Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Minor League Review: West Virginia

The Power are the team that actually had me the most depressed as they were stacked coming in. But then you kind of realize they were decimated by promotions and it tempers one's angst.

Jameson Taillon - He had high expectations, and he did not exceed them. But he probably met them. A 97:22 K:BB rate is amazing and was the second best on the team. His hits allowed were a little high, but the insistence on throwing fast balls is mostly responsible for that. Maybe one would like to have seen a few more innings, but pitch counts kept him removed often. His last start was dominate, and he is ready for the next jump.

Zack Von Rosenburg - Zack had a horrible start to the season getting beat around. His fastball was up. He gave up 19 HRs, but only 23 walks (part of a 114:23 K:BB ratio). He needs to work on getting his pitches down. He showed improvement in the last part of his season, so there is good hope here. One still needs to hope for an increase in velocity as well.

Colton Cain: Cain was great. Everything you wanted him to be. He maxed out some innings and got sent to the pen, which gave him a few bad outings toward the end of the year, but Cain was dominate. 81:33 ratio is good and shows that Cain has the speed and the ability to strike guys out.

Brooks Pounders: He was the big surprise. He added speed on the fastball and looked great. 72:14 ratio is very good. He did it mostly out of the pen, but there is room to squeeze him back into the starting picture next year. It was an exciting year for his development.

Tyler Waldron: He started here and was okay. Nothing great. But he got promoted. He looks more like a bullpen guy, and one who needs more strikeouts.

Brandon Crumpton: He was demoted to the bullpen after a horrible start. He was great there, got back into the rotation, rattled off several amazing wins in a row striking out people, and got promoted. Great year for Crumpton.

Zack Dodson: 46:15 in 66 innings is not bad. He was injured and had a long come back, but was doing well before the injury and did well after. He has pitched his way into nice looking prospect status.

Victor Black: He made it through a season without getting injured and that might have been the most important thing. He needs to work on his control giving up too many walks, but he did get a late season promotion to Bradenton. Probably a bullpen guy with nice heat. One thing worth mentioning is he did not give up a homer at West Virginia. Only one at Bradenton. Keeping the ball in the park is good.

Matt Curry - He will be discussed elsewhere. Needless to say, he was great in WV with an OPS north of 1.

Dan Grovatt - He had a very consistent year. He was constantly between .280 and .300. He drew lots of walks, hit for some surprising power with 8 HRs and a good double total. Plus he has the arm to stick in a corner outfield spot.

Drew Maggi - He was freezer cold for the first month or so of the season, which tells you how good he was to the end as he earned the promotion for the last few games. His defense is supposedly good enough to stick at short, but was still a bit error prone. Some of that I think was his bad plate performance affecting his defense. Did show some double/triple potential as well. Good speed.

Justin Howard - The concern was his power, which he showed hints of during this season with doubles and the long ball, but now his average needs to improve. Still, this year has to be a success for Howard.

Kwami Elmsely-Pai - This guy was blazing at the beginning of the year despite not getting a lot of playing time. He did cool down, but was still good enough to go up a level next year. His defense also seemed strong. Considering we picked him up for nothing, it was a great season.

Mel Rojas Jr. - Obviously a bit disappointing, but he too started very cold. He needs to work on plate discipline as his strike out total was too high. However, he has speed. And one can expect his plate discipline to improve as he is still pretty young. Not a great season, but not a failure either.

There were some real disappointments such as Eric Avilia. Wow. The kid had shown power and decent hitting, but was just awful. Did end strong enough to almost get to .215, but not quite. He also had over 20 errors. That is just plain bad. But the real prospects at this level did okay to good with a few greats scattered in there.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Minor League Review: State College

Ross Ohlendorf just pitched his first homer, and got a win. Good news for the Pirates. I still think you let him go during the off season, but hey, it is still nice.

State College was not very good this year, and a lot of that was the result of getting only 4 seniors in the draft. But, I am still higher on what was at State College than most. Let's take a look.

It is true that there were not a lot of break out seasons here except Nick Kingham, but they were not disastrous either.

Nick Kingham:
He had a 1.10 WHIP and a 47:15 K:BB ratio. He threw in the low 90's and looked great after a shaky first start. He could very well be a top 10 prospect.

Stetson Allie:
Disappointing in some ways because of his hype, but we all knew he had command problems. He walked 29 and struck out 28. The command problems were there. Still, the dominance was also there. His fastball sits at 95, and when he is on, he is going to blow away the competition. He has plenty of time to get control of his walk total. So, I think he had a better season than most do. The walks were to be expected. He also seemed to be improving a bit until they moved him to the pen so as not to overload his innings. The adjustment to coming in from the pen was rough. July was 15 strikeouts to 10 walks with 5 starts. No starts in August resulted in 12 walks and only 6 strikeouts. That hurt his numbers a bit, so it is not as bad as it might look.

Ryan Hafner:
I am a little higher on Hafner than others as well. His fastball is still high 80's, and that will never get it done even out of the pen. Still he pulled off a 1.19 WHIP and a 31:20 K:BB. That is too many walks, but an impressive number of strikeouts considering he was not overpowering anyone. Remember he came from high school, so I think power can come with age. It might have been that some of his walks were nibbling at corners. I still think he adds power, and then he can be real good.

As for what we got in the draft, I do like Josh Poythress as a future reliever. A 29:10 K:BB is not a bad start. I am not ready to give up on Matt Benedict either. A 39:15 K:BB is enough to keep me watching and hoping, but he gave up far too many hits.

Alex Dickerson:
He came late to the league, but was as advertised. .313 AVG, .886 OPS with 3 HRs. He has to learn 1B, so his defense is below average, but his bat looks great.

Samuel Gonzalez:
He thrived at this level. He hit over .300 and only struck out 15 times, which is a big thing. Add in 14 walks, and I like his plate presence. Needs more power, and needs to play better defense, but it was a good year for him.

Wes Freeman:
Now I am not as high on Freeman as others. He was repeating this league, so he should have dominated it. Still, he hit 6 homers and hit .303. His defense is good enough for the corner outfield. You have to call this a success.

Now I would not worry about a lot of the others that some are pointing to as disappointing. Dan Gamache hit .231, but he was recovering from a hand injury and only had 20 games to get adjusted. I am also not too worried about Taylor Lewis nor Derek Trent. Trent is not a big time prospect anyway, but it was a major jump in competition for those guys and they had to learn the wooden bat at the same time. They played in lower college conferences as opposed to Dickerson and Gamache. Both showed good plate discipline with Lewis leading the team in walks with 34 and Trent was 4th with 20. Both played good Defense. Lewis also had 7 triples. No kidding. Lewis had 35 hits and 7 of them were triples. 20% of his hits were three baggers. He added on double, and he stole 16 bases (being caught 4 times). His speed should keep him on the prospect radar. Kirk Singer was another draftee who got better as the year went on, so he should not be thrown under the bus.

There were a few huge disappointments. Exicardio Caynoes was awful and thought to be a nice prospect. Junior Sosa should have done better as well. And the Pirates has seen enough of Justin Benscko, as they have him listed as released now. So the team had some disappointments.

My thoughts overall is that this team was weak from the beginning, did not have real good performances from the early signers in the draft, which matched up with disastrous performances from Caynoes and Sosa. They got better, but it was too late to make the team look good. But they showed enough to not be depressed.

Sub .500 again

The Pirates lost the other day and ensured another losing season. A real tough break as it was all the result of one bad stretch in August. Some of it was increased competition, but most of it just came down to injuries and pitching fatigue. More than the blown call in Atlanta I blame the series against the Cubs. Getting swept by them completely deflated me as a fan and probably the team as well. Having Presley out hurt and Derrick Lee out hurt along with Tabata were huge factors. The pen got tired as some of them really failed to produce (Biemel), and Meek's season long injury ended up catching up to the Pirates as they had to over use Veras.

Still in the end, the Pirates are having a better season than last year. It is an improvement, and I think a nice strong finish could really help the team for next year. A lot depends on Alvarez being a major league caliber hitter, but time will tell on that one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reviewing the Minors: GCL Pirates

McCutchen clocked two today and Hughes made his debut, and the Pirates got the win, which went to Tony Watson for his one out in the top of the 8th.

The minors are done for the year and it is time to look at what we have before we come to the list of top prospects for the year. We will start at the bottom and work up.

The GCL Pirates, a Rookie League team, was actually very good and very interesting this year. They lost a one game playoff, but it is the individual success that was even more exciting than the team success.

Luis Heredia - of course it starts with him. He did pretty well considering his young age. He had some control issues. He struck out 23 and walked 19 in 30.1 innings. He threw a lot of fastballs, so he had some long at bats because he was not allowed to throw the curve to get people out. This led to a lot of pitch totals being high and him coming out of the game. Nothing to worry about here, you expect a 16 year old to have some command issues. He throws mid-90's, so he has what it takes.

Orlando Castro - Wow. This guy looks like a major league bullpen guy for sure. He started here threw a 22:2 K:BB ration in 25 innings, and was on his way to the next level.

Logan Penvy - He looked okay. He is still a bit of a project and a long shot, but a 23:13 ratio is no reason to write him off. It is not great, but not bad either.

Dovydas Neverauskas - He too is still a big project, but occasionally looked good coming out of the pen. Not enough strike outs, but still has a projectable frame that might fix that problem as he goes forward.

Diomedes Mateo - He actually led the team in strike outs with 33 and only 16 walks. He got a late season look at State College, which is where he ought to end up next year.

Rodarrick Jones - Clearly the big excitement on the team. He was drafted in the high rounds, tore up GCL and got promoted. Showed some signs of power.

Jonathan Schwind - He played well both offensively and defensively. His age says he ought to, but he played at a small college, so it is good to see him dominate. He tied for the team lead in doubles (14), and had on OPS over 1.000. He should go to full season ball next year.

Jose Osuna - The .331 average and the other with 14 doubles. He got a late season call up to SC. He looked like a bat with some promise in the OF.

Willy Garcia - He led the team with 5 dingers. The hint of power is enough to be exciting.

Yonathan Barrios - Decent defense at SS and an .815 of OPS.

Alen Hansen - He swipped 24 bags and hit 13 doubles. Not consistent hitting, but the skills are there. Throw in 7 triples and you begin to get an idea about the speed.

There were some disappointments here including Jared Lakind, Joey Schoenfeld Junior Sosa, and Jorge Bishop.

Candon Myles played just a few games and it is not enough to say much.

The number of good hitting prospects was exciting. Osuna, Hansen, and Jones are very exciting players. Most of these guys have plate discipline issue left to solve, but you expect that here. Not as much pitching, but enough to think it was not a bust. Castro in particular. A nice showing by a team that was mostly from the Latin American market.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Is Derrick Lee Willie Stargell

Probably not, but Lee is hitting homers at an amazing pace. Remember he has only played about 7 games as a Pirate and has 4 homers. His price tag for next year is pretty big, but I would not be opposed to paying it. Offering him arbitration might be a good thing. If we get stuck paying him, we get a power bat at first which has been a problem. If he does not take it, then we get a Type B repayment, which is a draft pick after the second round and before the third round. I can take it.

Still, over all the Pirates have been playing better again. It was nice to see them beat up on the Cubs since the Cubs were there during our darkest hours this year. We owed them. Today versus the Astros was nice too. McDonald went 7.1 innings, which is a full inning longer than any of his other outings this year. Hanrahan got another save, and the Pirates only gave up one run, which should have been on an error. Tabata spun around like a top, jumped for no reason and still had it hit the side of his glove.

Another thing is don't look now, but Ryan Doumit is hitting .291. Are you kidding me? Two doubles today with a single thrown in to boot, and he looks great right now. I favor re-signing Doumit over re-signing Snyder. I really would rather them get someone new completely, but Doumit looks like a better player than Synder right now. More durable as well.

Soon there will be more call-ups as the Indians did not make the AAA playoffs so I expect Alvarez back up and a few others as well. The only one I am really looking forward to seeing is Evan Meek. I would like to see his speed and his performance after such a long rehab.