4-19-22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
If this was a list of top accomplishments, the feat of throwing a combined no-hitter-something achieved by Chase De Jong. Austin Brice and Yerry De Los Santos for the Indianapolis Indians this past Wednesday night-would surely find it’s way to the top. Unfortunately, De Jong and Brice are well beyond being considered prospects at this point in their career, so their place within the Top 5 has become an impossibly. However, their performances-along with that of De Los Santos-should be celebrated, which is why I couldn’t just ignore it while working to compile this week’s blog post; especially when they did it against a team that consisted of two of the Top 100 Prospect in all of MiLB-Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis-at the top of the order.
Now back to the business at hand.
During the first official week of the season only the Indians had a full slate of game, which led to an array of the ultimate small sample sizes in the inaugural Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers. For instance, Endy Rodriguez earned a spot with only 13-albeit very impressive-at bats. Obviously these won’t grow exponentially with only a few more games added to the schedule; still, as the season progresses the picture of who players are-or who they aren’t-will become clearer.
1) Mason Martin
Martin made it onto one of my off-season Top 5 Pirates Prospect Lists-Slowing Down Or Speeding Up The Process-due to his power potential and the lack of MiLB options at First Base. However, the concern with Martin has always been his ever increasing strikeout rate; topping out at 34.3% in his time between Altoona and Indianapolis last year.
Now, it wasn’t just the K rate that was concerning. Over the course of 2021 Martin’s walk rate also fell below 10% for the first time in his career.
In an extremely small sample size-10 games and 40 plate appearances-Martin has a 30% K rate and a 2.5% BB rate. Nevertheless, on a ridiculously positive note he has also slashed .359/.375/.795 with 2 homers, 5 doubles and 2 triples.
2) Alexander Mojica
Mojica was in the group of the Pirates Prospects that peaked my interest prior to the start of the season. Last year at only 18 years old-3.4 years younger than the average player in Low-A-Mojica struggled mightily as his strike out rate rose to 26.5%, his batting average fell to .219 and his wRC+ dropped by nearly 100 points from the previous season to 87.
At the time my concerns weren’t as high as they would have been for an older/more advanced player at this level. Instead, I was more intrigued as to how he would perform in his second year wearing the Marauders uniform.
Thus far the answer to my curiosity has been a very positive one for this young man. Over his first 7 games and 30 plate appearances, Mojica is slashing .400/.500/.760 with 2 homers and 5 total extra base hits; including a 7 for 10 stint over the last three games.
3) Jackson Glenn
Last year Glenn was the classic cost saving, below slot signing when the Pirates selected him in the 5th round, and inked him to a deal worth $12,500. As a Fifth Year Senior at Dallas Baptist University his .366/.438/.732 slash line with 21 home runs was impressive, but his options were also limited. Still, this didn’t make him a throw away pick, as I pointed out when I wrote about him last September.
Between Low-A Bradenton and a few games in the FCL in 2021, Glenn batted .340 with a .944 OPS. So far this year his hot streak has continued as he is slashing .480/.519/.720 with a homer and 4 total extra base hits in 6 games and 27 plate appearances at High-A Greensboro.
4) Jared Jones
Once described by myself as a Victim Of Circumstance due to his selection during the 2020 MLB Draft-which delayed the start of his professional career-Jones spent 2021 as both a starter and reliever for the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. While his numbers weren’t something that would jump off the page by any means-a 4.64 ERA and 1.470 WHIP-I couldn’t help but see the potential in his 60 grade fastball, which consistently reaches around 97 mph, his 55 grade slider that drops of the map between 80-82 mph and a solid 85-88 mph change up.
In his two starts and 8.1 innings of work for the High-A Grasshoppers this season he has achieved that potential. During his last start for Greensboro on Sunday, Jones lasted 5 innings, struck out 8, walked 1, gave up 2 hits and didn’t allow a run. On the season he has a total of 15 Ks to 3 BB and has only allowed one run, good for a 1.08 ERA and .906 WHIP.
5) Two-Thirds Of The Jacob Stallings’ Deal
Yes I realize this is kind of cheating in order to get another player on the list; yet, for better or worse these two prospects will always be tied together because of how they were acquired.
- Connor Scott-When the trade first took place my first impression of Scott was that he was a toolsy prospect; with all the pedigree, all the potential and who currently projects as a 4th Outfielder. During his second stint at High-A in 2021 Scott batted .276 with a .779 OPS, 10 homers and a wRC+ of 112. Since arriving in the Pirates Farm System, Scott has exceeded my original expectations. In 7 games and 29 plate appearances he is currently slashing .500/.586/.833 with a homer and 5 extra base hits.
- Kyle Nicolas-Just like Mojica, Nicolas found himself on the list of prospects that peaked my interest. Last year Nicolas was promoted to the Double-A Blue Wahoos of the Marlins Farm System at the end of July. Following the bump his ERA fell to 2.52 and his WHIP dropped 1.220. Unfortunately, his K/9 also dipped from 13.0 to 11.4 and his BB/9 raised from 3.6 to 5.7 from his time in High-A Beloit, so it wasn’t all good news. So far, in his time with the Double-Altoona Curve, Nicolas has impressed. During his last start, the big righty tossed 4 perfect innings on only 46 pitches; striking out 5 batters along the way. On the season he has posted a 0.00 ERA and a .652 WHIP, with 10 Ks, 3 BB and 2 hits in 7.2 total innings and two starts.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers for the second week of 2022.
Just like last week, let me know I missed, who your Top 5 is and be sure check back each and every Tuesday during Minor League Baseball Season!