Rounding out my 2016 SAL team preview series here’s my look at the West Virginia Power.
The Power are a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise and when putting this preview together I scoured the WV Black Bears, Bristol Pirates and GCL Pirates rosters. I then reached out to the guys at Pirates Breakdown to learn the teams tendencies in regards to promotions and league assignments in the low minors. Minor League Coordinator Justin Frazee (on Twitter @justpa) fielded my questions.
Question #1 Do high school draftees and international signees ever skip multiple levels of stateside rookie ball or do they hit 2 or all 3 of GCL, Bristol and WV Bears? Or to put it simply do they ever go from the GCL to the West Virginia Power?
Justin – “The GCL and Bristol are both very similar, from what I have seen you typically play one or the other if high school draftee just due to sheer age and inexperience. WV Black Bears would be the landing spot for college draftees and guys who were in the GCL or Bristol the previous year. If a guy impresses the organization while in the lower two, they can get bumped up like Ke’Bryan Hayes did last year to WVBB. He will be with the WV Power to start the year this season, and is a headline-stealing prospect within the organization. Otherwise, it’s rare to see a guy make the jump to WV Power direct from GCL.”
Question #2 Do college draftees or other prospects ever skip the WV Power and head for Bradenton after leaving WV Black Bears?
Justin – “We are highly unlikely to see anyone make the jump from the WV Black Bears to Bradenton and skip over the WV Power. The reasoning is because of organizational depth at most positions. The only way it happens is if a position is open at Bradenton and we have a highly regarded prospect that can jump a level. Kevin Newman went to the Power for a short time last year and will likely be the SS at Bradenton this year due to Cole Tucker just coming back from injury and will likely need time at WV Power. Theoretically we could see Newman make the jump to Altoona at some point this summer if Tucker is progressing nicely and gets sent up to Bradenton.”
piratesbreakdown.com is an excellent resource for all things Pittsburgh Pirates and I’m enjoying their coverage from Bradenton and Pirate City. They’re good guys and I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out again.
Notes from the Sally is a scouting site and once I see West Virginia (on the preliminary schedule for 4/12 and 6/25, I will add a 3rd date because my goal is to see every team 3 times). You can expect write up on many of the players listed.
3B) Ke’Bryan Hayes
Ke’Bryan Hayes, age 19, listed 6’1″ 210 lbs, bats and throws right. Hayes was drafted 32nd overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Tomball, Tx (Houston area). The son of former major leaguer Charlie Hayes, Ke’Bryan is also a 3rd baseman and he has the tools to potentially stay at the position long term. At the dish he displays very good bat speed, he’s got a level swing and he sprays the ball all over the yard. He projects to have at least average power long term.
SS) Cole Tucker
Cole Tucker, age 19, listed 6’3″ 185 lbs, bats both and throws right. Tucker was drafted 24th overall in the 2014 draft out of high school in Phoenix, Az. Tucker spent last season with the WV Power but only got into 73 games because of a shoulder injury. Justin from Pirates Breakdown think’s he’ll be back with the Power at least to start 2016. Good news for me as I never got to see him last season. According to mlb.com “Tucker has the tools to play shortstop for a long time, with solid actions, hands and range. Outside of the shoulder, the only thing that could push him off of shortstop is if he fills out his 6-foot-3 frame a lot as he matures. There’s clearly strength to be added, which will help him at the plate. He already has very good at-bats, knows the strike zone, and was flashing some extra-base authority as he continues to learn how to switch hit.”
RHP) Mitch Keller
Mitch Keller, age on opening day 20, listed 6’3″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Keller was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of high school in Ceder Rapids Ia. Keller pitched just 19 innings last year in a injury marred season. According to mlb.com “Mitch is tall and projectable, with a fastball that now sits in the 90-94 mph range. When he’s not trying to overthrow, he has good sink on it, with the potential to be a ground-ball machine. He can really spin his breaking ball, an 11-to-5 curve that could be above-average in the future. He’s shown some feel for a changeup, but lack of mound time hasn’t allowed him to cultivate his third pitch. There’s at least some chance that Keller starts the year in extended Spring Training and then heads to the Black Bears. If that happens, there’s some chance we see him in the 2nd half.
RHP) Luis Escobar
Luis Escobar, age 19, listed 6’1″ 155 lbs, bats and throws right. Escobar signed out of Columbia in July 2013 as a 17 year old. A converted infielder Escobar throws a low- to mid 90’s heater, a curve that shows promise, and a change that needs work. The delivery is high energy. He’s young, raw and high risk but there’s a lot to work with. There’s some chance he starts with the Black Bears but either way we could see him in the 2nd half.
OF) Casey Hughston
Casey Hughston, age 21, listed 6’2″ 200 lbs, bats left and throws right. Hughston was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Alabama as a draft eligible sophomore. Baseball America said “An intriguing player thanks to his average-or-better tools across the board. Listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Hughston has the strength and bat speed to provide left handed power in the heart of Alabama’s lineup.” “Hughston has the speed for center field, but his outfield actions play better in the corners and Alabama has used him in right field. Scouts see him as more of a fourth outfielder right now, but if he can find a more consistent approach at the plate or prove he can play center field, he could develop into something more.”.
Around the Diamond
In the mix at catcher are: 11th round pick Christian Kelley, undrafted free agent Chris Harvey, Daniel Arribas, 24th rounder John Bormann, Tomas Morales and Erik Lunde. Harvey and Bormann also saw time at 1B. Lunde also saw time at 2nd base,
Cole Tucker is likely the starting shortstop
2nd Base likely comes down to 2 players:
7th round pick Mitchell Tolman (also plays 3rd) and Trae Arbet (I also saw it listed as Trey) the Pirates 5th round pick in the 2013. Neither is all that toolsy but both can handle the bat. My guess is it will be Tolman and Arbet starts with the Black Bears.
Other middle infielders who may see time with the Power:
(SS-2B) 13th round pick Logan Ratledge, (2B-SS) Erik Forgione (2B-3B) Raul Siri, (2B,SS,3B) Carlos Ozuna and (2B,3B,SS) Bealyn Chourio.
Ke’Bryan Hayes will likely be the starting 3rd baseman
Carlos Munoz who had a really strong year offensively will likely be the starting 1st basemen. Looking forward to seeing him.
Also in the mix at corner infield:
Julio De La Cruz, Jose Salazar, and 35th round pick Jordan George.
Casey Hughston is likely going to be the center fielder. We might also get a look at Sandy Santos; from afar he looks interesting.
The rest of the outfield, 12th round pick Ty Moore in Left, Alexis Bastardo who plays center and right, 25th round pick Logan Hill who primarily played right after the draft. And from the Bristol squad, Nick Buckner who played right, Edgar Figueroa who played all 3 outfield spots, and Henrry Rosario who played center and left.
In addition to Mitch Keller and Luis Escobar there’s also high end picks; 5th round pick Brandon Waddell, 6th round pick JT Brubaker, 8th round pick Seth McGarry, and 9th round pick Brett Helton.
Others in the mix: Dario Agrazal, Luis Paula, Hector Garcia (nice K rate). And from Bristol: There’s a trio of interesting high school arms from previous drafts; Trey Supak ,Gage Hinsz ,and Billy Roth (not sure any of them pitch for the Power this year but its possible.) 10th round pick Logan Sendelbach, and Neil Kozikowski could also factor in.
The Power are going to be a strong squad in 2016, particularly at corner infield, middle infield, and starting Pitching.
The Pirates were a fun system to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing these young men in action.
This puts a bow on the 2016 team previews I hope you got as much out of them as I did.
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