Pirates Notebook: Brandon Moss, The Draft, and Twitter

There’s no questioning the fact that Brandon Moss had a horrible start to the season. His .203 average in 59 April at bats, with no homers during that stretch, really hurt the Pirates. I wrote at the end of April about how Moss is much better after April in his minor league career, suggesting we might have another Adam LaRoche situation on our hands. His play in the last week might be proving that to be true.

Moss now has a hit in seven of his eleven starts in the month of May. He’s now hitting .279 for the month of May in 39 at bats, with one homer and five RBIs. Furthermore, in the last four games Moss is 9 for 16 with that one homer, recording multiple hits in all four games.

The Pirates need this type of production from Moss. Craig Monroe is hitting .250 with two homers, but both homers came in one game. Eric Hinske is a career .254 hitter, and his .250 average this season matches that, but he was mostly brought on for his power. Hinske hit 20 homers last season in a similar role for Tampa Bay, but has no homers in 40 at bats this season.

So far no one has really stepped up for the Pirates in right field this season. Andrew McCutchen isn’t exactly lighting up AAA, with a .289 average, although he does have a .298 average in May, thanks to a .389 average in 36 at bats over his last ten games. Let’s hope that Moss has finally turned things on, and that this recent performance continues.

The Draft Update

I plan on doing a Draft Prospects Rundown tomorrow, but here is a quick update from the weekend:

-Aaron Crow made his first regular season start for the Fort Worth Cats. Crow went 5 innings, allowing two hits and no runs, while walking two and striking out nine to get the win. With more performances like this, I’d strongly consider Crow at #4 if Dustin Ackley is gone.

-Alex White went seven innings in his most recent start, allowing two earned runs, walking one, and striking out six. He hasn’t exactly been the most dominating pitcher this season, with a 9.6 K/9 and a 2.8 K/BB (compare to Kyle Gibson, who has a 11.3 K/9 and a 7.7 K/BB this season).

-Kendal Volz, Andy Oliver, and James Paxton all got destroyed in their recent starts. None are in the running for the number four pick, but it would be amazing if one fell to #49. That’s highly unlikely though, unless we see a Tanner Scheppers injury-situation (which wouldn’t be ideal).

-Apparently the Pirates are interested in high school pitchers Shelby Miller and Jacob Turner, according to this ESPN blog post (you have to be an Insider to access). Unfortunately I can’t find detailed stats for either player to make a player profile. I like Miller the best of the two. He throws consistently between 92 and 96 MPH. Tyler Matzek is still considered the best prep pitcher in the draft.

-Baseball America has the Pirates taking Kyle Gibson with the fourth pick in their first mock draft, with Dustin Ackley and Grant Green off the board. Not that I don’t like Gibson, but his high pitch counts worry me, plus I like Aaron Crow and Tyler Matzek over him (and that’s before the start by Crow on Friday). Interesting note: Rich Poythress wasn’t taken in this mock draft (which only included the first round, and not the compensation picks).

-Tanner Scheppers makes his first regular season start tonight. He was limited to 75 pitches, and threw 73 pitches in five innings. He allowed one run on five hits in those five innings, walking one and striking out three, with two batters grounding in to double plays. Not a bad professional debut for Scheppers, although he didn’t receive a decision for his efforts.

Twitter Updates

I will be providing Twitter updates at the following games:

-Monday 5/18: Pirates @ Nationals (Ross Ohlendorf on the mound)
-Tuesday 5/26: Lynchburg Hillcats vs Salem Red Sox (Chi-Hung Cheng, 3-1/4.41 ERA, is expected to start)
-June 9th, 5:30 PM: Not a Twitter event, but I’ll be live blogging on the MLB Draft, which begins at 6 PM…I’ll have more info up in the coming week

Subscribe to my Twitter feed to get the updates (as well as updates to the site).

The MVP Tracker

Updates to the MVP Tracker from the last few games:

Thursday: Negative points for Evan Meek, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Robinzon Diaz, and Jack Wilson

Friday: Negative points for Matt Capps, Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez, and Jack Wilson

Saturday: Points for Nate McLouth, Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, Sean Burnett, and Delwyn Young

Other Stuff

-The Pirates traded Romulo Sanchez to the New York Yankees for Eric Hacker. To make room on the 40-man roster, Phil Dumatrait was moved to the 60-day DL. I’m not sure why they didn’t just move Jimmy Barthmaier to the 60-day DL, as he is out for the season with Tommy John surgery.

This is Hacker’s first season on the 40-man roster. He has a split contract, making $32,500 while in the minors, and $400 K in the majors. In 16 innings at AAA this year, Hacker had 12 strikeouts, 4 walks, but a killer 3 homers and 14 earned runs. Considering he only allowed 19 hits and 23 base runners, I’d say the 7.88 ERA is a little fluky. In his career at AA he has a 92:35 K/BB ratio in 106.1 innings, with three homers and a 2.96 ERA. He’s 26 years old, and has been in the Yankees system since he was 19. If he’s going to do anything, he needs to do it soon, although this move feels like bullpen depth, and a cheap gamble.

The 2009 40-man roster, and the Payroll Commitments Chart pages are both updated with the move.

-Craig Hansen threw a 20 pitch bullpen session Friday, according to the PPG. The plan goes as follows: bullpen session on Sunday, if that goes well he goes to Pirate City in Florida on Monday for three sideline sessions and three extended Spring Training games before beginning a re

hab assignment.

Interesting situation here: who gets the boot when Hansen returns? My vote goes to Tyler Yates. Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez have been the best in the Pirates’ bullpen. You can’t get rid of John Grabow. Evan Meek has walked a lot, but still has a decent ERA. That leaves Veal, who needs to stay on the 25-man roster all season (and who has a 4.15 ERA, despite a ton of walks), and Yates. Yates has allowed ten earned runs in 12 innings this year. He’s also in his second year of arbitration, and due for a raise next year on his $1.3 M salary. With Chavez pitching so well, the Pirates could afford to lose Yates.

Of course, Hansen hasn’t exactly been lights out, with a 5.68 ERA this year in 6.1 innings. Maybe they’ll send Meek down in order to retain everyone in the short term. Meek and Chavez are the only two players who can be sent down to AAA, and there’s no way they send Chavez down now.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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