Saturday, December 15, 2012

DBS Top 30 Prospects 2013 -- #20 to #16

We'll keep on chugging along with 5 more prospects that hope to don the buccaneer togs one day.  Age in parentheses is as of July 1, 2013 and the class designation is the player's potential level in 2013.

#20 Robbie Rowland, RHP (21), A+ -- The Pirates obtained Brett Lorin in the Ian Snell/Jack Wilson trade back in 2009.  Lorin made his way through the Pirates system, but was never interesting enough for them to warrant protecting on the 40 man roster.  The Diamondbacks selected Lorin in the Rule 5 draft last offseason.  As the regular season approached, though, they felt they couldn't keep Lorin on the major league roster, so a trade was worked out with the Pirates.  Rowland was the piece that came back.  In his first 2 years, Rowland couldn't get out of short-season with the Diamondbacks and had some control problems.  With the Pirates, Rowland had him arm slot lowered and he went to a sinkerballer delivery with great success.  In 106 innings, he allowed 110 hits, walked only 23 and struck out 62.  Rowland's youth and low 90's fastball makes him an interesting prospect to follow in 2013.

#19 Andy Oliver, LHP (25), AAA/MLB -- Hot off the presses!  Oliver was obtained last week for midgety catching prospect Ramon Cabrera from the Tigers.  Oliver has some MLB experience, but not enough innings to disqualify himself from the list.  Oliver has been rushed through the Tigers' farm system and his control has suffered greatly.  In 118 innings at AAA this year, Oliver allowed 103 hits and struck out 112, but he walked a mind-numbing 88.  In 31 total innings in the majors, Oliver has walked 21.  He has a power arm with mid-90's heat, but it won't help if he can't harness it.  His best future seems to be as a power lefty out of the bullpen, so think of him as an even more control-challenged Justin Wilson.

#18 Bryan Morris, RHP (26), AAA/MLB -- Morris will be out of options in 2013, so he will need to be on the roster or risk being lost to another team.  Morris is the only remaining piece from the Jason Bay trade.  With his conversion from starter to reliever full time in 2012, Morris profiles as a closer or setup man due to high-90's heat and excellent slider.  If Hanrahan is traded as expected, Jason Grilli will be the closer and Morris should apprentice as his setup man.  Morris is ranked here due to his ceiling only being a bullpen guy and his advanced age.

#17 Barrett Barnes, OF (21), A -- Barnes was a supplemental 1st round draft pick by the Pirates in 2012 and is said to be a 4-tool potential player (his range may push him to a corner).  Barnes had a nice debut for the Pirates, albeit one truncated by injury, with a .288/.401/.456 (857 OPS) line for State College with 5 HR's and 10 SB's.  Barnes is getting a lot of burn, with some national services putting him in the top 10 for the Pirates, but I think it's just a touch too early for that.  Barnes is expected to have a nice full season for West Virginia in 2013.

#16 Jordy Mercer, SS (26), AAA/MLB -- Mercer is a difficult player to rank, as his age is pushing him down the list even with his premium position of shortstop.  Mercer spent a lot of calendar time with the Pirates, but he only received 62 at-bats in Pittsburgh and put up a 636 OPS.  Mercer, like Morris at #18, are not going to be on this list next year regardless due to being 27 in 2014.  Both will probably also exceed the eligibility limits, as well.  Hopefully Mercer can demonstrate he will be more than a utility infielder in 2013.

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