Prospect Highlights: Big Hits From Two Outfield Prospects

Mel Rojas Jr had an RBI  double on Sunday, shown below. Between Altoona and Indianapolis this season, he has a .299/.378/.439 slash line in 114 games. Rojas has played five seasons in the Pirates system since being drafted in the third round in 2010. He has set career highs this year in RBIs, homers and walks and will likely end up with more hits, total bases and runs, plus finish with his highest average, slugging percentage and OBP. The good part about his season is that he has basically put up the same stats with Indianapolis as he did while with Altoona. The only slight concern might be his strikeout total since moving to AAA, once every four at-bats. That is more in line with his career average, as opposed to what he was doing with Altoona this year, striking out just 34 times in 195 at-bats.

It looks like he will be added to the 40-man roster at some point this year, either as a possible September addition to add depth, or in late November to protect him from the Rule V draft in the off-season. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, one that hits from both sides of the plate, can play all three outfield spots and adds a little speed on the bases. With the Pirates outfield situation and his value at an all-time high right now, he could also be a trade piece in a deal this month.

Willy Garcia homered on Sunday, his 17th of the season. The numbers he is putting up this year are unreal in that almost no one with his walk rate and strikeout rate, has the type of season he is having right now. He is still three weeks short of his 22nd birthday, so he reached AA success at a great age, which would usually make him a top prospect. Garcia has a .277/.308/.509 slash line in 107 games. He is seventh in the Eastern League in slugging, though he ranks 15th in OPS and that’s because he has only 16 walks this year. He also has 123 strikeouts in 375 at-bats.  Those numbers usually don’t lead to success at a higher level and very few Major League players have BB/SO rates like that on their Minor League resume. If they do, it’s usually at a lower level and a young age. Garcia’s three hit game on Sunday broke a recent mini-slump in which he went 2-for-18 over six games. The homer shown below is a nice opposite field shot, displaying his plus power.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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William Wallace

John: I saw Rojas in WV a couple years ago seemed raw. I was wondering since he is in AAA why would he not be an option for Hurdle’s bench while Cutch is down? Does he look MLB ready?

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