The big news this week was the departure of Wandy Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates. Rodriguez will be replaced in the rotation by Brandon Cumpton, who has an opportunity to claim his spot for good. Ryan Palencer wrote about why the choice of Cumpton from Triple-A was the obvious one to make for the Pirates. I revisited the Rodriguez trade, which sent Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens, and Colton Cain to Houston in 2012.
**Earlier in the week, I wondered how long the Pirates could give Edinson Volquez. I think Volquez will get a longer leash than Rodriguez. He has shown flashes of good performances this year, which is something we barely saw out of Rodriguez. He also has better numbers, and his ERA has been inflated by an unlucky HR/FB ratio. After a good start this week, Volquez has a 4.37 ERA and a 4.16 xFIP. That’s not a pitcher you rush to replace, especially since the guys who would replace him aren’t expected to do much better than that xFIP.
**The Pirates also activated Jason Grilli from the DL. In his first game back, he picked up a save. Grilli has been good this year as the closer, outside of the two games against Milwaukee where he blew back-to-back save opportunities. That came right before his injury. You hope that those outings were injury related, and that Grilli can get back to being a dominant closer. The Pirates need that, since they’ve given a lot of games away in the late innings this year.
**Josh Harrison has been on fire lately, and I looked at where he could play when Gregory Polanco arrives in the majors.
**On a related subject, I wrote about why the Super Two process is unfair to Gregory Polanco, and why the Pirates have to avoid Super Two because of how MLB is unfair to small market teams.
Here are a few of the top prospect reports this week.
**John Kokales writes about Nick Kingham’s Drop in Velocity and Increase in Walks.
**John Kokales also features Adrian Sampson and his search for consistency.
**Ryan Palencer writes about how Tyler Waldron is seeing success at all levels with a new pitch.
**Scott Sypien saw Dovydas Neverauskas Flashing a Plus Fastball.
**In our weekly top ten features, I wrote about how there are Several Indianapolis Starters Gunning For Edinson Volquez’s Spot. Volquez bought himself some time with his start this week. Meanwhile, Gregory Polanco isn’t the only hitter in the system who is on fire.
**Speaking of Polanco, he was named International League Player of the Week last week.
**Pirates Sign Outfielder Nathan Tomaszewski. He should be a roster filler for one of the lower level teams.
**Here are the minor league recaps from this week, highlighting all of the notable prospect performances each day. Many of these also feature live game recaps and prospect reports on some of the top players in the system.
- Homer From Alen Hanson, Reese McGuire Keeps Hitting
- Gregory Polanco Hits Sixth Homer; Reese McGuire Continues Streak
- Willy Garcia hits two home runs
- Nick Kingham and Jason Creasy Continue the Trend of Strong Pitching
- Brandon Cumpton Leads an Amazing Night of Minor League Pitching
- Home Run From Josh Bell, Reese McGuire Extends Hit Streak
- Stetson Allie Crushes Two Home Runs
**And here are the Prospect Highlights from this last week, looking at clips of some of the best plays from the top prospects over the last week.
- Homers From Gregory Polanco and Mel Rojas Jr.
- Willy Garcia’s Big Day, Home Run From Chris Dickerson
- Willy Garcia Triple, Long Homer From Chris McGuiness
- Fine Defensive Play By Alen Hanson
- Double From Alen Hanson, Two Key Hits By Mel Rojas Jr.
- The Alen Hanson Show
The 2014 draft is less than two weeks away and a lot of the top players, especially high school players, have seen their season end. There isn’t much the players could do at this point to help their case with so little time left between now and the first day of the draft. That means that the mock drafts from the experts will give us a better sense of who could be going where. As we saw this week, the recent mock drafts have names that we have heard before, so the group the Pirates are concentrating on is getting smaller. They may have eyes on certain guys, hoping they fall on draft day, but there is a shorter list of likely picks now.
**New Mock Draft From Jim Callis Has Pirates Going For Toolsy Prep Outfielder Monte Harrison is a name we have heard before for the Pirates and he keeps falling in their range.
**Third Mock Draft From Baseball America, Same as the First For Pirates BA went with Harrison in their second mock draft, but the other two times they picked Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber.
**Baseball America Releases Top 200 Draft Prospect List Before they expand their list to 500, BA gives you 100 more names to know. Many have scouting reports and videos.
**2014 Pirates Draft Prospects: Derek Fisher, Monte Harrison, Tyler Beede, Sean Reid-Foley Get to know more about Monte Harrison and three other players mentioned in the Pirates range.
**New Mock Draft and Rankings From Scout.com Kiley McDaniel rates his top players, then gives his best guess of how the draft could play out. He picks Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino for the Pirates.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Two New Mock Drafts, One New Name For Pirates News, notes and mock drafts from this wrap-up of last weekend.