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More Thoughts on Tim Alderson

Pirates excited about landing Cedeno | News
Jenifer Langosch reports that Delwyn Young could get the bulk of the playing time at second base down the stretch. I'm not a huge Young fan, but at this point, hey, why not? He can certainly hit enough to stick at second. The issue is his fielding, which probably isn't nearly good enough, but I suppose it can't hurt to find that out for sure. Young comes out as one of the biggest winners in the Freddy Sanchez deal.

BP: Five Minutes with Tim Alderson
A brief interview with new acquisition Tim Alderson who, at the very least, sounds like an intelligent kid who knows who he is. If you have any questions about what kind of pitcher he is, this answers them--he's not going to blow hitters away with his fastball.

Alderson probably currently ranks as the Pirates' top pitching prospect, but again, I want to caution against getting too excited here. Baseball America ranked Alderson as the 45th-best prospect in all baseball before the season, and I think that's a mistake. I think of Will Inman, who has posted better strikeout rates than Alderson at similar ages throughout his minor league career, and still doesn't get much love as a prospect. Alderson's better--he probably throws a little bit harder, and he doesn't really have Inman's flyball tendencies. (Alderson is also taller, which scouts love. But as WTM is fond of pointing out, that probably doesn't mean a whole lot. I think I'm going to stop using the word "projectable" to describe young pitchers.) 

Like Alderson, Inman breezed through the low minors, posting impossibly low ERAs at Class A West Virginia (back when it was still a Brewers affiliate) and Class A+ Brevard County. When he got to Class AA, though, things started to go wrong--his strikeout numbers remained high, but his walks increased. This year he pitched very well for in eight starts at Class AA San Antonio, but has come apart upon being promoted to Class AAA Portland, as his strikeout rate has decreased and hitters have whacked 15 homers off him in 63 innings. He's now 22 and is rarely described as a top prospect anymore. He'll probably make it to the majors, but I wouldn't bet on him being particularly successful.

Alderson is a better prospect than Inman, and the parallel isn't perfect, but it still isn't totally clear to me why Alderson excites people, while no one could talk about Inman a couple years ago without pointing out his flaws. Alderson's very low strikeout rate since being promoted to Class AA is, to me, a huge red flag--pitchers like Inman who are crafty but lack great stuff can breeze through the low minors and then run smack into a brick wall when they reach Class AA or Class AAA. So the question is this: Why won't Alderson hit that wall? Of course I hope he doesn't, but I'm not really sure why he wouldn't.