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Insider Only Prospects Exclusive: Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Prospects

By John Perrotto
Ask Neal Huntington about the difference in the talent level in the Pirates’ farm system between when was hired as general manager in 2007 and today, and he can’t hide his enthusiasm.
“Night and day,” Huntington said. “We have a lot of good players now. It was exciting in spring training to stand there in the middle of the four fields at Pirate City and look around at all the talent. We have a lot of prospects who are not only going to get to the major leagues but be very good players in Pittsburgh.”
Let’s take a look at the cream of the crop with Inside Pittsburgh Sports’ ranking of the Top 10 Pirates’ prospects:
1-Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Age: 23
Bats: L
Ht, Wt.: 6-3, 225
Last season: Hit a combined .288 with 27 home runs and 95 RBIs in 126 games with high Class A Lynchburg and Class AA Altoona.
This season: Class AAA Indianapolis
Scouting report: The Pirates’ first-round draft pick and second overall selection in 2008 from Vanderbilt is a complete hitter with the ability to center the ball on the barrel of his bat and good strike-zone judgment.
His swing has a slight uppercut and is always balanced. He lacks speed or first-step quickness but possesses the arm strength and soft hands needed to play third base. He needs to watch his conditioning but has the potential to hit 40 home runs in the major leagues.
2-Jose Tabata, OF
Age: 21
Bats: R
Ht, Wt: 5-11, 215
Last season: Hit a combined .293 with five home runs, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 93 games with Altoona and Indianapolis.
This season: Indianapolis
Scouting report: Acquired from the New York Yankees in a 2008 trade, Tabata is a strong and muscular hitter with good bat speed and the leverage to start hitting for power. He mashes left-handed pitching but struggles against breaking pitches and rarely walks.
He is an aggressive base runner with average speed. He possesses good arm strength and average range. The Pirates were happy with the new-found maturity he showed during spring training.
3-Brad Lincoln, RHP
Age: 24
Ht, Wt: 6-4, 220
Last season: Went a combined 7-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 25 starts with Altoona and Indianapolis.
This season: Indianapolis.
Scouting report: The Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2006 from Houston has a strong frame and has managed to stay healthy since undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in 2007. He began showing the ability to miss bats last season while also featuring improved off-speed pitches.
He is a hard thrower and has good movement on his fastball, and his curveball has a chance to be an above-average pitch. He needs to repeat his delivery more often to help his changeup and overall command.
4-Tony Sanchez, C
Age: 21
Bats: R
Ht, Wt: 6-0, 220
Last season: Hit a combined .309 with seven home runs and 48 RBIs in 48 games with short-season Class A State College, low Class A West Virginia and Lynchburg.
This season: High Class A Bradenton
Scouting report: He was the top college catcher in last year’s draft with his strong and athletic build, and the Pirates selected him with fourth overall pick in the first round from Boston College. He uses the whole field with his hitting approach and squares the ball up well.
He has average power now but that could increase once he learns how to better handle breaking pitches. He is an excellent defensive catcher with a strong arm that can shut down a running game. He frames pitches well and receives and blocks balls effectively.
5-Tim Alderson, RHP
Age: 21
Ht, Wt: 6-6, 217
Last season: Went a combined 10-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 25 starts with San Francisco’s high Class A San Jose and Class AA Connecticut farm clubs and Altoona.
This season: Indianapolis
Scouting report: Acquired from the Giants in a July trade last year, Alderson is a tall and projectable pitcher with a lot of polish. He pitches on a downward plane and gets swings and misses with both his fastball and curveball.
He has outstanding command and gets movement on his pitches because of his quick arm action. He needs to work on his changeup and smooth out his three-quarters delivery. His drop in velocity once he got to Altoona last season is a concern but he is still very young and has considerable potential.
6-Chase d’Arnaud, SS
Age: 23
Bats: R
Ht, Wt: 6-1, 175
Last season: Hit a combined 293 with seven home runs, 57 RBIs and 31 stolen bases in 116 games with West Virginia and Lynchburg.
This season: Altoona
Scouting report: The Pirates’ fourth-round draft pick in 2008 from Pepperdine was a solid shortstop/third base prospect in college. He has a good approach at the plate and should develop at least moderate gap power as his body fills out.
He doesn’t have great range for a shortstop but he does have good quickness and instincts that also help him on the bases. He put up good numbers last season despite missing time with a sprained thumb.

7-Starling Marte, OF
Age: 21
Ht, Wt: 6-1, 170
Last season: Hit a combined .309 with three home runs, 35 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 57 games with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates, West Virginia and Lynchburg.
This season: Bradenton
Scouting report: He is a tools-laden player who was signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2006. He runs well, covers plenty of ground in center field and has a very strong and accurate arm. He profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter who should develop decent power and become a big stolen-base threat. He will need to improve his plate discipline and on base percentage but his United States debut last summer was a rousing success.
8-Gorkys Hernandez, OF
Age: 22
Ht, Wt: 6-0, 175
Last season: Hit a combined .282 with three home runs, 50 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 138 games with Atlanta’s Class AA Mississippi farm club and Altoona.
This season: Altoona
Scouting report: Acquired from the Braves in a trade last June, he is a leadoff-type hitter with above average speed and good contact ability. His power is below average but he can reach the gaps for the occasional double and should develop a little more pop as his body matures.
He tends to swing at anything and needs to develop better plate discipline. He has the range and arm strength to be a good center fielder but needs to learn to get better jumps and take more direct routes to fly balls.
9-Rudy Owens, LHP
Age: 22
Ht, Wt: 6-3, 215
Last season: Went a combined 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 25 starts with West Virginia and Lynchburg.
This season: Altoona
Scouting report: The Pirates’ 28th-round draft pick in 2006 from Mesa (Ariz.) High School is a polished pitcher with a strong body who had a breakout season in 2009. His fastball sits at 87-90 mph but he has outstanding command of it as evidenced by his 113/17 strikeout/walk ratio last season.
He also has an above average curveball and a changeup that has a chance to be a plus pitch. He developed much better mound presence last season.
10-Neil Walker, Utilityman
Age: 24
Bats: B
Ht, Wt: 6-3, 210
Last season: Hit a combined .256 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs in 103 games with Indianapolis and the Gulf Coast League Pirates then made his major-league debuted and batted .194 in 17 games for the Pirates last September.
This season: Indianapolis.
Scouting report: The Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2004 from Pine-Richland High School will attempt to make the conversion to super utility player this season after being drafted as a catcher then moving to third base.
He is expected to play first base, second base, third base, left field and right field at Indianapolis and possibly do some catching. He is a strong guy with good bat speed and power potential but he continues to be done in by a lack of plate discipline. He has more power from the right side but makes better contract as a left-handed hitter. He runs well, has a strong arm and possesses good quickness.

About The Author

John Perrotto

Pirates Insider

John Perrotto is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB. John has covered the Pirates for over 20+ seasons and is an exclusive member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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