Saturday, December 24, 2011

#15 Prospect - Matt Curry

The Pirates liked Matt Curry, my #15 pirates Prospect, so much they actually drafted him twice.  In 2008, they drafted him as JUCO player out of Howard College, but he elected to go to Texas Christian University instead.  At TCU, Curry had a break out year in 2010, posting a .353/.478/.725 line with 17 HR's and a 54BB:41K rate in 218 AB's.  This lead to the Pirates drafting Curry again, this time in the 16th round. Curry signed fairly quickly, at the end of June, for an unspecified bonus amount. 

This allowed the first baseman to play 58 games in 2010, but curiously the Pirates sent the 21 year-old to short-season State College.  Regardless, Curry responded well, putting up a .299/.421/.477 line bolstered by an excellent 16.3% BB rate and solid 19.6% K rate. It was a positive sign, but Curry should have dominated short-season ball as an advanced college graduate playing against younger competition.

 In 2011, Curry started off the season with an absolute bang.  Promoted to Low-A West Virginia, Curry was still somewhat old for the level at 22, but his ridiculous numbers began to drown out concerns about his age.  In 195 PA's over 46 games, Curry posted an insane .361/.477/.671 line with 15 HRs and 52 total XBHs, meaning 40% of his hits went for 2 bases or more.  Curry also walked 35 times and only struck out 29 times, showing excellent plate discipline.

The Pirates rewarded Curry, allowing him to skip A+ ball and promoting him directly to AA Altoona.  Curry responded by starting out hot, collecting at least one hit in each of his first 5 games, going 8-for-19, with 2 doubles and a homerun.  He also walked twice compared to only one strikeout.  However, from there Curry cooled off considerably as he finally started facing age-appropriate competition.  Curry finished the year with a .242/.320/.374 line at AA.  Overall, the .694 OPS Curry produced at AA looks unimpressive, but he still managed a .78 isolated patience.  However, even though he walked at a solid clip, he also struck out 90 times compared to 33 walks. Also, his power abandoned him as he only put up a .132 ISO mark.

Still, Curry's season was a success in my eyes.  He mashed at Low-A, and started off well in AA, before tiring as the season dragged out over the summer.  Curry took a similar amount of AB's in 2010, but also had a several week break between finishing college and starting professional ball.  In 2011, Curry went through his first full season without any breaks and he did it while playing across two levels, so a drop-off at the end of the year should not be surprising.  The drop-off prevents Curry from being the top 10 prospect some (myself included) considered him to be mid-season, but it doesn't totally ruin his prospect status either.

In the field, Curry is definitely limited to 1B.  In fact, at best he will only be an average first defensive 1B, as he showed poor athleticism and reactions when I saw him play at WV in multiple games. Therefore, his bat is going to have to carry him.  While he struggled at AA, he had shown good power and excellent plate discipline, along with a solid ability to hit for average, from college ball through Low-A West Virginia over the past two and a half years prior to being promoted to Altoona.

As far as a scouting report goes, Curry has solid mechanics, and a nice level swing, with enough of an uppercut to generate power while minimizing the loss of contact ability.  It is slightly longer than ideal, but overall it has no glaring holes.  Curry also displayed a tremendous eye when I saw him play, rarely chasing balls, either high or low.  Also those factors combined make me believe that Curry can still be an above-average 1B in the majors, carried by a solid bat that could put up a .290/.380/.510 line if things develop well.   That potential leads me to rank Matt Curry as my #15 Pirates prospect.