Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DBS Top 30 Prospects 2013 -- #30 to #26

It's that time of year again -- prospect ranking time!  Most of my follower(s) are here for my thoughts on food or the City, but this is my self-indulgent time to order grown men into numerical alignments and wax poetic on their futures.

Ground rules -- 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 30 relief appearances in the majors exhausts your eligibility.  So bid adieu to Starling Marte and Jeff Locke.  Guys that were traded such as Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens, Colton Cain, and Gorkys Hernandez (not that he would have made it) are off as well.

As I get more gray in my hair, I'm becoming a bigger proponent of "proximity to the majors".  The way I evaluate prospects is two-fold:
1) What is the player's ultimate ceiling?
2) What is the likelihood that he will reach it?

2 has to do with injury history, location on the rungs on the minor league ladder, and other non-performance factors (drugs with Zack Dodson, for instance).  So with that said, let's tackle the first five.  The number in parentheses is the player's age for the 2013 season, using the standard July 1st cutoff date.  I'm forecasting the level they may start at, as well.

#30 Gift Ngeope, 2B/SS (23), AA -- Without a doubt, Ngoepe is the top middle infielder prospect from South Africa in the minors.  The minor disclaimer is that he is the only player, regardless of position, from South Africa in all of the minors.  Ngeope has a heartwarming story that makes you root for him (cliff notes -- he was so dirt poor that he slept in the locker room of a field, because his mom was the janitor).  Ngeope's 2012 triple slash line was weak at .232/.330/.338 (668 OPS), but his hands are smooth and his range is fantastic.  He had 22 steals, albeit in 36 attempts and hit 9 homers, so there are enough things here to keep him on the radar.

#29 Brock Holt, 2B (25), AAA/MLB -- Holt had one of those years with the bat that makes everyone take notice.  He started in AA and proceeded to hit .332/.389/.432 (821 OPS) while faking it at shortstop over 102 games.  He got bumped up to AAA and went bananas in 24 games with a .432/.476/.537 (1013 OPS).  When Neil Walker started to battle thumb and back injuries, Holt was called up to the majors and hit .292/.329/.354 (683 OPS).  The problem is that he does not have the arm for SS at the major league level and he has little to no power.  If everything breaks right, Holt could be a slightly better version of Josh Harrison.

#28 Jake Burnette, RHP (20), A -- Burnette was an over slot signing back in 2011 during the halycon days when MLB allowed small market teams to better themselves through the draft.  So far, Burnette's progress has been slow and marked with some minor injuries.  Burnette only pitched 21 innings at State College in 2012 with a shockingly low 8 K's in those innings, set against 6 walks.  Small sample size and all, but let's hope Burnette was fine-tuning his fastball command and not lacking a go-to strikeout pitch.

#27 Phil Irwin, RHP (26), AAA -- Pound for pound, Irwin may have had the best season for a pitcher in the Pirates' system.  Irwin pitched primarily at AA, but he got 4 starts at Indy at the end of the year, too.  Overall, he pitched 130 innings with 119 hits, 24 walks, and 117 strikeouts.  This was a marked uptick from his previous years.  So why so low?  It's that number in the parentheses above -- his age of 26.  Irwin projects as a #4 or #5 starter due to his average fastball and lack of a plus pitch.  He's jammed up on the pecking order, too, behind the Major League rotation, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, and Gerrit Cole poised to jump to the majors in June.

#26 Joely Rodriguez, LHP (21), A -- If you've read these before, you know I have a weakness for lefties with any modicum of speed on their fastball.  It's just such an asset to not give up on.  Rodriguez has battled minor injuries here and there, so his 64 innings at State College represents a career high.  His low 90's fastball (touches 92-93) keeps him here for now.  His lack of K's (32) may be troubling.  Hopefully he jumps up to West Virginia in 2013 and we see what the Pirates really have.


  1. As a guy who was a lynchpin to OBN including the Top 30 this seems a little sad.

    You'd get 150 participants in the Top 30. You probably had 7 people read this post.

    WTM still posts on OBN, why don't you as well?

  2. Thanks for the kind words, The Handsome, but you're way overstating my place at OBN. I've been doing these ranking here on this blog since 2009, even while running the OBN polls.

    I don't post anymore at OBN because of helping out Tim at Pirates Prospects. I chose to not "muddy the message" by voicing my opinions that may run contradictory to Tim's site.

    That and I just got tired arguing with people over the same old stuff.

  3. Until you starting ranking the guys the RIGHT way(coolest sounding names), I'm not going to comment on any of your opinions on the matter.

    Do it right, or don't do it at all. "Brock Holt" at 29, indeed.

  4. You must be super disappointed Colton "6 shooter" Cain was traded. How has your quest to vote by name going with the current OBN voting? Is Stevie Numbers running a good poll?

  5. Cain would've cracked my top 5 for sure. :)

    Keep in mind, it doesn't have to be "gunfighter" names, just "cool" names....just so happens that gunfighter names are, in many cases, the coolests.

    Steve just started it over at the other place and I'm only paying peripheral attention, really. He DID sort of try to call me out for voting as I do prior to beginning it....not that it stopped me from doing so. Of course, the first couple spots fall in line with it anyway. Cole and Taillon fit the parameters without having to reach.

    Just about done wasting any time over there. There's a 5 or 6 page thread with the usual suspects clutching their pearls over some poster that was seen in Bradenton's training facility. *yaaaaawn*