Minors Review - Right Handed Starters Part I

by battlingbucs | Mar 17, 2014 - 4:40 PM
Low Level Right Handed Starters

Top 3 Prospects
1. Jonathan Sandfort: Sandfort like 99% of all other pitchers at his level is all about projectability. Originally drafted by the Pirates in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft Sandfort was not a pick made with the intentions of saving money for Appel as he signed for the full slot amount. Sandfort throws a low 90s fastball, a curve and is working on a changeup. At 6’ 6” Sandfort has a big frame and will hopefully add a few mph on to his fastball as he fills out. After signing the Pirates placed Sandfort in rookie ball and he made 8 starts totaling just 15 IP. Sandfort’s numbers don’t look terrible but he walked a lot of batters and missed very few bats. Sensing he wasn’t ready to move up the Pirates assigned Sandfort back to rookie ball in 2013. This time around his numbers ended up slightly worse but he showed much improved control and missed a fair number of bats. Sandfort made definite progress in 2013 and still comes with a lot of upside. The Pirates will likely push him to the short season league and see how he fares against age appropriate competition.

2. Neil Kozikowski: The Pirates drafted Kozikowski in the 8th round of this past draft. Kozikowski really flew under the radar not appearing on any of Baseball America’s rankings and also not even having a write up at first. The Pirates evidently seen something they liked though as they gave him a 425K signing bonus well over the 155,400 slot amount. Like most others here above Kozikowski is a projectable right handed pitcher that currently throws in the high 80s with a decent curve but no real change up. Also in his arsenal making him a little different is a cutter. Upon signing the Pirates sent him to get a taste of rookie ball and he performed well showing great command even without striking out a lot of hitters. The Pirates seem to like Kozikowski a good bit so I expect he’ll get a push to short season ball but the new team in Bristol is also a possibility.

3. Billy Roth: The Pirates drafted Roth in the 16th round of this past draft. He was a strong two way prospect as he showed good power from the right hand side but most scouts and apparently the Pirates felt he projected best long term as a pitcher. The consensus seemed to be that Roth would likely honor his commitment to Arizona but the Pirates managed to sign him away for... [Read More]
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Minors Review - Left Handed Pitchers

by battlingbucs | Mar 14, 2014 - 2:49 PM
Top 3 Prospects
1. Blake Taylor: The Pirates top 3 left handed pitching prospects are so close that it is like splitting hairs to rank them but Taylor gets my nod as the top prospect due to his higher ceiling. Taylor was drafted this past year by the Pirates in the second round and signed for a good bit under slot even though the second round is right about where he was expected to be selected. Taylor’s arsenal includes a low 90s fastball, a good curve and a changeup which like most high school pitchers needs a lot of work. Taylor is quite a young player even for a high school draftee as he didn’t turn 18 until two months after being drafted so the Pirates are most likely counting on him adding some velocity as he matures. Taylor saw some action in rookie ball last season and held himself well. As I mentioned Taylor has a good bit of upside and has the ceiling of a very good number two pitcher. Considering his young age and the work he needs to put in Taylor will likely pitch the 2014 season in short season ball.

2. Joely Rodriguez: Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 Rodriguez is also the Pirates second best international pitching prospect behind only Luis Heredia. Rodriguez was added to the 40 man roster this offseason so the Pirates clearly see value in him. Rodriguez has a pretty standard arsenal for a left handed pitcher including a low 90s fastball, a slider and a change. Rodriguez spent his first professional season in the DSL and his next 3 in rookie or short season ball. Early on he had trouble with his control but he made significant improvements in that area as the years went on. Rodriguez by no means pitched badly his first 4 years but it wasn’t really until this last season that he established himself as a legitimate prospect. In 2013 Rodriguez started at in A ball and dominated the level posting a 1.01 ERA over his last 9 starts and showing the ability to miss some bats something he had done little of previously. The Pirates promoted him to A+ and he continued to pitch well though his strike out rate did drop a little. If Rodriguez sticks in the rotation he has the upside of a solid middle of the rotation arm but he could also be a strong back end reliever should the Pirates opt to go that route. Most likely Rodriguez will start the 2014 season in AA and if all goes well he has an outside shot of being called up in September to serve as an extra lefty in the... [Read More]
    0 Replies | 1,097 Views


All Era Team: Wrap Up

by battlingbucs | Mar 12, 2014 - 11:06 AM
To finish out my all era series I am going to create two all time Pirates teams one based upon individual season and another based upon career. The goal of these teams will be to assemble the best team possible so positional rules are going to be a bit more flexible. I am going to create full 25 man rosters with 13 hitters and 12 pitchers but since the position of reliever is relatively a new concept the pitchers will be broken down to 9 starters and 3 relievers instead of the more current 5 starters and 7 relievers. To qualify for the single season team a position player must have had a minimum of 400 PA, a starter 150 IP and a reliever 40 IP. To qualify for the career team the thresholds are 1000 PA, 400 IP and 100 IP respectively.

Single Season

C: 1998 Jason Kendall
1B: 1949 Ralph Kiner
2B: 1935 Arky Vaughan
3B: 1899 Jimmy Williams
SS: 1908 Honus Wagner
LF: 1992 Barry Bonds
CF: 2013 Andrew McCutchen
RF: 1967 Roberto Clemente

C: 1971 Manny Sanguillen
1B/OF: 1971 Willie Stargell
MI: 1993 Jay Bell
OF: 1925 Kiki Cuyler
U: 1972 Richie Hebner

SP: 1965 Bob Veale
SP: 1886 Ed Morris
SP: 1919 Babe Adams
SP: 1922 Wilbur Cooper
SP: 1945 Preacher Roe
SP: 1960 Bob Friend
SP: 1972 Bob Moose
SP: 1992 Doug Drabek
SP: 2004 Oliver Perez

RP: 2011 Joel Hanrahan
RP: 1959 Roy Face
RP: 1977 Rich Gossage

Just a few quick notes. When it came to the utility spot I was looking for someone with infield experience so I had to dig pretty deep to find someone. Had I been willing to add another OF Dave Parker or Paul Waner would have gotten the nod. For the pitching seasons it didn't feel right comparing across eras so I picked the best of each era to fill out the staff which is how Oliver Perez made the team.

Career

C: Jason Kendall
1B: Willie Stargell
2B: Arky Vaughan
3B: Pie Traynor
SS: Honus Wagner
LF: Barry Bonds
CF: Max Carey
RF: Roberto Clemente

C: Manny Sanguillen
CI: Tommy Leach
MI: Bill Mazeroski
OF: Paul Waner
OF: Ralph Kiner

SP: Bob Friend
SP: Babe Adams
SP: Wilbur Cooper
SP: Bob Veale
SP: Deacon Phillippe
SP: John Candelaria
SP: Dock Ellis
SP: Sam Leever
SP: Doug Drabek

RP: Roy... [Read More]
    2 Replies | 1,341 Views


All Era Team: The Streak (1993-2012)

by battlingbucs | Mar 11, 2014 - 4:17 PM
My last all era team. I could think of no other way to finish this series off then with the 20 year stretch this franchise and its fans just endured. It was dark times to be sure but the concept of an all era team is to highlight the outstanding individual seasons and there is no doubt this era has its good share. This is the team I am of course most familiar with but as I have said before the first season I remember in good detail is 1997 so the first few years of this era are at best fuzzy for me if I recall them at all.

Catcher: One thing this era won't give us is a lot of difficult choices between players. Now like is the case here it might be easy enough to identify the player but which particular season was his best can be more difficult to obtain. The easy call here is Jason Kendall and as for which season his best is it really comes down to 1998 and 2000. Oddly enough the year in between these would probably be the easy winner if it wasn't for that gruesome ankle injury that cut his season short. My memory often tells me it was at that point in which Kendall started to slip but his strong 2000 campaign says otherwise. The winning season by a hair here ended up being 1998 but really it’s a coin flip as the two seasons were almost identical. In 1998 Kendall hit .327/.411/.473 good for a 136 wRC+. He also stole a career high 26 bases and added his second highest career mark of 12 home runs.

First Base: Much as it is today first base was a big hole for the Pirates for most of the streak. Adding to the problem is the fact that most of the players who had marginally good season while playing some 1B spent the majority of their time at other positions. Think Jeff King, Orlando Merced, John Vander Wal and to some extent even Garrett Jones. All of this does leave us with one name though and once again we are left with just a task of picking his best season but even that really isn't all too hard. The winner here is easily Kevin Young and his best season was unquestionably 1999. That season Young hit .298/.387/.522 while helping out both with the long ball, 26 HR, and on the bases, 22 steals. He was also a major run producer scoring 103 runs and driving in 106. On the year his offensive performance was 26% above league average. His only real competition was Jeff King's 1996 season.

Second Base: There is no clear winner here as this position hasn't produced a lot of quality players over the... [Read More]
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The #Pens Decision To Help Depth At The Deadline, Is A Smart One

by Kipper | Mar 06, 2014 - 2:38 PM
leestempniak3.6.14.jpgAnother Trade Deadline has come and gone. This might be one of the more eventful ones, due to the abundance of fake accounts suckering in Rob Rossi and the Official Pittsburgh Penguins twitter account. Hell, even I was duped!

There were sexy choices out there for the Top 6. Ryan Kesler, Thomas Vanek etc.. Pens fans wanted those big names. When you land the big names you feel like you have a better chance at winning the Cup.

Or do you?

Last year heading into the Trade Deadline, the Pens were a pretty well oiled machine and then player after player was added to the roster. Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen, Douglas Murray... It was player overload for a team that probably only needed one of Morrow/Jokinen and Douglas Murray. As we know how it unfolded, the Pens choked against the Boston Bruins and the rest is history.

This season, Ray Shero was likely going after Ryan Kesler of the Canucks, but wasn't willing to overpay this time for a rental, so he focused on the teams weakest area ;

The Bottom 6.

marcelgoc3.6.14.jpgThis has been the Pens weakest area for years now. One reason why the Pens aren't succeeding. One of the strengths of Ray Shero early on as a GM was rebuilding this team by infusing a strong dosage of depth. Where the Pens depth was a bunch of has-beens and fringe NHL players, Ray Shero came in and gave the Pens 3rd and 4th line, role players to play with a couple of mainstays. If it wasn't for this depth, the Pittsburgh Penguins probably don't win their 3rd Stanley Cup. While the Top 6 for the Pens and Red Wings were neutralizing each other, our Bottom 6 outplayed Detroit's. This hasn't happened since.

The Pens added some scoring depth and that's a great thing for this team. This team as long as Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin are on the ice, will always make the Playoffs. The Regular Season is almost just a monthly set of entertainment events that... [Read More]
    11 Replies | 4,705 Views


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