For the first time in it’s history, the Altoona Curve had a player register at least both 20-home runs and 20-stolen bases in a season. A 20/20 season isn’t the most common of things to happen, until this season, where a record (since 1956 when they started to keep track) 27 players reached the feat.
The Pirates had two of those 27, with Andres Alvarez and Matt Gorski both recording 20/20 seasons. Alvarez doing so with the Curve, and Gorski splitting time between each of the full season teams over the course of the entire year.
This MLB Pipeline article got me thinking about the Pirates system, and how it’s set up. I’ve talked recently about Ji-Hwan Bae and how his impact has been felt so far at the major league level, and how the Pirates actually has some really good speed within the system should they eventually want to get aggressive on the base paths.
They also have some guys who have legitimate shots at pulling off a 20/20 season, barring they stay healthy over the course of the 2023 season.
The Repeats: Gorski, Alvarez
Gorski said himself that he wanted to steal more bases but was running into the trouble of hitting everything out of the park that kept him from doing so. An injury prevented him from potentially reaching the 30/30 plateau, finishing with 24 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 81 games played. At that pace he would have needed to play at least 118 games to be able to hit 30/30. Mason Martin led the system in games played with 134, so it was possible.
If you took a look at the Curve’s original roster and still picked Alvarez to be the guy to hit 20/20, congrats on your lottery victory. Alvarez came out the gate hitting the ball, and rarely slowed down. The crazy thing is that he didn’t show much of any power in his time in Greensboro, but exploded once he hit Double-A.
The only thing that really kept Bowen from giving their third 20/20 prospect was the strikeout issues. Bowen struggled to make contact at times, which ‘limited’ him to just 17 home runs in 2022. If he starts in Greensboro again and works on those contact issues, Bowen is probably the player in the system that’d be closest to Gorski in potential to push for a 30/30 season.
The Rebound: Matt Fraizer
He gets mentioned solely because he nearly did it in 2021 and I think he could be a candidate to start the year in Altoona next year, almost like Jack Suwinski did this past season before getting the call to the majors. Indianapolis is going to be really stacked next year, and roster spots are going to be hard to come by. That could allow Fraizer to face Double-A pitching again as he tries to figure things out after a rough 2022. He finished last year with 23 home runs and 15 stolen bases.
The Sleepers: Sergio Campana, Hudson Head
These are really long shots, but so was Alvarez and we saw how that worked out. Campana hit the ball harder than just about anyone in Bradenton this year, but only one other player struck out more in the system. He has elite speed that might be the best in the system, so the 20 stolen bases will never be the issue, but he’s also put up some insane metrics when it comes to his exit velocity and launch angles. Put those metrics in Greensboro, and you never know.
For Head, it’s the stolen base category that’s probably more of the long shot but he still managed to finish with double digits in both categories. There’s some raw power there, but he needs to solve his contact issues first before we can truly talk about a 20/20 season.
A 20/20 season is rare enough as it is in the minors, let alone having multiple players in the system reach it. Best case scenario usually would be one getting there, but each of these players have flashed the skillset it requires that if all the pieces fall right during the season, can put themselves in position to have that kind of year.
Highlight Of The Day
Bae gets us on the board! pic.twitter.com/X2odrYJ25t
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) October 1, 2022
Down to one team playing, so the videos are hard to come by, especially when they only score one run. Luck would have it, speed had quite a bit to do with that run being scored. Bae bunts for a base hit with two-outs, scoring the runner on third.
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Song of the Day
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.