Pirate prospect to watch in 2018: Stephen Alemais
By Marty Leap
A 22-year-old shortstop that is a former third round draft pick is a prospect that Pittsburgh Pirates fans should be keeping an eye on in 2018
In the third round of the 2016 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Stephen Alemais. Drafted a defensive first shortstop, Alemais played his college ball at Tulane University.
While Stephen Alemais was known for his defense in college, his offense has started to flash in the minor leagues. Due to this, he is quickly evolving into a prospect worth watching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After quickly signing in 2016 Stephen Alemais was able to quickly start playing. Early on he struggled offensively. He posted just a .295 wOBA and an 85 wRC+ with the West Virginia Black Bears. Then in his first taste of Low-A he struggled even more to the tune of a .238 wOBA and a wRC+ of 47.
Then in 2017, Alemais began to turn the corner offensively. In 131 plate appearances at Low-A he improved to the tune of a .157 ISO, .293 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 85. However, his strikeout rate remained alarmingly high at 24.4 percent.
After earning his first promotion to High-A, Alemais then took a huge step. He cut his strikeout rate down to 11.5 percent, while his walk rate rose from 3.9 percent to also being 11.5 percent. Due to this his on-base percentage rose to .393, while his wOBA was .373 and his wRC+ jumped all the way to 137.
A big reason for the improvement came in Alemais drastically cutting down on his groundball rate. After hitting groundballs 50.6 percent of the time at Low-A, this rate dropped to 39.1 percent at High-A. While this groundball rate is still higher than one would like it was a massive improvement over his numbers at Low-A, as well as being an improvement over his groundball rates of 53.3 percent in the New York Penn League and 60.0 percent at Low-A in 2016.
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Moving forward the key for Stephen Alemais will be to continue to improve offensively. If he can show his decreased strikeout rate, increased walk rate, and drop in groundballs at High-A in 2017 were not a fluke but rather a trend, he should be just fine offensively as he moves up to Double-A.
If Stephen Alemais is able to continue to improve and progress as a hitter then his future could be that of an above league average shortstop in the National League. If not, his future could be a career similar to that of Clint Barmes. Regardless of how things shake out, Stephen Alemais is a Pirate prospect to watch in 2018.