Morning Report: Wyatt Mathisen Making Up For Lost Time

Last season, Wyatt Mathisen got an aggressive push from the Pirates, skipping over Jamestown and going right to West Virginia as a 19-year-old catcher. After being drafted in the second round in 2012, Mathisen signed early and went to the GCL. He got into 45 games and hit well, batting .295/.388/.374 in 139 at-bats, while striking out just 19 times. Mathisen needed plenty of work behind the plate, but the Pirates felt he could handle the jump to full-season ball in 2013.

In retrospect, the move to West Virginia so quickly was probably a bad decision. Mathisen started off poorly at the plate and was hitting .185 through May 23rd, with a .466 OPS. He went down with a torn labrum, which kept him out over two months and may have partly contributed to his poor start at the plate. When he returned in August, Mathisen played first in the GCL, then went to Jamestown. He ended up playing 48 games last year, never returning to West Virginia after his injury.

In Spring Training this year, Mathisen was moved to third base and again he started the season at West Virginia. With the move to the new position, he was struggling in the field and at the plate, but things turned around when the calendar switched to June. After hitting .247 in April and .236 in May, Mathisen has hit .327 in his last 44 games. That time frame includes missing time due to a lower leg injury that occurred on a play at third base.

With a strong finish, it certainly looks like Mathisen will move up to Bradenton next year. He has shown a slight increase in his power, which should only get better as he get older. Mathisen played this season as a 20-year-old, which is a good age for Low-A ball. He has shown a decent contact rate this year, with 52 strikeouts in 388 plate appearances. His defense at third base will need time to get better, but he is an athletic player with a strong arm, so he should eventually be able to handle the position.

Mathisen is starting to look like the hitter that the Pirates thought they were getting in the second round two years ago. If he can stay healthy and stick at third base, then he could be a long-term solution at the position.

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 1.5 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently four games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

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

Bradenton: The Marauders are in a three-way tie for first place with Palm Beach and Fort Myers in the Florida State League South. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs, unless Fort Myers wins the second half title. Fort Myers won the first half title, so if they also win the second half, then the team with the second best overall record would make the playoffs. In the overall standings, Bradenton is one game behind Palm Beach for the second best record. The Marauders have eight games left in their season, one against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  For Indianapolis tonight, Nick Kingham will take the mound in an important start for the team. They trail Columbus(today’s opponent) by five games in the standings, with just nine games left. Kingham will be making his 25th start of the season, 13th for Indianapolis. He has thrown 148.1 innings, with a 110:46 K/BB ratio, a .228 BAA and a 1.04 GO/AO ratio. Kingham gave up two runs over eight innings in his last start. Buddy Borden was originally scheduled for Thursday. That game was rained out and then Borden was pushed back to Sunday. He will make his 25th start of the season. Borden leads West Virginia pitchers with 111 strikeouts, which ranks him third in the South Atlantic League. He has a 1.95 ERA in his last ten appearances(nine starts) combined. In those games, he has 58 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.The GCL Pirates are off today. The DSL season ended yesterday.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-62) @ Milwaukee (71-58) 2:10 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (2.92 ERA, 51:13 K/BB, 74 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (68-67) @ Columbus (73-62) 6:05 PM
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (3.14 ERA, 56:21 K/BB, 77.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (56-76) vs New Britain (66-66) 6:00 PM
Probable starterJhonathan Ramos (3.75 ERA, 36:19 K/BB, 62.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (72-59, 37-25 2nd half) @ Palm Beach (73-58) 1:05 PM
Probable starter: Shane Carle (3.67 ERA, 31:13 K/BB, 49 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (51-77, 31-29 2nd half) vs Kannapolis (58-71) 2:05 PM
Probable starter: Buddy Borden (3.03 ERA. 111:48 K/BB, 119 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (30-35) vs State College (41-26) 4:05 PM
Probable Starter: Tyler Eppler (2.70 ERA, 40:10 K/BB, 56.2 IP)

RK: Bristol (19-42) vs Elizabethton (34-27) 5:00 PM DH
Probable Starter:  TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-37) vs Blue Jays (17-37) 12:00 PM 8/25
Probable Starter: Gerardo Navarro (4.89 ERA, 15:11 K/BB, 46 IP)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)

Highlights

Altoona won 7-2 over New Britain on Friday. Highlights of the game are below. They include Stetson Allie’s homer, two Keon Broxton RBI hits, a nice defensive play by Gift Ngoepe, a strikeout from Jeff Inman and finally a two-run RBI single from Ngoepe.

Rafael Perez threw 6.1 shutout innings on Friday. He also made this defensive play barehanded, flipping it over to first baseman Tony Sanchez.

Recent Transactions

8/24: Pirates claim Bobby LaFromboise. Designate Tommy Field for assignment.

8/21: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/21: Yunelky Adames released.

8/21: Oderman Rocha and Nathan Sopena promoted to Jamestown.

8/21: Julio Vivas promoted to Bristol.

8/21: Andrew Dennis placed on disabled list.

8/21: Indianapolis places Nevin Ashley and Blake Davis on disabled list.

8/21: Wirfin Obispo clears waivers. Outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/20: Gerrit Cole activated from disabled list. Brent Morel assigned to Indianapolis.

8/20: Jacoby Jones placed on disabled list. Francisco Diaz activated from DL.

8/20: Felipe Gonzalez promoted to Bradenton. Jake Burnette promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Matt Curry assigned to Altoona. Drew Maggi placed on disabled list.

8/19: Andrew McCutchen activated from disabled list. Michael Martinez sent to Indianapolis.

8/19: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Ralph Henriquez activated from DL.

8/19: Adam Wilk placed on disabled list.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players were born on this date, one went on to become the team manager. Jewel Ens was a member of the 1925 World Series champs as a player, though his role was more of a coaching role, rather than a player. After four seasons as a Pirates player(1922-25), he became the team manager in 1929. He manager until 1931, then returned to the Pirates as a coach four years later. Jewel was actually his real first name. You can read more on him, as well as the two other players born on this date here. There is also a game recap from the 1987 season.

On this date in 1936, the Pirates scored 17 runs and collected 25 hits in a win over the Cardinals. The boxscore can be found here. The Pirates had three Hall of Famers in the lineup, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner and Arky Vaughan. Each of them had three hits in the game.

John Dreker

Author: 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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  • http://games.espn.go.com/flb/leagueoffice?leagueId=14916 Harry Modaffair

    Mathisen is going to be an important piece to this Pittsburgh Pirates infield in a couple years! His offensive game is solid, defense is improving and has that “baseball instincts” quality to be a good major league level ball player.

    • Lee Young

      Harry….let’s hope.

  • honus1

    At 20 yrs old Mathisen has a 13.4% strikeout rate. At 22 JaCoby Jones has 26.2% strikeout rate. I wonder who has the better chance of playing 3B in the majors.

    • stickyweb

      Definitely Mathisen. Although JaCoby will be playing SS right beside him!

  • Kevin_Young

    You know who Mathisen reminds me of, which I’m sure everybody will love…Brandon Inge.

    • stickyweb

      The Brandon Inge with 20 WAR over the first 9 years of his career? The Pirates should be so lucky. Just don’t try to make him into a UT IF when he’s 36!

      • Kevin_Young

        What if Mathisen can dress up like a hockey player?? But yea, I’m referring to the productive Inge. Other than those two 27 hr season anomalies, I could see him being that type of player if he were to reach his ceiling.

  • R Edwards

    How would you compare/contrast Mathisen to another young third base prospect – Eric Wood? I know Wood is a year older and a level higher in the system, but how do they compare fielding the position and arm strength??