RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
||Born: November 3, 1988
Height: 6′ 6″
Drafted: 1st Round, 22nd Overall, 2007
How Acquired: Trade (for Freddy Sanchez)
High School: Horizon HS (Scottsdale, AZ)
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates obtained Alderson for 2B Freddy Sanchez. Going into 2009, Baseball America rated Alderson the 4th best prospect in a loaded Giants’ system. He was considered extremely polished for such a young pitcher, with excellent command. He threw both two- and four-seam fastballs which, prior to 2009, registered in the upper-80s to low-90s. His out pitch is a curve and he was developing a change. He has an odd delivery in which he seems to coil up and then unwind as he throws. It may add deception but it also makes him look smaller and may rob him of the leverage he should get from being 6’6″.
Alderson’s velocity was down throughout 2009 to the mid- to upper-80s and has been a constant subject of concern since then. Scouts also believed at the time of the trade that his curve was no longer as sharp, leaving him reliant on his outstanding control. The Giants had gotten Alderson to alter his motion, which may have been a factor in the decline of his stuff. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus did some research that indicated that RHPs with below-average velocity are rarely successful in the majors, so the concerns are justified. Since the trade, Alderson’s velocity has been up and down, but it hasn’t returned to what it was, at least not for any extended period. At times it’s even been in the low-80s. The team and Alderson himself have tried various remedies, including changes to his delivery and, in 2011, moving him to the bullpen. It’s possible that the process of becoming physically mature altered his body in some way that simply changed his pitching ability for the worse.
Debuted briefly in rookie ball after signing.
Had a very impressive season in 2008, despite being very young for high A and pitching in the hitting-happy California League. The Giants’ affiliate, San Jose, plays in a pitchers’ park relative to the rest of the league, but the Cal League is always an extremely tough environment for young pitchers. Opponents hit just .235 against him in a league that averaged .273.
The Giants kept Alderson in the Cal League for five starts and then moved him up to AA. He wasn’t as dominant as in 2008, with his K rate dropping at each level. He was more hittable, as opponents batted .292 against him in the Cal League and .265 in the Eastern League. Still, he was pitching in AA as a 20-year-old. Left-handed batters were hitting about 60 points higher against him than right-handed batters at the time of the trade. After the trade, he pitched almost the same as he did before except that his walk rate increased. His ERA also increased, mainly due to his last start, in which he allowed eleven hits, three walks and seven runs over five innings. Interestingly, in thirteen at-bats in AA, Alderson had four hits, including two HRs, one with each team. In fact, he hit another HR in 2010, so he now has three in just 27 pro ABs.
Prior to spring training, Alderson told the Pirates he wanted to return to the delivery he used at the time he was drafted. I saw him in training camp and whatever changes had been made didn’t appear to be working yet. The Pirates’ stated goal was to get his velocity back up to 93, where it once was. In camp, however, he was throwing mainly 83-85, topping out at 87. His velocity improved some during the season, but still didn’t reach previous levels. His performance, though, was a complete disaster. He got hammered repeatedly in AA, with an opponents’ average of .313. The Pirates finally decided to demote him to Bradenton to allow him to work on his mechanics without worrying as much about the results. His first two starts there produced 13 earned runs in 5.2 IP. Things got better from there, but not dramatically so. He finished in low A with an opponents’ average of .297.
The Pirates sent Alderson back to Altoona and he spent the season in the bullpen except for one spot start. For a while the move seemed to work. In the first two months of the season, he had an ERA of 1.17, WHIP of 0.88, and K/9 of 7.9. His velocity was back up to the low-90s at times. After May, however, his ERA was 6.18, his WHIP was 1.60, and his K/9 was 6.2. For the first time ever, he had control problems, walking 4.3 per nine innings during that stretch. His velocity was in the mid- to upper-80s.
Alderson was eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the 2011 season, but no team selected him. He returned to AA in 2012 and started off in the bullpen. He pitched very well early, throwing in the low 90s, and the Pirates moved him to the rotation in May. He didn’t pitch as well as a starter and began struggling in June. He finally went on the disabled list with a sore elbow in July. He returned in August, moving back to the bullpen. For the season he had a 4.97 ERA in 11 starts and a 2.77 ERA in 15 relief appearances. He had much better control and a much higher groundball rate as a reliever.
Alderson hasn’t struggled the last two years the way he did in 2010, and his stuff has returned to some degree, but he hasn’t pitched well on any consistent basis. He was eligible again for the Rule 5 draft and again wasn’t be selected. He’ll be back in the AA bullpen in 2013. After the season he’ll finally be eligible for minor league free agency if he’s not on the 40-man roster.
|2013: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $1,290,000
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2013
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2011
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 7, 2007: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round, 22nd overall pick; signed on July 24.
July 29, 2009: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the San Francisco Giants for Freddy Sanchez.