Results tagged ‘ Stetson Allie ’
We are now about a month into the major league and minor league seasons, and I think it is about time that I post my current top 15 prospects in the Pirates’ system. I plan on making a new one every month during the season, just to see which top prospects are rising through the rankings due to performance and/or adjustments, and to see which players are dropping for any reason. It’s only a month into the season, so upside is more important than performance for some of the younger prospects. My rankings for each player in my September rankings are in parenthesis.
1.) Jameson Taillon (2)–RHP–20
Taillon was the instant #1 prospect in the system when he was taken 2nd overall in the 2010 draft, but fell to #2 in many rankings after Gerrit Cole was drafted in 2011. After a stellar start to the season, Taillon has reclaimed the #1 spot in my eyes. He has a 1.76 ERA and 0.82 WHIP to this point, along with strong secondary numbers, including a 5.6 Hits/9, 9.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and zero home runs allowed to this point. Taillon has gained this top spot because he has outperformed Cole at the same level at a younger age, and his changeup, the pitch that helped keep him behind Cole, seems to be coming along nicely. That pitch is added to an already plus fastball and plus curve.
2.) Gerrit Cole (1)–RHP–21
Cole has done nothing wrong to lose his top spot in the rankings. Taillon has just been performing very well. Cole has struggled at points in this season, but has a 3.54 ERA and 10.9 K/9, while not allowing many hits. Cole was the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and may already have three plus pitches. He should be up in AA sometime in the next month. General Manager Neal Huntington said that both Cole and Taillon are on the “right track” for AA promotions.
3.) Starling Marte (3)–CF–23
Marte had a great spring training and this caused many fans to call for him to start the year in the majors. Management made the right call by putting him in AAA, as he was not ready for the majors. His average in AAA as of now is .268, but he has a respectable .780 OPS. His walk rate is up a little, which has been a problem in the past, but so is his strikeout rate, now at 23.2%. The speedy, rocket-armed outfielder has spent most of his time in center field this year, but unfortunately was hit in the hand by a pitch on May 6th, but Huntington said he is day-to-day.
4.) Josh Bell (5)–RF–19
Bell started the year in Low-A, but after only 62 at-bats, got injured while running the bases. He underwent surgery, and has begun his rehab. In those at bats, Bell had a .274 average with one homer and a .691 OPS. He still has the best power in the system, coming from both sides of the plate, so this knee injury definitely hurts the organization.
5.) Luis Heredia (4)–RHP–17
Heredia has yet to pitch this year in real games, and will begin his season with the short season State College Spikes when they begin their season in June. Heredia has the highest upside of anyone on this list, but to reach this potential he will have to learn to better control his pitches, and continue to show good velocity. At 17 years old, there is definitely time for him, and no need to rush him.
6.) Stetson Allie (6)–RHP–21
There is a huge drop off from #5 to #6 on this list. There is no player that is a clear choice for this spot, and with many players struggling in the system, I went with the remaining player that has the most upside. I’m not going to speak about Allie and his current 108 BB/9 right now, but he was said to have improved control (can’t really get much worse) in spring training. He has two plus pitches with his fastball and slider, and if he ever learns to control them, he could be a very good pitcher. He was demoted to extended spring training to work on his control.
7.) Kyle McPherson (9)–RHP–24
McPherson has yet to pitch this year due to shoulder inflammation. He was able to move up two spots in the rankings because the guys ahead of him have not performed and are showing little signs of improvement. McPherson has great control and three solid pitches, and will start his season in AAA whenever he can return. He is currently on a throwing program, but shoulder injuries are never a good sign for a pitcher, with an example being Evan Meek.
8.) Rudy Owens (18)–LHP–24
Owens made the biggest jump in the rankings of anyone on this list. So far in his second year of AAA, he has posted a 2.12 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, to go along with much improved walk numbers (which was never really a problem). He has now set himself up to be the first person out of the AAA rotation to be called up if the Pirates ever need another starter due to injury or trade.
9.) Jeff Locke (12)–LHP–24
Along with Owens, Locke is having a very good year in AAA, and is giving himself the opportunity to be called up to the majors if needed. He has a 2.34 ERA so far, which gives him a 2.27 ERA in 63 career AAA innings. Locke has good control and good overall pitches, which gives him decent upside in the majors, probably more so than Owens.
10.) Tony Sanchez (7)–C–23
Sanchez has yet to figure out how to really hit AA pitching, which is the toughest jump for a hitter. However, coming out of college as a first rounder, Sanchez should be hitting by this point. Not only is his hitting not improving by much, his fielding is not really improving either. I’ve read that his throwing accuracy has gotten worse, but his caught stealing percentage is about the same as last year. Time seems to be running out for the 2009 fourth overall pick to establish himself as a top prospect.
11.) Nick Kingham (11)–RHP–20
Kingham has struggled so far in Low-A, but the potential is still there. He put up a great statistical year in 2011, and showed good velocity in spring, consistently throwing in the low to mid 90′s. His curve and change can be solid pitches, but he has mainly focused on his fastball to this point. His control has escaped him this year, which is the probable cause to his early struggles. He is young enough that his upside is still the most important thing for him.
12.) Colton Cain (10)–LHP–21
Cain had a solid year in Low-A in 2011, but has had mixed results in High-A this year. His ERA is at 4.88 after six starts, mainly because a couple bad starts. Cain has decent control of his fastball, which sits around 90 MPH, and compliments that pitch with a curve and change, with both pitches having the potential to be above average.
13.) Matt Curry (15)–1B–23
Curry has the most upside of the first baseman in the upper levels, and is off to a nice start offensively in AA this year. He currently has a .317 average, to go along with an .843 OPS, two homers, and 17 RBI. If Curry continues to hit the way he is, we could see him up in AAA this year at some point, pushing Matt Hague to third base. Again, Curry has more upside than Hague, and is currently the best bet of being the Pirates’ first baseman of the future.
14.) Alen Hanson (NA)–SS–19
Hanson has gotten a lot of coverage this season because of his hot start, flirting with an average above .400 for a long time. His average currently sits at .385 before his game on May 7th, and he has an OPS of 1.059 to go along with that. This may be a stretch to rank him this high on the list, but a 19 that is hitting like than and who has a chance to be a good defensive shortstop in the future as well definitely deserves some praise. He also has great speed, stealing 11 bases to this point.
15.) Robbie Grossman (8)–CF–22
I was a little hesitant to put Grossman at #8 last time because all his success came in his second year in High-A. So far in his jump to AA, which is the hardest jump for a hitter, he has struggled a good deal at the plate, with a .225 average and .660 OPS. Grossman suffered a broken hamate bone in the fall, while he was tearing up the Arizona Fall League. The AFL is a league where many of the top prospects in baseball play after the season is over, so it was nice to see Grossman perform the way he did there. He is still young, so he has time to adjust to pitchers in AA. In 2011, he was the first minor leaguer since Nick Swisher in 2004 to score 100 runs and walk 100 times.
If you have any questions or comments on these rankings, please send them to me on twitter @mikemaw45, or comment below.
Over the past few seasons the Pittsburgh Pirates have accumulated a lot of young, raw talent in the lower levels of their minor league system, via the draft and international signings. The Pirates have some high profile prospects in their organization, most notably Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Starling Marte, but are said to lack depth after these type of players. But with all the young talent, that problem can definitely be resolved.
There are multiple players in the Pirates system that could be “breakout” prospects this year. A few players from recent drafts that could receive this label are: Stetson Allie (2nd round, 2010), Zack Von Rosenberg (6th, 2009), and Mel Rojas Jr. (3rd, 2010). International signings that could be breakout prospects are: Jose Osuna, Willy Garcia, Alen Hanson, Jordaneli Carvajal, and Gregory Polanco. In this post, I will evaluate five of these players that I believe are the most likely to have “breakout” years.
This was my write-up for Allie back in September when I released my top 30 prospects for Bloggin Buccos.
6.) Stetson Allie–RHP–20: With Allie, there is a lot of risk involved, but the reward can be very high. He hadn’t really pitched a good amount before his senior year in high school, but he had great natural pitches and velocity (hitting triple digits often) and pitched well enough to earn the #8 prospect in the 2010 pre-draft rankings by Baseball America. He fell to the Pirates in the second round because of the money he wanted, but the Pirates were able to sign him for a $2.25 million bonus. Some expected him to begin the season with West Virginia, but that wouldn’t have been a good decision due to his lack of experience on the mound. He made his debut with short-season State College when their season started, and originally pitched out of the rotation. His control was a major question mark coming into the season, and he showed why that was. Allie struggled with control throughout the season, and was moved to the bullpen to work on it. The control never really came, and he ended up walking 29 batters in 26 innings, but he also struck out 28. A positive sign from the season was that hitters only batted .208 against him, so if he can better control his pitches, he could be something special. Some see his long term role as a power closer, but for now the Pirates will most likely continue his development as a starter. I believe he will start in extended Spring Training next year, but he could be in West Virginia sometime in late April or May if he makes strides with his control. If everything goes right, Allie can be a top of the rotation starter with a fastball nearing 100 MPH, along with a great breaking slider that can reach the low 90’s.
As it turned out, Allie started the season for low-A West Virginia after showing somewhat improved control in spring training. In his first start, however, his control was non-existent as he walked four batters in 0.1 innings, allowing two earned runs. He missed his next start with tightness in his elbow. Reports from minor league spring training seemed positive, stating that his control looked much better, but his first start seemed extremely far from that. But, if he can start throwing more strikes, he will be a very interesting prospect. He has two plus pitches when he can throw in the strike zone, but still has to develop a changeup to have success as a starter.
Allie is very hard to hit, but will need better control if he is to stay a starting pitcher. If his control really is getting better and his first start was just a fluke, he could be an excellent starting pitcher, possibly breaking back into Baseball America’s top 100 prospects again, where he was ranked #79 heading into 2011.
Zack Von Rosenberg
My write-up for Von Rosenberg in September for Bloggin Buccos top 30 Pirates prospects:
17.) Zack Von Rosenberg–RHP–20: ZVR had a terrible year on paper. He had a 5.73 ERA while spending the entire season at low-A West Virginia pitching out of the rotation. However, ZVR put up some impressive secondary numbers, with 8.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 ratios, to go along with a decent 1.32 WHIP. A lot of his struggles this year can be explained by his lack of command, leaving the ball up in the zone too often. The Pirates teach their minor league pitchers to better command their fastball in the lower levels, so we can expect this to improve moving forward. I ranked ZVR at #17, but I feel like he could make a case for the top 10 Pirates prospects because of his potential. Baseball America ranked him as the #41 prospect coming out of the 2009 draft, and he has a good amount of upside. His secondary pitches worked very well for him when he used them more, and he finished the season strongly, with a 2.66 ERA in his final 9 starts. He also threw six perfect innings in his last start of the year. If he learns better command of his fastball, ZVR is a definite candidate for a breakout season at Bradenton next year, where he is expected to begin the season.
Von Rosenberg is on the low-A West Virginia roster to begin the season, making it his second year at that level. Leaving the ball up in the zone will cause problems for any pitcher, especially if they throw 88-91 MPH with their fastball, as Von Rosenberg does. However, ZVR has a projectable build, meaning he has a chance to add velocity moving forward. He possesses a good curveball that helped him out later in the 2011 season. His secondary numbers from 2011 are definitely encouraging, and keeping the ball lower in the zone will allow him to lower his 10.2 H/9 from 2011. In 2009 and 2010, ZVR was viewed as a prospect that could eventually become a top of the rotation starter, and at 21 years old, there is still time for him to develop into that role.
Mel Rojas Jr.
Rojas came in at number 27 in my rankings in September.
27.) Mel Rojas Jr.–CF–21: When it comes to players like Rojas, his prospect status is based purely on his raw talent, not on his stats. He has not put up strong numbers to this point, with a .246/.312./.335 line for Low-A West Virginia in 2011. That’s a .646 OPS, not very impressive for a player with his talent at such a low level. However, when he was drafted in 2010 out of Junior College, some scouts said that he has the ability to develop into a five tool player. He has good speed and has showed he can play center field with a good arm, but his hitting has not lived up to expectations. He started to turn things around at the end of this season, so that should earn him a promotion to Bradenton next year. He is too raw to project what he could be in the majors, but Rojas has enough potential and talent to take him to that level.
Rojas did end up making the next step to High-A Bradenton in 2012 as the starting right fielder, with Evan Chambers starting in center field. He’s gotten off to a good start in his first nine games, with a .333 average and .896 OPS. He has shown to be a good fielder with speed, so the main concern with him will be his ability to hit, and his ability to hit for power. Rojas has raw power, which he displays in batting practice, but has yet to show that in games, with only five home runs 708 minor league at bats in the lower levels. It’s been a small sample size so far, but if he can continue to hit well this season, Rojas definitely has the ability to be a five-tool talent that could join a list of very talented young outfielders in the Pirates’ organization.
Hanson did not make my top 30 prospects list, but was a candidate to take one of the final spots. He played 2011 in the Gulf Coast League after a successful 2010 season in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .324 with an .830 OPS. Hanson has good speed and good defense, but after a hot start last year, he trailed off and ended up hitting .260 with a .767 OPS. He had 22 extra base hits in 208 at bats, which helped raise his OPS to a decent level. In 2012, Hanson is off to an amazing start for Low-A West Virginia, batting .404 in his first 52 at batswith four home runs (he had four homers in his first 452 at bats in the minors), along with nine RBI, five doubles and a triple. Hanson has all the tools to be an above average player in the majors, and if he continues to swing a hot bat, he could be a top 100 prospect in the upcoming years.
Along with Hanson, Polanco was not on my top 30 prospects list, but was not in contention for any of the final spots. He struggled in the past, with a combined .218 average in 357 at bats in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. But in 2012 he seems to have figured some of his hitting troubles out, as he is off to a great start, batting .333 in 39 at bats with four home runs and 12 RBI. Polanco possesses good speed and has the ability to play center field, but will probably end up at a corner outfield spot in the future. It was a surprise that Polanco started the year in Low-A, but so far he has adjusted very well. He has the natural ability to continue hitting for a good average and power, to go along with a good amount of stolen bases.
The Pirates have a lot of young players in the lower levels of their organization that have a lot of raw talent, but have yet to have success. Recently, the team has seen prospects like Robbie Grossman and Kyle McPherson break out, and many more have the chance to in the near future. Also, guys in the upper levels that were once top prospects that could develop into strong major league options after struggling in the recent years are Tim Alderson (Baseball America’s #45 prospect in 2009), Andrew Lambo (#49 in 2009), Tony Sanchez (#46 in 2011), Gorkys Hernandez (#62 in 2009), and Bryon Morris. Depth could be an issue for the Pirates for now, but the talent is there to have one of the top minor league systems.
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