Soon we will rename this article the Jacob Gonzalez Player of the Week award, because he’s consistently putting up great weeks. However, this was his first win of the season for us. He has two Florida State League Player of the Week awards, the Florida State League Player of the Month for April and now a South Atlantic League Player of the Week award in his first week in the league.
Part of the reason he hasn’t won yet for us is that someone younger was doing big things at a higher level. He couldn’t be stopped this week, as Gonzalez easily took home our Pirates Prospects Player of the Week award.
Gonzalez turns 24 years old this summer, so the Florida State League was a bad level for him and he proved that by beating up on pitchers for four weeks. The South Atlantic League is closer to age appropriate. He’s a little older than the average hitters (22.6 years old), but the average age of pitchers in the league is 23.2 years old, and he would be classified as 23.9 years old now. In fact, there are six older players on Greensboro, so for as long as he stays at the level, his age isn’t that bad for the league. That might not be long if he keeps on putting up .632/.667/1.263 slash lines. Only one player in the system had a higher OPS this week than his slugging number alone, and that player (Andres Alvarez) only had 12 plate appearances. On the season, Gonzalez has a .435/.508/.759 slash line in 29 games, with 20 extra-base hits.
Gonzalez has really moved quickly from an after thought to someone to keep an eye on. When someone with two full years of Low-A, plus some time in High-A, starts a season at his age in Low-A, that’s not a good sign. Basically, it’s hard to trust anything he does at the level because it is expected. He had a .502 OPS in 27 games at High-A last year, so now we are seeing him improving on the past. He matched his total of five extra-base hits in High-A last year, while playing there for just five games this year. He’s still not in legit prospect territory, but he also doesn’t have to hit .632 for the duration of his time in High-A to get to that point. If we get to the part of the season where he makes it to Altoona and is still doing well, then things start to get interesting. For now, sit back and enjoy the Jacob Gonzalez show.
TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
Player of the Week: Ji-hwan Bae .304/.414/.478, 0 HR, 2 SB, 29 PA
Analysis: Oneil Cruz won our Indianapolis Player of the Week last week with a performance that really didn’t stand out, he was just the best of a bad week. This week the team went to Charlotte to face the worst pitching staff in the league and somehow Ji-hwan Bae with an .892 OPS was the best regular in the lineup. Indy hasn’t had a big week since the calendar hit May from anyone, hitter or pitcher. I won’t kill Bae here, he had a nice week with seven hits, five walks, two doubles, a triple and two steals, it was just that there was hope someone (or multiple players) would break out while going up against the league’s worst in a ballpark for hitters. As a team, Indianapolis has a .728 OPS this year, which is below league average. Bae has been contributing positively though, posting a .780 OPS in 31 games, with ten steals. As for the rest of the team, Canaan Smith-Njigba had a solid week for the second straight week (only player who can say that on Indy), posting an .856 OPS in 23 plate appearances. Jared Oliva had just 16 plate appearances, but he posted an .846 OPS. Hoy Park had an .828 OPS and three steals in 28 plate appearances. Cal Mitchell was just below him with an .821 OPS in 28 plate appearances. Jason Delay didn’t see much playing time, but his four-hit game on Sunday stood out.
On the pitching side, no one had a big week, but some relievers did well in their limited time. Cam Vieaux (3.2 IP), Hunter Stratton (2.2), Jerad Eickhoff (3.2) and Aaron Fletcher (3.1) all posted 0.00 ERAs.
DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE
Player of the Week: Luis Ortiz 2.35 ERA, 13:5 K/BB, 7.2 IP
Analysis: Luis Ortiz was one of three players to receive Altoona’s Player of the Week consideration. He had two solid starts this week, getting limited in the second outing because the Pirates have been doing that when starters go twice in the same week. Between the two starts, he went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on two hits, five walks and 13 strikeouts. No one else had more than eight strikeouts this past week. Ortiz had a decent start to the year, then allowed seven earned over 6.1 innings in two starts, before his performance this past week got him going in the right direction. Travis MacGregor had a terrific outing in relief, throwing four shutout frames with eight strikeouts. It’s possible that he’s turning a corner out of the bullpen. He made three starts to begin the season and gave up ten runs in 8.2 innings. Since going to the bullpen, he has allowed two runs in 11.1 innings. Kyle Nicolas allowed one run on one hit and three walks in five innings. He has a 3.65 ERA in 24.2 innings.
On the hitting side, it was a relatively quiet week overall, though two players put up matching performances. Tucupita Marcano and Aaron Shackelford each finished with a .912 OPS. Marcano did it in 21 plate appearances, while Shackelford had 17. Knowing those two players, you might be surprised to find out that Marcano had a sizable lead in the slugging and Shackelford in the OBP. Andres Alvarez is doing excellent work as a part-time player, posting a 1.333 OPS in 12 plate appearances this past week. No one else on the Curve reached the magical .800 OPS mark, but it’s worth mentioning that Matt Fraizer had a .774 OPS this past week. He’s up to a .490 OPS for the year.
HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS
Player of the Week: Jacob Gonzalez .632/.667/1.263, 3 HR, 1 SB, 21 PA
Analysis: We already know about Jacob Gonzalez, but Endy Rodriguez was having a nice week too until he left Saturday’s game early after getting checked by a trainer. He posted a 1.071 OPS in 16 plate appearances, giving him an .861 OPS for the season. Matt Gorski hit just .238 last week, but two triples and a homer helped him to an .876 OPS. He has nine homers and nine steals this year. Dariel Lopez (.812 OPS) and Hudson Head (.802 OPS) did just enough to get their names mentioned in this article.
On the pitching side, Tyler Samaniego tossed three no-hit frames over three outings. Wandi Montout gave up six base runners, but he tossed 4.2 scoreless. Starter Nick Garcia threw 4.2 shutout innings. Jack Carey had five strikeouts in 3.1 shutout frames. Ricky DeVito went 3.2 innings with one run and eight strikeouts. Santiago Florez allowed two runs in 3.2 innings, but they were both unearned.
LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS
Player of the Week: Valentin Linarez 0.00 ERA, 7:2 K/BB, 5.0 IP
Analysis: Our Player of the Week here could have easily went to Joelvis Del Rosario. Our winner, Valentin Linarez, allowed two hits, two walks and struck out seven in five shutout innings last week. Del Rosario had the same line, except one extra hit allowed. However, he picked off two runners, so he actually faced one fewer hitter in his outing. Linarez won the voting in a split decision. He has posted two very poor outings that will keep his ERA high for quite some time, combining to allow 12 earned runs in 2.2 innings during those games. So this performance last week was extremely positive to see. Del Rosario has been getting better every start this season, beginning with three runs in 2.2 innings during his debut, slowly working his way towards five shutout frames. He has a 4.01 ERA for the season. Relievers Denny Roman and Christian Charle each allowed one unearned run in 3.1 innings last week.
On the hitting side, Sergio Campana singled his way to a 1.000 OPS last week in 17 plate appearances. That’s a hopeful sign because he’s at a .525 OPS this year, though his defense has been getting some praise in center field. What makes his week a bit more impressive is that no one else on Bradenton reached an .800 OPS, so he didn’t even have slight competition for the team’s best hitter.