5-2-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
This past Saturday I arrived at the ball field at 8 AM for my youngest’s Modified T-Ball Game-that was scheduled for 10 AM-to see how much damage the rain from the previous day had done to the dirt surround the bases; as well as the state of the dugout drains.
What I found were lakes around first, third and home; in addition to a clogged drain in the home dugout, that caused a river to run through it.
An hour and forty-five minutes later, with the help of my little ballplayer and his older brother-assisted by a few fellow coaches-the field was game ready; and the kids could actually use the dugout for something other than swimming.
Now picture this on a much grander scale; encompassing all of the Pirates Minor League Affiliates.
This past week not one team-from Bradenton to Greensboro and Altoona to Indianapolis-was able to escape the wrath of Mother Nature; each having at least one game postponed or canceled due to inclement weather.
Still, there was more than enough baseball played in order to compile this week’s list; and even give us a few bonus players to take a look at.
1) Henry Davis-C (Altoona)
With the recent injury to Top Catching Prospect Endy Rodriguez-he’s back DH-ing by the way-Davis has leapt back onto the radar of Pirates Fans.
In conjunction with solid play on the field, this has caused some to consider the possibility of Davis jumping over Endy, on the way to PNC.
During this past week he added to his home run total by putting two more over the fence in the three games he played in the series.
Davis also showed off his 70-grade arm; an aspect of his game that seems to be equally as important to the Pirates as hit tool.
Yet, it’s not like he won’t need his bat to get to Pittsburgh, so let’s take a peek.
Currently he holds a .273/.452/.655 slash line with 6 homers, a 207 wRC+ and an equal 20.5% walk to strikeout rate across 73 plate appearances.
It goes without saying that this is impressive, however, I could see Ben Cherington and Company letting Davis cook until he can move him up to Triple-A; likely when Endy gets promoted to Pittsburgh.
2) Anthony Solometo-LHP (Greensboro)
This past week, the Pirates 20 year-old lefty Prospect didn’t allow a single run, while striking out 6 and surrendering just two hits over 4 innings of work; lowering his ERA to 3.86 and his WHIP to 1.33 on the season.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that he has continued to struggle with control at times, walking 3 batters in consecutive starts; bringing his yearly total to 13 in 21.1 innings-or more succinctly put, 5.57 batters per every 9.
Clearly, Solometo needs to improve upon this. Yet, I will remind you once again that he is just 20 years-old.
3) Nick Dombkowski-LHP (Altoona)
I have been questioned several times about the year and round Dombkowski was drafted in.
Every time I give the answer, the person asking me is surprised to find out he wasn’t.
Signed by the Pirates as a Non-Drafted Free Agent on July 20th of 2021-following the draft-from the University of Hartford, Dombkowski almost immediately reported to the Low-A Bradenton Marauders for the final month of the season. In 18.2 innings-across 11 appearances-the lefty reliever posted a 3.86 ERA and a 1.018 WHIP with 23 strikeouts and 6 walks.
Then to begin 2022 Dombkowski found himself back in Bradenton for the first 10.2 inning of the year. During this time he struck out 19 batters and walked only 2 on his way to a 1.69 ERA, a .844 WHIP; ultimately earning a promotion to High-A Greensboro-and eventually Double-A Altoona-after posting a 1.76 ERA and 1.043 WHIP with the Grasshoppers.
Over his final 41.1 innings pitched with the Curve he did experience some difficulties, as he saw his ERA reach 3.92; although his WHIP did level out at a reasonable 1.185.
Back in Altoona to begin 2023, Sullivan has made 6 appearances thus far. In these outings he has totaled 10 innings of work, struck out 8, walked only one and surrendered two runs; good for a 1.80 ERA and a .900 WHIP. This includes a two strike out, one hit and no walk performance this past week.
4) Sean Sullivan-RHP (Altoona)
Selected by Pittsburgh in the 8th Round of the 2021 MLB Draft-223rd Overall-out of the University of California, Sullivan didn’t pitch in the Pirates Farm System that year; likely due to accumulating 78.1 innings during his Junior Season for the Golden Bears.
When he did start his professional career in 2022, Sullivan got the somewhat aggressive assignment of Greensboro. But he did pitch in the PAC12, so it shouldn’t have been too surprising.
On the year he maintained a solid WHIP of 1.360; which is honestly the statistic I look at first for every Pirates Minor Pitcher, but especially if they play for the Grasshoppers. Next I look at K/9 to try to determine if they are profiling as a swing and miss or pitch to contact hurler. In Sullivan’s case his 10.1 rate showed he has the ability to generate whiffs, thanks to a 4 pitch-mix that features an above average slider.
Assigned to Altoona to begin the season, Sullivan has yet to surrender a single run in his first three starts. On the year he has a 1.114 WHIP and 12 strikeouts-half of which came in his last outing-to go along with that 0.00 ERA.
5) Alexander Mojica-1B/3B (Bradenton)
Signed on his 16th Birthday-August 2nd-back in 2018 for $350,000, the 6’1, 195 pound third basemen from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic began is professional career the following year in the DSL for the heralded Pirates 2 ball club; a team that I have written about, and made mention of numerous times over the past two years.
At 1.8 younger than the average player in the league that year, Mojica slashed .351/.468/.581 with 8 homers, 23 total extra base hits and a 17.6% walk to 15.6% strike out ratio; good for a ridiculously unsustainable 182 wRC+.
Following the pandemic eliminated 2020 season, Cherington and Company chose to be extremely aggressive with the now 250 pound Mojica by assigning him to the Low-A Bradenton Marauders, where he he would be 3.3 years younger than the average player. As the season progressed, the results ended up pretty much where you would have expected them to be as he struggled with controlling the zone at times. On the year Mojica’s strike out rate rose to 26.5%, his batting average fell to .219 and his wRC+ dropped by nearly 100 points to 87.
Unfortunately it wouldn’t get any better in 2022-and actually got worse-as he struggled his way to a .165/.296/.311 slash between Bradenton and the FCL.
Still only 20 years-old-for at least a few more months-Mojica is back in Bradenton for the third straight year; only this time it looks as if things might finally be clicking for Mojica.
In his first 62 plate appearances he is batting .286 with an .844 OPS and almost as many walks (12) as strikeouts (13).
Bonus: Jackson Glenn-3B/Mike Jarvis-IF/OF (Greensboro)
Glenn and Jarvis have a lot in common, so it only made sense to discuss them together as bonus picks for Top Prospects of The Week.
Both are in their 25 year-old season, probably playing a level down and put up video game numbers this last series.
Glenn-who the Pirates drafted in the 5th Round, with an extreme under slot bonus of $12,500 (valued at $422,300)-batted .538 with a 2.062 OPS, 3 homers and 3 doubles.
Jarvis-selected by Pittsburgh in the 6th, and given a signing bonus of $7,500 (valued at $315,000)-batted .412 with a 1.739 OPS, 4 homers, a double and a triple.
Together they were an unstoppable pair over the weekend.
Now obviously the odds are that this isn’t anywhere near sustainable. However, it makes me want to see if this type of progression could be carried over to the Double-A Level; sooner rather than later, because these guys are getting any younger.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers-plus a couple-for the last week of April 2023.
Now remember, let me know if I missed anyone, and who your Top 5 would be. And, be sure check back each and every Tuesday during Minor League Baseball Season!
3 thoughts on “Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers: April Showers Bring More Than May Flowers”
Great look, thanks. I have to think those undrafted signings happen fairly regularly with pitchers, just not talked about as much until a guy reaches MLB, like most things. I had a high school teammate whom the Rangers signed in such a fashion; he seemed to do fine in SALLY, right at average age for the level, with statistics indicating he was worth continuing to look at. I’m not really close enough to ask him about the explanation from the org, but it suddenly stopped after the end of that second year in the minors, despite a 2.36 ERA while averaging almost two innings per across 14 outings with five saves, though also a hit allowed per inning on average. All that to say, it’s curious to see how each org chooses to sift its players through the machine. We’ll see whether the Bucs see Dombkowski’s ascent all the way through.
I get they were graduating when drafted, along with the lost COVID year, but man, 25-year-olds in A? I just don’t see it as worthwhile. Move ’em up.