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PLC Myth-Smashers: “Neal Huntington can’t spot talent”

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One oft-repeated complaint about Neal Huntington is that his acquisitions, both at the major and minor league level, have not performed well, that all we hear about is their “potential.” There are legitimate points to debate regarding Huntington’s plan, but the claim that only a few of the players he has brought in have produced, and that this speaks poorly of his evaluation skills, is inaccurate.

Here is a list of players acquired by Huntington that have provided at least average production since joining the Pirates.

Major League

Garrett Jones

Jones was fantastic during his time with the Pirates in 2009, posting a wOBA of .396 in 358 plate appearances. His average is down this year, mostly due to a low BABIP, but he is still providing legitimate above average offense.

Joel Hanrahan

Despite an inflated ERA this season, Hanrahan has been a dominant reliever since coming over from the Nationals. He has 53 strikeouts in 41.2 innings with the Pirates.

Evan Meek

Meek was erratic in his brief Rule 5 stint in 2008, but he has steadily progressed since that point. He has been virtually unhittable this year, and has allowed just two home runs in 66 innings since the beginning of the 2009 season.

Andy LaRoche

Similar to Meek, LaRoche was abysmal in 2008, but has shown consistent improvement since. He was a league average player last year and, at 26, he is showing signs of a breakout season in 2010.

Charlie Morton

Morton was an above average starter last season after coming over from the Braves. He got off to a horrendous start this year, but he is showing signs of improvement. He is now sporting a very encouraging 3.81 xFIP.

Ross Ohlendorf

Ohlendorf’s peripheral numbers indicate that his ERA will rise this season, but he has been a dependable piece of a rotation that badly needs it.

Minor League

Tony Sanchez

Sanchez has done nothing but hit since his controversial draft selection. Not bad for a catcher who was drafted mostly for his defense.

Pedro Alvarez

Alvarez is a potential star and he has mostly hit like one in his career. His start to 2010 has been simply above average, but he raked in his first professional season.

Jose Tabata

Tabata has been solid since arriving from the Yankees, and he may be breaking out in 2010. He has a walk rate near 10% and is showing improved power. Combine that with a .345 batting average, and you have one solid hitter. He has also stolen 16 bases in 18 attempts this year.

Chase d’Arnaud

D’Arnaud had an underrated season in 2009, posting a near .400 on-base percentage and solid power from the shortstop position. He has started slowly in Double-A, or he would be higher on this list.

Brock Holt

Holt had an impressive start to his pro career, and his numbers have shot upward in 2010. The future is questionable for the undersized shortstop, but his performance thus far has been stellar.

Brett Lorin

Lorin was very good after joining the system, with good strikeout, walk and home run rates. He is currently recovering from an injury, and should return in June.

Victor Black

Ditto that for Black, although he struggled a bit with walks last year.

Jeff Locke

Locke was decent last year after the McLouth trade, posting solid peripherals but allowing too many hits. He has been better this year, mostly due to more strikeouts.

Bryan Morris

It was a rough year-and-a-half for Morris after the Jason Bay trade, as he struggled through poor performance, injuries and a suspension. He appears to be putting it all together this season, thoroughly dominating the Florida State League.

Quinton Miller

Miller held his own last season as a 19-year-old in full season ball. He had a promising start to 2010, but was shut down early with biceps tendinitis.

Josh Harrison

Harrison struggled in Lynchburg last season, walking just once in 155 plate appearances. But he is off to a hot start this season at Altoona, including a walk rate over 10%.

Daniel McCutchen

McCutchen will never be more than a fifth starter in the majors due to his fly ball tendencies, but he has posted solid minor league numbers so far with the Pirates.

Justin Wilson

Wilson was slow to adjust to High-A last season, but he was very strong down the stretch. Other than some issues with walks, he has been very strong to start 2010 in Altoona.

Jarek Cunningham

Cunningham was very impressive in his pro debut in 2008. He missed all of last season with a knee injury and has struggled early in 2010.

Robbie Grossman

Grossman has managed encouraging on-base percentages due to a high walk rate so far in his career, but he has not hit for much power and his strikeout numbers are alarming. He is still very young for High-A at just 20 years old.

Nathan Adcock

Adcock struggled last season, but has been very good in his second go-around at High-A.

Jordy Mercer

Mercer has been solid yet unspectacular in his pro career. He has flashed strong doubles power, which could lead to some additional home runs as he ages.

Michael Dubee

Dubee has been a pretty dominant reliever since arriving in a trade for utility man Andy Phillips.

Matt Hague

There is nothing all that exciting about Hague, but he has flashed a decent bat and is hitting well this season.

Aaron Pribanic

Pribanic was mediocre last year, but he has shown improved peripherals this season.

Jeremy Farrell

Farrell has not been great in his career, but he has had a mini-resurgence in Bradenton this season. He currently sports a .983 OPS, though his long-term expectations are pretty low.

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