Friday, November 27, 2009

DBS' Top 30 2010 Pirates' Prospects - #16-20

Again, keep in mind the age in parentheses in the players' age during the 2010 season, with July 1st as the cutoff. The level shown is my anticipated starting level for that player.

16. Neil Walker (24) 3B, AAA/MLB -- At this point, we can probably all shelve those dreams of stardom for Walker. However, this year will determine if he is a bust or at least a serviceable major league player. He can still carve out a nice super-utility role for himself, use his switch hitting ability, and show some power. He could be the 2010 version of Jose Bautista, but with defensive prowess. Regardless of this year, he won't be on this list for 2011...he'll either have too many AB's (130 total) or he will have proven that he is not in the Pirates' plans.

17. Brooks Pounders (19) RHP, SS/A -- I put a lot of stock in performance and potential, probably 60/40 of a split. So that's why Pounders is here and higher ceiling players like Dodson and Stevenson are not. Pounders has most likely maxed out his MPH at 90-91, which is only average for a righty, but he has 4 pitches in his arsenal already. Most likely, he will be passed by some of the pitchers ranked below him after this year, but as of right now a potential workhorse with a feel for pitching gets my vote.

18. Jarek Cunningham (20) SS/3B, A -- With all of the talent added via trades and the draft this year, if you didn't have a great "wow" year, you were going to drop in my Top 30. Cunningham had one of the greatest GCL-debut seasons for a Pirates' HS prospect in recent memory - on par with McCutchen's and just slightly behind Aramis Ramirez's NY-P debut. With Alvarez ascending to the 3B throne in 2010, a new 3B needs groomed since Alvarez may not stick there long term. If Cunningham can return from his knee injury and show he is healthy, he could be ready when Alvarez has to move across to 1B in 3-4 years.

19. Victor Black (22) RHP, A/A+ -- Another one of my maxims of prospecting is that I will always rank a starter ahead of a reliever in the Top 20...unless that reliever could be very special. I think Black could be that guy. He had a 95+ mph fastball in his debut this year and rumors that his slider is top-notch, too. Although the Pirates may work him as a starter to build his innings and get him working on pitches, I wouldn't mind if they fast-tracked him as a pure reliever. He could be a blazer in the 8th/9th innings.

20. Diego Moreno (23) RHP, A+/AA -- Back to back relievers...the system must be thinning out, right? Wrong. I feel strongly that Moreno is a high-end reliever as well. He had a very strong season in A this year, albeit as a slightly overage 22. But he could be a strong multiple level mover in 2010.

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