Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level, rather than combining their stats. Notes on the top ten players from the last week can be found below the chart.
*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).
Mel Rojas has been hitting well since the second week of May.
The jump to Double-A can be difficult. For hitters, it is the most difficult jump to make. When a hitter starts off slow after making that jump, few consider the initial adjustment period. Alex Dickerson and Mel Rojas were two guys that struggled initially this year. Dickerson had a .587 OPS in April, and Rojas had a .628 OPS that same month. Both were making the jump to Double-A, although there was additional reason for doubt in each case. Dickerson didn’t exactly dominate high-A in 2012, hitting for a .295 average and an .803 OPS. Those numbers would look good in the majors, but not for a college power hitter in A-ball. Rojas was extremely inconsistent, struggling for a .245 average and a .657 OPS on the year last year.
Both hitters got off to rough starts in Altoona, but both hitters have been fantastic since the second week of May. It’s an arbitrary end-point to use the second week of May. I use it for Rojas because he had a three hit game on May 9th, and hasn’t slowed down since. I used it for Dickerson because I’m using it for Rojas. Dickerson’s stats would actually be better if I went from the start of June, but I wanted to keep things even. Since that second week of May, Dickerson has a .328/.375/.568 line in 183 at-bats. Rojas has a .316/.387/.475 line in 177 at-bats. Dickerson has been showing some power with eight homers in that span, while Rojas has been showing gap power with 13 doubles and 6 triples.
Both guys continued their hitting this week. Dickerson went 11-for-21 with three doubles and two homers to be the top hitter in the system. He was also named the Eastern League Player of the Week. Rojas went 9-for-22 with three doubles and a triple to be the third best hitter in the system. In our mid-season rankings, both guys ranked just outside of the top 30, with each getting just one top 30 vote. If they both keep this up for the rest of the year, they will be locks for the top 30, and might have a shot at the strong top 20.
Harold Ramirez is another guy who started off slow this year. The 18-year-old made the jump to Jamestown this year, and hit for a .204/.268/.306 line in 49 at-bats in June. He’s been outstanding in July, hitting for a .480/.559/.660 line in 50 at-bats. Ramirez was the second best hitter this week, going 14-for-30. He would have been the top hitter if it wasn’t for the fact that all 14 hits were singles. Ramirez has hit for some power this year, and has a quick bat with a line drive stroke, so the lack of extra base hits this week isn’t a long-term concern.
Keeping with the theme of players struggling initially at a new level, we go next to Stetson Allie. The first baseman looked completely overmatched in June, hitting for a .205/.304/.308 line in 39 at-bats in Bradenton, while striking out in 18 of those at-bats (46%). So far in July he has a .300/.417/.550 line in 40 at-bats, with four doubles and two homers. The strikeouts are also down, with just 12 this month (30%). He still needs some work on the strikeouts, but Allie is starting to adjust. He was the fourth best hitter this week, going 7-for-21 with two doubles and a homer.
One guy who didn’t need an adjustment period was Reese McGuire. The first round pick has recorded a hit in all seven games he’s played in this year. He was the fifth best hitter in the last week, going 7-for-16 with three doubles. McGuire has been hitting the ball hard, and his defensive skills have been as advertised. He’s playing every other game behind the plate, and in the two games I’ve seen him he’s been 2-for-2 gunning down runners, both with strong and accurate throws.
Adam Landecker and Luis Urena were the other two GCL hitters who finished in the top ten this week. Landecker went 8-for-19 with two doubles for the sixth best score. His bat hasn’t impressed me much this year, but his defense at third base has been outstanding. Urena went 7-for-16 with two doubles for the ninth best score. He has always been frustrating to watch. He’ll go on stretches where he crushes the ball and shows future potential, only to be followed by stretches where he waves at bad breaking pitches out of the zone.
Brian Bocock was added as depth this week, with the Indianapolis Indians losing a lot of infielders in a short time period. Bocock ended up finishing with the seventh best score, going 6-for-20 with two homers. He’s not a prospect, and should only be an option to fill out the Indianapolis roster with Chase d’Arnaud hurt and Josh Harrison in the majors.
Andrew Lambo went on a cold streak recently, but broke out of it this week, going 7-for-31 with two doubles and two homers for the eighth best score this week. The two homers give him 23 on the year. That’s the most any Pirates minor leaguer has hit since Pedro Alvarez hit 27 in 2009. Alvarez had a 17.22 AB/HR ratio between high-A and Double-A that year, while Lambo has a 15 AB/HR ratio between Double-A and Triple-A.
Felix Pie rounded out the top ten, going 6-for-24 with two doubles, a triple, and a homer. Pie isn’t a candidate for Pittsburgh this year, but should help Indianapolis in their playoff run after all of the 40-man guys get called up to Pittsburgh in September.