OK, the regular minor league season has been neatly swept into the dustbin of history, and it’s time for GW to assess the farm hands. Don’t get hung up on the order of the rankings; there are a handful of showtime guys and a lot of young wanna-be's, with not much in the middle from the A and AA levels. The Bucs are still a couple of drafts away from filling the organizational chart.
There aren't very many MLB ready players that we haven’t seen already, and Huntington has shook the system up, so it’s still very much an organization in transition, especially at the lower levels. There's gonna be a lot of churning on this list in the next couple of seasons as the young lions make their run at the mid level prospects.
1) Andrew McCutchen (21, Indy, CF) - He's still the one, and should be patrolling center field in PNC for a long time. .283-9-50, 34 SB.
2) Jose Tabata (20, Altoona, CF) - Kept his cool and showed all the tools in his brief audition with the Curve. .272-6-49, 18 SB - AA.
3) Steve Pearce (25, Indy, RF/1B) - Has to find some power in the bigs, but delivers in the clutch. He's still an adventure in the OF but getting there. .251-12-60.
4) Neil Walker (22, Indy, 3B) - Needs to step up his game if wants to play MLB. After a dismal start, lit it up at Indy in the dog days, and still young enough to make an impact. Indy's 2008 MVP. .241-16-80.
5) Ross Ohlendorf (26, Indy, NYY, RHP) - Has the heat, needs something off-speed to compliment it. 5-4, 3.65 - AAA, 1-1, 6.53 - Yankees.
6) Brad Lincoln (23, Lynchburg/Hickory, RHP) - We like his stuff, even if he did hit the wall in mid-season,with a decent start and good finish. We think his post-surgery season went as well as could be expected. 1-5, 4.75 - Lynchburg, 5-5, 4.65 - Hickory.
7) Bryan Morris (21, Hickory, RHP) - Still miles away, but upside is huge if he learns to command his stuff. 2-6, 5.02 - A.
8) Daniel McCutchen (25, Indy, RHP) - Aggressive, strike throwing machine. If he cuts down on the HR's allowed could find a rotation spot. Pirates seem to like him as a starter, although there was talk of converting him to a closer’s role in NY. Shut down after 174-inning AAA season. 7-9, 4.03 - AAA.
9) Evan Meek (25, Pittsburgh/Indy/Altoona, RHP) - Found the strike zone at Indy. 0-1, 6.92 - Pittsburgh, 0-0-1 2.70 - Indy, 1-1-2, 2.81 - Altoona.
10) Craig Hansen (24, Indy/Pittsburgh/Boston, RHP) Got the heat, has to find the plate. 14 walks in 10-1/3 innings for the Bucs. Overeffort or utter lack of command? 0-3-1, 10.45 - Pittsburgh, 1-3-2, 5.58 - Bosox, 1-0, 2.41 - AAA.
11) Brian Bixler (25, Indy, SS) - Has to feel Brian Friday and maybe Luis Cruz breathing down his neck, has the look of a leather-first utility INF in the bigs. .280-7-36, 23 SB.
12) Robinzon Diaz (24, Indy, C) Good glove, free swinger with a good average and no pop, could give Paulino a run for back-up status. Played some 3B, too. .255-1-16 - AAA.
13) Jimmy Barthmaier (24, Indy, RHP) - Top pick with a great breaking ball but no MLB success. Claimed from the Astro organization. He’ll pitch in the Arizona League this fall, had nagging injuries at Indy. 3-1, 3.53.
14) Brian Friday (22, Lynchburg, SS) - Fast, OK lumber, decent glove. .287-2-29, 16 SB.
15) Shelby Ford (23, Altoona, 2B) - Sweet stick, no power, limited range, injury-prone. Will play in the Arizona League in the fall to make up for time missed to injury this season. .285-4-32, 19 SB.
16) Jesse Chavez (25, Indy, RHP) Came in the Kip Wells deal, may finally be reaching his potential. He was the Tribe closer. 5-1-4, 3.46.
17) Jamie Romak (22, Altoona/Lynchburg, 1B/OF) - Finished strong, but has to cut down on the K's. .208-7-32 - Altoona. .279-18-52 - Lynchburg.
18) Dan Moskos (22, Lynchburg, LHP) Conversion of 2007 #1 pick to a starting role from closer was rocky, shut down at end of year. 7-7, 5.95.
19) Luis Cruz (24, Indy/Altoona, 2B/SS) – Good showing at Indy vaulted him into possible utility role. Good hit, no field rep. Signed from SD as minor league free agent. .325-3-15 - Indy, .264-6-46 - Altoona.
20) Jim Negrych (23, Altoona/Lynchburg, 3B) - Pitt grad hits in his sleep. No glove or power at all, but could be a Chris Gomez-type bench player, started career at 2B. .310-0-10 - Altoona, .370-5-62 - Lynchburg.
21) Nelson Pereira (19, GCL, LHP) – Followed a strong Venezuelan Summer League performance in 2007 with a dominating GCL season. 6-2, 1.62, 42 K’s in 45 innings;
22) Chase d'Arnaud (21, State College, SS) - Handled short-season A ball in All-Star fashion. .293-1-21, 14 SB.
23) Jarek Cunningham (18, GCL, 3B) - Showed some power in Bradenton. .318-5-22.
24) Ron Uviedo (21, State College/Hickory, RHP) Has some gas and a good curve, considered a potential closer. Originally signed by Seattle. 3-1-5, 3.01 - Hickory, 0-0, 0.63 - SC.
25) Jeff Sues (25, Altoona, RHP) - Fastball/slider pitcher, not much experience for his age, so still has some upside. Sent to Arizona League for some fall work. 3-1-1, 3.77 ERA.
Under the radar:
Pat Bresnehan (23, Altoona, RHP) – First 2006 draftee (5th round) to reach AA in 2007. Fastball/slider pitcher, being groomed as set-up man. Needs to rebound in 2009. 0-1, 4.29.
Adenson Chourio (22, GCL, 2B) Good glove, good speed, good contact guy. He's a senior citizen for GCL play. .335-0-13, 30 SB.
Mike Crotta (23, Lynchburg, RHP) Only A player sent to Arizona League. 9-10, 4.67.
Dave Davidson (24, Altoona, LHP) Steady mid relief type, on Canada’s Olympic team. 4-2, 3.34.
Jeremy Farrell (21, State College, 1B/3B) - Good eye for the Spikes, but has to show some power at the corner. .291-1-23.
Matt Hague (23, Hickory, 1B/OF) - Good player on a bad Crawdad team. .321-6-29.
Jared Hughes (23, Altoona/Lynchburg, RHP) Will work in the Arizona League this fall. Finesse guy, possible back-end starter. 2-2, 4.94 - Altoona, 3-9, 4.64 - Lynchburg.
Brent Klinger (20, GCL, RHP) - 94 MPH heater from the pen. 0-0, 0.66, 12 K’s, 13-2/3 innings.
Juan Mateo (25, Altoona, RHP) One-time Cub prospect, may be getting over shoulder woes. 7-1-5, 2.12.
Jordy Mercer (22, Hickory, SS) Drafted as a good stick SS. .250-7-29.
Josh Shortslef (26, LHP, Altoona) – Clock ticking on set-up guy. 5-2-3, 3.47.
Andrew Walker (22, Hickory, C) - Had a strong second half, has to build on it. .256, 7-29.
Tony Watson (23, Lynchburg, LHP) – Steady mover in system and an inning-eater. 8-12, 3.56.
Kris Watts (24, Lynchburg, C) - Switch hitter had a good year at the dish, bit long in the tooth for A ball. .285-4-34.
Having five relievers among the top 25 doesn’t bode very well for the system, but there are some kids bubbling under now. Eleven of GW's top 25 are 22 or younger. Another couple or three drafts like this year's, and the pipeline will be primed again.
(The GW didn't rate the usual suspects, like Ronny Paulino, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Duffy, JVB, etc.; guys on the Pirate roster for more than a cup of coffee (the trade deadline mob, mainly), signed too late to strut their stuff (Pedro Alvarez, if he is signed, Quinton Miller, Justin Wilson, Robbie Grossman, Wesley Freeman etc.), or played at Bradenton (too few innings, although there were some stud performances there. We did include Jarek Cunningham and Nelson Pereira in the Top 25, both whom had promising and age-appropriate GCL campaigns.)
"Pellas on the Pirates: The Prospects" will be up Sunday.