG and .848 OPS in just about 200 ABs. I like Holt. Hope he comes back from the knee okay.
The knee is okay. AA has not slowed Holt down. He is hitting at a near .300 clip. He too might see AAA by the end of the year.
16. Daniel Moskos. I know that this might be high for him, but I think his stats were pretty good. He killed at AA, but struggled a little in AAA. Still 8.8 K/9 is good, and real good for a closer. Sure his walks were too high, but part of that was his struggle at AAA. He has the stuff to be a closer. Remember that this is his first year in the pen in the minors. Not a bad first year.
Moskos has made the majors, but will probably return to AAA when Biemel is healthy. He was great in AAA and not bad in the big leagues. He will start off on the roster next year and will be called back up in September for sure.
17. Mel Rojas Jr. Next year will be the year to see how good this kid can be. He has swoons right now, but it is the longest year of his career when you add in the full college season, so some of that should be expected. I want to see this guy over a full professional season. He has all the tools. Only 19.
Rojas started very slowly and still has swoons. But some power potential and great speed.
18. Victor Black – this guy is still good. He had 4.2 innings this year, but still struck out 8 guys. He was hurt in training camp, got hurt again quick. Some of his bad stats are surely related to that injury. He misses an important year, but don’t forget this guy. At worst a very hard throwing closer.
Black is pitching out of the pen to help protect his arm. Probably will be a pen guy in the future. He is doing excellent out of the pen. I hope to see him promoted to High A soon. His age demands it.
19. Nathan Adcock. 7 K/9 and 49% ground ball rate. Looks good to me. He did this at A+, which makes me ranking him higher than some similar pitchers in the system like Miller, Lorin, and Irwin. Can he do it again next year at a higher level? I sure hope so.
Doing well . . . FOR THE ROYALS!!!
20. Josh Harrison – again he had a real disappointing year last year. I want to see him do it again before I really get excited about him. He was weak after the trade last year, but this year is a different story. I expect him in AAA next year. If he could play short stop rather than just 3B and 2B, it would raise his value.
The man is tearing up the majors with a .280 AVG. However, his defense is not starting material and he cannot take a walk to save his life. Good utility back up for years to come.
21. John Bowker. Some power at the AAA level. I like him. But not a lot because he has not been able to show the same stuff at the majors. I think it says good things about the Pirate farm system that he is outside of the top 20. He is out of options, so he has to be a back up at the majors this year. I think his power would follow him to the majors if he got the time, but there in lies the real problem.
He has potential, but has never really been given a long period of time to show it. He hits better than Overbay and can play 1B, but he will not get a shot. Doing well in AAA, but his time with the club is gone. Prospect status ought to be gone too. He has had lots of ABs in the majors now. Was DFAed and no one claimed him. That says it all.
22. Michael Dubee – good year and at AAA. It will be interesting to see if he makes the 40 man roster. He was formerly a highly regarded guy. He may have earned that back this year.
Bullpen arm is all he can ever be. Not keeping pace with last year.
23. Quintin Miller. Some injuries slowed him this year. 5.5 K/9 is low, but he gives up a very small number of homers, and a 50% ground ball rate makes me think he has the potential to be a reliable back end starter.
Miller needed to gain ground this year and more treaded water. Could be a prospect we throw in a trade package.
24. Eric Avila. I like this kid. .277 Avg is good, but look at his power potential. He had 7 HRs and 14 doubles in rookie ball. Had good power numbers last year in Dominican too. Still young so this ought to increase.
He has completely folded. He will drop off the prospect list for sure.
25. Brett Lorin. An injury plagued year makes it hard to place him. Nothing above A ball, so that hurts his ranking too. 8 K/9 is solid. He could be good.
I would have liked to see more progress, but this last half season will be important for him.
26. Tyler Waldron. Not sure if he is going to be able to stay a starter, but has convinced me to give him a shot. So his low end is hard throwing bullpen guy. I’ll take it.
Waldron has had mixed results. He has had an injury, but seems to be back and okay. Nothing to worry you here yet, but nothing to make you think he is not a bullpen prospect either.
27. Justin Wilson. Almost 8 K/9, but also near 4 BB/9. 50% ground ball rate makes up for it a little. 22 and in AA. He has to control his walks. But if he can get that under control, he can pitch at the big league level.
He has made the leap to AAA and is doing better there than Owens. Who would have thought?
28. Robbie Grossman – yes this is a big fall in my rankings for Robbie. He did move up in competition, but he continues to swoon in the middle of the season. He was awful in May and June, but has hit .275 in July and August. His inability to hit on the road is a problem. Lots of walks, but tons of strikeouts. That did decrease some this year. Still young, but he is getting passed by with the other great prospects coming into the Pirate system.
Grossmann is lowering his strikeout total. Gaining credibility as a leadoff hitter, but will probably never be a centerfield and has no real power. An Alex Presley type maybe.
29. Matt Curry. He hit well in State College. He could use more power since he is playing first base, but right now is the best first base prospect in the system.
The best season for a prospect so far. He dominated A ball and jumped all the way to AA. He has not dominated there, but is coming out of a little mini-slump. Power is still there, so he looks good.
30. Jared Lakind. I know, I know. This one is mostly hype. But he has potential on the mound or at the plate. That makes him worthy of this list.
Maybe the worst start ever for a prospect in Rookie League, but he has since hit multiple homers and is raising his average. I think he will be fine by year's end.
31. Brooks Pounders – this guy has a 6.34 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9 at the age of 19. Still he gives up one homer per 9 innings. That lowers him.
A pretty good year mostly from the pen for Pounders. One wonders if the transition is permanent. He is raising his stock.
32. Nathan Baker. A decent strike out rate at 6.4 K/9. A 2.2 BB/9 is okay, but it was in A and A+ competition, so he is not going to be as high as say Justin Wilson who is the same age. 44% ground ball rate is not bad.
He is doing okay. Could be another prospect traded at the deadline.
33. Trent Stevenson. I have to say I am little disappointed in Stevenson. He was drafted last year with the rest of the young guns, but Stevenson is older than they are. I was hoping he would show that age at these low levels with strong performances. So might be graded low because of my disappointment.
Still disappointing me.
34. Philip Irwin. Age keeps him down. 23 ought to be good in A ball. Still a 8.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 is nice. 48% groundball looks real good. He should move up in the system. Next year in High A ought to be very telling. UPDATE: Promoted to a A+ at the end of the season. Too late to factor into ranking.
Irwin dominated A+ this year, but should have as a 24 year old. He is getting his feet wet in AA which is big. Age wise he ought to be there or above. How he does the rest of the year is vital for his future.
35. Zack Dodson. 6.5 K/9 is not so bad for this 20 year old in A-. I had higher hopes. His walks are also too high. But he does not give up the long ball and is a 92-93 MPH guy. I still think he has potential to be a back end starter.
Just coming back from an injury. He will probably be moving up this list.
36. Drew Maggi. This might be a little low for Drew. He has not had a lot of big league at bats. His defense ought to be up to snuff, but I am more worried than the Pirates about his offense. Still, if he finds a decent bat, this guy could be a starting short stop for the Pirates. His ranking should show I am skeptical of starting abilities for him.
Another amazingly poor start. But he has been on fire lately. The kid can play Defense and hit A ball pitching. I am ready to see him rise a level.
37. Alex Presley. This guy had a great year. But he will be left off the 40 man roster again and it is hard to argue against it. Log jam at his position, and without real power (12 HRs), he does not have a great case despite the excellent year.
Okay, I underrated him. I thought he was a one year wonder. I was wrong. He will be off the list because I do not think goes back to AAA. Wow.
38. Evan Chambers. A bit of a disappointing year for Evan. Good power projection with 20 doubles and 13 HRs, but a .240 AVG is a killer especially with the high outfield talent in the Pirate system. It is not too late for him to come on and rise in these rankings.
He has had a melt down at A+. Not good.
39. Justin Howard. No power numbers hurt this kid. First base is a power position. Still cannot ignore his .341 AVG. It will be easier to place Howard after he sees some tough competition. Rookie league was clearly to low for him, but other guys stand above him. Maybe next year at WV would make the difference.
Can hit, but lacks power. A powerless first baseman is not going to rise too high in this ranking.
40. Jarek Cunningham. I am not as high on this guy as some. Great power numbers with 32 doubles and 12 HRs, but his average is far too low. Only musters a .763 OPS. Not sure he can stay as a shortstop defensively either.
Starting to come around a little, but still needs to finish well to keep prospect status going forward.
41. Donald Veal. Yes, I dropped him because of his injury mostly. Plus 4 BB/9 is way to high for a guy in AAA with a taste of the majors previously. A bad sign for his future in my opinion.
Is recovering from surgery and still in his rehab stint. He might could help the Pirates pen, but I don't think he has long term value anymore.
42. Michael Crotta. A great year for Michael. I don’t think his stats support him being a starter. Not enough velocity. But, this guy might be a plug in the bullpen. A long relief guy capable of making an emergency spot start.
He was a plug in the pen. I expect he will be called back up in September.
43. Tony Watson. He missed some time last year because of an injury. This is a good comback year. His age is going to hurt him. I still could see him making the bullpen one day. 8.6 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. That could do the trick in the pen.
I wish he were better at the major league level against lefties, but he is still decent. He won't return to AAA.
44. Diego Moreno. A strike out machine. 15 k/9 with only 1.5 BB/9 and a .70 WHIP. Look out bullpen this guy is a shoe in. Why not higher? Well, AA proved a bit much for him. I need to see success at that level for this 24 year old guy.
Time will tell on him. Time will tell. I have a bad feeling he will not make it to the pros.
45. Adalbeto Santos. Nice year, but where is he going to play defensively? He is small and already displaced in the infield and taking some outfield starts. If his bat stays good, he could be a good prospect, but he has yet to face pitching that includes a lot more than fastball location.
Just does not have a position. He still hits okay, but is not going to find a spot to play. Probably will fall off of this list.
46. Tim Alderson. He is 21 so I won’t throw him under the bus yet. But this kid’s psyche looks ruined. Biggest disappointment in the minor league system.
He is thriving in the pen. He has his curve back and gets results, but is in AA still. He is only 22 so it might be early to erase him from the list, but he is nothing to be excited for. Clearly not worth Freddy Sanchez.
47. Calvin Anderson. I thought he would be higher, but he collapsed in July. Never recovered.
Collapse continues. Won't make the next list.
48. Matt Hague. Not enough power for first base. 25 and at AA. Still hit enough to make this list.
Hague is still hitting. If he had some power he would be in the majors. Still might make the team as a lot of people are clamoring for it. Probably moves up the list.
49. Junior Sosa. A 20 year old who hit above .300 most of the year (.296 on August 28). Not showing power potential, but was 20 out of 26 in stolen base attempts. Some one to keep your eye on as he progresses through the system. Should gain a better eye with more experience.
Did not make the State College club. Not good.
50. Zachary Foster. I still like this kid. He is 23 in A ball, but he struck out 41 in 57 innings. Still 20 walks is a bit bad. And you cannot rank bullpen guys all that high. 5 saves and 2 holds. Finished 20 games.
His age makes him no longer a prospect. With new draft picks clearly he will fall off this board.

Here are the other people I listed.
Some people who are not on this list, but still could find their way on are Aaron Pribonic (strike out rate way too low), Brandon Crompton (This kid came in a pitched really well in his limited pro time but want to see more of him before I get too excited), Quincy Latimore (nice power, but his average is uninspiring), Gorkys Hernandez (this kid is running out of time), Kyle McPherson (great year, but is it for real?), Erik Fryer (good stats at catcher but 25 and in A+ lowers that some), Exicardo Cayonez (high potential, needs plate discipline), Jared Hughes (walk rate is too high. Strike out rate is okay at 6 K/9, but homer rate is a bit elevated. For a guy with 55% ground ball rate it is worrisome so many left the yard), Vincent Payne (drafted this year and had decent beginning), Jeremy Farrel (.868 OPS), Aaron Baker (18 HRs), and Kevin Decker (okay probably not, but he is a Southern Conference man, and I will give him homer attention!).
McPherson is on the 40 man and I didn't have him in the top 50. I still don't understand that move, but he is living up to it so far. Promoted to AA and doing okay. Baker is hitting for power still, but was skipped by Curry. Crompton will make the next list as he has been lights out after a slow start. Cayonez is justifying my leaving him off the 50 Prospects list. Demoted back to State College.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Double your pleasure

It was double day, I suppose. Not just at bat. Walker had a couple of doubles. Jones had a big two run double. Presley had one. But Malholm also induced one double play in each of the first four innings, and one that they failed to turn. After the fourth Malholm really got into a groove and got more strike outs to end the day with 8 in the 8th. Resop and Veras finished it off.

It is the All Star break and the Pirates are 4 game over .500 and 1 out of first although two teams are tied for first. The Brewers have a run differential of -1, so they might be coming back a little in the second half. Let's hope.

The Cubs are the real mystery to me. That team is loaded with hitting. Ramirez and Soriano are actually hitting this year. Byrd is hitting, Castro is hitting and their All Star. They got a couple of new guys that are hitting near .300. Fukadome is not awful. Why is this team so bad?

I guess it is the pitching. Ramon Ortiz is a joke and pitched like one today. But still they have Zambrano and Dempster, so they should not be this awful. I really believe they should have hired Sandburg. The real bad thing for the Cubs fans is that this team is going to get worse before it gets better. Don't expect Byrd and Castro to be the beginning of something for the Cubs. They are still hamstrung by Soriano, and they have not yet begun to tear down this mess.

Tomorrow we will look at the draft again and some Latin American signings!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Cubs went crazy . . . literally

The first inning really told the whole story. The Pirates started off with a double by Presley and a base hit by d'Arnaud. Presley was sent home and was just thrown out. I don't have that big a problem. That is a team that wants to push it on the basepaths, and that is a team that was sure it would get more chances. Well, it looked worse when Walker got a hit in the next at bat. McCutchen then popped out and Overbay whiffed.
The bottom of the inning had Correia shaky with a walk and a double to put people on 2nd and 3rd. But he battled back with a grounder to third so no one could advance and a strike out made it look like the Pirates would escape. Instead, Marlin Byrd hit a grounder just out of Harrison's diving reach, but d'Arnaud did dive and get it. That stopped two runs from scoring, but there was no way to get Byrd, so one run did score. Then Correia uncorked a wild one to make sure that second run got home.

Correia was not bad, just not really hitting his spots. He gave up one more run in the second, and one more in the third. With two outs in the fourth he gave up one more on a grounder to Harrison at third and the runner beat the throw getting the run home. He was so close to getting out of jam after jam, but never really did. He walked more than normal and just seemed unable to get people out. Everything was a struggle.

Daniel McCutchen was very good in relief. Lerux made an appearance as he pitches for his spot on the 40. He is the latest in a string of try outs. Moskos pitched a nice 8th, but put the first two on in the ninth. Tony Watson came on and could not prevent the sac fly, but no further damage done. I like Moskos, and I still think he is a part of the future bullpen, but if Biemel is ready, I vote Moskos goes back down. He has to be able to get lefties out more consistently, at least.

McKenry had multiple hits and Presley had a double and a triple. But overall the Pirates just fizzled. Three runs was more than they really deserved because they just did not get the big hit. Even after a lead off triple by Presley they scored on an RBI groundout.

The real entertainment was the meltdown that is the Cubs. Quade the manager pinch hit for Dempster in the 6th. He was furious and went crazy. Yelling match, throwing stuff. Oh yeah. It was a bit of a strange decision. Dempster was doing okay, and had not yet thrown 90 pitches. He was on pace for a quality start. Dempster is probably their ace and the bullpen is no good and blew a game last night with their closer. So, hard to blame Dempster for being angry. I thought the Cubs should have hired Sandburg, and Quade is driving this team in the ground. Armaris threw his bat in the 9th. Who knows why. He swung and missed so it was not a bad call or anything. This team is awful. I cannot believe we lost to them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

McKenry's first a game winner

Sorry it has been awhile. I had company.

Tonight's game was brilliant. The Pirates battled back and then won it in the bottom of the 8th on McKenry's first career homer with a three run blast. His blast will obscure an amazing all around offensive night, especially from Josh Harrison, and cover up the poor outing from the pen.

The Pirates battled all night long. Every starter got a hit except Garret Jones, and he was taken out in a double switch in the 6th, so he did not get as many chances. Xavier Paul who replaced him did get a hit, so the position did get a hit. The Pirates were down 0-1 in the first inning, but came back to take a 2-1 lead in the 3rd. They fell behind again in the 6th 2-3, but in the bottom of the inning tied it up. The top of the 8th they dropped behind again 3-4, but the Pirates pulled a nice rally out to win 7-4 after Hanrahan closed down another.

Unbelievable night. McKenry should be happy. He took a hanging slider and did what major league hitters ought to do, punish it. However, let us not forget that the game was already tied up thanks to Josh Harrison. Harrison, who went 3 for 4, singled in the tying run with 2 outs. Presley had a 2 for 3 night and McCutchen went deep. Really a pretty good night over all.

Except for the bullpen. Jose Veras was bad. He did not seem to have his normal velocity, and just got beat. Resop allowed his inherited runners to score in the 6th, and came back out to get two outs in the 7th, but had to be removed because he got into another jam. Tony Watson got the only guy he was asked to get, as did Daniel McCutchen. Hanrahan was filthy of course, but Veras and Resop need to produce down the stretch if the Pirates are going to win this division.

At one point tonight it looked like the NL Central lead was up for grabs. The Pirates were tied, the Cards were tied, and the Brewers were tied. Then it looked as if the Pirates would be in first as the Brewers were losing by 2, the Cards by 4. But the Brewers found a way to come back and beat the stupid Reds. Still, the Cards lost and the Pirates are a force going into the All-Star break.