Gulf Coast League Season Over

The Pirates' Gulf Coast League season ended yesterday, so here's a look at what happened this season. 2010 first- and second-rounders Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie and 2011 third-rounder Alex Dickerson were all at higher levels, and 2011 first-rounder Gerrit Cole and second-rounder Josh Bell signed too late to really play, so other than Luis Heredia, the GCL team wasn't loaded with the Pirates' top prospects. What it did have was a bunch of very young players, particularly from Latin America, who might be among the Pirates' better prospects in a couple years.

CATCHER - 2011 41st-rounder Jonathan Schwind got some playing time here (he also DH'ed and played a little bit of third base) and destroyed the ball, although he's 21, so that doesn't mean much. Hopefully he'll compete with Samuel Gonzalez for playing time at West Virginia next year. Ryan Hornback and Dylan Child also caught, but didn't hit.

FIRST BASE - This was primarily Jared Lakind and Jose Osuna. A player's first full pro year in the GCL doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot, but it's too bad Lakind didn't hit at all - he got a huge bonus last year. Osuna was the team's best hitter other than Schwind, and he showed a very well-rounded offensive game at age 18. He'll be a top prospect if he can do that again at West Virginia next year (if he's even sent there). Of course, we might've said the same thing about Exicardo Cayones last year. Osuna hit better than Cayones did, but it's worth repeating that GCL stats mean very little.

SECOND BASE - Jordaneli Carvajal hit passably, although with very little power. Carvajal is very young and has a good glove, so he might be able to establish himself as a prospect without hitting a bunch of homers, but it would be nice to see the power start to develop.

SHORTSTOP - Alen Hanson got off to a great start but cooled in July and August. His overall numbers were still respectable. He tried to steal at just about every opportunity and was successful about 80 percent of the time.

THIRD BASE - Yhonathan Barrios, Jorge Bishop and Francisco Aponte split time here, with all three guys also playing a bit at second base. Bishop was terrible. (And is also really small. Some of the listed heights for some of these kids are pretty optimistic. I don't think he's much of a prospect.) Aponte hit reasonably well after some strong performance in the VSL in past years. Barrios hit very well after missing all of last season due to injury, so hopefully he'll be in West Virginia next year. (Most of the offensive players in the GCL this year were a heck of a lot more interesting than a lot of the players at State College, so the Pirates will have some incentive to be aggressive with promotions.)

OUTFIELD - Exicardo Cayones came back after flopping badly in State College and hit well. He's only 19, so there's time. 18-year-old Willy Garcia had a poor strikeout-to-walk ratio but otherwise held his own. Gregory Polanco didn't hit particularly well, but he was much-improved over last season. He's still 19, and while the odds are that he flames out, I wouldn't write him off. Dude's 6-foot-4 and left-handed. He also has a decent batting eye and runs like the wind (and he knows how to use that speed, at least against GCL teams, with 18 steals without being caught this year). The fact that he only had four doubles in 169 at-bats suggests there might be issues with his swing, however. Luis Urena batted only .235 and struck out way too much, and Gavi Nivar didn't hit.

PITCHING - Luis Heredia was obviously the big name here. He didn't pitch terribly well, but he was 16, so that's nothing to worry about. Orlando Castro was brilliant in 25 innings and got promoted all the way up to West Virginia, where he suddenly started walking a bunch of batters. We'll see what that means next year. I haven't seen him, but his stuff is supposed to be better than than the typical crafty lefty who dominates the low minors.

Other than that, most of the pitchers weren't terribly good. There were a bunch of bonus babies (Cesar Lopez, Yhonathan Herrand) and very young pitchers (Dovydas Neverauskas, Jimy Hernandez, Jackson Lodge, Isaac Sanchez, etc.) among them, and the sample sizes were all very small, so it's hard to draw any conclusions.

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