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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Top 10 Hitters: A Week Profiling Depth and Trade Deadline Candidates

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. 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. Matt Hague, 1B – Hague has been hitting well lately, with an .871 OPS in 82 at-bats over the month of May. He has also added some power lately, hitting three home runs in the last week. That made him the top hitter in the system this week. His value to the Pirates would be depth at first base against left-handers. He’s got a .958 OPS against lefties on the season, and has displayed a good ability of hitting southpaws in his career. If Gaby Sanchez ever goes down, Hague would be a good replacement option.

2. JaCoby Jones, SS – Jones hasn’t been hitting for average much, but he has been getting on base and hitting for power. He had a .248 average in May, but a .346 OBP and a .444 slugging percentage. This past week he did it all, going 10-for-34 with three doubles, two homers, and two walks. There has been a lot of speculation that Jones is the PTBNL for the Mets. I haven’t seen anything that leads to this, other than the fact that he’s having a nice season, and seems to be the guy that Pirates fans would want to part with the least (outside of Meadows and McGuire, who aren’t expected to be moved).

3. Danny Collins, OF – Collins has had some decent hitting at times this season, but his overall line doesn’t project well for his chances of making it out of A-ball. He went 9-for-21 this week, with a double and a homer. On the season he has a .275/.355/.398 line in 171 at-bats. He’s a college hitter playing in low-A, and playing first base or corner outfield spots. With those credentials, he should have better power numbers at this level.

4. Keon Broxton, OF – Broxton was the best player in the system last month, being named the Player of the Month for the month of May. He continued hitting well this past week, going 9-for-26 with a double, two triples, and three walks. Broxton should be a top candidate to get a promotion to Indianapolis after Gregory Polanco gets promoted to Pittsburgh.

5. Erich Weiss, 2B – He’s been the best hitter in West Virginia this year, and continued that this week, going 9-for-24 with three doubles. Weiss is a college hitter, so this kind of offense should be expected from him at this level. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to move him up to Bradenton at some point next month, giving him more of a challenge and possibly getting him ready for Altoona next year. He could also benefit from such a move by making the switch back to third base. That’s where he was set to play, before Wyatt Mathisen made the switch from catcher to third base.

6. Chris McGuiness, 1B – McGuiness was the top hitter in the system last week, and had another good week. He’s got a .351 average and a 1.009 OPS over his last ten games. With Andrew Lambo out for six to eight weeks, McGuiness would be the top depth option at first base behind Ike Davis. He’s got an .825 OPS in 131 at-bats against right-handers, with all five of his home runs.

7. Blake Davis, 2B – He doesn’t project as a prospect, and is more of a filler off the bench in Triple-A. This past week he went 8-for-14 with a double, getting him on this list.

8. Mel Rojas, OF – Rojas started the week in Altoona, where he had been one of the best hitter this season. He was promoted to Indianapolis by the end of the week, where he projects to stay for the time being. Rojas has the upside of a fourth outfielder, and is finally starting to show his potential at the plate. In the past he was more raw skills than production, and the numbers weren’t there due to a lack of consistency. Now that he has that consistency, he could emerge as a fourth outfield option for the Pirates in the future, or a trade option at the deadline for a team that considers him a potential starting option.

9. Jaff Decker, OF – Decker doesn’t project to figure into the mix as a starting outfielder in Pittsburgh. He could be a bench outfielder, and has been making a case for that role lately. In the month of May, he had a .277/.385/.538 line in 65 at-bats. At this point his potential path to Pittsburgh isn’t clear. Gregory Polanco will take a spot soon, which will probably force one of Travis Snider or Jose Tabata off the roster. He could be a depth option after that if someone gets injured, but Chris Dickerson might be a better option once he’s healthy. Decker could be another trade option at the deadline.

10. Justin Maffei, OF – Maffei doesn’t project to be more than an organizational guy. He’s got a .279/.399/.340 line in 147 at-bats in West Virginia this year. He’s getting starting time now with Austin Meadows and Barrett Barnes out, but will go back to the bench when those guys return.

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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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Monsoon Harvard

I could see Erich Weiss being the ptbnl because he got bumped off of third base where the Mets have David Wright for foreseeable future.

And since the Pirates need third base candidates in the system, it is strange Weiss would be forgotten for that position.

R Edwards

Another guy who has been rather hot lately, after a very bad start, has been Walker Gourley. He had a very good season last year in WV, now in Bradenton.


Everyone keeps speculating JJ to be the ptbnl but in my eyes if he were he would not be playing everyday. A) In case of injury B) helping him to develop

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