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Three Pirates Prospects in BA’s Florida State League Top 20 Rankings

Baseball America released their 2012 Florida State League Top 20 Prospects today and it included a surprise addition.Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon both appeared on the list ranked #2 and #3, respectively. At the #20 spot, shortstop Gift Ngoepe appeared.

Cole started 13 games for Bradenton in his first taste of pro ball before a mid-season promotion to Double-A Altoona, and finished with a 2.55 ERA and a 69:21 K:BB rate over 67 innings.

Taillon spent a little more time that Cole at the level making 23 starts before his promotion to Altoona. In 125 innings, Taillon posted a 3.82 ERA and a 98:37 K:BB ratio.

Ngoepe was named the best defensive shortstop in the Florida State League by Baseball America, so you would have to imagine that had a lot to do with his #20 ranking. He didn’t do much with the bat, posting a line of .230/.328/.329 in 453 at-bats. He did, however, hit a career high eight home runs after hitting just four in his previous three seasons.

 
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Sunday Evening Pirates News and Notes

Going to make this a twice a week thing throughout the off season to cover the things that probably don’t warrant their own post.

Tuesday marks Opening Day for the 2012 Arizona Fall League. Victor Black, Brandon Cumpton, Kyle Kaminska, Tyler Waldron, Matt Curry, Gift Ngoepe, and Adalberto Santos will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. My full preview is here.

Pirates’ pitching prospect Robby Rowland was a guest blogger on MLBReports.com and discussed a lot of things from his trade to the Pirates, how he became a sinker-ball pitcher, bus rides, and more. He starts a paragraph with, “As I sit here, listening to a country music Pandora station.” So you know it’s good.

The Trib’s Rob Biertempfel wonders if the Bucs will be better in 2013 and points out the question marks heading into this off-season are pretty much the exact same as last season. Hell, you can even lump in the things he doesn’t list as question marks, too.

For all you golfers out there, you can now be really jealous of Pirates’ prospect Chris Lashmet, who is currently in Scotland.

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Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe writes something that made me do a double-take about Josh Hamilton:

It’s going to take a special place with a special contract to get him signed somewhere this offseason. Hamilton said he’s not taking a hometown discount from the Rangers, but that’s where he’s likely to land. If he doesn’t, then where? Here are some teams you should not rule out: Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, LA Angels, Baltimore, Toronto. Never count out the Yankees or the Red Sox, but both high-profile places might not be the best fit for him.

Didn’t expect that, huh?

Lastly, Jameson Taillon is back on Twitter. And apparently he loves Call of Duty.

 
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Previewing the Arizona Fall League Prospects

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.

Victor Black
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.

Brandon Cumpton
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.

Kyle Kaminska
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.

Tyler Waldron
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.

Matt Curry
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.

Gift Ngoepe
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.

Adalberto Santos
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.

 
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Evan Meek and Drew Sutton Elect to become Free Agents

Both Evan Meek and Drew Sutton have chosen to become minor league free agents this offseason according to the International League.

Meek, who is now 29 years old, is just two seasons removed from an All-Star appearance. However, arm injuries have weakened his effectiveness and velocity. He pitched just 12 innings in the Majors this season and posted an 8:6 K:BB ratio along with a 6.75 ERA. In Triple A-Indianapolis, Meek was a bit better with a 2.74 ERA in 46 innings with a 41:26 K:BB rate.

Sutton, 29, had quite an odd season. He started the year in Triple A with in the Braves organization. On May 20th, he was traded to the Pirates for cash. The next day, though, the Pirates sent him to Tampa Bay for cash. He was then designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by Pirates on June 24th. After playing in 24 games, he was designated for assignment and outrighted to Indianapolis to finish the season. Sutton his .243/.278/.419 in 79 plate appearances for the Pirates and also provided perhaps the highlight of the season:

 
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Brewers steal their way to 6-0 win

Final: Brewers 6, Pirates 0

WP: Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA)
LP: A.J. Burnett (15-8, 3.64 ERA)

The Brewers were eight for eight in stolen base attempts, including three by Ryan Braun as they ran their way to a 6-0 shutout victory in game one of a pivotal three game series.

A.J. Burnett started for the Pirates and allowed just two runs over six innings, but Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo was better, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings before giving way to his bullpen.

Neil Walker was 2 for 4, which accounted for all but one of the Pirates hits.

The Pirates are now 74-73 and 3.5 games back of the Cardinals for the second wild card spot with 15 games remaining.

The Pirates have lost six straight games in which A.J. Burnett has started. They have been outscored 34-13 in those six starts.

The Pirates have caught just 9% of attempted base stealers this season. That number is by far the lowest in the Majors.

 
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Kevin Correia, Alex Presley, and Clint Barmes Lead Bucs to Series Win

Final: Pirates 6, Astros 3

WP: Kevin Correia (10-8, 4.28 ERA)
LP: Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30 ERA)

That’s a headline you probably will never see again.

But seriously, Kevin Correia pitched great tonight, going six innings and giving up just a run on four hits.

Clint Barmes, who for some reason was hitting second in the lineup, reached base three times with a single and two walks, and successfully pulled off a suicide squeeze play to score Alex Presley. Presley finished the night with three runs scored and added an RBI triple of his own to plate Rod Barajas from first base. The whole game was pretty strange.

Gaby Sanchez went 3 for 4 with an RBI and is now hitting .288/.338/.439 in 66 at-bats since being acquired at the trade deadline. So far it seems to be a pretty successful pickup.

The two walks recorded by Clint Barmes tonight increased his season walk total by 25%. That shows you how bad he’s been offensively.

The win was the Pirates’ 72nd of the season, matching their win total from last year. They also moved within 1.5 games of St. Louis for the second wild card spot.

 
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