Adam Frazier is an Underrated Pirates Prospect

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Kevin Pataky

p/c: Kevin Pataky

When you think of some of the notable prospects in the Pirates organization right now, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, Austin Meadows and Jameson Taillon quickly come to mind. With the Pirates deep farm system comes with having prospects who don’t get as much attention and fly under the radar. One Pirates prospect who I believe is very underrated is Adam Frazier. 

The Pirates drafted Frazier as a shortstop in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State. The scouting report coming out of the draft on him was that he didn’t have any tools that were really outstanding. Despite not having that one plus tool, he’s been above average in most areas of his game. Since joining the Pirates system, Frazier has posted a .353 on base percentage. He’s coming off a very good 2015 campaign, as he put up an Eastern League best .324 average with an OPS of .801 for the Altoona Curve. He also can play multiple positions, and although he’s not a great defender overall, he’s good enough. 

Frazier is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs where he’s posting a strong .394 on base. He’s likely to begin the 2016 season with AAA Indianapolis. Frazier projects as a reserve player once he reaches the big leagues. The Pirates seem to have a difficult time finding solid super utility players outside of the organization, so perhaps an internal option like Frazier can become that reliable utility man off the bench with years of club control moving forward. 

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Neal Huntington Finishes Runner Up for Executive of the Year

By Jason Shetler

Neal Huntington - p/c: Matt Freed - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Neal Huntington – p/c: Matt Freed – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Sporting News has named now former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos as the 2015 Executive of the Year. Pirates GM Neal Huntington finished as the runner up. 

Huntington made plenty of good moves for this season, such as trading for Francisco Cervelli, signing Jung-Ho Kang from Korea and bringing back A.J. Burnett just to name a few. The acquisitions he made prior or at the trade deadline were just as impressive, as Aramis Ramirez, J.A. Happ, Joakim Soria, Joe Blanton and Michael Morse all played vital roles in the Pirates clinching their third consecutive playoff appearance. The Pirates won 98 games, which was the most since 1991. This marks the second time in three years that Huntington has finished as runner up for the honor. 

Should the Pirates Consider Byung-Ho Park?

By Jason Shetler

p/c: koreatimesus.com

p/c: koreatimesus.com

It was announced on Wednesday that the Nexen Heroes will post Byung-Ho Park on Monday. All Major League clubs will have the opportunity to post a fee for the Korean born first baseman by next Friday. The highest bidder will then have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Park, if Nexen approves of the offer. 

The Pirates went through this process last offseason after posting the winning bid for Jung-Ho Kang. Both sides agreed to a four-year deal worth $11 million in January, which also included a fifth year club option. Much was made about whether or not Kang’s numbers in the KBO would translate any in the Majors. Kang may not have hit for a ton of power, but still had a very productive rookie season for the Pirates this year, as he posted an .816 OPS with a 4.0 WAR. 

Unlike the situation with Kang, there will be plenty of teams who will be interested in Park. The question is should the Pirates consider him? – First base is going to be one of the main topics of conversation for the Pirates this offseason. Pedro Alvarez is a very likely trade candidate while Michael Morse is under contract through next season. Then of course you have Josh Bell, who is knocking on the door with AAA Indianapolis. In my opinion, the Pirates should consider Park, but only if the posting fee to negotiate with him is at a reasonable figure like the one for Kang last offseason. This way if Park were to struggle and not make adjustments right away, the Pirates could send him to AAA without having to deal with any real financial repercussions, and replace him with Morse or Bell, depending on Bell not being under Super 2. Should the Pirates get Park and he makes a real impact like Kang did this season, then Bell would become a solid trade piece for the Pirates to use in an effort to really bolster their starting rotation, assuming they contend again in 2016. 

Should Jordy Mercer be the Pirates Everyday Shortstop in 2016?

By Jason Shetler

p/c: timesonline.com

p/c: timesonline.com

Jordy Mercer took over as the Pirates everyday shortstop in the second half of the 2013 season. After struggling for much of the first half in 2014, he turned things around after the All-Star break, posting a .753 OPS. Mercer scuffled at the plate for much of the 2015 season, which begs the question if he should be the Pirates everyday shortstop for 2016. 

During his time in the big leagues, Mercer has posted a .643 OPS vs right-handed pitching. He does however perform well vs left-handers, as he’s put up an .864 OPS against them, so it’s not as if he doesn’t do well at all offensively. While Mercer’s performance at the plate overall may not be as consistent as some would like it to be, his defense is more than good enough to play on a regular basis. Since 2014, Mercer has posted a .984 fielding percentage at short, which is 10% above league average, and has a 1.0 dWAR. Prior to this year, he was considered the sixth best defensive shortstop in all of baseball. 

Mercer will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. His projected salary figure will be at $1.8 million, which is very reasonable given that his defensive value alone is worth that amount. The Pirates overall were not a good team defensively in 2015 with the exception of Mercer, Starling Marte and Jung-Ho Kang as a third baseman. To be honest, it’s quite remarkable the Pirates were able to win 98 games despite the inconsistencies they had on the defensive side. While pitching has obviously been the key to the Pirates contending each of the last three seasons, the defense will need to play better, and that means Mercer anchoring shortstop again next season. 

Mark Melancon Named NL Reliever of the Year

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

p/c: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

Pirates closer Mark Melancon has been named the 2015 Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year. 

Melancon entered this year in his first full season as the Pirates closer. The two-time All-Star struggled in April, but pitched lights out the rest of the year. In 78 appearances, Melancon posted a 2.23 ERA along with a 0.93 WHIP and converted a Major League best 51 saves, as he became the first reliever in Pirates history to save 50 games in a season. 

Deolis Guerra Elects Free Agency

By Jason Shetler

After being outrighted by the Pirates last week, Deolis Guerra has elected to become a free agent, this according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects.

Guerra signed as a minor league free agent with the Pirates last offseason. The former Baseball America Top 100 prospect began 2015 with AAA Indianapolis where he posted a 1.23 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP in 25 appearances. Guerra made his big league debut with the Pirates in late June, but struggled to the tune of a 6.48 ERA in ten appearances. He was designated for assignment in early August after the Pirates had acquired Joakim Soria from the Detroit Tigers. At one point, Guerra was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians, but was returned to the Pirates due to a knee injury. The Pirates placed Guerra on the DL and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Pirates Extend Indianapolis Indians as their AAA Affiliate

By Jason Shetler

indianapolis-indians-logo

The Pirates have announced a four-year extension on their developmental contract with the Indianapolis Indians through the 2020 season.

The Indianapolis Indians have been the AAA affiliate of the Pirates since 2005. Both clubs seem to have a good working relationship with one another. Indianapolis isn’t that far from Pittsburgh, especially by plane ride. Their stadium, Victory Field, is considered one of the best ballparks in AAA. Andrew McCutchen (2009), Starling Marte (2012) and Gregory Polanco (2014) have all been former Pirates top prospects while with the Indians. Current Pirates #1 prospect Tyler Glasnow will begin 2016 with Indianapolis.