Pittsburgh Pirates: Chat
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.
Hi everyone. Looking forward to talking
Pirates' prospects. Though they continue to lose at the major leagues,
the Pirates do have a much deeper pool of prospects than just two years
ago when Neal Huntington took over as general manager. The system is
much improved and the Pirates should be able to get another high-impact
player drafting No. 2 next year. Anyhow, let's chat.
Frank (Denver): Did either of the two Indians make your Top 30? Which has the most upside?
No, neither one did. Though Rinku
Singh, the left-hander, won the Million Dollar arm, it was the
right-hander Dinesh Patel, who had a 1.42 ERA in the Gulf Coast League.
Granted, the sample size was very small but it is amazing the progress
they have made considering they had never played baseball until the
fall of 2008.
Ben (Leland Grove): What led to the Pirates' inability to sign Miguel Sano?
Ultimately, it came down to the Pirates
not following the wishes of the Sano family, as expressed through agent
Rob Plummer. They did not want teams to contact the family directly and
the Pirates did that, apparently more than once.
Ryan (STL): Did Dan Moskos come close to making this list?
No. Even though he had an encouraging
season at Altoona, his strikeout rate was extremely low and his stuff
is just not what it was in college. It was a step forward but he has
more steps to take before he becomes a top 10 guy, especially in a
system that has become deeper.
Eric (Pittsburgh): What can you tell us about Brooks Pounders' mechanics, and where did he land overall?
I did not get a chance to see Pounders
pitch but the reports are that he has pretty clean mechanics and the
athletic ability to repeat his delivery. He is pretty advanced from a
"pitchability" standpoint by all accounts.
Jean-Paul (Springfield, IL): When he was first
drafted, BA's scouting report said that Wes Freeman had possible 5-tool
potential. What shortcomings does he need to work on, and did he make
the Top 30?
Freeman had a very disappointing year
in the Gulf Coast League, not totally unexpected for a young guy. He
needs to work on his approach at the plate as much as anyone. Like a
lot of young hitters, he tends to get anxious and swing at the
pitcher's pitch rather than waiting for something he can handle. He is
so talented and so young that the Pirates are far from giving up on
him. He did not make the top 30 but that's primarily a function of the
Pirates improving the depth of their farm system.
Ryan (WA): How close did Victor Black come to the top 10, and what kept him off?
Very close. Basically, the only thing
that kept him off was the fact that the Pirates' quantity of prospects
had increased quite a bit. In many years, he would have been a shoo-in
to be in the top 10, probably even the top five.
Ben (Leland Grove): In your 2013 lineup card,
Lincoln was the only prospect from the list to make the starting
rotation. Does this mean the others are considered more of a safe bet
to remain, or that they have a higher ceiling than the other arms on
the list, or something else?
Basically, the Pirates are a little
short on starting pitching prospects at the upper levels beyond Lincoln
and Alderson. The reports on Alderson all season, and particularly in
August after he was traded to the Pirates, is that his stuff and
command were down over previous seasons. As we all know, predicting
pitchers' future performance is very tricky and that projected 2013
rotation could look completely different by the time 2013 actually
Wes (Chatham): Could we get your evaluation of Nelson Pereira? Thanks!
OK stuff, decent idea of what he's
doing on the mound. However, he struggled with the jump from the GCL to
the New York-Penn League and that raises some questions about his
Keith W (Jersey): it looks like Zack Von Rosenberg could be a steal in the draft this year. what is his upside?
His upside is very high. I'd say a No.
2 starter and that might be conservative. He has the talent and the
pitching savvy to be very very good.
cliff jordan (chicago, il): Is Rudy Owens a
better bet as a lefty reliever next year with the big club? As a
starter he looks like a clone of what we already have, and the Bucs do
need a middle - inning lefty. Thanks.
The Pirates look at him as a starter
and I don't see anyway they would rush him to the major leagues to be a
reliever next season when he hasn't pitched above Class A yet. They
would rather fill that hole with a veteran and let the younger pitchers
develop. There is nothing wrong with that because, frankly, it's highly
doubtful they are going to be contenders next season.
Diane (Pittsburgh PA): Are you reasonably certain that Tabata has put his maturity issues behind him since being traded?
I really do believe that he has grown
up a lot. The Pirates insist he hasn't caused any trouble since coming
over from the Yankees as the whole kidnapping thing in spring training
was his gold-digging wife's doing. I've had the opportunity to talk
with him a couple of times and he seems to truly understand that he
made some mistakes with the Yankees and is determined to prove that
he's a good gauy.
cliff jordan (chicago, il): Who will be the Garrett Jones of 2010?
How about Eric Kratz, who was re-signed
as a six-year free agent? He is a catcher with some pop and the
pitchers at Indianapolis loved the way he handled them last season.
Virginia (PA): Is first base Pedro Alvarez' only recourse if he can't handle third?
That or DH and the Pirates, of course, are in the wrong league for that to be an option.
Dale Berra's Stash (Pittsburgh): On a scale of
1 (low) to 10 (high), give your level of concern regarding: Tabata's
future power, Grossman's K rate, Hernandez's attitude problems,
Morris's injury-prone nature
Kyle Reese (The Future): Is Starling Marte the best OF in the system, including Tabata, but just needs more of a track record?
I think you can certainly make that
case because Marte is a true potential five-tool talent. What I'm
curious to see with both is how much power they eventually develop. I
think that's going to be the determining factor.
Adrian Thaws (Knowle West): Will any of these players make it thru 2010 as Pirate farmhands - Andrew Walker, Mike Felix, Duke Welker?
Perhaps Walker but I think Felix and
Welker are going to need to have good spring trainings to make it on
one of the opening-day rosters.
Pat (Boston): what could u tell me about Colton Cain.... I've heard good things about him and where was he ranked?
He is in the top 30. He is a lefty with a live arm and good athletics ability.
Beth Gibbons (Bristol): Where would Sano have ranked if Plummer wasn't a total dirtbag?
Probably No. 2 right behind Pedro Alvarez and ahead of Jose Tabata.
cliff jordan (chicago, il): Why is Brad
Lincoln not the next Ian Snell? Both are short righthanders with fairly
straight fastballs, as far as I can see. Thanks.
Frankly, different mentalities. Lincoln
doesn't have a persecution complex. Also, Lincoln is more solidly built
than Snell, though I never bought into the fact that Snell's size was
ever a factor against him.
Y. Zober (Busy running the City): With
Lincoln's age (25) and the general injury-prone nature of pitching, is
it worth it to delay his clock if he is one of the 5 best pitchers out
Personally, I'd take him north if he
were deserving. However, the Pirates will likely delay his clock and I
can't totally blame them when they can have him for an extra year at a
time when they might finally be competitive again.
David (Liberty Township): In hearing Neal
Huntington and Kyle Stark talk about Josh Harrison (press), he would
appear to be part of the future of the Pirates. Word is that many feel
he will hit in the Bigs for many years, but where does his glove fit? I
have read the Pirates Brass believe he will be a very good Big League
2B. Where did Harrison fit in the Top 30 as surely he is in the Top 15
with all the Organization head honcho support... Thanks
He is in the top 30 and I'll leave at
that so you'll have something to look forward to when the Prospects
Handbook becomes available in January. I'm not quite as sold on
Harrison being an everyday player as the Pirates are. Now, I have not
had the chance to actually see him play but scouts I trust think he
could make a really good super utility guy in the majors. And there is
nothing wrong with that.
Jim H (Little Pine Creek): Last year at this
time, LH pitching and C were the org's two biggest weaknesses and now
they may be strengths. What are the weaknesses now and do you think
Huntington will aggressively fix them?
They really don't have any can't miss
corner infielders beyond Pedro Alvarez and first base is very thin. I
really think they need to add more power hitters, which is easier to do
through the draft than through trades.
BooyahCanada (New York): What position will d'Arnaud settle at? Any hope for Shelby Ford - was it injuries in 2009 or what?
I really believe d'Arnaud has the
athleticism to play on either side of the second-base bag and it will
all come down to need when he's ready. I'm not convinced that either
Ronny Cedeno or Aki Iwamura are long-term answers, so it could be that
the door opens at shortstop or second base for d'Arnaud. I will say
this, I think he will be in the major leagues sooner rather than later.
Robbie T (Burgh): Is a position change in N. Walker's future? Is catcher still a possibility?
I think the time has come for Walker to
become a super utility guy. I don't think he is going to become the
star player the Pirates hoped for when they drafted him but he can
still be a good big-league player. He's a terrific athlete who could
more than capably play the four-corner positions and he has said he
would be willing to move back behind the plate. I also believe he is
talented enough that he could become passable in center field, too. You
take a switch-hitter with pop who can play six positions and you've got
yourself a pretty valuable National League player.
MaineBucs (Belfast): Who is your pick(s) to show the most improvement this year on the farm?
I think Starling Marte might really go
off now that he's had a half-season's taste of the minors leagues in
the U.S. Someone else to watch is catcher Henry Cabrera, who made his
U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast League this year. He will likely start
next season at West Virginia and a lot of scouts think he has a chance
to be a potential starting major-league catcher. His father, Alex, is a
star player in Japan.
3up3down (Only Bucs): Which HS arm drafted in 2009 has the most pure upside?
I'd say Cain becuase he's a
hard-throwing lefty. However, Von Rosenberg is much more polished at
this stage and he has good stuff, too. Thus, he is the better bet to
cliff jordan (chicago, il): How's Jarek Cunningham coming along? Does he still project as a thirdbaseman?
He is expected to be 100 percent when
spring training begins. Whether he can stay at shortstop is really
going to depend on if he can still take the wear and tear of playing
the position after major knee surgery. Certaintly, I don't think you
can totally commit to making him a third baseman until you're sure he
can't be a big-league shortstop.
wanaplay (Allegheny River houseboat): As a
beat writer, how do you determine the rankings - mostly from talking
with scouts and the front office? How many of the Top 10 did you see in
A mixture of opinions — front office,
minor-league field staff, scouts from both inside and outside the
organization. It's a constant process throughout the season then I sit
down, make a rough draft of the top 30, revise about it a billion times
then send it off to the BA gurus Jim Callis and John Manuel for their
opinions then revise it some more.
As far as seeing players, I really prided myself in seeing all the farm
clubs, except the GCL, every year during my 21 years working at the
Beaver County Times. Unfortunately becuase of my change in jobs last
season, I did not have time to see all the clubs, which was
disappointing. I am hopeful to get back to touring the minors again.
It's one of the best parts of the job.
Rhys Liam (Wooster): With newspapers failing
and Seven Springs needing a cash infusion, are you concerned that
Nutting may be diverting MLB money to other enterprises?
I have no hard and fast evidence of it
but it certainly could be possible. Since none of his family's three
companies are publicly traded, they are not required to be open with
Woobie (The Great Frontier): How concerned are
the Pirates about Alderson's velo drop? And are you still rocking that
sweet Members Only jacket from your old website?
Dude, you're killing me. It wasn't a
Members Only jacket. Even though I'm one of the worst-dressed people in
the world, I've gotten past Members Only.
On a serious note, the Pirates insist that they are not worried about
Alderson and it was a matter of fatigue. I guess we won't know a
definitive answer until spring training.
Omar (Lakewood): Who's on first for High A Bradenton in 2010 between Morgan, Anderson, and A. Baker? Who goes to DH and who needs a new org?
Great question. I'll venture a guess
here and say Baker plays first and Morgan is the DH for the Bradenton
Manatees (another guess there on the nickname) and Anderson will go
back to West Virginia and play first base after having a bad second
thegreatchris (Where greatness is made): Most underrated prospect? Most overrated? How long does Pedro stick at 3B?
Underrated would be Marte just because
he's still somewhat of unknown around baseball. Overrated is a tough
one but I'd have to say Shelby Ford, who was couldn't hit .200 at
Triple-A after being in the top 10 last year.
If Alvarez is committed to staying in tip-top shape, and I have no
reason to believe he isn't, he should be able to stay at third base for
at least a few years. He is just a big, strong guy, though, and he's
eventually going to have to move over to first as he gets older.
Leonard Shelby (Room 9 and 20 at the motel): Brighter future - Lincoln or Alderson?
Donnie Veal's AFL - aberration or sign of things to come?
Alderson because he got to Class AA at
just a young age. I think we're starting to see Donnie Veal turns
things around. I'll say this, he works hard at trying to become a
better pitcher and he's an extremely bright guy. I would not bet
Andy Dufresne (Mexico): Odds of Moskos becoming above-average relief pitcher?
Better power down the line - Tabata or Hernandez
Where would Tony Sanchez be taken if the draft was done today?
Moskos would strictly be a left-on-left
guy at this point if he were in the major leagues and the Pirates
prefer lefty relievers who can also get right-handed hitters out.
Tabata easily over Hernandez in the power department.
Sanchez would go No. 4 again because the Pirates are thrilled to him,
especially in the fact of all the criticism they took for selecting him
Mr. White (In Alabama): Is Uviedo a starter or reliever long-term?
I think a reliever. I'm just not sure he has the stamina or a third effective pitch to start in the majors.
Jeff Sollars (Chambersburg, Pa): Where can we read you next season?
Love your work.
Well, certainly in the pages of
Baseball America. Beyond that, I'm in a bit of flux at the moment, and
waiting to see how various possibilities turn out. I appreciate the
kind words and interest, that's for sure.
Fred (Ohio): What does the Pirates
organization think of 1B Michaelangel Trinidad? Is he a real prospect
or someone who put up good numbers at an advanced age in a weak league.
Someone who put up good numbers at an advanced agein a weak league.
Jeff Sollars (Chambersburg, Pa): How high are the Pirates on Robbie Grossman? He strikes out an awful lot. Thanks.
The strikeouts are a big concern. If he
can cut those down, he's got a chance to be an everyday big-leaguer
becuase he has good speed, is pretty good defensivley and could develop
some power as he gets older.
Fred (Ohio): Hi: Do the Pirates believe that Chris Aure can be more than simply an organizational pitcher?
They like his arm a lot but are also
mindful that he is very raw and inexperienced coming from Alaska, where
the baseball season is obviously very short. He's going to take a while
to fully develop.
Fred (Ohio): Thoughts on lhp Eliecer Navarro? Do you think he will make WV this year?
I think there's definitely will go there. How he looks in spring training will enter into that decision.
Fred (Ohio): Were the Pirates pleased with Rogelios Noris's performence in the GCL? He really seemed to come on as the season went along.
Yes. He is another guy you can put in that sleeper-ready-to-breakout category.
Fred (Ohio): How concerning was Matt Hague's lack of power?
Very much so since he is a corner infielder.
Steve (Chicago): Where do scouts rate Marte's power potential? With plus-plus speed, can he be a 20-40 player at his peak?
Plus power and, yes, 20-40 is realistic for this kid. He's definitely someone you can dream on.
Fred (Ohio): Because of his advanced age (for high-A), could the Pirates start Diego Moreno at AA to begin next year?
That is a very good possibility.
Andy (Sarver, PA): What impressed you about
Gorkeys Hernandez? He seemed overmatched most of the year in AA. He has
no power and won't hit for average in the upper levels.
His speed and defense. He can really
fly and cover a lot of ground. I think next year is a tell-tale year
for him. At some point, he's going to have to hit and 2010 is the year
it has to happen or he risks losing a lot of luster of his star.
Hal (New Jersey): Did Quinton Miller make the top 30? Does he remain a starter as he moves through the system?
Yes and yes.
Jack (Pitt): Bryan Morris had an up and mostly
down year. Does the fact that he was added to the 40 man roster mean
the Pirates are still high on him?
Yes. They still believe in his raw
ability but they'd like to see him finally beat the injury bug and also
show some more maturity.
Brent (Pitt): Trent Stevenson had a brief, but solid debut. Is he expected to add more velocity as he fills out, and what is his potential?
He kind of got lost with all the other
high school pitchers in the draft because he signed early but he has
the potential to be a major-league starter. I'm not necessarily a big
believer in pitchers adding velocity as they get bigger. It seems more
often than not, it doesn't happen.
DH (Pittsburgh): It seems as though almost
nobody believes that Tabata is only 21. If he's already in his mid 20's
that would certainly alter both his power projection and the window of
his peak years. A good glove and high OBP are still valuable but the
Pirates could really use more pop in the OF. Do you have any feel for
what the Pirates believe? What do you think?
The Pirates are adamant in their belief
that he is 21 and just as adamant that he will develop power. I would
like to see the power manifest itself a little more because, like you
said, they really need this guy to pop some homers since he projects as
a corner outfielder with McCutchen entrenched in center.
DH (Pittsburgh): Chase d'Arnaud looks like he
may be a fine major league shortstop with a very nice OBP. However, if
Jarek Cunningham makes a full recovery, does he have a higher ceiling?
And is he still possibly the SS of the future?
I think Cunningham has a higher ceiling because he's younger but I think d'Arnaud can be a good big-league shortstop.
Dwayne (Greensburg, PA): Who are the best players that Neil Huntington acquired at the trade deadline that didn't make the top 10 list and why?
I tell you one guy I really like that
the Pirates got at the deadline who is not in the top 10 but made the
top 30 is Brett Lorin, a right-hander from Seattle. He pitched really
well at West Virginia and a lot of scouts think he has a chance to be a
major-league starter. Keep an eye on him this year as he might make the
two-level jump to Altoona.
Rob (Alaska): I hear the Bucs are going to try
Andy LaRoche at 2B. Have you heard anything about how it's going and
how do you see this playing out?
He worked out at second during
instructional league but that idea has now been tabled because of the
acquisition of Aki Iwamura to play second.
Steve (Chicago): I love the idea of Lincoln,
Ohlendorf, and Morton at the top of the rotation. 3 guys with power FB
instead of the soft tossing we've seen at the top of the Pirates'
rotation recently. Definitely something to be excited about...Which
brings me to Duke and Maholm. Seems like the Bucs could have sold
"high" on Duke this past deadline. Do you see these 2 being on the team
come August 2010? And is there a real market for either of them? Thanks.
I would not be shocked if Duke is traded this winter. You heard it here first.
Steve (Chicago): No faith in Garrett Jones?
Seems a bit strange that Clement was given the nod at 1B in the
projected 2013 lineup over Jones. Is it more that you have faith in
Clement realizing his talent, no faith in Jones sustaining his major
league success last season, or no faith in Pirate management to pay
Jones will be 33 in 2013, that was the
determining factor. Actually, if I could have put player to be named
later at the position, I would have. I think it will be someone not in
the organization at the present.
Brian (Wisconsin): Bryan Morris wasworking his
way back from Tommy John surgery this year. His 2009 numbers were poor
and as a result fell out of your top 10. Do you give him another year
to come back from Tommy John or is he pretty much a lost cause?
I give him another year. He's still in the top 30 and he's still a prospect.
Nora (PA): If Bryce Harper should somehow fall past the Nats, what are the odds of the Bucs snagging him?
I think they have to. After all this
talk about being willing to spend the money to get the best talent,
they have to take Harper at No. 2 if he's there. If they don't, they
will come across as disingenuous and enrage what fan base is left.
Wilbur Miller (Silver Spring, MD): At what
point do the Pirates face the inevitable and move Dan Moskos back to
the bullpen? If he's going to be in AAA in 2010, that would seem like
I think soon and your plan for 2010 sounds like a good one.
Steven (Morgantown, WV): With the projected
2013 lineup, some young players currently on the roster are glaringly
left out of the Pirates plans. At what point do you see Doumit,
Laroche, and Garrett 'the legend' Jones being actively shopped?
I think Doumit will have been traded or
have left as a free agent by then. I certainly don't see LaRoche
holding off Pedro Alvarez until 2013 and Jones will be 33.
Erik (Pittsburgh): John, How close were Locke
and Moskos to landing in your Top Ten? Where they are now in prospect
status and what do their big league futures project to be? Thanks JP,
love the tweets!
Locke yes, Moskos no. I try to have fun with the tweet, although many people would say I'm a twit.
Joel (Washington, DC): I like the reports on
D'Arnaud, but I have to say the Bucs have had a run of college
shortstops who have hit the wall at upper levels —- Lillibridge and
Friday come to mind. Will D'Arnaud be any different?
It's always a possibility and you make
a good point. I was impressed with how he came on strong in the AFL
since he had not played above Class A.
paul (seattle): is matt hague in your top 30? how was his season? will he go to double-A?
He did not develop into the power
hitter I thought he might become. I wouldn't totally write him off but
he's not one of the 30 best prospects at this time.
Ben (Chicago): John, thnaks for chatting. It's
great to see former BA staffer Chris Kline recognized for signing Tony
Sanchez. Did he sign any other picks last year? Would BA do a follow-up
with him on his scouting experience? Finally, I know Jeff Clement lost
his prospect status, but if that were not the case would his bat carry
him into the top ten as a 1B?
Clement would have probably been in the
lower half of the top 10 if eligible. I don't make the assignments here
but I'll pass along the story idea about Chris Kline, who is making
quite a name for himself early in his scouting career.
Rob (Alaska): I realize none of the three are
prospects any more, but what do you think about the Pirates' strategy
to acquire former top prospects like LaRoche, Milledge and Clement?
Does this approach seem likely to bear fruit?
I think they'll hit on some and miss on others. I know that's a wishy-washy answer but it's a 50-50 proposition.
Steve (owltown): where is brian friday on your list?
In the top 30. If I told you more, I'd ruin the surprise you'll have when you get the Prospects Handbook. Shameless plug there.
Chris (Pittsburgh): Why does Quincey Latimore
get no love in the system? His numbers this year were pretty solid for
a young guy in full-season ball. He is only 7 months older than Robbie
He is definitely a prospect. Until this
year, he would have been a surefire top 30 guy after the season he had
at West Virginia. I think Lattimore is someone to definitely keep an
Chris (Pittsburgh): Last year's late round
steal was Quinton Miller, who the Bucs bought away from North Carolina.
What are the reviews on Miller after his first full season?
Live arm but raw. Needs to learn the nuances of pitching and to throw his changeup more consistently for strikes.
Erik (Pittsburgh): Lighting Round: Jeff Locke or Dan Moskos? By how much?
Locke by a lot.
Brian (Fredericksburg, VA): Who do you see as the best comparison to Pedro Alvarez? A poor mans Albert Pujols? A lefty hitting Aramis Ramirez?
A lefty-hitting Aramis Ramirez works, though he may pop a few more homers and hit for a little less average.
Jake (Texas): what is the early verdict on
Zach Dodson we hear about Cain and Von Rosenberg but hear little about
Dodson. How much upside does he have?
He kind of gets lost in all the high school pitchers the Pirates signed but he certainly is a guy the Pirates are high on.
andy (sarver): Marc Baca was impressive at state college, is he considered a prospect?
Not really a prospect at this point as a low-round draft pick. However, with pitchers, you never know.
Dave (PA): What can you tell me about a couple
of young pitchers the Pirates acquired, Nathan Adcock and Hunter
Strickland? Will they be in the Top 30?
Strickland was throwing 94 mph at the
end of the season and it looks like the Pirates might have something in
him. Adcock is a decent prospect. One is in the top 30 and one isnt'.
The Prospect Handbook will reveal the answer.
Brian (Chicago): What type of prospect is Tom Boleska? I noticed that he played in the World Baseball Cup with Great Britain.
He's a guy to keep an eye on. He's done a really good job, albeit pretty much unnoticed, in the minors.
Tim Williams (Virginia): Alderson was #4 in
the SF system last year. Gorkys was #4 in the Atlanta system last year.
Is the drop for each player a sign that they've fallen off a bit in the
eyes of scouts, or is it a testament to the talent the Pirates have
added to the system the last two years?
A combination of both.
Well, that will wrap it up. Thanks for
all the great questions. Sorry I couldn't get to all of them but I
tried to make a big dent. Take care and Hapy Thanksgiving.