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Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Tony Watson of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Tony Watson of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the Pittsburgh Pirates. This list was originally published January 3rd, 2011. We will look at the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, and the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Grade B+:  4.39 ERA with 71/11 K/BB in 68 innings for Low-A West Virginia, 72 hits allowed, 1.25 GO/AO. Impressive K/IP and K/BB ratios stand out.

2) Stetson Allie, RHP, Grade B:  Serious command issues for State College: 7.97 ERA, 23/20 K/BB in 20 innings, 20 hits. He's had some good outings but some terrible ones, too.

3) Tony Sanchez, C, Grade B:  Hitting .237/.341/.311 with 37 walks, 53 strikeouts in 312 at-bats for Double-A Altoona. Has thrown out 23% of runners, made 14 errors. I'm disappointed, particularly the lack of power development.

4) Rudy Owens, LHP, Grade B:  4.76 ERA with 69/32 K/BB in 110 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis, 121 hits. Still throwing strikes, but sharp worsening in K/IP and H/IP ratios gives ammunition to the skeptics who questioned ins success at lower levels.

5) Luis Heredia, RHP, Grade B-: 6.38 ERA with 17/15 K/BB in 18 innings for GCL Pirates, 17 hits. Serious command problems so far, but doesn't turn 17 until next week.

6) Jeff Locke, LHP, Grade B-:  4.22 ERA with 108/44 K/BB in 119 innings, 114 hits for Double-A Altoona. Nothing spectacular, but not terrible either.

7) Diego Moreno, RHP, Grade B-:   4.29 ERA with 38/14 K/BB in 36 innings between Altoona and High-A Bradenton. At age 25, he needs to advance a lot more rapidly than this.

8) Zach "The Junker" Von Rosenberg, RHP, Grade B-:    6.58 ERA with 82/15 K/BB in 94 innings for West Virginia, 115 hits. He's still throwing strikes, but his fastball velocity is not picking up as scouts hoped, and he's getting killed by his home run/fly ball tendencies.

9) Justin Wilson, LHP, Grade B-:   4.14 ERA with 85/58 K/BB in 113 innings for Indianapolis, 113 hits. I felt he was capable of better.

10) Starling Marte, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .312/.347/.457 with 14 walks, 81 strikeouts in 407 at-bats for Altoona, 18 steals. Still raw in many respects, impatient, but has kept his batting average up.

11) Bryan Morris, RHP, Grade C+:  3.92 ERA with 48/26 K/BB in 60 innings for Altoona, 60 hits, 1.95 GO/AO. Struggled as a starter but excellent since switching to bullpen, 2.36 ERA, 31/10 K/BB in 34 innings. I think that is his best role.

12) Colton Cain, LHP, Grade C+:   3.13 ERA with 78/30 K/BB in 101 innings for West Virginia, 81 hits. A solid campaign, moving up the prospect list.

13) Brock Holt, INF, Grade C+   .277/.342/.371 with 39 walks, 72 strikeouts, 15 steals in 415 at-bats for Altoona. Now a full-time second baseman and has performed well with the glove.

14) Nick Kingham, RHP, Grade C+:   3.15 ERA with 31/10 K/BB in 40 innings for State College in the New York-Penn League, 43 hits. Throwing strikes, other numbers OK, just 19.

15) Tony Watson, LHP, Grade C+:  2.45 ERA with 29/11 K/BB in 29 innings for Indianapolis, 19 hits. Very similar in the majors, 2.55 ERA, 22/12 K/BB in 25 innings, 19 hits, Nothing to complain about there, and could take a larger role.

16) Evan Chambers, OF, Grade C:  .241/.365/.401 with 11 homers, 59 walks, 102 strikeouts, 17 stolen bases in 344 at-bats for Bradenton. Still has the high walk rate with some speed and power, but not a breakthrough season like I'd hoped.

17) Zach Dodson, LHP, Grade C: Season split three-ways between GCL Pirates, West Virginia, and State College. Combined numbers: 3.69 ERA, 50/17 K/BB in 61 innings, 65 hits. There is some promise here.

18) Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Grade C:  Hitting .287/.339/.396, one homers, 17 steals, 21 walks, 74 strikeouts in 338 at-bats for Indianapolis. He'll never hit enough to be a regular, but speed and defense might be useful on a bench.

19) Mel Rojas, Jr., OF, Grade C:  .253/.303/.334, 28 walks, 89 strikeouts, 18 steals in 392 at-bats for West Virginia. Everyone knew he was raw when drafted and, guess what, he is.

20) Chase d'Arnaud, SS, Grade C:   .280/.347/.418 with 20 walks, 42 strikeouts, 17 steals in 239 at-bats for Indianapolis.  .225/.245/.294 in 102 major league at-bats, seven steals. He will be around awhile but I am still doubtful that he'll hit enough to be a long-term regular.

I think this list is rather substandard. Von Rosenberg, a favorite of mine since he was in high school, has been a massive disappointment, and other breakthrough candidates have not really lived up to their potential. Taillon looks solid thus far, and Colton Cain needs to be watched closely in '12.