Pittsburgh Pirates Arizona Fall League September Update

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

The Pittsburgh Pirates are done playing baseball this year and have a long offseason ahead of them. However, they do have some of their top prospects still playing.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a few players playing in the annual Arizona Fall League, which is the most competitive prospect league throughout the calendar year.  Teams send some of their top prospects and closest to MLB ready prospects to play for six teams.  This allows there to be plenty of high-profile matchups between prospects and it also gives Pittsburgh Pirates fans a chance to see how their prospects perform against the best prospects in the game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates prospects are playing for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.  The top prospect for the Bucs is shortstop Oneil Cruz, who is one of the top shortstop prospects in all of baseball. They also have top 30 Prospect Jared Oliva, a centerfielder drafted in the seventh round in 2017.  The last hitting prospect that is participating is catcher Jason Delay, who spent last year at Double-A.

Cruz has gotten off to a very slow start in eight games, as he is only hitting. 179.  So far he has been exposed by the higher level pitchers and has struck out 14 times while only walking twice. Meanwhile, he has yet to hit an extra-base hit, something that is expected of him in the future. Jason Delay is also off to a slow start and he’s only played in five games to a tune of a .118 average with only two hits thus far.  The best hitter on the Peoria Javelinas has been Oliva, who has played 11 games and is hitting. 371 with an OPS over 1.000.  He has walked more than struck out with 10 base on balls and only seven strikeouts while hitting four doubles and stealing seven bases.

On the pitching side of things, the Pittsburgh Pirates also have three prospects playing for the Peoria Javalinas, two relievers and one starter.  Blake Cederlind and Nick Mears are two of the Pittsburgh Pirates top relief prospects.  The other pitcher is Cody Ponce, who the team acquired in the Jordan Lyles trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Both Cederlind and Mears are off to strong starts to their Fall League experience.  Cederlind has thrown in four games, throwing exactly four innings.  He has pitched to a 2.25 ERA with three punchouts.  Cederlind has walked five hitters, but three of those came in his first appearance with the other two coming in his second game.  He seems to have found his command once again.  Mears, on the other hand, has yet to give up a run.  He has thrown in 3.2 innings across three games and has struck out four while only walking two.  Ponce has been very good as well.  He has made two starts and has thrown nine innings.  He has only given up two runs and has struck out nine hitters.

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So far the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects are ahead of the hitting prospects in terms of production.  The good news is that all three of the pitchers could factor into the Bucs roster next year at some point.  The fact that they are getting this experience and performing well is very positive.  The most important thing to pay attention to is seeing how Cruz rebounds from this slow start.  He obviously is overmatched right now by facing older and more experience pitching.  If he is a true top prospect he will adjust.