‘Over a Beer and Peanuts’ is a relatively new section on The Baseball Opinion where I have a frank question and answer session with a fellow blogger to get their opinion on issues related to the area of baseball that they cover. It would be cool to say that we are doing this while downing a beer and popping some peanuts while watching a game, but that’s relatively impossible. Pat Lackey, over at Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke, has taken time out during one of his busiest periods of the year to answer a few questions. WHYGAVS is a very good Pirates blog for those Bucs fans out there. His recent Learning from the past article is a good read.
1. Although it’s doubtful that the Pirates’ new prospects from India will reach the majors, shortstop Gift Ngoepe is still very young, giving him more of a chance to make it to Pittsburgh. What do you think of the 16-year old South African’s chances?
I honestly don’t know what to make of Ngoepe or any 16-year old’s chances because of how young they are, but I like what the signings of Singh, Patel, and especially Ngoepe represent. Under Dave Littlefield, the Pirates barely scouted Latin America while under Huntington, they had someone at the showcase in Italy that Ngoepe played in over the summer and saw enough to offer him a contract. I suppose we’ll know more about him after he plays in the World Baseball Classic this spring, but whether he makes it to the big leagues or not, conducting a global talent search is a huge step forward for the Pirates.
2. We’ve only seen one year of Neal Huntington’s reign as the Bucs’ GM, what are your thoughts of him so far?
The best way to judge Huntington’s first year with a team like the Pirates is to look at their minor league system. A year ago, they hadas their only true elite prospect, with Neil Walker and Steve Pearce behind him, and Pearce was highly rated after one good minor league season in which he was mostly old for the levels he played at. Huntington already added Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata to McCutchen as elite prospects in the system, but he also spent a lot of money on the draft signing players like Robbie Grossman, Wesley Freeman, Quinton Miller, Jordy Mercer, Chase D’Arnaud, and others who haven’t played much yet, but have the potential to develop into real prospects. Fans are upset with how Andy LaRoche has turned out so far in Pittsburgh, but Huntington’s true work right now is in the minor leagues, building a base of talent that will eventually supply the big league club, and I think he’s done good work there.