Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers

9-8-22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

I am so excited that we’ve finally gotten to the nobody is talking about so-and-so portion of the Minor League Baseball Season; along with the daily requests to call-up a player who is injured lightning bonus round.

First up in the former category-that I have seen floating around on the inter-web recently-is utility infielder and part-time outfielder, Andres Alvarez; who with his 20th home run of the season, became the only player in Altoona Curve history with 20 bombs and 20 stolen bases in a season.

Obviously this is a great individual achievement; however, the additional narratives are somewhat misguided.

Foremost is the implication that Alvarez has experienced a successful season based on two basic statistics. What if I told you that he has slashed .199/.327/.375 with a 96 wRC+ since his last appearance on this list, back on May 24th? Would that change your analysis of this particular player?

I am pretty sure it would. As would the complete breakdown on another player that had recently been mentioned cautiously in the Top 5, during the beginning of August. Aaron Shackelford-over the same time period-also has 20 homers, but is striking out at a 29.0% clip; and 31.4% over his last 100 plate appearances.

Does that sound familiar? Power lefty first baseman that has a high K-rate? How is that turning out so far? And that guy is a level higher and two years younger.

Clearly these are just two examples, of a much larger issue, but I don’t want to bore you; plus I feel like the other supposition(s) are slightly more misdirected.

With Duane Underwood, Jr. getting the nod as an opener for the Bryce Wilson 4th inning mini-implosion, some Pirates Fans have doubled down on the idea that not giving a player such as Mike Burrows the opportunityin this type of situation-much like another Tyler Beede start this past weekend-is a dereliction of duty. Which would be true, if Burrows wasn’t currently on the 7-Day IL.

See, I can excuse the general inefficiency of not digging into a particular players’ numbers beyond the dashboard stats. However, what I can’t rationalize is, not opening up a simple player page to see if they are active or not.

It’s fairly simple…do better. And if you don’t know any better, just ask.

Week of 8/30-9/4

1) Tres Gonzalez-OF (Bradenton)

Discussed in my Best Of The Rest blog post from the Pirates 2022 Draft Class, Gonzalez has lived up to every that was discussed in that piece. He has great bat to ball skills and speed, with limited power.

Over his first 21 games and 77 plate appearances, the former Yellow Jacket is slashing .324/.403/.382 with two doubles and a triple. Playing equally at every outfield spot, Gonzalez has been a solid addition to the Marauders daily lineup.

2) Nick Garcia-RHP (Greensboro)

Analyzing pitching prospects in Greensboro is not an easy task. Not for scouts, and surely not for an amateur prospect junkie like myself. For one the amount of video you can get on these guys is extremely limited. Then there’s the home/road splits between the not so friendly confines of First National Bank Field and every other ballpark around the South Atlantic League.

In Garcia’s case, all of his numbers are fairly balanced across the board-aside from the 11 homers at home vs. only 4 while away. At home he has posted a 3.92 ERA and a 1.194 WHIP, while his ERA is only slightly lower (3.35) and his WHIP is marginally higher (1.216) on the road.

In recent history, he has not allowed a single run last two starts-one home and one away-over the last 13 innings. During this time he has struck out 11, walked 6, given up 6 hits and posted a .915 WHIP.

3) Blake SabolC/OF (Indianapolis)

With the promotion of Endy Rodriguez, as well as Henry Davis returning from another stint on the IL, playing time would have been extremely limited for Sabol in Altoona. Plus, if we are being truly honest here, he truly earned the bump to Indy.

On the season he has been one of the more consistent hitters on the Curve Roster; slashing .281/.347/.486 with 14 homers, 23 doubles, 5 triples and a 124 wRC+ in 412 plate appearances; or significantly more than a small sample size.

Since his promotion to the Indians, Sabol has slashed .316/.458/.579 with a homer and triple in 24 plate appearances; which is an extremely SSS.

What I do really like to see though is the 4 walks being equal to his 4 strikeouts.

4) Quinn Priester-RHP (Altoona)

On the season, Priester has notched a 2.37 ERA, a 1.180 WHIP and a 9.05 K to 2.05 BB/9 ratio across 64.2 innings and 13 starts in Double-A.

The Altoona Curve Season ends on Sunday September 18th. The Indianapolis Indians finish up on Wednesday September 28th. The Arizona Fall League starts on October 3rd.

Do the right thing Pirates.

Get him a couple starts in Indy, and then let him get a few innings in the AFL.

5) Nick Gonzales-2B/SS (Altoona)

Most of the news surrounding Gonzales over the past couple of weeks has been his tumble down and off the Top Prospect Rankings. Meanwhile the dude has been raking since returning from the IL; and even before then if you are really keeping track.

Since returning from his heel injury, the Pirates first round pick is slashing .325/.442/.558 with a couple homers, 10 doubles and a triple. Add in the two weeks before he landed on the IL and you can tack on 2 more homers and 4 doubles, while not changing the line (.323/.432/.543) all that much.

Now you may ask, why I bolded the .442. Well, it’s because his walk rate remained fairly consistent-14.3% and 14.7% respectively-as his strike out rate plummeted-from 36.5% to 21.1%; which was pretty much the same pattern he experienced in Greensboro last season.

Look it up.

He’s a slow starter that takes a month or so to get going. BUT, when he does…watch out!

Bonus: Endy Rodriguez-C/2B/OF

It’s not even fair to keep putting in the Top 5 anymore. What this young man has been doing this season is beyond this, and nearly any list that you could come up with.

Between Greensboro and Altoona he has earned a .310 AVG and .987 OPS with 24 homers and 58 total extra base hits. He also walks at a 12.0% BB rate, while striking out 19.4 % of the time. Overall he has a 163 wRC+.

On top of all of this he has reached base safely in all but one of his 22 games since arriving in Pennsylvania. He has a 1.226 OPS with 8 home runs. He is walking more than he strikes out-14.1% to 13.1%.

AND he can really play catcher!

There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers for the 22nd week of 2022; with a little bit of a bonus!

Now remember, let me know I missed, who your Top 5 is and be sure check back each and every Tuesday (or Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning) hopefully-during the Minor League Baseball Season!

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at InsidethePirates.com, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

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