Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Bucco Prospect Report: Level Skippers

The Pirates four full season minor league affiliates announced their Opening Day rosters yesterday. One of the first things I look for when the minor league rosters are released is which players are given assignments that bypass a level in the system. Skipping a level can be a sign that the team is high on a player and would like to fast track his advancement. Other times a player might be asked to skip a level due to a roster crunch at a particular position. I also look closely at which players are being asked to repeat a level. I will address those players in a future post. Without further ado here are the players assigned to the Opening Day minor league rosters that are skipping ahead this season:


    Kawika Emsley-PaiFrom A to AAA, Skipping both A+ and AA – Kawika Emsley-Pai is nothing more than an organizational filler as a backup catcher. He is a 26 year old non-prospect with a career minor league average of .201. He did play 3 games at AA last year, but saw most of his playing time last season as the backup to Reese McGuire at West Virginia. There is a good chance Emsly-Pai will be shuffled around between the affiliates this season as catching needs develop due to injuries.
    Frank DuncanFrom Short Season A to A+, Skipping Full Season A – Duncan pitched well last year in his first pro season with Jamestown of the NYP League. He displayed excellent control issuing just 11 walks in 65 innings. But because he was drafted as a college senior he will be 23 years old this season. This right hander does not have a lot of time on his side so the Pirates are giving him an aggressive push to find out about him as quickly as possible.
    Tyler EpplerFrom Short Season A to A+, Skipping Full Season A – Eppler also is a RHP that pitched well in his first pro season with Jamestown of the NYP League. However, Eppler is a year younger and has a better pedigree than Duncan. Eppler was the Pirates 6th Rd draft pick last summer.
    Julio VivasFrom Rookie Ball to A+, Skipping Short and Full Season A – This is a very aggressive push. Vivas did post exceptional numbers last year in Rookie Ball. The RHP struck out 29 and issued just 2 walks in 26.2 innings last season. Vivas is only 21 years old.
    Yeudy GarciaFrom DSL to Full Season A, Skipping GCL and Short Season A – This is another very aggressive push. I don’t recall any other cases of the Pirates’ foreign prospects making their debut in the states at West Virginia. But Garcia is not a particularly young prospect. At 22 he is older than most of the Dominicans playing in the DSL. The Pirates obviously feel the need to test him in order to find out what they have in this kid.
    Cole TuckerFrom Rookie Ball to Full Season A, Skipping Short Season A – This is the big one. The Pirates are promoting their 1st Rd Pick from last year’s draft to play SS for West Virginia in the competitive South Atlantic League at just 18 years of age. This is an aggressive push reminiscent of last season when Reese McGuire made the same jump.
    Tito PoloFrom Rookie Ball to Full Season A, Skipping Short Season A – Polo is a Colombian OF that has shown a solid hit tool in the DSL. Last season in the GCL he slashed .291/.374/.475 in 44 games. Polo is only 20 years old. If he does reasonably well at West Virginia this season he will likely break into the rankings as a top 25 player in the system. An excellent year would make his stock soar even higher.


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