Pittsburgh Pirates: A Quick Look at a Few Prospects

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

Here are some quick hits on some prospects who are having solid seasons.  Most of these minor league players are not rated in the top 30, but could be if they continue their strong seasons.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have multiple top prospects who are performing at a high level. However, they also have some prospects who are not as well known putting together nice seasons.  Here is a prospect from each level that is not rated in the top 30, but having a strong season. The top four minor league levels will be covered.

Triple-A Indianapolis

Edwin Espinal just received a call up from Double-A to Triple just over a week ago.  So far in Triple-A, he is off to a solid start.  The 23-year-old first baseman has played seven games so far and was hitting over .300 until posting an 0-4 in last night’s contest.  However, he was really solid in Double-A this season.  Espinal appeared in 95 games for the Curve and posted a slash line of .283/.322/.474 for an OPS of .797.  He hit 15 homers, racked up 72 RBIs, and only struck out 48 times.  Espinal could represent a Jose Osuna type option next year when he eventually gets the call.  He is a right handed bat with some power, and likely will fit in as a bench bat at the next level.

Double-A Altoona

Once a second round draft pick in 2012, Wyatt Mathisen has had a slow climb up the minor league ranks.  The former catcher turned third baseman is quietly having a really successful and healthy season.  Mathisen has turned in 88 games for the Curve and has posted a slash line of .285/.370/.387.  As one can see, Mathisen’s strongest trait is the ability to get on base, as he is hitting for a solid batting average and has a solid 10.5 percent walk rate.  Although he is only slugging .387, he has put up a career high in extra base hits already this year and has a 113 wRC+. This is a year after he posted a batting average of .296 at High-A.  Mathisen looks like he could end up making push up to Triple-A next season.

High-A Bradenton

Kevin Krause ranks as a top 30 prospect here at Rum Bunter, however not on any other sites, at least nationally.  Krause impressed Rum Bunter because of his ability to get on base, hit for power, and simply be efficient at the plate.  This year has been more of the same for the former tenth round pick. He is batting .307/.400/.494.  He has struck out 37 times while walking 28 times in 61 games.  That works out to be a 15.8 percent strikeout rate and an impressive 12 percent walk rate. He also owns a .191 ISO and a 165 wRC+. Krause was originally a catcher but received  Tommy-John surgery.  Since surgery, he has spent a lot more time in right field than behind the plate.  He has caught only seven games this year while spending 50 in right field.  Krause should get moved up to Altoona soon.

Low-A West Virginia

The last prospect to look at is likely the one who has the highest upside out of the four.  Adrian Valerio was the Pittsburgh Pirates top international signing in 2013, signing for a bonus of $400,000.  He was viewed as a plus defensive shortstop from the get go and was expected to stick there through his career. Some scouts believe that he will make it to the big leagues one day because of his glove alone.  The question was whether he would develop offensively.  This year for the West Virginia Power he has posted a .292 batting average which is great to see.  He also has posted decent power numbers for being just 20 years old.  He has put up a .154 ISO and a 113 WRC+.

Next: Mitch Keller Promoted To Altoona

One area that Valerio needs to improve on is his on-base percentage which is currently sitting at .315.  This is mainly because he only has a walk rate of 3.6 percent, which is very alarming.  Still, he is only 20 and considered a defensive first prospect.  If he can improve his on base percentage, continue to hit for above average power, and hit for a solid average, Valerio could turn into a legitimate prospect.

*All Numbers are courtesy of FanGraphs