The second week of the MLB season saw the Pittsburgh Pirates go 2-4, putting them at 6-6 overall at the end of the week. The loss to the Milwaukee Brewers today marks the first time the Pirates have been at .500 since April 19th of last season. They started last year 6-6 as well. The offense struggled this week, leading to a lot of calls for Gregory Polanco to come up. Meanwhile, in the minor leagues, the injuries continued. Here are the highlights from the past week.
This week the Pirates had some poor offense, leading to a three game sweep over the weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers. Meanwhile, Gregory Polanco had a huge week with Indianapolis (more on that below). The calls have already started for Polanco to make the jump to the majors to save the offense.
Coincidentally, the estimate for the Super Two cutoff came out this week. I talked about the impact that has on Gerrit Cole and Gregory Polanco. In Polanco’s case, Super Two status is a big reason why he will remain down, even though he’s hitting well early in the season. I wrote about what Polanco would need to do to justify the extra money from Super Two status. In short? He’d need to play like an MVP for two months in his rookie season. That’s highly unrealistic.
The Pirates shouldn’t be under any real pressure to call up Polanco right now. The spot he’d replace has been one of the few productive spots, with Travis Snider hitting well so far. Andrew McCutchen has been struggling, but you’re not going to replace him. It’s early, so both of those performances come with the “Small Sample Size” disclaimer. But then again, so does Polanco’s performance.
**An Early Look at the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation. Right now it looks like they’re going to be in need of some outside help next off-season.
**The First Look at the Pirates Playoff Odds in 2014. We’ll have another update on Monday, and each Monday for the rest of the season.
**How the Cardinals View the Pirates as Competitors. A link to an article from St. Louis, where the view on the Pirates is much more favorable than it seems to be in Pittsburgh.
**Jeff Locke made his final rehab start this week, dominating with his fastball. After the start, he was activated from the DL, and optioned to Triple-A. I talked with Locke after his rehab start in Bradenton, and we discussed how the current 25-man roster doesn’t have a spot for him. If Wandy Rodriguez continues to struggle, combined with low velocity, that could create the opportunity Locke needs.
**Chris Stewart is nearing the end of his rehab, having it recently moved to Indianapolis. Stewart caught a full game today for the first time, which will put him on pace to return soon. Earlier in the week I wrote about Tony Sanchez, Chris Stewart, and the Depth vs Best 25 debate. I’m guessing there will be more people in support of Stewart returning after the costly throwing error from Sanchez against the Brewers.
**Vin Mazzaro was outrighted to Indianapolis this week. Because he has three years of service time in the majors, and because he had previously been outrighted to Triple-A, he had the option of becoming a free agent. However, he decided to accept the assignment to Indianapolis.
Injuries have been a big theme in the minor league system this year, and that continued this week. Early in the week, Harold Ramirez and Barrett Barnes were placed on the DL in West Virginia with leg injuries. Jameson Taillon underwent successful Tommy John surgery later in the week, which was expected, and which should keep him out for about one year.
On Friday, Luis Heredia was pulled from his start with shoulder discomfort. Today we learned that Heredia’s injury isn’t considered major, although the big test will be whether he can make his next start. If you count Heredia in the injury list, then five of the top ten prospects coming into the year have dealt with injuries this season. That’s 6 of 12 if you expand it to include Clay Holmes, who was our number 12 prospect, and had Tommy John surgery.
At this rate, the cover of the 2015 Prospect Guide will have a picture of Dr. James Andrews.
**Here are the minor league recaps from this week, highlighting all of the notable prospect performances each day.
- Stetson Allie and JaCoby Jones Lead a Night of Home Runs
- Sadler With Another Strong Start; McGuire Picks Up Three Hits
- Three Hits For Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco and Stetson Allie
- Two More Hits For Polanco, Kingham With Another Good Start
- Four Hits, Including a Homer For Gregory Polanco, Heredia Hurt
- Irwin and Rodriguez Have Bad Starts, Polanco Continues Streak
**Our new Indianapolis writer, Ryan Palencer, takes a look at what Andrew Lambo has been working on since being optioned to Triple-A.
**We’ve been running a Prospect Highlights series recently, posting a quick video of the top plays that are available online. Most of them this week were of Gregory Polanco.
- Gregory Polanco’s Two RBI Infield Single to First Base
- Gregory Polanco’s Speed, Andrew Lambo, Chris Dickerson
- Willy Garcia’s Walk Off Homer; Cody Dickson Strikes Out 7
- Polanco Crushes a HR, McGuire Shows Off a Cannon
- Gregory Polanco’s Second Homer of the Year
The draft is less than eight weeks away now, which basically means that the college season has passed the halfway mark and most high school players are well into their season. That last part isn’t true for one top pitcher though, Scott Blewett from Baldwinsville, NY. The 6’6″ righty is highly projectable and already looks like a top pitcher. His season opened up this week and while he was only hitting 91 MPH with his fastball, scouts expect more as the New York weather becomes more favorable. Blewett has been mentioned often in the Pirates range, but now is when we will see if he can exceed expectations and work his way up the draft, or will the Pirates get the chance to select him and see what they can get out of him once he gets in the system.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Jake Stinnett Makes Huge Jump From Last Year Catching up on former Pirates picks, as well as plenty of high school news and notes.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Monte Harrison Moves Into Pirates Range Recap of the top college bats this weekend and a new player to keep an eye on.
**Draft Prospect Watch:Kyle Freeland Strikes Out 15 Again Friday night starters in college, Kyle Freeland has moved well up the charts.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Baseball America Updates Rankings New rankings from Baseball America gives us some new names to follow
**Draft Prospect Watch: Justus Sheffield Throws No-Hitter Some early week news, including a couple prep pitchers performing well