Results tagged ‘ pittsburgh pirates ’

Bonus Pirates prospects: Nos. 21-25

We continue our march through my teams’ 21-25 prospect lists. Next up is the Pirates, a fun system to talk about, and not just because I live in Pittsburgh and get to see these guys when they make it up to the big leagues.

Last November in a Pipeline Perspectives piece, I touted the Pirates as having the best farm system in baseball. Since that time, Jameson Taillon (and Clay Holmes, for tha tmatter), needed Tommy John surgery.  But the mark of a good, and deep, system, is that the loss of a top prospect to injury doesn’t disproportionately impact the strength of your organization. Several years ago, a Taillon-type injury would’ve been huge for the Pirates. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good now, but the system can take the hit and still be successful.

Much of the talent is at the lower levels, though some of the top guys reached Double-A and above this year. There was still plenty of talent to choose from for the 21-25 set:

 

21. Joely Rodriguez, LHP: This lefty spent time on the Top 20 earlier in the season, coming out with the re-rank and the addition of draftees over the summer. The move up to Double-A was a bit rough for him, though he did show the ability to get a ton of groundball outs, thanks to his sinking fastball. He did leave it up a bit too much, making him more hittable than he’d been the previous year. He has a breaking ball that has the chance to be average and a changeup that is above-average with sink as well. If he can get back to commanding the baseball better within the strike zone, he has the chance to be a back end of the rotation type of starter.

22. Elias Diaz, C:  Sometimes it takes a Minor Leaguer a while to hit his stride. For catchers, it can take even longer given all of their responsibilities behind the plate. Diaz toiled away during his first few years in the organization as a strong-armed backstop who couldn’t hit. He spent two seasons in the Class A South Atlantic League. His bat started to show signs of life in 2013 with a move up a level, hitting .279. He hit .328 this past year in Altoona, being named an Eastern League All-Star and earning a late promotion to Triple-A. There hasn’t been much power to speak of, but he doesn’t strike out much. And his arm gets a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale according to some. Like Rodriguez, he spent some time in the Top 20.

23. Chad Kuhl, RHP: Looking for a good under-the-radar pitcher? Kuhl’s an excellent candidate, a ninth-round pick out of the University of Delaware who pitched well during his first full season of pro ball, in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He improved as the season went on, lowering his ERA by well over a run in the second half compared to the first. He can touch 95 mph, sitting in the low 90s, with his power sinking fastball. He has a slider and changeup as well, which are inconsistent, but improving. He goes right after hitters and has solid command. If the secondary pitches continue to develop, he has the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter.

24: Erich Weiss, 2B: This University of Texas product grew up around the game, with father Gary spending parts of two sesaons in the big leagues. Weiss’s best tool is his bat, with a quick stroke that can send line drives to all fields. There’s room for some power to come, though it hasn’t much yet. He makes the most of his average speed and is aggressive on the basepaths. The 2013 11th-round pick was a third baseman initially, but spent all of 2014 in the South Atlantic League playing second. He doesn’t have a true defensive profile, leading some to believe a super-utility type role might be the best bet.

25. Gage Hinsz, RHP: The Pirates went to Montana to find Hinsz, a high school right-hander they took in the 11th round of this past Draft. The limit for picks after the 10th round is $100,000, with any overages counting against your pool for the top 10 rounds. The Pirates liked Hinsz enough to give him $580,000 to walk away from Oregon State. With no high school baseball in Montana, Hinsz played with the Canadian travel team, the Langley Blaze for a while. He has an intriguing three-pitch mix and there’s confidence all will become better with coaching and experience. He made his debut, albeit a brief one, in the Gulf Coast League. He may take a while, but organizational patience could provide a huge payoff.

More dynamic (pitching) duos

In today’s MLBPipeline Perspectives, Jim Callis and I debated which teams we thought had the best pitching prospects tandem in baseball. Jim went with Jon Gray and Eddie Butler of the Rockies. I opted for the right-handed combo of Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow from the Pirates.

Jim went on to blog his rankings for the top pitching prospect duos in the game over on Callis’ Corner. I must admit I’m a bit dismayed he put my Taillon-Glasnow third on his list, but I’ll get over it.

To extract some measure of revenge, however, I wanted to provide my own rankings, of a sort. I used it in my argument in picking Taillon and Glasnow: the Prospect Points. That’s the system we used to provide an organizational standings from the Top 100 list. I used the same idea — 100 points for the No.1 prospect, 99 for No. 2 (Jon Gray gets 87 points for being No. 14, as a result)., etc. Using this system, here’s how the top tandems in the Top 100 (only one pairing for an organization listed eve if they have more than two pitchers in the Top 100) stack up:

1. Taillon and Glasnow, Pirates: 165 points. I rest my case.

2. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, Orioles: 159 points. Jim’s not the only one who can put the O’s No. 2.

3. Gray and Butler, Rockies: 147 points. A distant third.

4. Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, Royals: 142 points. A lot of power coming towards KC.

5. Alex Meyer and Kohl Stewart, Twins: 134 points. Stewart’s development could raise their stock.

6. Mark Appel and Lance McCullers Jr.: 133 points. Even if McCullers ends up a reliever, this is a good tandem.

7. Henry Owens and Allen Webster, Red Sox: 126. First lefty mentioned on this list.

8. Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: 124. If you told me this duo would outperform some ahead, I wouldn’t argue.

9. Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley, D-backs: 118. Shipley is one of my picks for guys in the 51-100 range who could jump up the list in his first full seaosn.

10. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, Mets: 106. Music to Mets fans ears as both are close to contributing in New York.

11. Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino, Marlins: 92. The only double-lefty combo; both could be established in Miami’s rotation by 2015.

12. Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole, Nationals: 89. I’d keep an eye on this pair, they could move up this ranking in a hurry.

13. Max Fried and Matt Wisler, Padres: 81. I think Fried could establish himself as top lefty by end of year.

14. Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar, Giants: 75. Interesting combination of power (Crick) and more pitchability (Escobar).

15. Zach Lee and Julio Urias, Dodgers: 75. Urias is so young, but if the lefty keeps doing what he’s done so far, he’ll move up quickly.

16. C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, Cubs: 60. Chicago known more for its hitting prospects right now, but this is still a solid duo.

17. Jake Odorizzi and Taylor Guerrieri, Rays: 52. Guerrieri’s suspension and injury hurt their standing.

Beyond the Top 100

After any Top 100 prospects list comes out, there’s going to be outrage, disbelief, dismay (there’s also some triumph, jubilation, celebration, but that doesn’t fit into the subject of today’s post). The list gets pored over and complaints about snubs come pouring in. You thought people were upset that Ben Affleck didn’t get a Best Director nod for “Argo”? You should talk to Astros fans about Delino DeShields Jr. Sheesh.

So, I thought it a good idea to throw out a Nos. 101-110 list. Yes, this could open a pandora’s box if guys aren’t on that list who you think should’ve been on the Top 100 to begin with. But I can deal with that. I’m happy to keep the conversation going. And keep in mind, the team Top 20s start rolling out on Monday, so there’ll be more fuel for the fire soon enough. Keep in mind, this next 10 isn’t a guaranteed list of who’ll be the first to move in when guys graduate as 2013 gets started, but clearly some names will come from this list onto the top 100 during the season. No time for expanding on this list, so here it is:

101. Dan Straily, RHP, A’s

102. Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Astros

103. Luis Heredia, RHP, Pirates

104. Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds

105. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs

106. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins

107. Michael Choice, OF, A’s

108. Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Brewers

109. Corey Seager, 3B/SS, Dodgers

110. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Cubs

Who’s Next: The Catchers

Be sure to check out the story on the Top 10 catching prospects or you can just go right to the list on Prospect Watch.

Coming up with an 11-15 is easier for some position lists than others. Right-handed pitchers? A piece of cake. When the outfielders run the beginning of next week, that’ll be an easy assignment. But not all positions are as deep and there’s a drop-off the further you go down. There’s a reason why good catching is always in high demand — there isn’t enough supply to go around. So keep that in mind when looking at the 11-15 catchers.

Sebastian Valle, Phillies – He can really defend and has some pop, but plate discipline is holding him back.

Rob Brantly, Marlins – Quietly has made his way to the big leagues, chance to play every day for Marlins after Anibal Sanchez trade

Michael Perez, Diamondbacks — A 2011 draftee from Puerto Rico, Perez had a very solid Pioneer League season and is a solid defender.

Wyatt Mathieson, Pirates — A solid debut for the 2012 draftee, making the GCL All-Star team. Whether he catches long-term remains to be seen.

Tim Federowicz, Dodgers — The former UNC standout doesn’t have a huge ceiling, but he can defend and can hit a bit.

AFL Report: Pirates

You can read all about the Pirates prospects in the AFL, featuring Vic Black. You can also watch the video report, which focuses on Black, Brandon Cumpton and Gift Ngeope. Black and Cumpton are currently on the Pirates’ Top 20.

 

And Monday’s Star of the Day goes to…

Chase Anderson of the Diamondbacks. The right-hander, ranked No. 19 on the D-backs’ Top 20, has flown under the radar because of injuries that forced him to miss nearly all of 2011. But he had a very solid 2012 season in Double-A and he’s kept it up in the Fall League. In his third AFL start on Monday, Anderson tossed four shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five. He now has a 2.79 ERA over 9 2/3 IP, with the league hitting just .152 against him.

 

OMG: Pittsburgh Pirates

And we’re back.

Due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to keep up my OMG (One More Guy) streak. But we’re back in operational mode for now, so I wanted to get back on board, this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here’s their Top 10 prospects list.
darnaud.jpg
Chase d’Arnaud, SS: The 2008 fourth-round pick out of Pepperdine has been making a fairly steady climb up the Pirates ladder, though his 2010 season, with the all-important jump from A to Double-A, led to some questions about what his ultimate ceiling might be.

d’Arnaud definitely can run — his 33 steals were second in the organization. In his first full season, he had shown an ability to to hit for average (.293) and get on base (.398) across two levels. He even had some extra-base pop, with 47 extra-base hits leading to a solid .454 SLG for a middle infielder. Last year with Altoona, though, he hit .247/.331/.377 and saw his strikeout rate go up.

Defensively, the brother of Blue jays catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud has the tools to be a good shortstop, with an outstanding arm and the speed to give him above-average range. That being said, he committed 28 errors at short last year and saw some time at second base. The Pirates still think he could be their shortstop of the future and if he can put his tools into play consistently, he has the ability to be just that in 2012. He’ll play shortstop for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

Lynchburg

Hey all. Sorry B3 has been on hiatus awhile. Me and Mrs. B3 were away for a week in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary (a complete blog post on that will be forthcoming, for those curious).

Back in the saddle now, the job has taken me to Lynchburg and Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday and today. Aside from getting driving through what I think was the worst thunderstorm ever to get from Lynchburg to the hotel here in Charlottesville, it was a very productive trip.

We got a little lucky yesterday. We came here with the objective of doing a feature on Orioles top prospect (and 2007 first-round pick) Matt Wieters. That mission was indeed accomplished, but we got a lot more bang for our buck. Turns out that Daniel Moskos was on the hill for Lynchburg and we got to talk to him post-game as well (throw in an interview with Carolina League batting leader Jim Negrych and I’d say we got our money’s worth. Look for all of this fine work in the coming days).

Remember, this wasn’t just a matchup of two first-round picks from last year. It was the guy the Pirates did take — Moskos — facing the guy everyone thought they should take — Wieters.  It was pretty clear that the intrigue in that wasn’t lost on Moskos, who picked a good day (since we had come all this way) to have the best start of his pro career. He pitched into the seventh inning (6 2/3 to be exact) and didn’t allow a run, not walking anyone and allowing just three hits while striking out three. By my count, he induced 12 groundball outs (As an added bonus, he was facing Pedro Beato, a good pitching prospect in his own right. Beato had some nasty stuff, but was all over the place command-wise in the first inning, forcing his pitch count up and forcing him out of the game after four innings.).

The biggest reason for his success compared to some of his previous up-and-down outings? Fastball command. Now that may sound a little oversimplified since it’s always about fastball command, isn’t it? But it should be noted that the Pirates have asked Moskos to focus on throwing his four-seamer more often and more consistently. So some of the reasons he’s been a little inconsistent is that he’s, in effect, learning how to throw the pitch in on-the-job training. Last night, he simply had really good feel for the heater.

As for the Wieters-Moskos matchup? It looked like the catcher would have the upper-hand early, when he hit a ball opposite field off the wall in the first inning. But Moskos got him to ground out the next two times he faced him, so Round 1 goes to Moskos, though as the lefty put it — Wieters did go 1-for-3 and that’s about what people should expect from the guy.

As the resident draft guy,  it sure was fun to see these guys play in person for the first time. Wieters is a ridiculous physical specimen and you wonder how a guy that big can stay behind the plate. But then you see him move and it makes some sense. He’s incredibly agile and athletic. Frederick manager Tommy Thompson was emphatic in his praise of how Wieters has handled the spotlight and about his leadership skills behind the plate. Keep in mind that he’s basically calling his own game for the first time. It’s one of the bigger problems with big college programs, in my opinion — everything is over-programmed and the coach controls everything. At Ga. Tech, Wieters wasn’t charged with anything — calls on pitch selection, location, even pickoff throws to first, all came from the dugout. Now, the O’s are asking Wieters to pick up all of those skills during  his pro debut season. So far, he seems to be a quick study.

Today, I put on my draft hat and go to see Howie Long’s kid (Kyle), who’s actually a baseball player. Then we go on to watch University of Virginia tonight, so you can check out my report on that visit over at Geeking on the Draft.

Thumbnail image for gizzards.jpgI leave you with this: On the long drive down from Pittsburgh, I’m enjoying the farms and rolling hills of Virginia. Beautiful country, really. I pass by a little road-side store which sports a big sign that says, “FRIED CHICKEN GIZZARDS.” Now, I have no problem with any store selling anything and maybe that’s a delicacy in these parts. What is concerning to me is that it’s so popular that this place of business felt it would be a huge drawing card to trumpet that they carry the item.

Anyone know what fried chicken gizzards tastes like? And “it tastes like chicken” is not an acceptable response. If you want a recipe for this “delicacy,” check one out here.

I’ll catch up with y’all (see, I’m fitting right in) later.

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