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Morning Report: 2014 Draft Pick With Eye-Popping Numbers

When the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted John Sever in the 20th round this year, it didn’t get much attention. He is a 6’5″ lefty that can get it into the 90’s with his fastball, so that obviously warrants some attention, but being drafted so low and not requiring a big bonus, he got lost in the shuffle. He also had some control issues this year, wasn’t rated high and the scouting reports said he needed work on his secondary pitches.  That being said, the numbers that he has put up this year at Bristol are off the charts.

Sever has made 12 appearances out of the bullpen, though he has developed into more of a piggyback starter recently, seeing as many as 5.1 innings in his last outing and reaching three innings in each of his last four appearances. He has thrown a total of 26.2 innings and he has given up just one earned run. There is also his K/BB ratio to talk about. It sits at 44:6 and it needs to be repeated that he’s done that in 26.2 innings. For comparison, Sever ranks tied for 71st in the Appalachian League in innings pitched and he’s tied for tenth in strikeouts.

Here is the thing about Sever in the Appalachian League. The average age for pitchers in the league is 20.6 years and it’s not really a league meant for college pitchers, at least not ones that pitched at a major college. The average age for batters in 20.2 years, so they are even younger as a group. With three years of college, Sever is pitching in a league that is well below the level of competition he saw in school. There is also the part about being the lefty. A southpaw that can throw strikes, usually does well in the lower levels because even the right-handed batters at this point in their career have trouble with them. They haven’t seen many lefties that can throw strikes, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering how many more right-handed pitcher there are in baseball.

So while Sever has put up eye-popping numbers and he has that 6’5″ frame throwing from the left side, he is the type of player you don’t get too high on until you see him perform at a higher level. For now, he has made himself into someone that you keep in the back of your mind, and if you get the chance to see him pitch for Bristol before the season ends, you sit back and enjoy the show he’s been putting on.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates dropped to a 1/2 game behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot and a half game above San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently 2.5 games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central

Indianapolis: The Indians are six games back in the International League West, and nine games back in the Wild Card with 18 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, leading by one game over Palm Beach. The Marauders need to win the second half division to make the playoffs.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day: The most interesting starter for Friday in the minors is obviously Gerrit Cole making his fourth rehab start for Indianapolis. He has looked great in his first and third starts and looked bad in his second outing. Cole really pitched well last time out, retiring 18 of the 19 batters he faced. He looks to extend his pitch count closer to the 100 mark, which should put him in line to rejoin the Pirates for his next start. As for the other minor league starters, Tyler Eppler looks to continue his solid rookie season in pro ball. The sixth round draft pick from this year has made 11 starts and through 50.2 innings, he has a 1.09 WHIP and a .234 BAA. Chad Kuhl has a 1.76 GO/AO ratio and a 1.19 WHIP in 131.1 innings for Bradenton.

MLB: Pittsburgh (64-57) @ Washington (66-53) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (3.62 ERA, 117:52 K/BB, 149.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (62-64) @ Louisville (62-64) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.93 ERA, 13:4 K/BB, 15.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (54-71) @ Erie (60-64) 7:05 PM
Probable starterThomas Harlan (3.46 ERA, 20:10 K/BB, 39 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (68-54, 33-20 2nd half) vs St Lucie (67-53) 6:30 PM
Probable starter:  Chad Kuhl (3.43 ERA, 84:35 K/BB 131.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (46-76, 26-28 2nd half) @ Lexington (49-75) 7:05 PM
Probable starter:  Dovydas Neverauskas (5.79 ERA, 69:49 K/BB, 105.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (27-31) vs Batavia (28-32) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter:  Tyler Eppler (3.02 ERA, 35:10 K/BB, 50.2 IP)

RK: Bristol (15-37) @ Kingsport (28-26) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (17-31) vs Astros (23-24) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter: Gerardo Navarro (5.77 ERA, 13:11 K/BB, 39 IP)

DSL: Pirates (31-33) vs  Astros Orange (27-37) 10:30 AM


A couple highlights from the past few days in the minors. The first one is a strikeout from Nick Kingham’s outing on Tuesday night in which he allowed one run over seven innings. It was a nice bounce back performance for him, after he gave up 19 runs in his previous 23.1 innings. The strikeout was his sixth of the game and 106th of the season.

The second highlight is a walk-off win by Altoona on Tuesday night, courtesy of a suicide squeeze by Gift Ngoepe.

Recent Transactions

8/14: Clint Barmes assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/14: A.J. Morris assigned to Altoona.

8/14: John Axford claimed off waivers from Cleveland Indians.

8/14: Matt Hague designated for assignment.

8/14: Pirates sign pitcher Matt Nevarez. Assign him to Altoona.

8/13: Ernesto Frieri outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/13: Ramon Cabrera claimed off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Assigned to Altoona.

8/13: Wirfin Obispo designated for assignment.

8/12: Brandon Cumpton recalled from Indianapolis. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

8/12: Adrian Sampson promoted to Indianapolis.

8/11: Casey Sadler recalled from Indianapolis. Andrew McCutchen placed on the DL.

8/10: Pirates claim Tommy Field off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels and option him to Triple-A.

8/10: Cody Rhodes assigned to Bristol.

8/10: Justin Topa activated from disabled list. Francisco Diaz placed on DL.

8/9: A.J. Morris assigned to Bradenton.

8/8: Pedro Alvarez activated from the bereavement list. Ernesto Frieri designated for assignment.

This Date in Pirates History

George “Doggie” Miller was one of the first faces of the Pirates franchise. Born on August 15, 1864, he is the only player in the first 25 seasons of the franchise, to spend at least ten seasons with the team. He did it at the hardest position in the field too, spending ten years behind the plate in an era where catchers rarely played 100 games and usually had fairly short careers, or they spent time at other positions just to heal up enough to catch again. Miller deserves some extra respect among Pirates fans, because he was one of the few players that stuck with the team in 1890 when the Player’s League formed. That 1890 team, known as the Alleghenys back then, went 23-113 that season and started playing more of their games on the road because they weren’t drawing at all at home. Miller lasted with the team until 1893, finishing just shy of 1000 hits. He stole 209 bases for Pittsburgh. A full bio can be found here.

Also on this date, the Pirates have made two transactions involving HOF players, Max Carey and Jim Bunning. There are six other birthdays besides Doggie Miller and a game recap from the 1951 season. All can be found here.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • duckwoes

    Good stuff John. There is the caveat of a college pitcher in the Appy League, but I would like to see Sever in the WV rotation next season

    • John Dreker

      It’s possible because the starters at Jamestown are all college pitchers, so maybe a couple of them make the jump to Bradenton like Chad Kuhl did this year and Adrian Sampson last year. I think Neverauskas stays at WV, Coley, Duncan, Eppler, McRae and DuRapau could fill out the rest, so there may not be room for him, but they don’t seem to have trouble finding guys relief innings. Sever should be able to handle low-A ball at his age/experience, so we will see. If he can start for WV, that moves him up a little in the prospect rankings.

      I’d like to see him get a couple starts for Bristol. I expected him to go yesterday, figuring four days rest, but there is a TBD today and I’m wondering if he could take that spot. Billy Roth is out of the rotation for now, so he could fill that spot.

  • NSA

    Well those stats look more like Tom Seaver pitching to Appy Leagers than a college playa, hopefully they will pile more innings on in fall ball. I’m sure he got a decent inning count in Bethune Cook. Yes, he’s old but at 21 with a lot of college ball he really should be in camp for WV or even Bradenton next year. You can teach secondary pitches but you can’t teach 6’5″ lefty throwing 95 MPH for strikes, you build around that. Great report John.

  • Burgh B

    John, enjoying the new Morning Reports. Are you guys still fielding suggestions for a name? How about “Inside the Park”, or “Touch ‘Em All”, symbolic of a high-level look around the organization each morning? Keep up the good work.

    • John Dreker

      We decided to go with Morning Report because it was simple and straight to the point. Nothing else here had Pirates themes, Prospect Watch, First Pitch, DSL Report, Minor Moves, etc, so we just kept it basic. Someone posted something very similar during the suggestions, may have said The Morning Report, and we agreed on it.

  • Kevin Anstrom

    Hello John

    I love your work. It’s nice to see some of the Appy League guys get attention. Sever is off to a great start and Luis Paula, I believe, has a major league arm.

    However, I do disagree with one of your statements …

    “With three years of college, Sever is pitching in a league that is well below the level of competition he saw in school.”

    That’s just not the case. As a junior at B-C, Sever probably pitched to 300 batters. How many of them will ever get paid $1 by a ML team? 5%? 10%? How many will play a game at the full season level? Perhaps a top D1 team is comparable but a typical D1 team (say Binghamton or Maine or Albany) isn’t even close.

    Tim makes similar statements about the DSL being similar to HS level. Again, it’s not even close. The DSL Pirates are a very average team. They probably have 5-10 guys who pitch in the 90’s. I’d be surprised if 5% of HS teams have multiple guys who pitch in the mid-80’s.


    • John Dreker

      Because a college player doesn’t play pro ball, doesn’t mean he isn’t good enough to play pro ball. There isn’t room for all of them and many of them have zero upside, but they could play low-A ball and survive. There are plenty of players in the Appy League that wouldn’t start at a college like BC because they are 17-19 are still learning fundamentals of the game. BC games are on par with Low-A games at least, so anything below it, especially two levels below it, the players is going to be stepping down in competition. As for the DSL, I’ve said they are on par with HS All-Star games, but never a regular HS game and I stick by that. Can’t speak for Tim.

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