10/4/22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
I already knew compiling this week’s list was going to be possibly the biggest challenge of the season; with only 3 games on the docket, and a couple of recent promotions limiting the player pool even more.
When he wasn’t injured from the end of July to the middle of August, Ji-hwan Bae was regularly in the conversation to be in the Top 5 almost every time. Then there is Luis Ortiz, who started to pick up steam as the season went on; after a string of strong performances in Altoona, and one strong start in Indianapolis.
As I studied the game film and worked my way through the stat lines, I became concerned that 5 Prospects might end up being slightly out of reach. I didn’t want to water it down, but I also didn’t want to have just three or four players.
That’s when I started to look beyond just this one week; as I wanted to reward as many players as I could for putting in the work over a full season. At this point it became easy, as players like Colin Selby, Joe Jacques and Nick Mears quickly rose to the surface; joining Top 5 royalty in the forms of Blake Sabol and Endy Rodriguez.
1) Colin Selby-RHP (Indianapolis)
I probably should have written about Selby more this season. However, May 17th was the last time I did.
At the time the former starter, turned bullpen piece, had posted a .73 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 13 strikeouts across 12.1 innings. Since then he has put up 3.09 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP while striking out 30 in 25.1 innings; including 2 strikeouts and no walks in his brief time in Triple-A.
Up next for Selby is shot to put his talent on display in the Arizona Fall League, against some of the best hitters in the Minors.
2) Joe Jacques-LHP (Indianapolis)
Starting the season off on the 60-Day IL clearly isn’t ideal for someone who is trying to impress the Big League Club, in order to make his case for being protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December.
Making his first appearance at the end of May in Bradenton, Jacques worked his way back up to Triple-A by the middle of June. Over the first couple of months he would struggle to the tune a 4.57 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP; only striking out 10 batters in 21.2 innings. However, once he was back up to speed, he would strike out 17 in his final 15.2. In these last 9 appearances his ERA and WHIP both dropped to a much more respectable 2.30 and 1.09.
At 27 years old, time is running out for the for the big lefty. But, I wouldn’t count him out just yet.
3) Blake Sabol-C/OF (Indianapolis)
Sabol capped off a very successful season with a trio of singles in the last series of the year; ultimately ending up with a .284/.363/.497 slash line with a 131 wRC+, 19 homers and 51 total extra base hits. To his credit he more than maintained his numbers during the last month of the season; following his promotion to Indianapolis.
In 101 plate appearances he worked his way up to a .296 AVG and a .969 OPS with a 158 wRC+.
4) Nick Mears-RHP (Indianapolis)
Much like Jacques, Mears has dealt with his own string of injuries; also starting his season on the 60-Day IL. However, unlike Jacques, it took Mears over 2 months of separate rehab assignments before he finally settled in, back in the Indians Bullpen.
Back in 2020 Mears burst onto the scene-as a somewhat unlikely promotion to Pittsburgh-after having been promoted through three levels of the Pirates Farm System during the previous season.
This was eventually where he began to stumble. In 28.1 innings of work-across 2020 and 2022-Mears had a 5.08 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP with 30 strikeouts; but also, with 20 free passes.
Flash forward to August of this year, as Mears tried to get back on track; which was obviously rough going for at least the first couple of weeks. In that month he had a 7.04 ERA and a 2.22 WHIP. Now compare this to his 1.59 ERA and .88 WHIP in September.
No wonder he got the call-up to the Majors for the Pirates final series of the season.
5) Endy Rodriguez-C/IF/OF (Indianapolis)
Endy only played in one game in the last 3 games of the year; still-as always-he made his presence felt by homering in 6th inning, with a long fly ball to left field.
In total he put up a .455/.435/.773 slash line during his quick cup of coffee in Triple-A.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers for the 26th-and final-week of 2022!
Now remember, let me know who I missed, who your Top 5 is, and be sure check back next Tuesday (or Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning) to find out which players had the best Minor League Seasons in the entire Pirates Organization.
Also, be sure to check back in for updates on the 8 Pirates Prospects that have been selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League in the weeks to come.