Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of August and the first few days of September. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level, rather than combining their stats.
*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).
Player of the Month
Austin Meadows had a huge finish to his first professional season. The first round pick hit for a combined .346/.452/.577 line with five homers in 104 at-bats from August to the end of the season. Meadows finished up the season in the Gulf Coast League, then was promoted to Jamestown for their final week. While in Jamestown, Meadows went 9-for-17 with two homers and five walks. The combined effort was more than enough for Meadows to take the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month award for August.
The Pirates drafted Meadows in the first round with the ninth overall pick, which was the pick they received as compensation for not signing Mark Appel. He got off to a slow start in the GCL, with a .143 average and a .516 OPS in his first nine games. However, he picked things up in mid-July, going on a nine game hitting streak and never slowing down. Meadows finished with a .294/.399/.519 line in the GCL, which is impressive considering how pitcher friendly the league is.
Meadows led the GCL Pirates with five homers, 24 walks, a .519 slugging percentage, and a .918 OPS. He tied Danny Arribas for first with a .399 OBP. He also had the most total bases with 83, and led the team in outfield assists with 3. In the entire league, Meadows had the second most home runs. Five players had six, and five other players had five home runs. He ranked seventh in the league in slugging percentage, sixth in OPS, and fifth in total bases.
Even more impressive, Meadows was only with Jamestown for five games, but tied for fourth with home runs. Only Danny Collins (7), Harold Ramirez (5), and Jin-De Jhang (5) had more than two homers for Jamestown this year, playing in another pitcher friendly league. Meadows should be on pace to start the 2014 season in West Virginia.
The Other Candidates
Meadows did so well this month that he was a pretty easy candidate. However, there were some other players who had notable performances and would have drawn consideration in any other month.
Justin Howard continued to impress with his hitting, putting up a .301/.351/.534 line, with 5 homers in 103 at-bats. Howard posted an .864 OPS in 283 at-bats this season. He started getting increased playing time in June, and posted an OPS over .900 in two of his final three months of the season. Howard combined for a .335/.419/.485 line in his final three months in Altoona, along with seven homers in 233 at-bats.
Josh Bell hit for a .286/.381/.469 line with four homers in 98 at-bats in August and September. Bell finished his first full season with 13 home runs and 37 doubles.
Mel Rojas hit for a .282/.333/.456 line in 103 at-bats, with two homers, six doubles, and three triples. Rojas had been inconsistent this year, which has been the story of his career. However, he finished on a strong note, heavily fueled by a five game hitting streak to end the season, and hits in 12 of his final 14 games.
Gift Ngoepe had surprising numbers in his return to high-A. He hit for a .306/.438/.447 line in 85 at-bats. Ngoepe still struggled with his strikeouts, which is going to make it hard in the future for him to have success at the plate in the upper levels.