The past week has seen the Pittsburgh Pirates organization get hit by the injury bug. Fortunately, most of the injuries aren’t major or long-term issues. Unfortunately, three of the top four prospects in the system will start the minor league season in extended Spring Training. Here is the rundown:
**Jameson Taillon Sidelined With “A Little Bit of Elbow Discomfort”. He will take two weeks off and then it should take him two weeks to get built up for the season. He could end up missing the first month in Indianapolis.
**Tyler Glasnow to Miss the Start of the Regular Season. He’s got a tight lower back, but he’s expected to throw a sim game on Monday. That could put him on track to only miss the first two weeks of the season in Bradenton.
**Austin Meadows Expected to Miss the Start of the West Virginia Season. He’s been recovering with a hamstring injury, and will probably spend the first few weeks in extended Spring Training before going to West Virginia.
**Clay Holmes Has Tommy John Surgery. This is the one major injury. Holmes will miss the 2014 season, but should be ready to go for Spring Training next year.
**Chris Stewart Has Minor Knee Surgery. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks, although he hopes he will be back sooner. Neal Huntington said the Pirates won’t trade for a backup catcher, and will go with Tony Sanchez to back up Russell Martin until Stewart returns.
**Francisco Liriano Leaves as a Precaution With Groin Tightness. He’s still day-to-day.
Transactions and Rumors
The Pirates cut eight players from Major League Camp this week. After the cuts, I wrote about how the Pirates’ roster is starting to take shape. One twist was the news that the Pirates are shopping Jose Tabata. We know they’re going to have to shop a relief pitcher since there are eight relievers for seven spots. It seems the most likely to go will be Vin Mazzaro.
The Pirates also released some players in the minor leagues this week.
There weren’t many big surprises from the players released, although the two Cuban players (Cesar Lopez and Carlos Mesa) combined for almost $1.1 M in bonuses. The Pirates haven’t had the success in Cuba that they’ve had in the Dominican Republic and other areas.
**Pirates Have Talked Extension With Starling Marte. A report that came out last night from Rob Biertempfel, noting that Marte has turned down two offers.
The minor league season starts about a week after the major league season, although rosters are already taking shape. This week we learned that Wyatt Mathisen is moving to third base. That’s a move that will push Erich Weiss to second base in West Virginia. The current West Virginia roster looks loaded with prospects. Reese McGuire will be behind the plate. The infield will have Mathisen, Weiss, JaCoby Jones at shortstop, and Edwin Espinal at first base. The outfield will have Barrett Barnes, Harold Ramirez, and Austin Meadows when he’s healthy.
Luis Heredia will return to West Virginia to start the year. I saw him twice in the last week. Here is a video of him pitching against several top hitting prospects. Later in the week he hit 95 MPH, while throwing four shutout innings. Buddy Borden is another interesting pitching prospect who will start the year in West Virginia. We had a live report on Borden here.
**Polanco and Taillon Make Top 20 Rookie List. Those two will be a big boost to the team once mid-June rolls around.
**The Edinson Volquez Experiment Isn’t Looking Good Right Now. I wrote this before his start against the Yankees. The article points out how Volquez is making some mechanical adjustments with mixed results. He’ll look good one inning, and horrible the next. In his last two outings (including the Yankees outing) he has struggled early, then hit a groove and looked great in the later innings. Obviously the Pirates are going to want to eliminate the early struggles. The late success is an encouraging sign. The only question is whether Volquez can gain consistency with his mechanics. He only has time for one more start before the regular season begins.
Keith Law released his list of the top 50 draft prospects and in reinforced what we already knew early on, this draft class is top-heavy with pitching. In the early going, there have been at least 30 pitchers mentioned that have first round talent. While that doesn’t say much for the bats in this draft, there are a lot of hitters that fall in the second round range. Many of them are corner infielders, so there is no reason to just grab a bat in the first round or risk not getting a hitter with the ceiling of a major league regular at a position of need. There is no telling where the Pirates will go for their first round pick, you hope for best player available, but there is a great chance that a high ceiling high school pitcher, or a solid mid-rotation college starter will be available when they choose.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Matt Imhof Is Worth Watching The Friday night starter from Cal Poly has turned some heads early in the season and he gets added to the list of players to watch
**Draft Prospect Watch: Pair of Prep Lefties Making Waves Tons of draft news and notes, plus a report on LHP Mac Marshall
**Draft Prospect Watch: Rodon Gets Outpitched By Stinnett A former Pirates draft pick that didn’t sign, out-duels the top college pitcher in baseball, and it isn’t even close.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Max Pentecost Homers, Drives In Six Runs A recap of the weekend for the best college hitters and a match-up between two of the best high school players.