Thursday, November 17, 2011

2012 DBS Top 30 Pirates prospects - #10 to 6

Here we go into the Top 10 of the DBS Top 30 prospects.

Just a reminder that the thresholds for prospectiness are no more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 30 relief appearances at the major league level.

The number in parentheses is the player's 2012-season age, using the standard July 1st cutoff date. The level shown is my assumed level that the player will start at in 2012.

10. Robbie Grossman (22) OF, AA -- Grossman is the belle of the ball as far as Pirate prospects were concerned this year. A lot of people are fawning over the 100 walks and 100 runs he had this year, the first person since Nick Swisher in 2004. Grossman had a fantastic year for Bradenton this year with a line of .294/.418/.451 (869 OPS), but the questions still remain that Grossman may be a tweener. He played most of his games in RF this year, as he is said to not have the range to play CF consistently. If he is confined to a corner, his 13 HR's won't cut it -- unless you think he has 20 HR potential long-term. I'm waiting to see what AA brings for Grossman. I'm thinking the pitchers will challenge him much more and his walks will drop. Keep in mind that Altoona is a very difficult place to homer, for both sides of the plate, which is a problem for the switch-hitter.

9. Colton Cain (21) LHP, A+ -- Cain's velocity wavered at times this year, with on-site reports putting him at 86-88 mph some starts. But Cain has been in the 93-95 mph range in the past, so I'm hoping it was just the effects of being in full-season ball for the first time. Cain's walk total was impressive, just 31 in 106 IP, coupled with 81 K's. He'll be part of a great potential Bradenton rotation if Cole starts there instead of Altoona. At this point, I still have hopes for Cain becoming a #3 starter, but if his velo doesn't improve in 2012 he may get dropped down.

8. Tony Sanchez (24) C, AA/AAA -- Sanchez is this year's version of Chase d'Arnaud for me. In 2010, d'Arnaud had a horrible year at Altoona due to pneumonia, but his K/BB rates were still intact. Move to 2011 and Sanchez had a horrible year, but kept his fundamentals together. Sanchez's defense was also good, as I witnessed him live 3 times. He presents a very quiet target behind the plate and has good reaction times on his throws, which are strong. Sanchez was scheduled to be the starter in Pittsburgh in 2012, so this is a setback for him, but I'm confident he will rebound this year.

7. Jeff Locke (24) LHP, AAA -- Locke was the most successful of the Altoona Four from 2010 (Locke, Owens, Morris, Wilson) and he actually made 4 starts in Pittsburgh at the end of the year. So Locke gets the benefit over some other pitchers below him because of his proximity to the majors and success at upper levels. Locke was pretty well gassed by the time he got to Pittsburgh, but the Pirates were out of healthy arms and needed him. Locke could become a Maholm-lite pitcher, but is probably a #4 long-term. He had 3 average pitches and didn't seem to have a strong out pitch, but I'm accounting for a long year as well.

6. Kyle McPherson (24) RHP, AAA -- This may be one of the higher ranks you'll see for McPherson, but I'm a big fan. McPherson had a dominant stint at Bradenton to start the year (71 IP, 60 K, only 6 BB) and then had a real nice AA run (89 IP, 82 K's, 21 BB) for 170 total innings. McPherson has a 92-94 mph fastball, killer curve when it is on, and a great changeup. McPherson is not afraid to pitch inside and establish the inner part of the plate, as evidenced by the numerous welts from the high number of batters he hit this year. It would not surprise me to see McPherson in Pittsburgh in August.

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