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Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2010)
2010 (16) | 2009 (18) | 2008 (26) | 2007 (19) | 2006 (19) | 2005 (18) | 2004 (11)

Record of Major and Minor League Team(s)
MLB: [57 – 105] NL Central
AAA: [71 – 72] International League – Indianapolis
AA: [82 – 60] Eastern League – Altoona
A+: [76 – 62] Carolina League – Bradenton
A: [65 – 74] South Atlantic – West Virginia
A(ss): [33 – 42] New York Pennsylvania League – State College
R: [29 – 30] Gulf League

The Run Down
After another “they are who we thought they are,” (thank you Denny Green) type of season for the Pirates, 2011 does pose a few bright spots. The 2010 season saw several prospects graduate with varying success, most notably, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. You could call it the year of the [rookie] hitter in Pittsburgh. The 2011 season should bring along the year of the pitcher. With Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens being the main rookies to keep an eye on, along with the infamous Daniel Moskos as a reliever. Don’t fret, Tony Sanchez wasn’t forgotten, just not 2011 fantasy season ready. Oh, and you can catch a Manny Machado MLB scouting Report here – he won’t be ready for a couple years. This young squad has the ability to have more than Andrew McCutchen shine in 2011. Pitching will still be the struggle even with Owens and Locke, but the hitters – that graduate in 2010 – have the best upside for the 2011 season.

Graduating Prospects
#1 (3B) Pedro Alvarez; #2 (RF) Jose Tabata; #4 (RHP) Brad Lincoln; #21 (RHP) Dan McCutchen; #26 (2B) Neil Walker;

Arizona Fall League Players Scottsdale Scorpions
Pitchers – (LHP) Justin Wilson
Hitters – #3 (C) Tony Sanchez; #29 (2B) Josh Harrison; #22 (SS/OF) Jordy Mercer; #7 (LF – LAD) Andrew Lambo

Players of Interest
Hitters
#5 Chase d’Arnaud | 2B/SS | D.o.B: 1-21-87 | Stats (AA): .247/.331/.377 | 530 AB | 48 XBH | 6 Hr | .130 ISO | 33/7 SB/CS | 102:56 K:BB | .293 BABIP
The older brother of Travis d’Arnaud, Chase plays a sound defensive game, usually playing more shortstop than second base; at shortstop he has solid range and strong arm. Scouts differ on his final position stating his range may be too limited for shortstop at the major leagues. With below average power and scouts stating that his strength is his on-base skills, d’Arnaud may be nothing more than a middle infield flier, or, deep breathe, a utility player.

Alex Presley | OF | D.o.B: 7-25-85 | Stats (AA/AAA): .320/373/.494 | 518 AB | 53 XBH | 12 Hr | .174 ISO | 13/8 SB/CS | 75:41 K:BB | .385 BABIP (AA); .330 BABIP (AAA)
I don’t have much information on Presley beyond the numbers. He did have 25 insignificant major league plate appearances in September. With a loaded outfield, Presley is poor man’s Denard Span at best. Most of his stats are inflated with high BABIP, so don’t expect much from him if given a call up due to injuries.

Matt Hague | 1B | D.o.B: 8-20-85 | Stats (AA): .295/.375/.442 | 509 AB | 45 XBH | 15 Hr | .147 ISO | 3/6 SB/CS | 62:61 K:BB | .310 BABIP
Just like Presley, I only have the numbers to work with. Hague appears to have good plate-discipline combined with boring power at first base. Not overly lucky (.310 BABIP), nor exciting, Hague reminds me of James Loney, expect I don’t know if he plays good defense. With Lyle Overbay and Steve Pearce/Garrett Jones, I don’t see Hague getting much time in the majors until September.

Pitchers
#9 Rudy Owens | LHP | D.o.B: 12-18-87 | Stats (AA): 7.9 K/9 | 1.4 BB/9 | 150 IP | 2.46 ERA | 2.95 FIP | .98 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 7.4 H/9 | .280 BABIP
This is who I am extremely excited about. No, he may not pitch until the mid-summer, but he could be this year’s Travis Wood. Throwing a 88 to 90 MPH fastball, a changeup – his best pitch – and a “slurvy curveball” doesn’t speak of a dominating pitcher. Baseball America calls him the, “classic crafty lefthander.” I call him a midseason sleeper barring injury.

#13 Jeff Locke | LHP | D.o.B: 11-20-87 | Stats (A+/AA): 8.7 K/9 | 1.6 BB/9 | 144 IP | 3.56 ERA | 3.37 FIP (A+); 2.95 FIP (AA) | 1.15 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 8.7 H/9 | .372 BABIP (A+); .280 BABIP (AA)
Received in the Nate McLouth trade in 2009, Locke might be the best piece in return. Baseball America calls him a “hard-throwing lefty.” Locke throws a 91 to 94 MPH fastball with “heavy sink,” a “decent” curveball, and an improving changeup. Statistically, Locke’s seasons were identical at High-A and Double-A with 8.7 K/9 at each level, with similar control (1.5 BB/9 at A+; 1.9 BB/9 at AA); innings were split as follows: 86 1/3 IP at High-A and 57 2/3 IP at Double-A. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start a major league game in 2011 during the late summer (i.e. August).

#30 Dan Moskos | LHP | D.o.B: 4-28-86 | Stats (AA): 9.4 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 41 1/3 IP | 1.52 ERA | 2.50 FIP | 1.02 WHIP | .0 Hr/9 | 5.7 H/9 | .261 BABIP
Moskos is the infamous prospect that was picked ahead of Matt Wieters because they didn’t want to pay. Well, Wieters is in the majors with productions nowhere near the hype while Moskos struggles in the minors. Moskos dominated Double-A with the aide of a .261 BABIP and a strong strikeout rate (9.4 K/9). However, Triple-A was a different story.

  • AAA: 9.3 K/9 | 10.4 BB/9 | 17 1/3 IP | 19 games | 2.65 WHIP | 1.6 Hr/9 | 13.5 H/9 | 4.27 BABIP

That’s not pretty. He’s a two-pitch power reliever throwing a 95 MPH fastball and a power slider. Upside is a closer, or back end starter.

Honorable Mentions
Hitters
#3 Tony Sanchez | C | D.o.B: 5-20-88 | Stats (A+): .314/.416/.454 | 207 AB | 21 XBH | 4 Hr | .140 ISO | 2/1 SB/CS | 41:28 K:BB | .367 BABIP
Baseball America calls him an “outstanding defensive catcher with soft hands,” along with having a “strong arm” and “good ball-blocking skills.” Another grammatically confusing sentence brought to you by Baseball America, “[Sanchez] should have solid-average power.” Translated, Sanchez could hit 10 to 15 home runs and looks like Jose Molina with lesser defense.

#6 Starling Marte | CF | D.o.B: 10-9-89 | Stats (A+): .315/.386/.432 | 222 AB | 21 XBH | 0 Hr | .117 ISO | 22/8 SB/CS | 59:12 K:BB | .424 BABIP
A five-tool prospect, Marte has plus-plus speed that translates to some steals and good defense in center field. His swing produces a fair amount of line-drives. Still very raw and statistically relied upon an unstable .424 BABIP to increase his slash line. There are still to many questions to make a fair comparison.

Pitchers
#7 Tim Alderson | RHP | D.o.B: 11-3-88 | Stats (A+/AA): 5.9 K/9 | 2.8 BB/9 | 128 1/3 IP | 6.03 ERA | 4.83 FIP (A+); 4.47 FIP (AA) | 1.55 WHIP | 1.1 Hr/9 | 11.2 H/9 | .333 BABIP (A+); .345 BABIP (AA)
I once wrote a Scouting the Unknown article praising Alderson. Now, I might have to say that Alderson was a cheap price for the Giants to receive Freddy Sanchez. Alderson has a downward trending strikeout rate, and this year was the worst at 5.9 K/9. The control is still there, but he isn’t fooling anyone now. Also, he is giving up too many home runs (1.1 Hr/9) along with too many hits (11.2 H/9). Still young, I’m not going to sing praises for this prospect until he can dominate a level. Scouts noticed decreased velocity during the 2009 season. There are more red flags than in China. There are a few bright spots. He had extremely low LOB percentages (LOB%: 55.4 % at High-A; 65.2% at Double-A; normal is about ~70%). Beyond this, I would steer clear while he tries to rebound at Double-A again in 2011.

#15 Bryan Morris | RHP | D.o.B: 3-28-87 | Stats (A+/AA): 8.3 K/9 | 2.6 BB/9 | 133 2/3 IP | 3.03 ERA | 2.01 FIP (A+); 3.87 FIP (AA) | 1.21 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 8.3 H/9 | .301 BABIP (A+); .316 BABIP (AA)
Morris was received in the Jason Bay trade. He throws a 91 to 93 MPH fastball that touches 95 MPH, a plus-curve and a mediocre changeup. At this point, he is more exciting than Alderson. There are injury concerns in his past, and a few character blemishes due to a combative/competitive nature. Should not be in the majors until the end of the 2011 season.

  1. Chris says:
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    Ehhh…I would almost expect the Pirates to have a bottom 5 type of system, given the lack of prospects to really be excited about. Owens and Locke are nice, and hopefully Machado will live up to the billing in 2014 or so, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else going on..

  2. Scott says:
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    No Jokes? WTF

  3. GopherDay says:
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    Wasn’t Machado drafted by the Orioles? The Pirates drafted Taillon…

  4. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Chris: Yeah, the Pirates system is very bare, and as GopherDay stated, Jameson Tallion not Machado was drafted by the Pirates. You can read a full description of his scouting report (or watch the video) here:
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100816&content_id=13525122&vkey=draftcentral2010&fext=.jsp

    Tallion and Alle help the pitching, which is exactly what they need. Tallion ETA would still be around 2013 or 2014 barring injuries and assuming success.

    @Scott: It took a Spartan-like determination not to make fun of the Pirates.

    @GopherDay: Correct, my oversight.

  5. GopherDay says:
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    @Stephen: Ha! “Spartan-like determination” that was funny!

  6. Black Beard says:
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    In your opinion, who is the better recent 3B prospect: Moose or Alvarez? Anyone else fantasy baseballers should be keeping tabs on in the near future?

  7. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @GopherDay: Thanks.

    @Black Beard: Moose, by a hair is the better prospect, but Alvarez has at least hit major league pitching. Other prospects for the near future, when my Top 50 List is finished and published (hopefully after Grey’s Run though of players, or sooner), you’ll know more. I think there are quite a few quiet secrets on the Indians, Jason Kipinis to name one.

  8. Black Beard says:
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    @Stephen: Thanks Stephen. What do you think about Alvarez for next year and beyond? Does he still have a lot to work on or is he the type of player that could make the jump somewhat quickly?

  9. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Black Beard: He’ll have good power but low average due the strikeouts and minimal walks (still average, but not great). I think he could be a consistent 30 home run hitter with a fluctuating average, between .240 and .270

  10. Trevor says:
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    Do you think Tabata will be a good OF option next year, or more of a Denard Span (2010) type?

  11. GopherDay says:
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    @Stephen: I just traded for Moose in my Dynasty league to shore up my 3B slot. He’s an upgrade over Cuddyer that’s for sure. When do you expect him to make a major league impact? Mid-season? Are your expectations about on par with Alvarez?

  12. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Trevor: I think Tabata’s upside would be 10/30.

    @GopherDay: June to save Arbitration, but who knows with Dayton Moore. My expectations would be Alvarez with better average.

  13. Calogero says:
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    Love your work, Stephen. I only pick nits because I’m a Pirate fan, but I really appreciate these columns.

    1. The Pirates system is definitely middle of the road. It’s a little short on close-to-the-majors talent, but if you’re prospecting long-term, then there’s some high level talent and a ton of depth.

    2. Taillon is a top 10 MiLB SP (a lot of people see Beckett in him). He’s far away now, but not too many people can match his ceiling, and that’s something.

    3. I think you’re selling Sanchez very short. If any comparison can be made to a Molina, I’d call him a rich man’s Yadier. He’s starting this season at AA, where he would have played the 2nd half of 2010 if not for a broken jaw.

    He’s consistently been hitting over .300 at every level, and has shown definite 12-15 HR power. He has a great BB/K rate and has put up an OBP over .400 at every level. Think about that. How many C in the majors hit 12-15 HR and .300? Wouldn’t that production make him a Top 10 fantasy catcher right now? If you project even a little upside and say he could peak at 18-20 HR and .310 with a .840 OPS and with good R totals due to his on-base skills, isn’t that more or less Brian McCann?

    4. Beyond that, you have guys like Stetson Allie, Marte, Owens, Locke, Morris, and some of the recent HS pitching picks they’ve had in the past 2 years that could develop into nice pieces. I’d bet that at least 2-3 or those guys will be in Top 100 lists next year, as well as Taillon, Sanchez and the top pick in 2011.

  14. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Calogero: #3 re:Sanchez – I meant Yadier. I confuse the Molina bothers. As for hitting .300, he also hasn’t played a full season.

    #1 re:Pirates system – It might have upside, but the lack of major league ready talent, or even middle of the minors talent, definitely make it a bottom third system for 2011.

    #2 re: Tallion: I saw the comparisons, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to fly through the minors and succeed in the majors. Brian Matusz had favorable comparisons and struggled in the majors and Aaron Crow has struggled in the minors after getting drafted twice in the top 15. Just saying.

    #4 re: Top 100 list: I would say that Tallion, Sanchez and Owens are locks, but Locke Morris and to a lesser extent Marte might be a stretch. Most Top 100 lists are about future value. Now, Owens and Locke might be in my Top 50 Fantasy Minor Leaguers though.

  15. Jake in Columbus says:
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    Stephen, do we think we might see anything from Robinson Chirinos in the bigs for 2011? If so, when?

  16. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Jake in Columbus: That’s a good question. Honestly, I am not sure. Might be June, could be when Jaso struggles, if he struggles. Could be just another Quad-A player. Not the greatest prospect though either. Sorry I can’t be much help.

  17. Jake in Columbus says:
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    @Stephen: Kinda what I surmised. They still have Shoppach too. Wasn’t able to find Chirinos’ splits though, to see if a platoon could be in order from either side. Was intrigued by the possibility of a C with multiple position eligibility since he was a converted infielder. However, Rays look to have enough flexibility that he’s not likely to be needed anywhere else. Was worth looking into anyway.

  18. Jake in Columbus says:
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    @Stephen: Coincidentally, THT just tweeted about him as a possible sleeper for 2012, if not later this year. Worth monitoring, depending on one’s league.

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