Saturday, February 5, 2011

The DBS Picks for 2011 Breakouts in the Minors

Over at OnlyBucs, a poster put up a thread to ask people to name their breakout minor leaguers for the Pirates in 2011. Since this was a topic that I had in the ol' brain hopper to do here, I thought it might be a good time to put e-pen to e-paper.

Last year, I picked Diego Moreno and Brock Holt as my breakouts. Both were well on their way to making me look totally awesome, as Holt was hitting .351/.410/.438 (848 OPS) until he shredded his knee in June and was out for the rest of the year. Moreno stared at the Florida State League until it collectively realized it was a woman, by pitching 38 innings, giving up only 14 hits, walking 5, and striking out 57 (!!), thanks to a high 90's fastball. He got promoted up to Altoona and proceeded to have a bad outing in bad conditions, which then affected his demeanor. Kyle Stark put him in the time-out room and briefly demoted him back to Bradenton. So overall, they broke out, but then fizzled last year too.

This year I'm going to pick 2 players in each category because....I want to. Hopefully, it brings twice the luck as last year, with half the injuries and frustration.

For my first hitter, I'm picking David Rubinstein. Rubinstein was a 2008 11th round draft pick and has progressed very slowly to date. He spent both 2008 and 2009 in short season State College, with 2010 being spent in Low A. In 2011, he should be in High A Bradenton, but he will be 24 years old, which is 2 years too old for the level. But Rubinstein has improved each year and in 2010 put up a .289/.347/.409 (755 OPS) with some hints of speed (23 SB in 32 attempts). Basically, he's my candidate for this year's "Where the crap did he come from?" award that went to Rudy Owens (2009) and Alex Presley (2010).

My second pick is Matt Curry. Curry is a 2010 16th round draft pick that hit the ground running out of the draft at State College. He had a very impressive .299/.421/.477 (898 OPS) with 7 HR's and a walk rate of roughly 20%. Curry is stuck in the daisy chain of 1B semi-prospects that the Pirates have stacked up, though. Steve Pearce and Matt Hague are going to fight for AB's at AAA, most likely. Calvin Anderson, the weak link in the chain, will be at AA. Aaron Baker, who had an OK year in 2010, will be at A+. That leaves the 22-year old Curry to man 1B at Low A. It would nice if Curry could make the jump to A+ and do a job share somehow with Baker, but you don't see that with 16th round picks too much. They have to earn their stripes. I feel that Curry blends Hague's plate discipline with Baker's raw power.

On the mound, my first choice is a rather uninspiring one, but I'll take Tyler Waldron. Waldron was a quiet 5th round choice for the Pirates in 2010, and by that I mean with all the attention focused on the plethora of high school pitchers taken by the Pirates he sort of slid under the radar. Waldron went to the Fastball Command Academy of State College after the draft and did well. He pitched 64 innings, gave up 66 hits, walked only 11 and struck out 39 (which was low, but's primarily fastballs there). With the pileup of potential arms at Low A West Virginia in 2011, it wouldn't surprise me to see Waldron start at High A in 2011.

My boom or bust pick for a pitcher is Joely Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a 2009 Latin American free agent signed by Rene Gayo. He spent 2009 in the Dominican Summer League and then came stateside in 2010. He spent the majority of 2010 pitching in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, as an 18 year old, and had a nice line of 47 IP, 44 H, 7 BB, and 29 K's. The left hander was said to have been hitting 93 by the end of the year in the GCL and during his brief promotion to State College. He was extremely homer prone in the GCL, giving up 10 in 47 IP, and has a tough time harnessing his command. He should spend 2011 in State College, but don't be surprised if you start hearing more about him at the end of the year.

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