With a majority of the 2017 draft class signed, it seemed like a good time to start reviewing the 2016 draft class this far. This will be a series of articles on how each prospect has done in the minors thus far. So far we have reviewed the Pittsburgh Pirates first round pick Will Craig.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted multiple prep players with their first four picks in this year’s MLB draft. However, last year they drafted two college bats with two of their first four picks. One pick was used on Will Craig in the first round. The other college pick came in the third round when they drafted Tulane shortstop Stephen Alemais.
Stephen Alemais was the Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 third round draft pick. The Bucs invested the 105th overall draft pick in the shortstop from the University of Tulane. Since then, Alemais has found himself ranked in the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 prospect lists on most major prospect sites. The main reason is that of his outstanding glove. Many scouts believe Alemais will have a legitimate shot at making the big leagues due to his impressive defensive play. Of course, with most defensive first players, Alemais lacks on the offensive side of the game.
Alemais started his Pittsburgh Pirates career at Short-Season West Virginia right after signing. He played in 39 games for the Black Bears, and had a decent, but unspectacular start to his pro career. His slash line was .263/.297/.314. Just looking at that shows that Alemais seems to be a prototypical, light hitting middle infielder. Still, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to move Alemais up to the Low-A West Virginia Power for the last 11 games of their season. He did not impress in those games by posting a slash line of .189/.244/.270. Still, there was the hope that if he could work over the offseason to improve his offensive game that he would be worth keeping an eye on.
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Entering the 2017 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates kept the Tulane product at Low-A West Virginia. So far, Alemais has seen an improvement in his numbers, but not by much. Alemais has appeared in only 29 games for the Power, as he has found himself on the Disabled List. In those 29 games, he has hit .223/.266/.380. While Alemais continues to be noted for his glove work, he still has not provided any real promising results at the plate.
Also, Alemais is striking out over once per game. On the year he has struck out 32 times in 29 games while only walking five times. The Bucs look for players who can at least control their strikeout rate and find themselves on base, but he has not shown that ability. Also, in the new stat cast era, Alemais is going against the trend of launch angles. Alemais is grounding out in 50% of his at bats according to FanGraphs. This also equals out to 1.8 ground outs for every air out. This very well shows that he has trouble driving the ball, hence why he is considered light hitting.
Still, this year is his first full season of professional baseball. Over this past off-season, Alemais posted multiple videos of himself working out. Often in these work out videos, he was surrounded by established big league players like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. If he continues to work out with two former all-star hitters he very well could become an adequate hitter. For now, he needs to get healthy and back on the field to continue and get more reps. It seems unlikely at this point that he will be promoted to High-A this season.