Prospect Recap: Part XIV

Top Prospects 21-25

25. Robby Rowland: The Pirates acquired Robby Rowland before the start of the 2012 season in exchange for Brett Lorin, whom the Diamondbacks selected from the Pirates in the Rule V draft. Rowland was a 3rd round high school selection in the 2010 draft. In 2010 the Diamondbacks had Rowland make his professional debut in the pioneer league, an advanced rookie league. He got hit around a little bit but the league is known for being offensively friendly so overall his numbers weren’t that bad. Before the 2011 season the Diamondbacks had Rowland change his throwing motion and then had him repeat the advanced rookie level. The results were awful as he was hit around again but much worse this time. The Pirates acquired him before 2012 and sent him to extended spring training where they worked with him to get him back to his regular throwing motion, something the Diamondbacks had already started. He debuted for the Pirates at the A level in mid May and pitched well the whole season being the Pirates best starter at that level. Rowland showed very good command but was unable to miss many bats. As far as his arsenal is concerned he has a low 90s fastball and a couple secondary pitches highlighted by a good splitter. The splitter gives him a high ground out rate which compensates slightly for the lack of strike outs. Rowland will be 21 next season and should be in the A+ level. He is going to start having to miss some bats to move up the prospect ladder but the potential is there.

24. Max Moroff: Moroff was drafted by the Pirates in the 16th round of this past draft. He was announced as a shortstop but had played every infield position for his high school team. The Pirates liked him enough that they gave him 300K to sign after Appel refused to sign. He got off to a late start but once he made his debut in rookie ball it became apparent what the Pirates saw in him. Moroff was the everyday shortstop and posted a 343/471/433 line, good for a .904 OPS. He showed outstanding plate discipline and struck out only 11 times. Moroff is a decent defender at short; he possess a good arm but there are questions about whether he has the range to stick at the position. His speed is solid but nothing special. Moroff’s real calling card is his good plate discipline and line drive bat. In the short amount of time he played in rookie ball he showed off that advanced approach at the plate and it should likely be enough to skip him straight to full season ball next year. Moroff will likely be a popular break out choice in the Pirates system headed in to 2013.

23. Willy Garcia: Garcia was signed by the Pirates as an international free agent in 2010. The Pirates gave him a significant sized bonus of 280K showing they believed he had a lot of talent. Garcia’s most notable tool is his raw power but he also is a fairly good defensive outfielder and has a strong arm. He is not as fast as a lot of a Latin American outfield prospects but he runs fairly well. On the down side he is an aggressive swinger who doesn’t like to take a lot of pitches. Garcia debuted in the DSL in 2010 at the age of 17. He did fairly well there but his numbers didn’t stand out, they were just average. The Pirates still brought him to the states in 2011 where he started out at the rookie level. He had an up and down season there, once again struggling with plate discipline but he finished the year with solid numbers and was even given a promotion to A- near the end of the season. Like a lot of prospects the Pirates promote from rookie ball to A- near the end of the season the Pirates started Garcia off in A ball in 2012. Once again he struggled with plate discipline but this time it came with him showing some of that raw power by blasting 18 HR. He once again ended the season with a solid but not spectacular stat line. Garcia hasn’t stood out an any level but he has been holding his own despite being young for each level. He will only be 20 next season and could play at either A or A+ but if he continues to show off that raw power and makes even a slight improvement in his plate discipline Garcia has the raw talent necessary to quickly shoot up this list.

22. Gift Ngoepe: Ngoepe was signed by the Pirates in 2008 out of South Africa. He was the first black South African to ever sign a pro contract with a baseball team. At the time his signing earned a lot of attention and looked more like a good story and a publicity stunt but the Pirates claimed it was a baseball move. Fast forward 4 years and it is certainly clear that Ngoepe is no mere publicity stunt but rather a true prospect. The Pirates sent him to rookie ball in 2009 and he did fairly well showing decent plate discipline and playing solid defense. In 2010 the Pirates sent him to A- and he looked to be making progress with the bat but he slumped near the end of the season when opponents started throwing him primarily offspeed pitches. The Pirates still felt highly enough of Ngoepe to push him to A ball the following season. He started off hot there, showing good plate discipline, cutting his K rate and even surprisingly showing a little bit of power. Unfortunately he suffered a hammate injury early on which caused him to basically miss the rest of the season. Still despite only getting 85 AB at the A level the Pirates pushed the raw Ngoepe up to A+. He once again started struggling with strike outs but he did manage to keep his walk rate up and even surprisingly hit 9 HR. However Ngoepe isn’t a prospect because of his bat but because of his glove and once again he was great with that. He was named the best defensive shortstop in the league and his glove work was good enough to have him crack Baseball America’s top 20 prospects for that league. Ngoepe has a lot of work to do with his bat and even on the base paths but his terrific glove work should keep him around a while and with a promotion to AA possibly on the horizon he is worth watching.

21. Adrian Sampson: Sampson was drafted by the Pirates in the 5th round of this past draft. Sampson was drafted out of a Junior College but he had offers to go to Oregon both going into next year and out of high school. Sampson signed for basically slot money right after the draft and almost immediately began pitching for at the A- level. He was overshadowed there by two dazzling performances by higher rated prospects but he pitched extremely well there and even managed to miss a few bats with a 9.1 K/9. Sampson has a low 90s fastball which he can get up into the mid 90s and compliments it with a good curve and a work in progress change-up. He also has good command of his pitches. The most encouraging sign fo Sampson was his ability to get strike outs at the A- level as that is something that very few other Pirates pitchers did at the level. Sampson will be 21 years old next season so he is still relatively young but the Pirates will probably not be afraid to move quickly with him meaning he should start the season off in A ball and if he does well he could be quickly promoted to A+. Sampson will be another popular breakout choice headed into the 2013 season.

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