Happy offseason. Every now and then, I find something written about the Pirates by one of my friends that’s so good that a shout-out here is in order. I have a buddy from California named Brett who, despite having the former World Champion San Francisco Giants in his backyard, is loyal to the black-and-gold to the point that he once made a cross-country pilgrimage to PNC Park just to catch a game.
Below is an interesting comparison he wrote in early September, comparing current OF Alex Presley’s success in 2011 to 3 former semi-prospects that dazzled early on, only to attain flash-in-the-pan status in the seasons that followed. Will Presley follow this unfortunate course, or can he chart a promising path in PNC’s expansive left field? Enjoy.
“I haven’t been right in just about all of my player evaluations over the years, nor am I able to evaluate a catcher’s footwork while watching a game from the stands. As a result, I honestly don’t know what to think of Alex Presley. To further muddy the situation, I’m completely jaded by our previous experience of having marginal minor league outfielders come up and produce for a short period of time, only to eventually crash and burn. Of course I’m talking about Adrian Brown, Tike Redman and Chris Duffy. I thought we could look at each player and compare.
– In 2000, Adrian Brown had posted a minor league OPS of .718. Hardly impressive. He then would post a OPS of .805 in 308 at bats for the Pirates in 2000, giving some- myself included- hope that the Pirates had their CF and leadoff hitter for years to come. He would only get 266 plate appearances over the next two years for the Pirates while posting an OPS+ of 51.
– In 2003, Tike Redman had posted a minor league OPS of .705. He then would post an OPS of .857 in 308 at bats for the
Pirates in 2003. Much like with Brown, there was hope the Pirates once again found their future CF and leadoff hitter (or 3rd place hitter depending upon with data base was being used). Redman would go on to post an OPS+ of 73 in over 900 plate appearances for the Pirates over the next two years.
– In 2005, Chris Duffy had posted a minor league OPS of .747. He then came to Pittsburgh and posted an OPS of .814 in 126 at bats. Whether it wasn’t sustainable or Jim Tracy forced him to hit like Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis, he posted an OPS+ of 73 in 618 plate appearances over the next two years.
– Alex Presely has a minor league OPS of .781. He currently has an OPS of .845 for the Pirates (EDIT: Presley finished September down to an .804 OPS). Clearly his minor league career has been better than the other three, but is it truly impressive enough to think he can maintain an OPS of .800 in the bigs? I seriously doubt it, but I honestly don’t know.”
Thanks to Brett for a great comparison. Personally, I believe Presley WILL have a more successful career than the 3 failed OF before him. And to substantiate that, I turn to another of my colleagues, Ed from Pittsburgh. (Ed is also the Pittsburgh Steelers’ writer here on isportsweb, so make sure you check him out.) BAck in July, Ed pointed out that Presley just may be a rare “late bloomer” that actually gets better with age:
“Alex Presley started with the Pirates’ organization in 2006…his OPS figures his first four seasons in organized baseball:
2006 – Williamsport – .716
2007 – Hickory – .784
2008 – Lynchburg – .705
2009 – Lynchburg – .684
Thus, at the end of the 2009 season, Alex Presley was a 24-year-old OF who’d OPS’ed .684 in a repeat season in A-ball. No human being could have predicted this guy would ever hit AAA, let alone be a productive major leaguer. Starting in 2010, the guy has been a completely changed:
2010 – Altoona – .932
2010 – Indy – .809
2011 – Indy – .889
2011 – Pittsburgh – 1.028 (as of 8:45 on July 15)”
Time will tell, but it would be nice for the Pirates to benefit from one of these out-of-nowhere stories for a change. Thanks for reading, and props to Brett and Ed for some thought-provocing research.
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