Adam Hyzdu

Some great information became available yesterday, as Dan Szymborski (creator of the ZiPS projection system) posted his minor-league-to-major-league translations for every player season of the past 30 years. Dan works very hard to provide this type of information to the general public free of charge, so I would encourage you to follow the link and make some sort of monetary donation. Anyway, I wandered into the comments and found a brief discussion on Adam Hyzdu‘s excellent 2000 season for Altoona. Dan noted that it was a mistake to have Hyzdu in Altoona that year instead of Pittsburgh. This led me over to Hyzdu’s page at The Baseball Cube, where I discovered more Cam Bonifay ineptitude.

I generally remember Hyzdu as a guy who I naively considered a prospect at the time, when in reality he was consistently excelling at levels he was much too old to be a part of. I was only 15 when the Pirates signed him, and I didn’t exactly follow the farm system too closely. In fact, my only clear memory of Hyzdu is the home run he hit during the one Curve game I attended in 1999. However, when I looked more closely at his minor league stats, I saw a different story. Here are his stats for each level in which he accrued at least 100 at-bats, beginning with his age 21 season:

1993 21 A+ 165 0.291 0.393 0.630 1.023
21 AA 302 0.202 0.253 0.318 0.571
1994 22 A+ 210 0.276 0.336 0.552 0.888
22 AA 133 0.263 0.310 0.406 0.716
1995 23 AA 312 0.263 0.362 0.439 0.801
1996 24 AA 374 0.337 0.424 0.618 1.042
1997 25 AAA 413 0.276 0.387 0.499 0.886
1998 26 AAA 100 0.340 0.419 0.550 0.969
1999 27 AA 345 0.316 0.392 0.612 1.004
2000 28 AA 514 0.290 0.405 0.554 0.959
2001 29 AAA 261 0.291 0.332 0.498 0.830

In 1994, Hyzdu struggled in Double-A for the second consecutive season. He improved the following season at age 23, though he didn’t display the same power as he did at High-A. Finally, in 1996, he broke out with a monstrous season. The following season, he continued to progress in Triple-A. He was a bit old for the level, but not so old that his performance deserved to be ignored. In 1998, he only managed 100 at-bats at Triple-A, so I assume there was an injury. He hit well when he did play, posting an OPS of .969. The Pirates got a hold of him in May 1999. Hyzdu had proved he could hit Triple-A pitching the two previous seasons, so the Pirates did the only logical thing with the 27-year-old. They sent him back to Double-A. Hyzdu responded with a dominant season, posting a zMLE of .271/.333/.517. Apparently the Pirates, who gave 371 plate appearances to Brant Brown that season, had no use for that kind of production. In 2000, the Pirates finished 69-93 while Hyzdu went back to Altoona for yet another year. Hyzdu had a legendary season, while Pirates first baseman Kevin Young posted an OPS of .744. According to Hyzdu’s zMLE translation, he would have hit .273/.375/.581 with 41(!) home runs with the Pirates. In 2001, Hyzdu finally received an extended opportunity at Triple-A. He posted decent numbers, but nothing impressive for a 29-year-old. He essentially became a Quad-A player after that.

Hyzdu definitely had flaws in his game. He didn’t hit for a consistent average, and I don’t believe he was much of a fielder (although he did play some center field later in his career). But he had legitimate big league power, and the type of skill set that should have led to a brief but solid peak in the show. However, Bonifay was unwilling to take a chance on Hyzdu, and he let the slugger waste his prime years in Altoona. Hyzdu became a legend with Curve fans, but he missed out on a decent major league career because of more Pirate mismanagement.

Maybe there is something I am missing with Hyzdu’s career. Maybe there was a legitimate reason for keeping him in the minors, one I am not seeing in hindsight. Again, I barely remember his time in the organization. But going strictly from his numbers, this is another clear mistake by Bonifay.

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Cutch’s First Career Dinger Paces Pirates Offense

Andrew McCutchen, Andy LaRoche and Adam LaRoche each homered and drove in a pair of runs as Ian Snell won for just the second time all year.

McCutchen hit a two run homer in the third. After Joe Crede’s two RBI knock tied the score in the home half of the fourth, Andy LaRoche hit a two run blast in the fourth to give the Priates the lead for goo.

Adam LaRoche added a solo dinger and an sac fly later in the game and Robinzon Diaz drove in two with a double.

Snell went six innings. He gave up five hits, three walks and two runs. Francisco Liriano was touched for four runs on eight hits in seven innings. John Grabow pitched two innings and Steven Jackson mopped up.

The Good

Happy with Snell’s outing and would glady take more.

The brothers LaRoche share for the active roster lead in RBI

The Bad

Delwyn Young only had one hit. He is clearly slumping.

The Rest

This was Snell’s second win of the year. Win #2 last year came on 4/12 of 2008. But his third win of 2008 didn’t come until June 11. So, he’s not that far behind the pace.

Joe Mauer is hitting .425 but is 41 at bats away from qualifying for the leader boards.

Andrew McCutchen is the third Pirate rookie to record his first career dinger this year (Robinzon Diaz and Jason Jaramillo). He homered in his 13th game. Bucco rookies who have homered in the first 10 games this decade:

Robinzon Diaz – 7th game- 2009

Nate McLouth – 9th game – 2005

Ray Sadler – 3rd game – 2005

John Van Benschoten – 2nd game – 2004

Jose Castillo – 8th game – 2004

Andy Barkett – 9th game – 2001

Rob Mackowiak – 9th game – 2001

Craig Wilson – 4th game – 2001

Adam Hyzdu – 6th game – 2000

Alex Hernandez – 7th game – 2000

Tike Redman – 7th game – 2000





Road trip to Altoona

Last night, I made my first trip to Altoona since 1999. It was then that, as a wide-eyed 15-year-old child, I watched in awe as Adam Hyzdu launched yet another home run to left. This was my first glimpse of most of the Curve players, and there were a few that I was very interested to see.
Obviously, Jose Tabata is the prospect to watch at an Altoona game. He looked very much like a talented young player in an advanced league. At times, he looked a bit out of sync at the plate, struggling to put a good swing on the ball. He hit a couple of fairly routine groundballs, and also popped a couple pitches just out of play down the right field line. He seemed to be pulling off the ball a bit on a few pitches. Of course, he showed flashes of his talent. He singled sharply back up the middle, catching the attention of the opposing pitcher in the process. In his final at-bat, he drove a ball to the track in left-center, about 390 feet from home plate. It was tracked down on an impressive play by the center fielder. He also stole third on a double steal, though his speed seemed to be just a tick above average.
I liked what I saw in Shelby Ford. He seemed very comfortable at the plate in going 2 for 5. He also showed off some pop, driving a ball 380 feet with an effortless swing. He seemed to have some decent speed, easily legging that drive into a triple.
Jamie Romak singled in his first at-bat, catching me off guard a bit. He followed that up by walking, striking out and homering. Thatís the Romak I know. Due to the high strikeout numbers, I expected to see some huge holes in his swing. But he made pretty consistent contact, making it apparent that it is his general approach that needs tweaked. He went fishing on the strikeout, but otherwise looked pretty impressive with the bat. I have been a fan of Romakís since he was acquired, and I was encouraged by my first in-person look at him.
James Boone hit a bomb to right, the ball disappearing through the rollercoaster track beyond the fence. Impressive shot.
I knew going in that Brad Corley had poor plate discipline. He struck out three times, chasing pitches all over the place.
Jonel Pacheco looked decent at the plate. I don’t know much about him, but I recall that earlier in the season, Frank Coonelly mentioned him as a player to watch in Altoona. He’s put up mostly mediocre numbers this year.
Reliever Juan Mateo looked very good. He has quietly pitched well since being acquired from the Cubs this season, posting a 2.32 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in 62 innings. He threw almost all fastballs, sitting consistently in the low 90ís and touching 93. He didnít display overpowering stuff, but located the fastball well both inside and away. It was a nice little performance.
Yoslan Herrera pitched pretty well. He showed good velocity, dialing it up to 92 on occasion, and was efficient with his pitches. It would have been an encouraging start if he were about four years younger.
Jim Negrych did not play.
All in all, the Curve were teeing off on a last place team. They battered starting pitcher Jean Machi, sending him to the showers after just two innings. The bats cooled off a bit after the bullpen got involved, but it was a fun game to watch.
It appears that Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters was also at the game. He proved to possess better investigative skills than I do, and came up with some speculation on the PTBNL in the Jose Bautista trade.

Pirates Hope to Play Spoiler Role Against Mets

Last September, the Mets came into town with a chance to clinch a division title. The Pirates weren’t having any of it, sweeping New York in arguably the most exciting three-game set I’ve attended at PNC Park.
Today’s series won’t have that same feel—I doubt thousands of Met fans will make the trip to Pittsburgh as they did last year—but the Pirates have an opportunity to play the spoiler role again. New York sits in first in the NL East, but is holding the slimmest of leads over the Phillies and Braves. They should be expecting to dominate this series, and we have a chance to disappoint them again.
In any case, it’s another meaningless series to us, but the guys in the other dugout have a lot riding on the last month and a half of the season. Their blogosphere’s treating these games accordingly.
D.J. Short writes at the ever-popular, and I answered a handful of Pirate-related questions for him as a preview of sorts. You’ll be able to read that exchange a little later today.
UPDATE: Here’s the Q&A.
Joe Janish from was also kind enough to contribute his $.02 on a few questions I had about the blue and orange. His entertaining answers are blockquoted below.
PLC: The Mets took a reliever, Joe Smith, in the third round of 2006’s draft, and then another, Edward Kunz, in the supplemental first round this season. (The Pirates were widely criticized for selecting Daniel Moskos fourth overall.) Having seen Smith’s quick ascension to the bigs, do you buy into the idea of drafting major-league ready relievers in the early rounds? Can you describe how Smith was used in the Mets’ bullpen, and perhaps give some insight into the Mets’ plans for Kunz’ development?

MT: Omar Minaya hit paydirt with Chad Cordero a few years back [as general manager of the Expos], and since then has had an eye out for similarly polished relievers in the draft. To me, it makes a heckuva lot of sense—if you can find the right guy. After all, a relief pitcher needs only one dominant pitch to succeed in the bigs these days, and if it’s an MLB-ready pitch, why not throw the kid into the fire and see what happens?
With Smith, there were a few factors at play. First of all is Willie Randolph’s obsession with pitchers who “bring the funk, give a different look”—this is his way of saying “sidearm/submarine pitcher.” I’ll have to check the stats someday, but my guess is Willie was confounded by Dan Quisenberry in his playing days. In any case, when the Mets let Chad Bradford go, someone had to step in to take over the funkadelic role. Secondly, Smith pitched absolutely lights out all spring training, and when it was learned that both Duaner Sanchez and Juan Padilla would be out for the year, Smith’s performance could not be ignored.
Smith was used at first as a ROOGY—coming in to face righthanded batters in tight situations. He did well, I think, for two reasons: he has good stuff, and no one had ever seen him before. After he got around the league, and scouting reports were built, his performance went down somewhat. Randolph over-used him in the early months, and since he’d never pitched in more than 30 games in college, became fatigued after 40+ in MLB. He’ll be back, eventually.
As for Kunz, the Mets have him closing for Brooklyn in rookie/short-season ball. He’s pitched in 3 games and has an ERA over 10. Since he hasn’t done much since signing, it’s hard to guess how quickly he’ll rise in the organization. From what I hear, though, they chose him specifically for his potential to move up quickly.

The Pirates desperately need to acquire a legitimate bat this off-season, and dangling a young starting pitcher might be the most effective way of picking up a useful player. Is Lastings Milledge ever going to earn full-time at-bats in a Met uniform, or is he a candidate to be traded? Would you deal a young outfielder for one of the Pirates’ starters? Seems to have worked out nicely for you in the past.

Milledge has been one of the Mets’ top run producers since the All-Star break, and is certainly the most exciting player after Jose Reyes. With Shawn Green playing like Pat Meares, Milledge should be getting the opportunity to at least platoon in RF. My guess is he’ll get significant playing time from now through the end of the season, but there’s a good chance he’s dealt in the winter. The Mets ownership is not fond of Milledge, so I see him going away in a package for a young arm. Billy Beane may offer Joe Blanton … would you be willing to part with Gorzelanny?

Is Oliver Perez a stopper—if you hand him the ball in times of trouble, do you feel confident that he’ll pull out a win? Does Omar Minaya have compromising photos of Dave Littlefield?

Two weeks ago, I would have said that Ollie was a stopper. However, his last four starts have been awful, so I’m starting to backpedal on that thought. If and when the Mets get to the postseason, though, I do have confidence in Perez to come up big—he seems to really get amped up for big games. Minaya doesn’t NEED compromising photos of Littlefield—this is the same Littlefield who extended Jack Wilson’s contract and continues to carry Tony Armas Jr. on the 25-man, right? In actuality, Perez for Nady turned out to be a pretty sweet deal for both sides, dontcha think?

Who’s the Mets’ backstop on Opening Day 2008? We heard Ronny Paulino’s name mentioned in rumors earlier this season (though it seems hard to believe the Pirates would ship him out given our lack of catching depth).

The Mets starting catcher in 2008 is currently wearing someone else’s uniform. LoDuca will not come back unless he hits the game-winning grand slam homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the 2007 World Series. I’ve always thought of Paulino as a future Met, don’t ask why. Maybe he’ll be part of the deal for Milledge.

The Mets have a better record on the road than they do at home, and you’re catching the Pirates right after they played five games in four days on two coasts. Any excuse not to sweep? Thursday’s probable starter, Brian Lawrence, is a guy the Pirates kicked the tires on this past winter—how confident are you in his abilities?

The Mets had no excuse not to sweep the Marlins over the weekend and nearly got swept instead—so my faith is waning and I’m not making any predictions. It may be helpful if the Pirates forget to show up at game time—or go to Shea accidentally—and therefore give the Mets a win by forfeit.
As for Lawrence, I have zero confidence in his abilities. However, he—like Jorge Sosa—spent some time with the Mets’ AAA club in New Orleans. Not sure if you’ve ever been down there, but they have some wicked women who cast spells and sell magic potions. That said, Lawrence has been remarkably effective in his two starts, offering up 81-MPH fastballs without movement and a little league curveball (you know, the kind that goes sideways?). If he pitches in Pittsburgh, beware. Not sure if it’s the power of hoodoo, voodoo, or Adam Hyzdu, but it’s pretty freaky. Walk cautiously, and beware of barking hound dogs and amphibians falling from the sky.

Thanks to D.J. and Joe for thinking of Pittsburgh Lumber Co., and an extra tip of the cap to Joe for his insight. You can find their work at MetsBlog and MetsToday.