Like every other organization in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent seven prospects to the Arizona Fall League. Like most of them, they saw mixed results from the group they sent.
Kyle Kaminska was sent to the AFL so the Pirates could get a better feel for what they had in the 24-year-old right-hander. They acquired him in a mid-season trade with the Miami Marlins, and he only made four starts after joining the organization. If the Pirates want to retain him for next season, they will have to protect him on the 40-man roster, and the organization wanted to be sure they knew what they were getting into before using up a valuable roster spot. If his performance in the AFL is any indicaiton, Kaminska should be a Pirate for a few more years.
Kaminska made six starts this fall, going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA. He struck out 21 batters in 28 innings while walking just four. He’s not a power pitcher, but he does typically have this type of good command. While there’s no guarantee that his fall performance will win him a spot on the 40-man roster, it’s hard to imagine he could have pitched much better, and if the Pirates don’t elect to protect him, you’ll have to wonder why they bothered to use a spot in the AFL on him.
If Kaminska was at the top of the Pirates 2012 AFL class, Victor Black was at the bottom. The relief prospect once again struggled with his control, walking 11 batters in 10 2/3 innings and sporting an 11.81 ERA. Black will continue to get chance after chance because of his power arm, but if he doesn’t get his fastball under control, he’ll never be able to use it properly.
Tyler Waldron was also used in relief in the AFL and fared better than Black. Like Kaminska, Waldron doesn’t miss many bats either, but in the AFL, he posted a 3.14 ERA over 14 1/3 innings. He was used as a starter during the regular season and that will likely stay the same next year, but he may have more success down the road in a relief role where his stuff will play up.
Lastly on the mound for the Pirates was Brandon Cumpton, who also worked in relief and threw 14 innings. He managed to post a (statistically-fortunate) 2.57 ERA despite walking seven batters in 14 innings and striking out just six.
At the plate, the Pirates prospects saw mixed results as well. Matt Curry has always hit, but the Pirates were hoping to see more power, especially in the hitter-friendly AFL. Curry hit .253/.366/.342 in the AFL with just one home run in 23 games. As a first baseman, the Pirates need more power production out of Curry.
The Pirates will take any offensive production they can get from shortstop prospect Gift Ngoepe, who hit just .232 during the regular season and .261 in the AFL. He does do a decent job of drawing walks and getting on base without hitting his way on, and he continued that, drawing seven walks in 16 games for a .370 on-base percentage. Ngoepe will always be a defense-first shortstop, but if he can hit even a little bit he could work his way into the Pirates future.
Lastly, outfield prospect Adalberto Santos continued his on-base prowess in the AFL that made him a valuable prospect during the regular season. In 21 fall games, Santos hit .299/.413/.455 with as many walks as strikeouts and nine stolen bases in ten attempts. The AFL allowed him to make up for time missed this season and Santos took advantage.