Thursday, December 29, 2011

#13 Prospect - Alex Dickerson

My #13 Pirates prospect, first baseman Alex Dickerson, is my second 2011 draftee so far on the list, and one of four total.  Interestingly, all four major "classes" of players are represented in that group, with two pitchers and hitters, one of each coming from both the high school and college ranks.  Dickerson is the college hitter. 

Dickerson was originally drafted out of high school by the Nationals in the 48th round in 2008. Three years later, in 2011, the Pirates drafted Dickerson out of Indiana University in the 3rd round.  Dickerson chose to forgo his senior season as a Hoosier and signed about a month before the deadline for $380,700, which was close to slot money.  By signing early, Dickerson was able to start his pro career last summer, accumulating 173 plate appearances in 41 games for the State College Spikes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Early Draft Preview - Carlos Correa; Matt Smoral

For more on the 2012 MLB Draft click here.

The Pirates have the #8 overall pick in the upcoming June MLB amateur draft.  Additionally, the Pirates will have at least one supplemental draft pick, with a second supplemental pick possible depending on what Derrek Lee does in free agency.  However, The two players profiled below most likely will only be available at that 8th spot, as both players are currently elite draft prospects.  Profiled are two high school kids, one pitcher and one hitter.

#14 Prospect - Colton Cain

Colton Cain, my #14 Pirates Prospect was part of the 2009 class that added my #19 prospect, Zach Von Rosenberg, and #16 prospect, Zack Dodson.  The Pirates drafted Cain in the 8th round, and then paid him 1.125 million dollars to break the 8th round bonus record held by the Yankees who signed Dellin Betances in 2006 for 1 million dollars.  Cain, who had been committed to Texas, already stood at 6'3, 225 lbs when he was drafted.  The lefty sat in the low 90's prior to the draft and touched as high as 94 mph with his fastball. In addition, Cain featured a promising curveball that projected as plus at the time and a changeup that needed work.  As an added bonus, Baseball America's #109 rated player in the draft impressed scouts with his ability to hit, which could be a benefit if Cain pitches in the National League.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Chrismas from Buried Treasure

I love baseball.  I love the Pirates.  This blog is evidence of those facts.  However, it's always important to remember that there is more to life than just baseball.  Today, on Christmas, that's especially true.  I personally am thankful for my friends and family that I am able to spend Christmas with and for the birth of Jesus Christ.   Today, those are the things that are more important than baseball and I am grateful to have those blessings.

To all of my readers, I wish the same blessings upon y'all.  May y'all have a Merry Christmas spent with friends and family.

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reaction: Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran

The Cardinals were dealt a big blow when Albert Pujols spurned them and instead chose to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.  The blow hurt more than the just the Cardinals on the field; the face of their franchise would now be donning a different red uniform.

Luckily for Cardinals fans, the blow had to lose some of its sting as the Cardinals are still the reigning MLB champs.  With Pujols gone, the Cardinals turned to improving their on-field product with an eye towards defending their championship.  Today, the Cardinals did just that, spending money that Pujols left on the table to sign Carlos Beltran to a 2 year/26 million dollar deal that includes a full no trade clause.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#16 Prospect - Zack Dodson

My #16 Pirates prospect, Zack Dodson was part of the same draft class the added my #19 prospect Zach Von Rosenberg to the Pirates system.  In 2009, the Pirates selected Dodson two rounds ahead of Von Rosenberg, nabbing the lefty pitcher with the 115th overall pick.  The Pirates convinced Dodson to sign rather than attend Baylor with a 600k dollar signing bonus.  

Dodson was not ranked in Baseball America's top 200 draft prospects, but featured a fastball that touched the low 90's and a solid curveball, an intriguing package, especially from the left-side.  Dodson, who stands at 6'2 inches, lacks elite projectability, but at only 180 lbs (according to fangraphs; Pirates Prospects has him at 180 lbs), he does have some room to add muscle.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'll take a Yamaico Please

Earlier in the offseason, the Pirates signed Clint Barmes to fill the hole left behind by the departure of shortstop Ronny Cedeno.  A few weeks later, in order to add shortstop depth, the Pirates traded prospects Brooks Pounders and Diego Goris to the Kansas Royals for Yamaico Navarro.   It is unclear exactly what role Navarro will play this year, but he is young (24) and still has upside.

Navarro was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005 without much fanfare by the Red Sox organization.  Navarro played for the DSL Red Sox in 2006 as a 18 year-old and put up a solid .279/.344/.438 line.  The next season, as a 19 year-old, Navarro was promoted state-side and put up another solid .289/.357/.409 line for short-season Lowell.  His 6.1% BB rate and 15.1% K rate were also acceptable considering he was an international signing, a class of players that often struggles with plate discipline.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Excitement over Yu Darvish

Albert Pujols is an Los Angeles Angel.  Prince Fielder still has yet to sign.  Those are the two top free agents on the market this year, but both are positional players, specifically first baseman.  Depending on preference, the top pitching free agent going into the offseason could have been considered to be C.J. Wilson, who has also signed with the Angels.  The other pitcher vying for that crown is Yu Darivsh, who's fate will largely be determined tonight.

Darvish, who just turned 25 this August, was posted by his team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, on December 8th. From there, all major league teams were eligible to bid in a silent auction for the right to exclusively negotiate with Darvish in an attempt to sign him to a contact. If the team that wins is able to sign Darvish, they will pay the posting fee to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and then Darvish the agreed amount money. The bidding ended on December 14th and the winner will be announced tonight.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#17 Prospect - Gorkys Hernandez

Gorkys Hernandez, my # 17 Pirates prospect, is the first on my list to not be drafted by the Pirates.  Gorkys was signed originally by Detroit, and went to the Braves in exchange for Edgar Renteria.  Gorkys excelled in the Braves system as a 20 year old in A+ ball, putting up a .734 OPS.  Those offensive stats meshed well with Gorkys's reputation as one of the best defensive CF's in baseball, giving him significant value as a prospect.  In 2009, Baseball America's #62 preseason prospect packed his bags for Pittsburgh as part of the trade that sent Nate McLouth to the Braves.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reaction: Reds get Mat Latos

The National League Central landscape has changed drastically over the last few weeks.  Albert Pujols traded leagues and headed west to become an Angel.  Prince Fielder still hasn't made a decision, and while he still could return to the NL Central with either the Cubs or Brewers, it's possible he winds up elsewhere.  Ryan Braun faces a 50 game suspension.  All those factors have left the NL Central door open for a team to step in.  Today, the Reds, who already had a talented core who led them to a playoff birth tow seasons ago, seized that opportunity, trading for Mat Latos.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Clint Hurdle on the Core Four

Here, Clint Hurdle gives his insight on four Pirates, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, and Pedro Alvarez. Sometimes referred to as "the core" or "the core four" (although that may just be in my mind), these young Buccos are tasked with leading the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in two decades. They will need help, primarily in the form of pitching which will hopefully come in the form of top prospects Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole, but if the core four continues to develop it will make the future very bright in Pittsburgh.

#18 Prospect - Rudy Owens

Rudy Owens, my #18 Pirates prospect, stands at 6'3" and weighs 215 pounds.  The Pirates drafted Owens in the 28th round, 830th overall in the 2006 MLB draft. He was committed to Arizona State, but went to Chandler-Gilbert CC and signed with the Pirates just before the draft-and-follow deadline.

Owens throws both a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball.  His 2-seam fastball is his best pitch and sits in the high 80's and low 90's. His 4-seam fastball comes in faster, sitting in the low 90's and touching the mid 90's occasionally. For secondary pitches, Owens throws an excellent changeup and a still developing, but adequate curveball.  Without overpowering stuff, Owens relies on superb command of his pitches, especially his two fastballs. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reaction: Pirates trade Jose Veras for Casey McGehee

On Monday, the Pirates made perhaps their biggest move of the offseason.  In a trade that came out of nowhere, the Pirates sent reliever Jose Veras to Milwaukee in exchange for infielder Casey McGehee.  I break down the trade and offer my opinion after the jump.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#19 Prospect - Zack Von Rosenberg

Zack Von Rosenberg epitomizes the Pirates draft strategy under General Manager Neal Huntington.  My #19 prospect in the Pirates system was drafted in the 6th round, 175th overall.  That draft position was not indicative of his talent.  Ranked as the 41st best prospect in the draft by Baseball America, Von Rosenberg slid to the 6th round due to a strong college commitment to LSU.  However, the Pirates were able to convince Von Rosenberg to turn pro with the exact same 1.2 million dollar bonus that Clay Holmes received.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Five Million Dollar Men

In 2009, it was Aki Iwamura.  In 2010, it was Lyle Overbay and Kevin Correia.  This year, it is Clint Barmes and Erik Bedard.

All five players are veterans acquired by Neal Huntington, one via trade (Iwamura) and four via free agency. and All five made or will make approximately 5 million dollars in their first year with the Pirates.  Unfortunately, the first three provided very little value.  The Pirates hope this year is different.  That will be up to the newcomers to the Five Million Dollar list, Barmes and Bedard.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

#20 Prospect - Clay Holmes

The new CBA in baseball has brought significant changes to baseball.  More specifically, the rule 4 draft, commonly known as the amateur draft, faces uncertain times.  The exact modifications are numerous in amount and confusing in nature.  Condensing it down to one sentence, the ability to spend in the rule 4 draft will be greatly diminished and regulated.

Thoughts on Ryan Braun

I'm only 22 years old.  I can almost remember life before the internet.  I don't ever remember my family not owning a computer.  As such, I barely take notice of the rapidly changing landscape of the internet and social media.  I need to actually step back, and imagine seeing the landscape through the eyes of my grandparents to  understand how absolutely insane the times we live in actually are. 

In fact, that might be the most mind-blowing fact to me about the entire Ryan Braun saga; that it took over a month for the story to be leaked.  In October, Ryan Braun apparently failed a performance-enhancing drugs test.  However, that, along with the fact that Braun is appealing the impending 50-game suspension, seems to be the only set-in-stone facts that the public knows. 

A Narrative: How Far the Pirates Have Come

While messing around on the internet late at night, I decided to compare the Pirates farm system in its current state to the state it was in several years ago. I looked back as far as 2007, the last calender year in which Dave Littlefield was GM of the Pirates for at least a day. That same year, Neal Huntington replaced him, taking over as GM.

Since the Baseball America top 10 list for the Pirates had recently come out, I decided that would be the best medium for comparison. Looking back at the 2007 list, I noticed a name that had not crossed my mind in some time: Brian Bixler.

Welcome to Buried Treasure: A Pirates Blog

Hello, I'm a 24 year-old law student with a passion for baseball.  In particular, I have a passion for the Pirates and a passion for "prospecting."  "Prospecting", to those who are unfamiliar with the term simply has to do with following baseball players as they travel through the minor league system of baseball as prospects, in an attempt to make the major leagues and make an impact for their major league team.  The NBA development league and minor league system in hockey is somewhat similar, as is the concept of developing young players for a club in soccer, especially in Europe.  However, the NFL really has no such system, and I believe the systems in other sports pale in comparison to the depth and complexity found in baseball.  To me, that is what it makes "prospecting" so intriguing and engrossing.

Anyway, this blog is my attempt to write about the two aforementioned things I'm passionate about: Pirates and "prospecting."  Hence the moniker "Buried Treasure" because I will attempt to shine a light on an aspect of baseball most people overlook or have no knowledge of, in this case specifically regarding the Pirates.

So please enjoy!