Tuesday will mark Opening Day of the 20th season of the Arizona Fall League, which has the reputation of having a very wide collection of talent. This year, 24 of of MLB’s top 100 prospects will participate. The Pirates will be sending seven prospects of their own to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Black was selected by the Pirates in the supplemental first round (49th overall) of the 2009 Draft. He is coming off a very successful campaign for Double-A Altoona where he posted an 85:29 K:BB rate and 1.65 ERA over 60 innings. The 24-year-old right hander has great stuff as his fastball can reach the upper 90′s and has a very good slider to go along with that. He is eligible for the Rule V Draft this offseason and will need to be added to the 40-man roster if the Pirates want to protect him.
Cumpton was a ninth round pick by the Pirates in 2010 and has pitched fairly well in his three years in the system. The 23-year-old right hander started 27 games for Double-A Altoona and posted a 3.84 ERA and an 88:46 K:BB rate in 152 1/3 innings. This offseason will be important for Cumpton in that it will probably help decide whether the Pirates think of him as someone who can contribute at the big league level or if he’ll simply be an organizational depth guy. He has the talent to contribute out of the bullpen and could be sent to Indianapolis next year to be groomed as a reliever.
Kaminska, 23, was acquired from the Marlins at the deadline in the Gorkys Hernandez/Gaby Sanchez trade. After the trade, Kaminska pitched very well between High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona as he struck out 22 batters compared to just two walks over 28 innings. Kaminska, like Black, is eligible for the Rule V Draft this offseason, so the AFL will give the Pirates extra time to evaluate him and decide if he is worth protecting, since he has only been in the system for two months.
Waldron was the Pirates’ fifth round pick in 2010 and is coming off a pretty disappointing season where he posted a 4.89 ERA and an 88:40 K:BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings. He finished the season in Double-A Altoona’s rotation and will most likely return there in 2013. He needs to start pitching better or he is going to lose the little prospect status he still has.
Curry, 24, has emerged as one of the better power hitting prospects in the system since being drafted in the 16th round in 2010. The first basemen missed almost two months this season due to injury so the AFL will serve as making up lost time. Curry hit .287/.354/.479 in 401 at-bats this year with all but five of those coming at Double-A Altoona.
Ngoepe, 22, made headlines when he was signed back in 2008 as he became the first black South African signed by a Major League team. Ngoepe is Rule V Draft eligible this offseason so the Pirates will be faced with a tough decision on whether to protect him or not. He still hasn’t shown much offensively, despite hitting nine home runs this season, but he is very good defensively at the shortstop position.
Santos, 25, isn’t much of a prospect due to his age, but still looks like someone who could contribute at the ML level as a utility player. He has hit at every level he has played at and posted a .340/.425/.433 line at Double-A Altoona this season. He missed about two months due to a knee injury so he will be making up for lost time in the AFL, like Curry.