Spikes Didn’t Offer Demands For Player Development

There have been a lot of confusing aspects to the State College/Pirates relationship, which ended last week when the Spikes signed a two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. There have been a lot of conflicting reports, some speculation, and some comments taken out of context. As an example of the conflicting reports, I’ve seen that the Pirates wanted four years and the Spikes wanted two years. I’ve also seen that the Spikes wanted four years and the Pirates wanted two years.

One of the big misconception is that the Spikes were trying to offer suggestions for player development. In Rob Biertempfel’s piece about the Spikes moving on, he has the following comment.

Sources say the Pirates accepted very little feedback from the Spikes on things such as how to market the club.

Note that has nothing to do with player development. Yet the idea is floating around that the Spikes were offering feedback on the player development side. It might be because people took the “feedback” comment and applied it to every aspect of the team, including player development.

I spoke with Spikes General Manager Jason Dambach about this, and he noted that the Spikes never offered demands to the Pirates on player development. Whether it was pitch counts, player moves, on-field moves, or any other player development issue, the Spikes left those decisions up to the Pirates.

There was a lot of attention paid to the team record at the start of the year. However, that didn’t play a factor in the end, even though the Spikes had another losing season as a Pirates affiliate. The Spikes were still willing to sign a two-year deal as late as the deadline on Saturday at midnight, but by then the Pirates were moving in a different direction, obviously heading to Jamestown with the speculated move to Morgantown in the future.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

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.

Pirates Sign Two Year Deal With Jamestown

Next Story »

Exploring the Arsenal – Marco Estrada

  • wtmiller

    That wasn’t Biertempfel’s original piece. He originally wrote this:

    “Sources with the Spikes say the Pirates issued rules and requests — everything from how high players’ socks should be to pitch counts and innings limits — and accepted very little feedback.”

    Dambach himself explicitly complained in the media that the Spikes weren’t winning enough and explicitly threatened to move to a new affiliation if the team didn’t win more this year. Everything the Pirates do on the field at that level is player development, so that most definitely was a complaint about how they were approaching it. His comments now are inconsistent with what he said earlier and inconsistent with what Biertempfel originally wrote.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I didn’t see the original comment, so that makes a little more sense on how the connection could be drawn. However, the Spikes winning and player development are two different things. Player development deals with pitch counts, innings limits, what pitches to throw, etc. The Spikes were never trying to influence the player development side.

      Even with the “winning” comments in June, and another losing season, the Spikes were still willing to re-sign. I think it was blown out of proportion earlier. It was never “win this year, or we’re looking elsewhere”, even though it may have been presented that way. It was just that the Spikes were going to explore their options after the season, rather than automatically re-signing.

      • wtmiller

        “The Spikes were never trying to influence the player development side.”

        Biertempfel’s original post indicated otherwise. And I can’t imagine why he’d throw in comments about pitch counts and innings limits if whoever he was talking to didn’t bring it up.

        As for Dambach’s comments in June, I’ve never seen anything like that from a minor league affiliate. Coonelly told Corey Giger that those comments changed the Pirates’ thinking, and understandably so.


        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          There might be a reason Biertempfel changed it then.

          I’ve never seen those types of comments either. But then again, you don’t usually hear comments from minor league affiliates. It’s usually just an announcement when the deal is extended, or when the two sides split.

  • wtmiller

    Just to get the facts, here were Dambach’s comments:

    “We’re not one of these ownership groups that demands a winner every single year, but we haven’t even put playoff tickets on sale,” Spikes general manager Jason Dambach said. “We’ve never really even come close to the playoffs.

    “So the mandate has been put out there. We didn’t have a good team last year, and so it really doesn’t make any sense to re-sign with the Pirates until September, if we are to do that.”


    That’s most definitely a complaint about player development. And I’ll add that an affiliate ripping the parent organization in the media for not winning enough is something I’ve never seen before or since.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I don’t think that’s necessarily on player development. I think you can develop players and still win. The development approach in State College isn’t really much different from the GCL, West Virginia, or Bradenton. West Virginia has been losing, but the other two teams have won, even with the same approach.

      There were complaints about winning, but I don’t think you need to sacrifice player development to win. If you want to guarantee a winner, then you probably have to do that. But there were never any comments saying they wanted a guaranteed winner. Just that they weren’t satisfied with the lack of winning, and would consider other options.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    Morgantown? ANOTHER team in West Virginia? Great. I wish they’d feel a little more loyalty to the state they are in, rather than the owners home state. And that will make the travel that much more expensive, at least Jamestown is closer to the rest of the NY Penn league. Note that West Virginia isn’t in the name.

    • buccotime57

      morgantown is only and hour an twenty away from pittsburgh..a lot of pittsburgh citizens go to WVU..it would generate a lot of fan interest…

      • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

        And, it’s in the state of West Virginia. Along with Charleston. What, Wheeling need a team too? It adds to the travel budget to the NY PENN league, and adds to travel time. Who wants to make the bus trips longer? People in Morgantown can go to Pittsburgh.

        • buccotime57

          This new facility would be a massive improvement to the organization (jamestown is not a good facility)..the younger players would be closer to pittsburgh and if someone was promoted or demoted they would be closer to charlestown…it would also be under the control of the pirates…i am often jealous of clevelands system that is all in ohio except one(niles, akron, columbus, lake county)..morgantown would be close so people who were interested would go…do u have a differnt suggestion of somewhere to go? I mean washington/erie would be good but i am not sure it is possible.

          • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

            They were in State College, for goodness sakes. They also were in Williamsport for a long time. Morgantown just bleeds fans from Pittsburgh. If the current turmoil gets Kyle Stark fired, well at least that’s a silver lining. He is SO unqualified, it should mean Neil’s job too. I want REAL player development, not psychobabble and Seal training.

  • buccotime57

    Now if the pirates moved them to morgantown would that become the permanent home for the pirates…would they have to buy the jammers… do they own the marauders? It was my understanding they bought them and moved them…Do MLB teams own some minor league teams..i know most are independently owned

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    1 day ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    3 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    5 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    7 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles