A Look At The Minors: Center Field

Top 3 Prospects

1. Starling Marte

2. Gorkys Hernandez

3. Mel Rojas Jr

Notable: Evan Chambers, Willy Garcia

Starling Marte

Marte is one of the Pirates top prospects and due to the poor season Sanchez is having he is widely considered the Pirates top position player prospect. He was the speculation of many trade rumors this trade deadline but nothing came of it. Marte is a terrific defender who has a great arm. He adds to his max great speed and a high average. His defensive skills are so advanced that it has lead some people to speculate he could force McCutchen out of CF. On the downside Marte doesn’t have much power although he could develop it. An encouraging sign is that he has hit a 7 home runs this season and this is the season after he had hammate surgery which usuaully drains a player’s power. Marte also has a plate discipline problem, striking out too much and rarely walking. He profiles as a top of the order hitter so a lack of power isn’t a negative but his plate discipline needs to improve. Marte is having a terrific 2011 season and should start next season in AAA.

April: .326/.363/.453 (.816 OPS)

May: .331/.355/.475 (.830 OPS)

June: .337/.378/.522 (.900 OPS)

July: .265/.314/.408 (.722 OPS)

Gorkys Hernandez

Hernandez was one of the 3 players acquired in the Nate McLouth deal but due to a poor showing since coming to Pittsburgh he was largely written off as a prospect. Hernandez put himself back on the prospect map with a strong June and has even been talked about as a potential call up to the majors. Hernandez is considered by some as the best defensive OF is the Pirates organization. He also has a great arm and very good speed. He shares a lot of his downsides with Marte. Hernandez hits for no pwer (even less than Marte) and has little plate discipline. Another downside is he doesn’t hit for near the same average as Marte. Unless he can improve his plate discipline and get his average up Hernandez profiles as a bench OF who will be mainly utilized for his speed and defense.

April: .246/.324/.308 (.632 OPS)

May: .283/.358/.350 (.708 OPS)

June: .337/.367/.481 (.848 OPS)

July: .260/.295/.400 (.695 OPS)

Mel Rojas Jr

Rojas, like Dickerson this year, is a forgotten 3rd round pick. He was taken after Taillon and Allie last season and because of this was kind of pushed to the back. Rojas is considered a five tool talent although there is some debate about wether or not he will hit for power. His speed while not oustanding is good enough to make him a very effective base runner. He also has good defensive instincts although he may or may not stay in center field depending on how he develops. He got his pro career started last year in A- but did not impress; he started this season in A ball and again hasn’t really showed much. Rojas was a JuCo player, not a traditional college draftee,  so it is understandable that he may be having some issues adjusting. He has been doing a little better recently but still needs to improve upon his numbers.

April: .253/.280/.278 (.558 OPS)

May: .243/.274/.261 (.535 OPS)

June: .268/.324/.392 (.716 OPS)

July: .237/.324/.402 (.726 OPS)

Evan Chambers

Chambers is yet another 3rd round pick, he was drafted in the 2009 draft. Looking at his stat line the one thing that jumps out is his low average but that doesn’t tell the whole story about him. Chambers has displayed goo power, hittting for 12 home runs and last year and has also shown good speed stealing 35 bases last season. His defensive skills leave something to be desired but he does have a very good arm which should be an asset going forward. Last season I was closely following Chambers because he nearly pulled off an amazing feat of having more walks than hits (up until the last month of the season it was basically a dead heat).  On the downside to his walks Chambers strikes out a lot, fanning in 28% of his at bats last season. This season Chambers is playing in A+ ball; he started poorly but has rebounded nicely posting two strong months . His walk rate has understandably fell (17.7% last season, 13.8% this season) but unfortunately his strike out rate has remained about the same.

April: .219/.366/.288 (.654 OPS)

May: .176/.293/.306 (.599 OPS)

June: .247/.350/.459 (.809 OPS)

July: .313/.437/.531 (.968 OPS) 

Willy Garcia

Garcia was signed last season out of the Dominican Republic for 280K. He is only 18 years old this season but is already playing in the states. He spent last season in the DSL and put up respectable numbers. Garcia is another potential 5 tool player. He has yet to show much power but he has a projectable frame which leads some people to believe he will add power. His speed, defense and arm are already there as plus tools. Garcia has a lot of development to do but he is a very talented player and worth keeping an eye on. He has played in the GCL this season and has put up good numbers thus far.

Season: .267/.319/.486 (.805 OPS)

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