A Minor Review of 2008: The Pirates

The Graduate: Brandon Moss | Born: September 1983 | Outfielder

The Pirates did not see much impact from its own system in 2008; the majority of rookies like Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche came from other organizations in mid-season. Moss was stuck behind a backlog of outfielders in Boston but should get the chance to play everyday in Pittsburgh, although he may be better suited for a fourth outfielder role. He has modest power potential for a corner outfielder (.188 career MLB ISO) and he’s never hit more than 16 homers in a season. He also has a healthy line-drive rate in the Majors of 21.1%. Like most young hitters, Moss could stand to cut down on his whiffs.

The Riser: Jim Negrych | Born: March 1985 | Infielder

The former University of Pittsburgh infielder had a breakout 2008 campaign by hitting .370/.449/.508 in 386 High-A at-bats. Jim Negrych also held his own during a late-season promotion to Double-A. He doesn’t have much power, but he showed a good eye at the plate (55 walks, 55 strikeouts in High-A) and he steals in the odd base (12 attempts, seven stolen in 2008). Negrych spent his first two pro seasons playing second base but was moved over to third for most of 2008 where he struggled defensively (.912 FP, 2.87 RF/g). He also lacks the power to be an average to above-average offensive player at the hot corner. He is back playing second base in the fall Hawaii Baseball League.

The Tumbler: Daniel Moskos| Born: April 1986 | Left-Handed Pitcher

Daniel Moskos was a bit of a quizzical pick as the Pirates’ first selection (fourth overall) in the 2007 draft and he struggled miserably in his first full pro season. Most teams felt Moskos had the potential to be a starter in pro ball, but Pittsburgh initially announced that he would be a reliever. After the 2007 season, though, Moskos was shifted to the rotation and posted a 5.95 ERA in High-A ball this past year. He allowed 124 hits in 110.1 innings and posted rates of 3.51 BB/9 and 6.36 K/9. Moskos’ fastball was also lacking zip. Obviously, he needs to turn things around in 2009.

The ’08 Draft Pick: Chase D’Arnaud | Born: January 1987 | Shortstop

The brother of Philadelphia’s 2007 supplemental first round pick Travis D’Arnaud, Chase D’Arnaud had a solid college career at Pepperdine and was selected in the fourth round by Pittsburgh. He posted solid numbers in his debut with a line of .286/.330/.423 in 168 short-season at-bats. D’Arnaud played mostly third base in college, before his final season, but lacks the power to play there regularly in pro ball. At worst, he should be a solid utility player who can do a little bit of everything at the Major League level.

The ’09 Sleeper: Robinzon Diaz | Born: September 1983 | Catcher

Robinzon Diaz was obtained from Toronto late in the season for the disappointing Jose Bautista. Diaz has the chance to be a solid player, as an athletic catcher who does not strikeout (7.6 K% at Triple-A in 2008) and puts his bat on everything he swings at (which is just about everything – 3.7 BB% at Triple-A). Diaz is athletic for a catcher and has also played some third base and second base. He could be a valuable bench player and third catcher in the National League – although he has the potential to play regularly.

Up Next: The Chicago White Sox

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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