The Arizona Fall League finished up this past weekend. How did the Pittsburgh Pirates prospects finish up their short season?
The Pittsburgh Pirates sent many prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League this year. The prospects went and played for the Surprise Saguaros. The team had a lot of intriguing prospects, but they also had a tough season overall. The Saguaros finished with the worst record in the league, winning 11 games while losing 19. However, some of the Pittsburgh Pirates prospects performed pretty well this fall. Here is how they did:
The MVP in terms of the Pittsburgh Pirates prospects would easily go to shortstop prospect Cole Tucker. Tucker is one the Bucs top infield prospect ranking at number five overall in the system. After putting up mediocre stats at Double-A, he put on a display in the Arizona Fall League. He led his team in hits and batting average, posting a .370/.442/.457 with 30 hits in 20 games. Tucker actually had more hits and a higher average than the top overall prospect in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Furthermore, he showed good discipline by only striking out 12 times and taking 12 base on balls.
The next best prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates was Will Craig. Craig carried his solid 2018 Double-A season into the Fall League. He showed good power all season long and led the Saguaros in home runs with six. The former first-round pick slashed .304/.378/.570, finishing third overall in the league for slugging. So it was really good to see Craig continue to show off his power against higher level competition.
The worst performing prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates was the only other hitter they had on the Saguaros. Bryan Reynolds had a really solid season at Double-A, but he struggled against the consistent superior competition in the AFL. The outfielder played in 18 games, but only grabbed 12 hits while posting a slash line of .188/.338/.234. He did, however, have a strong walk to strikeout ratio, having 14 of each. The fact that he struck out 14 times in 18 games suggests that he made a lot of contact but may have had some bad luck. Regardless, it definitely was disappointing to see such a poor stat line overall for Reynolds, the key piece in the Andrew McCutchen trade.
The Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers did not have as strong as a fall as some of the hitters. None of them really had an impressive Fall League. The best was left-handed reliever Blake Weiman. The 2017 draft pick threw 13.2 innings and gave up six earned runs giving him an ERA of 3.95. Geoff Hartlieb also threw 13.2 innings and had an ERA of 6.59. Both Weiman and Hartlieb struck out 12 batters.
The two other pitchers in the league were Matt Eckelman and Dario Agrazal. Both pitchers were shut down before the end of the league. Agrazal made the opening day start for the Saguaros and gave up five runs in five innings for a 9.00 ERA. Meanwhile, Eckelman reached nine innings and had an ERA of 13.
The other note from the Arizona Fall League is about Cole Tucker. Tucker won a league award called the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. This is awarded the player who is hardworking and a leader. Tucker won a similar award this past season at the Double-A level. So it seems Tucker does not only have a bright future on the field as a player, but also as a person.