Arizona Fall League Rundown After Week Two

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up their second week of action.  Here is how the Pirates prospects have done so far:

-Robbie Grossman: .354/.426/.604, 3 HR, 48 at-bats

Grossman homered this week, and started every game.  He leads the AFL in games played with 11, and also leads the league in hits with 17, and total bases, with 29.  Grossman’s home run yesterday tied him for second in the league with three total.

-Jarek Cunningham: .172/.265/.310, 1 HR, 29 at-bats

Cunningham hasn’t been hitting much, although one bright side is that his K/BB ratio hasn’t been bad.  His strikeout rate in 29 at-bats is 13.8%, which is considerably lower than his 26.5% rate in high-A in 2011.  It’s a small sample size, but that’s definitely something to watch.

-Brock Holt: No stats.

Holt has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but traveled to Arizona this week, and should start seeing some action soon.

Cole made his first AFL start this week.

-Gerrit Cole: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Cole made his AFL debut on Friday, starting out with two shutout innings, before getting touched up for three runs in the third inning.  He was working in the 93-100 MPH range, touching 100 twice, and mostly sitting in the upper 90s.  Check out the photos and video from his start.

-Michael Colla: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Colla has made three appearances, all in relief.  He got a save this week, closing out a win for teammate Nathan Baker.  Colla threw mostly fastballs, and was sitting 90-91 MPH.

-Nathan Baker: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Baker picked up a win this week after two shutout innings in relief.  He threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes, and was ranging 90-93 MPH with his fastball, averaging 92.

-Phillip Irwin: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HR

Irwin didn’t pitch this week, and has left Arizona, returning to Bradenton due to tightness in his right forearm.

  • I haven’t seen Grossman play yet, but the more I read about him, the more I like him.  While he is an OBP machine, he is starting to look like much more than that.  His worst OBP is .344, he accomplished that while hitting just .245.  Now he is adding power and batting average and cutting down on his strikeouts to his set of impressive numbers. 

    If we don’t penalize him for his walks, he was striking out about 18.7 times per 100 plate appearances.  Last year, Starling Marte struck out 25.2 times per 100 plate appearances.  This year, he improved to 17,9 times per 100 plate appearances.  I’m not down on Marte but using him as a point of reference for what Grossman is accomplishing.
    In an organization that has exactly one hitting prospect (excluding Josh Bell for the time being), I don’t understand how Grossman is flying so far under the fans’ radar.  Marte is obviously the cream of the Pirates’ crop offensively.  But when one looks at what Grossman is doing, at the same levels as Marte, they both compare quite well.I know that Grossman repeated high A this year but that is a specious argument as Grossman was probably young, both years, for that level of baseball.  Grossman was just 19 and 20 in his two seasons at high A.  I haven’t looked at the age breakdown for that level, but based on what I’ve seen in the past, he was very young for that level in his first year, and likely younger than most players in his second year.

    I think many people who underrate Grossman are missing one of the minor points of Moneyball and Moneyball v2.0 (what the Rays are doing).  People who underrate Grossman are overly focused on the subjective evaluation, how the player looks, than the objective, what the player is actually doing.  I will take the guy who is actually doing something (especially the things that really matter) over the guy who looks like he can do something.

    There is an old baseball axiom that there are no prospects below AA. Grossman has proved himself at lower levels, now he has to progress at AA next year.  I believe he will.  And as I wrote in another thread, I believe this time next year, we will be talking about Robbie Grossman as our top hitting prospect.