Pittsburgh Pirates Top 5 Prospects From A Decade Ago: How They Did, Where They Ended Up

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PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 23: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is reacts after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the Washington Nationals during the game at PNC Park on July 23, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Number 1 – Third Baseman Pedro Alvarez

Ironically, before he graduated from prospect status, most prospect lists placed Pedro Alvarez above Andrew McCutchen. But in 2010, those lists had good reason to. In 2009, the 2nd overall pick in the 2008 draft posted a line of .288/.378/.535 in 542 plate appearances (258 in AA, 284 in High-A). He crushed 27 home runs, and owned a 176 wRC+ in Altoona. He walked a decent amount too with a 13% walk rate in High-A ball, and a 13.2% walk rate in Double-A.

Alvarez further built his prospect stock in early 2010. In 66 games and 278 plate appearances in Triple-A, the left-handed slugger hit .277/.363/.533 with 13 home runs. His great output in Indianapolis earned him a call to the majors in 2010. While his high average didn’t transfer to the big leagues, Alvarez blasted 16 home runs in 386 PA’s. Overall he posted a 114 wRC+ in the Majors, but, at just 23-years-old, he seemed to be on the upward trend. However, he struggled in 2011, both performance wise and with health, and finished with just 74 games and a 58 OPS+.

Alvarez kind of broke out in 2012, but still a far cry from the numbers he posted in the minors. He hit .244/.317/.467 with 30 home runs and a 112 wRC+ in 586 PA’s. Alvarez struck out 30.7% of the time, and struggled defensively. 2013 would be very similar to his 2012 numbers, but he led the league in home runs and made the All-Star game. Overall he hit .233/.296/.473 with 36 long balls, and a 112 wRC+. His defense at the hot corner improved (+3 DRS, 0.5 dWAR), but he still made a fair amount of errors.

2014 was a struggle for Alvarez to say the least. His OPS dipped below .750, and he also struggled with injuries, playing just 122 games. He hit 18 home runs, and he was one of the worst defensive third basemen in baseball (-5 DRS). He even lost his starting job at 3B to Josh Harrison.

With his defensive struggles, he was moved across the diamond to first base, and he bounced back to expectations, at least with his bat. He slugged 27 home runs, struck out a lot (26.7%), and walked a little (9.8%), all while carrying an average in the .240 range (.243). Overall he was worth a 112 wRC+. The move to first base didn’t help him defensively at all as he recorded -13 DRS, and a -2.2 dWAR. Alvarez was let go after the season’s end, and signed on with the Baltimore Orioles where he played a part-time role for the team in 2016.

Alvarez hasn’t played a professional game since 2018, but an interesting fact that I would like to point out is that the Orioles tried Alvarez as a right fielder. He played 42 games/353.2 innings in the grass at the Orioles AAA level in 2017, and while I cannot find the exact advanced defensive stats of his outfield adventures, he only made 2 errors. Although I feel like we can safely make the assumption that he had some pretty limited range, given his sprint speed of 25.2 feet/second, which ranked 486 out of 551 qualified batters in 2016.

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