Jon Sandfort has the potential for a mid-90s fastball with movement and good command, along with a great curve and a good changeup.

Morning Report: A Trio of Struggling Projectable Righties

All day Monday, we talked about Tyler Glasnow, who was once a highly projectable right-hander. He threw seven shutout innings Sunday night(see video below), talked about remaining at Bradenton for the rest of the year and was named the FSL Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row. At one time, he was just a tall righty that the Pirates drafted high and gave a large bonus. The Pirates have drafted plenty of pitchers in the same mold and there are more misses than hits, but that’s part of the business.

There are three projectable pitchers that are really struggling this year, all of them righties and all of them got six-figure bonuses. Jon Sandfort, Billy Roth and Neil Kozikowski are all putting up poor numbers this year, despite solid scouting reports for each of them. Kozikowski is pitching in the GCL for a second season, while Roth and Sandfort have moved from the Bristol rotation to the bullpen. Kozikowski was also a starter at the beginning of the year.

All three pitchers are still too young to write off. Sandfort is the oldest and he is still 19 years old for another eight days. Starting with the third round pick in 2012, Sandfort has been giving up base hits at an alarming rate this season. In 31 innings, he has allowed 57 hits, for a .410 BAA. He has only walked nine batters, which seems like he has decent control, but the hits total suggests he is throwing a lot of pitches in the center of the plate. Sandfort has had strong ground ball rates in the past, posting a 2.00  GO/AO ratio in 2012 and 1.69 last year. This year, he is getting more fly balls than ground balls, so there really isn’t much going right for Sandfort.

Billy Roth turned 19 right before the APPY League season started. He looked pretty good last year in the GCL, but his 7.05 ERA in 37 innings this year is only good when compared to Sandfort’s 10.09 ERA. Roth’s problem has been control, specifically 28 walks. His .266 BAA wouldn’t be bad if he had decent control. Roth has picked up 28 strikeouts and has a 1.33 GO/AO ratio, so there are some  strong points to his season.

Neil Kozikowski pitched one inning on Monday and gave up a run and two hits. He has an 8.07 ERA in 29 innings, with a .328 BAA and an 0.72 GO/AO ratio. Last year in the GCL, he had a 2.63 ERA in 24 innings, with just three walks and a nice ground ball rate, so his struggles at the same level are a bit surprising. Kozikowski is a handful of days older than Roth, so again, we are talking about a 19-year old pitcher.

Right now you would say it doesn’t look good for any of these players. Roth is having the best season of the group, though it’s hard to really focus on the strong points when the control issues are so bad. All three were rated in the Pirates Prospect top 50 coming into this year and it’s likely that all three will make it again, just a little further down. The reason is that they still have youth on their side, plus the arm and size to be a strong pitcher down the line. As of now, it just looks a little less likely that they’re able to reach their ceiling and with most projectable right-handers, that is what happens more often than not.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are two games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently six games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are seven games back in the International League West, and seven games back in the Wild Card with 14 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, leading by two games over Palm Beach. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs. The Marauders have 14 games left in their season, four against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:   Right-hander Trey Supak makes his eighth appearance tonight. The 18-year-old was drafted 73rd overall this year and signed for a $1Mil bonus. Supak is coming off his best outing, throwing five shutout innings last Wednesday. He gave up one hit and didn’t walk anyone, while striking out four batters. Cody Dickson has pitched well since the All-Star break, especially compared to the first half. In 13 starts before the break, Dickson posted a 5.58 ERA and a .301 BAA. In 11 starts since the break, he has a 2.70 ERA and .257 BAA. Jamestown is now on their All-Star break. The game will be held tonight and three Jammers were named to the roster.

MLB: Pittsburgh (64-61) vs Atlanta (65-60) 7:05 PM
Probable starterFrancisco Liriano (3.78 ERA, 123:54 K/BB, 114.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (64-66) @ Louisville (64-66) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jake Brigham (4.45 ERA, 69:26 K/BB, 83 IP)

AA: Altoona (54-74) @ Akron (70-58) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jhonathan Ramos (3.99 ERA, 33:17 K/BB, 56.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (70-55, 35-21 2nd half) vs Fort Myers (74-52) 6:30 PM
Probable starter: Shane Carle (3.68 ERA, 26:12 K/BB, 44 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (48-77, 28-29 2nd half) vs Lakewood (49-77) 7:05 PM
Probable starter:  Cody Dickson (4.18 ERA. 92:53 K/BB, 116.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (29-32) vs Batavia (29-34) 7:05 PM 8/20
Probable Starter: TBD

RK: Bristol (18-39) vs Johnson City (30-28) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-33) vs Yankees2 (30-21) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter: Trey Supak (4.50 ERA, 16:10 K/BB, 20 IP)

DSL: Pirates (32-35) vs  Yankees2 (37-30) 10:30 AM


Tyler Glasnow had another dominating performance on Sunday, throwing seven innings of shutout ball. He gave up two hits, one walk and picked up eight strikeouts. That game helped him win the FSL Pitcher of the Week award for the second straight week. Below is video of all of his pitches from the third inning.

On Monday, Mitch Keller gave up one unearned run over 4.1 innings for the GCL Pirates. The 2014 second round pick finished with six strikeouts. Below is video of Keller warming up in the bullpen. In his previous outing, he threw four shutout innings. You can view every pitch from that outing here. Video courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.

Recent Transactions

8/18: Matt Hague claimed off waivers by Toronto Blue Jays

8/18: Clint Barmes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/18: Pat Ludwig placed on disabled list.

8/17: Charlie Morton placed on disabled list. Brent Morel recalled

8/17: A.J. Morris assigned to Indianapolis.

8/15: Elias Diaz promoted to Indianapolis.

8/15: Stolmy Pimentel placed on 15-day disabled list. John Axford added to roster.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made three trades of note on this date, including one to shore up third base for a World Series winning team. In 1909, the Pirates gave up two infielders to get Bobby Byrne from the St Louis Cardinals. He was a strong defensive third baseman and was also an upgrade at the plate. The Pirates went on the win the World Series that year and in 1910, Byrne led the NL in both hits and doubles. There are also two more recent trades of note, both from the 1980’s, as well as three former players born on this date. You can find info on all of the players and trades here, as well as a game recap from the 1958 season.

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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.

First Pitch: Should Pedro Alvarez Be Starting Over Ike Davis at First Base?

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The Pirates Bench Shows the Real Problem With This Team, and It’s Not the Bench

  • Lee Young

    John….like you said…most miss….I had hopes for Kozikowski, but that is fading quickly.

  • Bigrob

    Wonder if the reason the players are struggling is due to the new pitching coach in Bradenton that all three players worked with in extended spring training. Even Blake Taylor worked with him before he want to the Mets and his numbers aren’t that great either.

  • NMR

    Love the Glasnow video, but my goodness is that command all over the place. Gonna take a while to get used to moving the levers on that 6’7″ frame.

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