The Cautionary Tale of Tim Alderson


A couple days ago I was testing my memory — and failed. No big news there, but it bugged me that I couldn’t remember the name of the pitcher Pittsburgh picked up for fan favorite Freddy Sanchez.

Do you ever have that feeling where the name is on the tip of your tongue but can’t remember it? Anyways, the following is my recollection of Tim Alderson’s journey.


The Pirates acquired Alderson, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound righthander, for second baseman, Freddy Sanchez, in late July of 2009.

Alderson, 20 years of age at the time of the deal, was mentioned in the same breath as a prospect as fellow San Francisco pitchers, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

How could a pitcher who was ranked twice in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects flop so badly?

Alderson, who ascended as high as 45th in Baseball America’s rankings in 2009, has never pitched in the major leagues. After parts of five years within Pittsburgh’s system, the organization traded him to Baltimore for first baseman/outfielder, Russ Canzler, last summer.

Sanchez likely held the most trade value of any Pirates player when the team looked to shed itself of veterans in 2009.

What happened?

I made the trip to Double-A Altoona to watch Alderson’s third start for the Curve. He was coming off ack-to-back wins for his new team, allowing only two earned runs in 11.2 IP with two walks and seven strikeouts. That was likely the high-water mark of his time with Pittsburgh.

He gave up five runs in 3.1 innings against the Portland Sea Dogs on Aug. 13, the night I saw him pitch. His velocity was terrible and his delivery looked like a thousand legger crawling up my wall. Alderson was sitting 86 mph with his fastball. Blair County Ballpark, as it was so named, was notorious for taking a couple of miles per hour off speed, but this was ridiculous.

Trusting Baseball America, I wondered if Alderson was simply nursing an injury because if this was the product the Pirates were getting for their top trade bait, well, it just wouldn’t work out.

Between Alderson’s funky delivery and whatever other problems beset him, his quick ascent toward the major leagues fizzled in a big way. He ended up spending parts of four years with Altoona. The righty made it to Triple-A as a reliever in 2013, where his 2.79 ERA was Alderson’s best since he was a part of the Giants system. Unfortunately, with Baltimore he compiled a 6.27 ERA in Triple-A after the trade.
Alderson’s journey serves as a cautionary tale.

Right now, the Pirates farm system is being universally lauded as one of the best, if not the best, in all of baseball.

Nationally and locally, Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco are being penciled in as major contributors after the Super 2 arbitration period passes sometime in June.

Taillon and Polanco deserve the accolades they’re receiving, but it would be unwise to forget the forgettable Tim Alderson.

While the organization should be applauded for collecting a bumper crop of prospects, Alderson shows that sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.


Treasure Life!

PS – Funny thing about Tim Alderson is that he’s homered three times in 35 career at-bats and holds a .786 OPS.

Click here for a link to Tim Alderson’s career numbers.


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