Candidates: Jacob Stallings, Elias Diaz, Francisco Diaz, Kawika Emsley-Pai, Devin Ivany
Analysis: The Pirates do not have a real prospect ready to man the catching position in A+ so the spot will likely go to a fringe prospect or organizational guy. Carlos Paulino is an option to repeat the level yet again but I suspect the Pirates will push him to AA. That leaves us essentially with the candidates I listed above. Ivany was signed to a minor league contract this offseason and could really play anywhere from A+ to AAA. Emsley-Pai and Francisco Diaz look like organizational catchers who will fill in where they are needed in the middle levels. Stallings and Elias Diaz retain just a hint of prospect status. Diaz has been with the Pirates a few years though so his lack of progress could cause the Pirates to shift him towards an organizational role. Stallings was just drafted last year and is probably the best defensive catcher in the organization. He hasn’t show any ability to hit though. Stallings defense should keep him at the prospect borderline for another season or two though.
Prediction: Jacob Stallings
Candidates: Jose Osuna, Dan Gamache, Eric Avila, Chris Lashmet, Alen Hanson, DJ Crumlich, Kirk Singer, Andy Vasquez, Benji Gonzalez
Analysis: Personally I think the starting infield at the A+ level is fairly straightforward. Osuna and Hanson are locks to handle 1B and SS respectively which only leaves 2B and 3B open. Dan Gamache is coming off a fairly strong year in A ball and I would imagine the Pirates will give him the first crack at 2B in A+. Third base is a bit more wide open but Avila finished the year strong showing a good power surge so I’m guessing he’ll start the year as the third baseman. The other options will have to earn playing time and will likely fill some bench roles in A+ to start the year.
Prediction: Jose Osuna (1B), Dan Gamache (2B), Eric Avila (3B), Alen Hanson (SS)
Candidates: Gregory Polanco, Barrett Barnes, Taylor Lewis, Junior Sosa, Mel Rojas, Willy Garcia, Carlos Mesa
Analysis: There are two locks in the above group and that is Gregory Polanco and Barrett Barnes both are probably top 10 prospects in the Pirates organization and are ready for A+ so they will play. The last spot is a bit more of a question mark. Gaffney was a prime candidate to take a spot before he returned to college football and Garcia is the best prospect of the remaining group but he didn’t show a lot in A ball last year. Of the rest Sosa and Mesa look like organizational filler, Lewis a project and Rojas as a fading prospect who may be pushed to AA for last audition.
Prediction: Barrett Barnes (LF), Gregory Polanco (CF), Mel Rojas (RF)
Analysis: The bench will of course consist of the players listed who I have not assigned starting roles to. The options are not very clear at this point. Obviously a backup catcher will be retained. I also suspect that we will see two of the infielders retained, I think Crumlich with his strong debut last season is the safest bet of the group and we will also see one outfielder. There is one final spot and I think that will go to a player who will split DHing duties with the 4th outfielder.
Prediction: Elias Diaz, DJ Crumlich, Kirk Singer, Chris Lashmet, Taylor Lewis
Candidates: Nicholas Kingham, Robby Rowland, Zach Von Rosenberg, Matt Benedict, Zachary Fuesser, Kenn Kasparek, Luis Sanz, Zack Dodson
Analysis: It is difficult to handicap the pitching staffs as we get this low into the minors. The Pirates have a lot of options and at times it can be difficult to figure just who they are high on. In this case I think 3 of the 5 starting pitchers are or should be rather clear. Kingham, Rowland and Von Rosenberg all have earned a chance to show what they can do in A+. The rest of the group is a smattering of borderline prospects of which I can’t decipher who the Pirates are still high on. Dodson is suspended to begin the season and obviously won’t start the year with anybody but is a candidate to join the A+ rotation shortly after his suspension ends. Sanz I originally pegged for the AA rotation but I’m having second thoughts on that and he could come into player here.
Prediction: Nicholas Kingham, Robby Rownalnd, Zach Von Rosenberg, Matt Benedict, Kenn Kasparek
Analysis: Like all minor league bullpens my prediction is just a shot in the dark in which I pick seven names I kind of like who I think would make sense.
Prediction: Zachary Fuesser, Porfirio Lopez, Dalton Friend, Pat Ludwig, Rinku Singh, Nathan Kilcrease, Quinton Miller
Mid Level Pitchers – Interesting Non-Prospects
Ryan Hafner: Coming into the 2012 season Ryan Hafner was viewed as a potential breakout candidate for the Pirates. Unfortunately that didn’t even come close to happening. Hafner was terrible in A ball posting an amazing walk rate of 10.1 BB/9. He starter the season as a starter was demoted to the bullpen and then ultimately demoted to A-. In A- he managed to lower his walk rate to 4.7 BB/9 but that is still bad. Hafner doesn’t have the greatest stuff but up until this season his control was good and he does have some talent but it goes without saying if he repeats this past season’s results this upcoming year his professional baseball career may very well be over.
Jason Creasy: Creasy was one of several projectable high school arms taken in the 2011 draft. He pitched this season in A- and while his overall numbers weren’t good there were some positives such as his fastball adding a couple mph going from the high 80s to low 90s and the slider he added looked like a decent pitch. Overall though his control was shaky and he didn’t strike many batters out. Like all of the Pirates projectable high school pitcher selections there is some potential there but he needs to start realizing some of that potential soon.
Jordan Cooper: The Pirates drafted Cooper twice once in 2009 and then again in 2011. He is an interesting pitcher to figure. He has shown some good stuff throwing his fastball in the mid 90s and having control of his breaking stuff but at other times his fastball tops out around 90 and his control disappears. He starter this season in A ball where he struggled but when he was sent to A- he was dominant. If the Pirates can get him to pitch consistently he could be a good relief prospect but with his ups and downs he is just a project right now.
Kyle Haynes: The Pirates drafted Haynes in the 20th round of the 2012 draft. He served as the closer at the A- level and had mixed results. He struck out a lot of hitters which of course is a positive but allowed a surprisingly high number of base runners. His walk rate was a tad high but not horrible so the high number of base runners suggests that hitters when they weren’t striking out were managing to see the ball well and put up hits. Still Haynes has good stuff with a low 90s fastball and a very good change-up so he has some potential as a relief prospect if he can continue missing bats and start allowing fewer base runners.
Quinton Miller: Miller was a 20th round selection of the Pirates in 2008 and was one of the first of the projectable high school pitchers. He was a good talent coming out of high school, he already touched the mid 90s with his fastball usually sitting around 90 with it. His slider was well-developed and his change was a decent pitch. Unfortunately Miller doesn’t seem to have progressed much from the pitcher he was in high school because he just finished his 4th poor year as a pro. He did manage to strike out a few more hitters this season but it was at the expense of his walk rate blossoming. It is undeniable that Miller has good stuff but the lack of results to date makes it impossible to view him as a legit prospect. The Pirates will probably give him one more shot in 2013 though.
Josh Poytress: The Pirates have a plethora of fringe lefty reliever prospects in the A-AA levels and Poytress appears to be one of the best of that group, which isn’t really saying a lot. The Pirates drafted him out of Fresno State in the 18th round of the 2011 draft and to date he has put up decent numbers as a pro but hasn’t really done anything to stand out. Poytress had a very odd stat line this past season at the A+ level posting a 2.59 ERA but having a 1.49 WHIP and 5.6 BB/9. The peripherals say he didn’t pitch well but the ERA indicates he worked out of most of his messes. At this point Poytress is probably an organizational player but as a left-handed reliever there is always some hope.
Rinku Singh: Singh is probably the most known player I have covered so far but that is more for his background than his pitching ability. We all know the story about him winning a contest in India and then ultimately signing with the Pirates. Singh has had fairly good success so far and one doesn’t even have to add considering his background to make that statement true. Singh pitched well at the A level this past season and was arguably the team’s best pitcher. Singh struck out a quite a few hitters with a 8.1 K/9 and showed good control with a 2.2 BB/9. He isn’t an overpowering pitcher throwing just in the mid 80s but he has good off speed stuff. He is of course a long shot to ever make an impact in the majors but if Singh manages to have a solid showing in 2013 at the A+ level he could force his way on to the prospect map.
|SP||Brad Lincoln||SP||Nate Baker|
|SP||Jeff Locke||SP||Phillip Irwin|
|SP||Shairon Martis||SP||Aaron Pribanic|
|SP||Rudy Owens||SP||Brandon Cumpton|
|SP||Kyle McPherson||SP||Michael Colla|
|RP||Evan Meek||RP||Duke Welker|
|RP||Bryan Morris||RP||Bran Tallet|
|RP||Justin Wilson||RP||Ryan Beckman|
|RP||Doug Slaten||RP||Jose Diaz|
|RP||Ryota Igarshi||RP||Elicier Cardenas|
|RP||Jared Hughes||RP||Jeff Inman|
|RP||Daniel Moskos||RP||Victor Black|
|SP||Gerrit Cole||SP||Nick Kingham|
|SP||Jameson Taillon||SP||Trent Stevenson|
|SP||Zack Von Rosenberg||SP||Ryan Hafner|
|SP||Colton Cain||SP||Jordan Cooper|
|SP||Zach Dodson||SP||Josh Poytress|
|RP||Zac Fuesser||RP||Michael Jefferson|
|RP||Jhnonath Ramos||RP||Emmanuel de Leon|
|RP||Tyler Cox||RP||Orlando Castro|
|RP||Jason Townsend||RP||Vincent Payne|
|RP||Porfirio Lopez||RP||Kevin Decker|
|RP||Jason Erickson||RP||Rinku Singh|
|RP||Casey Sadler||RP||Cliff Archibald|