Prospect Watch

Prospect Watch: Bostick Extends Hit Streak to 15 Games; Moroff Hits Sixth Homer

Chris Bostick has been the best hitter for Indianapolis this season. Photo Credit: Wilbur Miller
Prospect Watch: Bostick Extends Hit Streak to 15 Games; Moroff Hits Sixth Homer
John Dreker

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna), or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis –DNP

2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – DNP

3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – DNP

4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – DNP

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton –DNP

6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton –  DNP

7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – DNP

8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton  – DNP

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – DNP

11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – DNP

15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – DNP

17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Pirates – DNP

18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona –DNP

19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona –DNP

20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis –DNP

21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia –  DNP

22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – DNP

23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Extended Spring Training –DNP

25. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis –DNP

26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – DNP

27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – DNP

28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis –  DNP

29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – DNP

30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

P2 Top Performers

Hits

HR’s

K’s

Game Score


Prospect-Watch-Indy

Box Score

INDIANAPOLIS — He was simply not quite himself.

Tyler Eppler didn’t have his typical command, nor did he put together very many efficient innings against Toledo on Wednesday.

Pretty much the opposite of what he has done in his previous four starts of the season. Eppler allowed three earned runs on four hits over 5.1 innings, tying a career-high with four walks and striking out six. Only 60 of his 98 pitches were thrown for a strike.

“It was just one of those days,” Eppler said. “I didn’t have my best stuff so it was just a battle out there to make pitches when I needed to. Some of the pitches kind of got away from me and I got into some deep counts early.”

Eppler has made five starts this season, three of them coming against a veteran-laden Toledo team that includes Omar Infante (1,507 career major league games), James Loney (1,443), Brendan Ryan (896), Alex Presley (379) and Efren Navarro (130), and Jacoby Jones was on a major league rehab assignment.

“I thought I threw some pretty good pitches to them that they took and didn’t even attempt to go after,” Eppler said. “You could tell they were a veteran lineup. I normally get some swings and misses on pitches that are close like that, but they took those. They’ve seen me twice before and had a pretty good game plan.”

Eppler worked around a two-out walk in the first inning, striking out John Hicks with a fastball. But because of the walk and some other deep counts, Eppler threw 22 pitches in the inning, more than any previous inning this season.

Entering the game, Eppler had completed 22 innings and thrown 20 pitches in just one of those innings, but had two such innings on Wednesday.

Eppler allowed three doubles in the third inning, giving up two runs. He threw 28 pitches in the inning and the bullpen started to warm up, but Eppler was able to ride out the wave of trouble and make it into the sixth inning.

The list of Eppler’s previous starts comprise the top-4 pitch-strike percentage performances by Indianapolis starting pitchers this season. But he threw just 61 percent of his pitches for a strike on Wednesday, after throwing at least 66 percent of his pitches for a strike in each of his previous four starts.

“It was just like he was not himself and never really got into a flow,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “He threw some really good changeups later in the outing that kind of got him through it. It just wasn’t his best.”

There were positives and Eppler had some efficient innings, which allowed him to stretch his outing past five innings. In the second inning Eppler worked around an error, still getting through the inning on just 11 pitches. He should have induced a 6-4-3 double play, but shortstop Max Moroff threw the ball into the first base dugout.

Eppler also retired the side in the fourth inning on nine pitches. Loney drew a five-pitch walk with one out in the fifth inning, which ended Eppler’s outing.

“You’ve got a veteran club that knows how to develop a game plan against a young pitcher,” Barkett said. “They’ve seen him before and knew what his out pitches were, so I think they had a little bit of a different plan going into (Wednesday). It’s no excuse, you still have to execute and make pitches and he didn’t do that today.”

Toledo scored two runs in the seventh inning off Dovydas Neverauskas to tie the game and scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning when Indianapolis reliever Dan Runzler hit a batter with the bases loaded.

The Indians have lost six times when leading after the sixth inning, and they’ve lost nine one-run games.

Eric Wood tripled in the third inning, scoring Austin Meadows and Erich Weiss. Meadows reached by stretching a single into a double on his 22nd birthday.

Joey Terdoslavich had an RBI sacrifice fly and Jackson Williams had an RBI single, both in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning, Max Moroff hit his sixth home run of the season, this one into the wind in right field.

Indianapolis had runners at first and third with one out in the eighth inning but couldn’t get a run out of that opportunity. Max Moroff popped out in foul territory near first base and Austin Meadows grounded out, though he nearly beat the throw for an infield single.

Neverauskas allowed two runs on four hits, laboring through three innings. He nearly made a pair of throwing errors that almost furthered his problems. Barkett said the goal was to stretch Neverauskas out and get him prepared for any potential long-relief roles with the Pirates in the future.

Christopher Bostick singled in the eighth inning, extending his hitting streak to 15 games. Moroff was 2-for-4 with that home run, while Meadows was 1-for-5. Jason Rogers, Eric Wood and Williams each had two hits.

Pat Light relieved Eppler and allowed two hits, striking out one in ⅔ innings of work. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

Box Score

Altoona won 9-2 on Wednesday morning behind five innings of work from starter Tanner Anderson and four shutout inning between three relievers. Anderson wasn’t sharp on this day, consistently getting deep into counts, which limited his outing to five innings. He had runners on base in each of the first four innings, then breezed through a 1-2-3 fifth inning to be eligible for the win. Both runs he allowed scored in the fourth inning after serving up two singles and a double. A Michael Suchy fielding error allowed the second run to score and that was an unearned run for Anderson.

While he wasn’t efficient with his pitches like normal, Anderson was getting his share of grounders, finishing with an 8:2 GO/AO ratio. He gave up five hits, one walk and struck out three batters. He now has a 1.98 ERA through five starts and a 2.05 GO/AO ratio.

Luis Heredia made his second appearance and worked around a lead-off walk to throw a scoreless sixth inning. He threw a shutout inning in his season debut on Friday. Buddy Borden followed with two scoreless innings, which included four strikeouts. He has now thrown 14.1 shutout innings this season and he’s given up just five hits. Tate Scioneaux finished it out with a scoreless ninth, extending his season-long shutout streak to 14 innings.

On offense, the top six batters in the lineup all did some damage. Connor Joe hit his second homer of the season and Jordan Luplow slugged his fourth homer. Kevin Kramer extended his season-long on base streak to 21 games on a first inning hit-by-pitch. He added a single and a run scored later in the game. Elvis Escobar in the lead-off spot had a single, triple, RBI and run scored. Pablo Reyes played shortstop on an off-day for Kevin Newman. Reyes had an RBI single and a walk. Chase Simpson got the scoring started in the first inning with a two-run double.

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

Box Score

Bradenton lost 6-3 on Wednesday night despite mounting a late comeback. In the ninth inning, both Ke’Bryan Hayes and Will Craig struck out while representing the tying run to give St Lucie the victory.

Dario Agrazal was one of the best pitchers for the Pirates during the month of April, leading the farm system in innings pitched, while posting a 2.64 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He didn’t have it working on this night though, as the Mets were making a lot of solid contact. He’s usually a ground ball pitcher, but there were a lot of well hit line drives. Agrazal pitched out of some jams to give up just three runs over six innings, so he still reached the minimum standard for a quality start, this just didn’t look like a quality performance.

St Lucie seemed to be guessing fastball and he really filled up the strike zone. So it’s possible that Agrazal could have had a better night if he went to more off-speed pitches early in the game, or threw inside more often to keep the hitters uncomfortable. He still finished with a 9:3 GO/AO ratio, but that’s because almost all of the nine hits were fly balls and line drives that weren’t caught.

It wasn’t just Agrazal who had surprising trouble on this night, reliever Yunior Montero lost his 0.00 ERA after a rough go in the eighth inning. Montero pitched a great seventh frame with two quick strikeouts and an easy ground ball. He faced four batters in the eighth and didn’t retire any of them, giving way to Seth McGarry, who stayed on to end the game. McGarry threw two shutout frames, though he was having a lot of trouble throwing strikes. Montero now has 24 strikeouts in 12.2 innings.

Ke’Bryan Hayes had that late strikeout that hurt, but he was hitting the ball well in this game. He had two hits and was robbed twice by the shortstop, who made two highlight reel plays. Craig had a tough night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He did get hit by a pitch and score a run, so it wasn’t a completely bad game. Cole Tucker had a double in five trips to the plate. He also stole his baseball leading 19th base, though it should have been scored defensive indifference. With two outs in the ninth, he was on first base after an error and stole second without a throw. St Lucie also wasn’t holding him on, so that might (should) be changed in the boxscore by the time you read this.

Jerrick Suiter played an outstanding defensive game at first base. I’ve always heard that he has a great glove over there, but I’ve only seen him there a few times and he didn’t have many (any?) tough plays. Usually I saw him in the outfielder or as the DH. On this night he had numerous tough plays and made them all look easy. John Bormann returned to action for the first time since his day in the sun and had an RBI double in the ninth to make the game 6-3.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

Box Score

CHARLESTON – Despite their middling record, the Power are among the best South Atlantic League leaders in a number of offensive categories, including batting average (2nd) and home runs (4th). They needed every bit of offense, contained to two innings, to best the Hickory Crawdads on Wednesday.

The Power only got hits in the first and sixth innings, but thanks to homers by Trae Arbet and Hunter Owen and an RBI single by Carlos Munoz, they plated six runs.

Stephen Alemais added a pair of singles and almost legged out a grounder to the left side of the infield. Alemais, whose primary developmental focus this year has been driving balls into the gaps, has also been showing a lot of hustle on the base paths. He’s well on his way to surpassing his 2016 steals total (10) with four stolen bases in the month of April. He also has been bunting for hits on a regular basis, contributing to his .256 batting average.

Trae Arbet’s home run brings his 2017 total to five. Coming off of back-to-back injured seasons, the second baseman leads the Power in most power categories. Considering the lost 2016 season, this development is impressive.

Arbet said, “I couldn’t really do much [in the offseason] with the injury, so I just mentally prepared to get myself ready for this season.”

Arbet, though, also showed signs of weakness. He took a bad angle to a two-out grounder in the ninth inning. The ball caromed off his glove, allowing the potential tying run to come to the plate.

The Power defense, which has looked shaky at times, performed decently. Alemais, as per usual, made sharp plays and ranged well to his left and right. Hunter Owen and Sandy Santos both committed errors; Santos’s, which came with two outs in the third, allowed the first Hickory run to score.

Santos left the game in the sixth inning due to a lack of effort, according to manager Wyatt Toregas. He struck out twice. Alexis Bastardo replaced Santos in center and tracked down a couple of fly balls in the later innings.

Owen made up for his miscue by ending the game with a diving catch into the stands.

Starter Matt Anderson pitched six strong innings and allowed three runs. He left with seven strikeouts and one walk. His strikeout total was one shy of the season-high he set last week in his native Georgia against the Rome Braves. His fastball stayed low in the zone, and his 4:7 GO:AO is misleading considering four of the flyball outs were foul pops to first baseman Carlos Munoz.

Eduardo Vera closed out the game with three innings of relief. Vera got into some trouble in the eighth when he allowed a run on an RBI single. This brought up runners on the corners with two outs, but he got a first-pitch pop up to get out of the jam.

Ultimately, the Power were outhit 8-5, and Alemais, Owen, and Logan Ratledge were the only batters to escape without a strikeout. Despite this, they pulled out a solid 6-4 victory against the Hickory Crawdads. – Abigail Miskowiec

Prospect Watch
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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