Top Performers: JaCoby Jones Leads a Huge Week For West Virginia Hitters

Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, 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. Notes on the top ten players from the last week can be found below the chart.

*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).

The Top Ten

1. JaCoby Jones, SS – It’s not a big surprise that West Virginia had a lot of top hitters this week. They had two double headers, and had more opportunities at the plate. Even without the extra games, the performance from JaCoby Jones this week would have been at, or near the top of the system. Jones went 9-for-27, hitting three home runs in four days to close out the week. On the season, Jones has a .288/.356/.471 line in 104 at-bats, with four homers. The fact that he’s putting up these offensive numbers from the shortstop position is a good sign, adding more value. It’s still too early to say whether he can stick at the position over the long-term, but he is athletic enough that he could stick at a valuable position even if he can’t remain at shortstop.

2. Edwin Espinal, 1B – Espinal has a ton of raw power, and a lot of promise. The past few weeks could be a sign that he’s heating up, or it could just be a small sample size, showing off his promise. He went 13-for-30 with four doubles this week. In his last ten games, Espinal is 14-for-37 with four doubles and an .855 OPS. On the season, he has nine doubles, which ranks second in the farm system. He’s not drawing many walks, and hasn’t tapped into his home run power yet. For now, these are good signs from a raw, but promising bat.

3. Andrew Lambo, OF – For the second straight week, Lambo ended up in the top three in the system. He went 8-for-23, hitting his first two home runs of the year, and adding four doubles. Lambo is hitting just as well as Gregory Polanco this year, and the Pirates would be wise to call him up tomorrow and give him a shot in right field. They won’t need a fifth starter until May 24th, and could use that extra roster spot on Lambo, while keeping Travis Snider and Jose Tabata around a little longer.

4. Wyatt Mathisen, 3B – Mathisen was the third West Virginia hitter to have a strong week. The third baseman went 10-for-30, hitting two home runs. The homers were the first two of the season, and the first two for Mathisen since 2012 in the GCL. His bat hasn’t been strong this year, with a .656 OPS in 103 at-bats. However, he might be heating up, hitting for a .316/.333/.500 line in 38 at-bats over his last ten games.

5t. Keon Broxton, OF – Broxton was a promising outfield prospect in Arizona’s system, but stalled in Double-A. He hasn’t been doing well in Altoona, with a .232 average and a .696 OPS. He did have a good week this week, going 7-for-19 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run.

5t. Michael Fransoso, OF – Fransoso went 7-for-16 with a triple and a homer this week. He was a late round pick in the 2013 draft, playing both middle infield spots in college. He doesn’t have much of a chance to get playing time at the middle infield spots in West Virginia, since those spots are taken by Jones and Erich Weiss. As a result, he has been playing a lot of outfield this year, filling in for all of the injured players in West Virginia.

7. Drew Maggi, 3B – Maggi has been getting some time at third base in Altoona, and went 7-for-16 this week, with a double and a home run. He’s a very athletic player, signing an over-slot deal several years ago as a shortstop out of college. He hasn’t hit on a consistent basis, and is more of an organizational player for the upper levels.

8. Michael Martinez, 2B – Martinez has been playing the middle infield spots for Indianapolis this year, showing off some nice speed. He went 7-for-19 this week, with two doubles and a triple. On the season, he is only hitting for a .682 OPS, with four doubles and four triples.

9. Danny Collins, OF – Collins has gotten a lot of playing time with the injuries to Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez, and Barrett Barnes. Collins has a .300/.355/.430 line in 100 at-bats. He hasn’t been showing a lot of power, with just one home run and a .130 ISO. He will need more power to stick at first base, his usual position. Unless he adds more power, it would be hard to see him having success beyond A-ball.

10. Alen Hanson, SS – Hanson got off to a slow start this year, but has started heating up the last two weeks. He went 7-for-22 with two doubles and a home run this week. In his last 16 games, he has a .308/.357/.477 line in 65 at-bats. That spans back to the middle of April, taking out the first two weeks of the season. Hanson also struggled the first two weeks of the season last year in Bradenton before things clicked with the bat. He has had some issues defensively, with eight errors during this span, including an error in four straight games. He shows good defensive abilities, but lacks consistency, leading to the errors.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I wonder how Meadows, Ramirez, and Barnes are progressing. I’m sure you would have told us, Tim, if you knew anything, but now that the weather is warming up, it would be good to get those guys back in the lineup.


What is Jones’ timeline? He did draft from college so it couldn’t be too long, could it? Perhaps competes with Hanson for the spot?


Neal would not have been foolish and included Jacoby Jones in the ill fated Ike Davis deal. Right?

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