Let's take a look at the first basemen from last season. We saw Adam Laroche struggle again and was finally dealt to Boston. He then resurfaced in the NL with the Braves and ended up having another decent season. Say what you want about the guy but the numbers were consistent year to year.
- Garrett Jones- "The Legend" got the call and took advantage of the opportunity. He hit .293 with 21Hr/44RBI in only 82 games. An OBP of .379 and slugging percentage of .567 also aren't bad numbers for his first go around. He also showed some speed, stealing 10 bags on 12 attempts. His defense was a little shaky but he should be moved to first permanently where he seemed more comfortable.
One concern was his inability to hit with runners on base. That has to improve for him to be a serious middle of the order threat. Having said that though, I feel the 28 year old is here to stay for a while. A very nice surprise to a team that needed someone to step up. 2009 Grade- B
-Steve Pearce- Well, he can't say he didn't get a look anymore. I don't think there is a hitter in the big leagues with less plate discipline than Pearce. he looks completely baffled most of the time. He hit only .206 with 4Hr. Where did the power go? He looks like the classic 4-A player at this point. His good defensively though so it may be worth keeping him as a bench player next season to spell Jones defensively. 2009 Grade- F+ (I'd like to give him a G)
INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (AAA)
-Jeff Clement- Good acquisition at the deadline. I was a big fan of his at USC. (Yeah i know, I'm one of the few that watch college baseball). He was the third overall pick in the country at one point and has a big power bat. In 27 games at Indy, he hit 7Hr/24 RBI, but only hit .225. he has a problem staying healthy, as he hurt his wrist, right before he would have gotten a September call up. (Sounds like Doumit)
He is the type of hitter that could do well at PNC Park. Problem is that he isn't great defensively and you can't have 2 below average defensive corner guys on the roster. Jones's emergence also creates a problem for Clement's future. He came up a catcher, but I don't think that is an option.
ALTOONA CURVE (AA)
-Miles Durham- Played in 65 games at Lynchburg before getting a promotion to the Curve for the final 65 games. Combined he hit .285 with only 12 Hr/73RBI. Not a big power threat as he hit 18HR in 2008 but the report is he has a decent bat. He was a 22nd rd pick in 2006
LYNCHBURG HILLCATS (A)
-Jamie Romak- Once considered a decent prospect, Romak had an awful season. The other part of the Adam Laroche trade led all Pirates minor leaguers in HR & RBI in 2008, but took a huge step backwards this season, hitting only .191 with 8 Hr/38 RBI. Romak was actually demoted back to the Hillcats from Altoona in the middle of the season and was moved to right field
-Matt Hague- The Bucs ninth round pick in 2008, Hague progressed to Lynchburg in his second season of pro ball. He hit .293, 8HR/50 Rbi in his first season with the Hillcats. The Bucs like Hague a lot and like his bat. They feel the power will come around.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (A)
-Kyle Morgan- Hit .296 with 9/32 in 43 games. Stared the season with State College. He was a 36th rd selection in 2008
-Calvin Anderson- A lot more upside for the 6"7 2008 12th rd pick. He spent the whole season at WV and hit .274 12/64. The power slowed down towards the end of the season, but overall they seem happy with Anderson.
STATE COLLEGE SPIKES (A)
-Justin Byler- Back after missing the 2008 season with a broken arm, Byler hit .256 6/41. The 2005 36th round pick really isn't on the radar as a prospect.
-Aaron Baker- Same story for Baker. Didn't do much for the Spikes. .250 hitter that showed no power.
Organizational Depth is actually good at the position. Jones looks to be a keeper and I still think Clement could be the guy eventually. As long as it isn't Pearce then I'm happy. A lot of guys in A & AA worth keeping an eye on. no need to pursue a first baseman in the off season unless they can somehow add a huge bat. Jones can still play right. I have a better chance of hitting the powerball than that happening though.
What should next season look like. Simple. Jones starts 150 games at first. If not, i like the idea of Clement playing half the time at first while Jones is in right field. Similar to what they did with Jones and Pearce during the second half of the season. I actually think that may work. What will they do though? Likely continue the Steve Pearce experiment and shuffle Jones between first and right.
Overall Positional Grade - B