An Update on Three Pirate Prospects Playing in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League is underway and seven Pirate prospects are playing for the Peoria Javelinas. We will be providing periodic updates on how they are doing.

Seven Pirate's prospects have made their way to Arizona to compete in the fall league. The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is a highly-scouted, offseason league that is comprised mostly of AA and AAA prospects. The seven representatives of the Pirate organization are:

  • Jared Oliva (AA) - CF
  • Oniel Cruz (AA) - SS
  • Jason Delay (AA) - C
  • Beau Sulser (AA) - SP
  • Blake Cederlind (AAA) - RP
  • Cody Ponce (AAA) - SP
  • Nick Mears (AA) - RP

In this article, we will be providing an update on the three Pirate members of the Peoria lineup.

The Pirates always have two representatives on the Javelina's staff. Dave Turgeon, Pirate's Coordinator of Instruction, is the manager. Logan Byman, the Buc's Strength and Conditioning Coach, is serving in the same role for Peoria.

Jared Oliva

Jared Oliva has been the star of the Peoria Javelinas through the first 10 games  of the AFL. Oliva currently leads the Javelinas in batting average (.379), OPS (1.017), and stolen bases (4).

Those numbers reflect the type of player he's been in the Pirate system since he's been drafted - only skewed up. He's a contact hitter that can beat plays to first with his legs, and is a threat to steal whenever he's on base.

The high batting average is good to see as he has yet to hit over .277 in his three years with the Pirates. Also his walk rate through 10 games (20%) is double what we've seen from him so far. Hit plate approach has been an issue as he strikes out a little too much for my liking - especially when we'd love to see his speed on base. So, I'm hoping his .500 on-base percentage can stay high. Being a guy who can get on base and be a problem for pitchers once he does is his path to being a major leaguer. The AFL is a place to work on that.

Jason Delay

From the time he was drafted, Jason Delay was seen as a defensive catcher who will need to hit near the bottom of the lineup. I've been pretty disappointed with his defense so far given his profile. Base runners are have been successful on 72% of steal attempts throughout his minor career. So far in Arizona, that number is 85%.

I'm also not completely confident in his glove. He's allowed 8 passed balls this season, and has already allowed one in Arizona. Eight passed balls isn't awful but, considering he's a career .237 hitter, his glove needs to be exceptional.

So far in Arizona, he is hitting a lowly .143.

Oniel Cruz

Oniel Cruz is the headliner of the Pirate contingency. He's solidly among the top five prospects in the organization - no matter what list you look at. However, he has been bad so far in Arizona. 

In 28 plate appearences, Cruz is batting just .115 and has struck out 14 times. With only 2 walks, I wonder if his struggles are coming from over-swinging. It's possible that Cruz is trying to hard to impress. The AFL is a place where prospects can really make a name for themselves.

We will be watching Cruz's performance in Arizona closely. Hopefully he can simplify his approach and get back on track.

Conclusion

So far, it's been a pretty underwhelming start for the Pirates in Arizona. Outside of Jared Oliva, Pirate prospects have just 5 hits in 40 plate appearances. This is not the start we were hoping for, but there is plenty of time for Delay and Cruz to turn it around.

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