Pirates Prospects » Top Stories http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:41:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Approach That Has Tenth Round Pick Alex McRae Off to a Good Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/the-approach-that-has-tenth-round-pick-alex-mcrae-off-to-a-good-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/the-approach-that-has-tenth-round-pick-alex-mcrae-off-to-a-good-start.html#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:41:21 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84508 Alex McRae admitted that he’s learning to pitch again. The 21-year-old right-hander, a tenth-round pick in the most recent draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, did a good job on Thursday in Batavia, N.Y., of demonstrating his comprehension of these lessons. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound McRae, a former standout at Jacksonville University, put together his best professional outing in eight starts.

“I’m learning how to pitch,” he said after his Jamestown Jammers split a New York-Penn League doubleheader with the host Batavia Muckdogs. “Coming out of college, they’re not really changing much with my mechanics. They’re teaching us how to pitch. I am learning a lot about the Pirates’ idea of pitching and what they want me to do. It’s all about fastball command and the changeup for starters.”

McRae struck out six, didn’t issue a walk, and allowed two hits over five scoreless innings to lead the Jammers to a 3-1 win over the Muckdogs in the opener. McRae got through five innings in an efficient 66 pitches. Batavia won the nightcap, 10-0.

He picked up his first professional win to improve to 1-2. He has a 3.57 earned-run average in 35.1 innings this season. McRae allowed eight hits and five earned runs in five innings in his last start against Staten Island.

“He pitched exceptional tonight,” said catcher Kevin Krause, a ninth-round pick out of Stony Brook. “In the beginning, we tried to work the ball in. We established the inside corner very well, working with our breaking ball and changeup down. The second and third time through the lineup, we went outside and changed it up on them. We also went with the breaking ball early in the counts. He had command of all of his pitches, all three of them. He just had a great night tonight.”

“I think it’s my best outing so far,” McRae said, noting that he is getting more comfortable with his changeup that sat around 82 MPH all night.

McRae did a good job of keeping his pitches down in the zone for the duration of the start. His fastball sat 90-93 MPH all night. It dipped down to 89 in the fourth inning, but he finished strong with 31 pitches over his final three innings. That included a really nice fastball at 91 that he backed up with an 80-mile per hour slider to open the fifth inning.

While McRae said he is getting more comfortable with his changeup, his slider was his strongest off-speed pitch all night, offering good fading action and tight break.

“The first couple times I threw it, I left it up,” McRae said. “Then I got a good feel for it and left it down in the zone. I got a couple strikeouts with it. It worked well. I have a lot of confidence in that pitch.”

If he continues to command his arsenal and improve his feel for the changeup, McRae could be a player to watch in the deep Pirates system.

The Jamestown Catching Trio

The Jamestown catching trio of Taylor Gushue, Krause, and Deybi Garcia is also interesting. Krause and Garcia started the two ends of the doubleheader against Batavia. Gushue, a switch hitter, was the designated hitter in the nightcap. McRae praised Krause’s work behind the plate. Krause also showed a patient approach at the plate.

“It’s definitely an adjustment from college, just the amount of preparation and the workday you have to put in before the game,” Krause said. “The velocity, I am getting adjusted to that. I am just grinding every day. I am trying to see the ball well and shoot it to all fields.”

Gushue, a fourth-rounder in the 2014 Draft out of the University of Florida, worked a nine-pitch at-bat in his final plate appearance in the nightcap. Krause said that each of the three catchers works well together, adding that he has learned quite a bit from his teammates.

“I feed off them and we all try to figure out what’s best do behind the plate,” Krause said. “It’s giving the right target, knowing situations, what to throw in certain situations. We all work together.”

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Prospect Highlights: Alex McRae, and a Few 2014 Draft Picks With Great Plate Patience http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-highlights-alex-mcrae-and-a-few-2014-draft-picks-with-great-plate-patience.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-highlights-alex-mcrae-and-a-few-2014-draft-picks-with-great-plate-patience.html#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84512 We constantly have video highlights from Indianapolis, Altoona, Bradenton, and the Gulf Coast League, but it’s rare to get a look at the new guys in Jamestown. Today we’ve got some video from last night’s Jammers game, shot by Pirates Prospects contributor Will Cleveland. Check back later today for Will’s article on 2014 tenth round pick Alex McRae.

Details on the guys in the video are below.

Alex McRae – McRae was taken in the tenth round this year, and has posted some nice numbers, with a 3.57 ERA in 35.1 innings, along with a 24:6 K/BB ratio. Last night was his best start of the year, with five shutout innings, two hits allowed, no walks, and six strikeouts. The video above shows one of those strikeouts.

Jordan Luplow – Luplow was a third round outfielder in the 2014 draft. The two at-bats shown weren’t the best at-bats, but he is off to a strong start this year. He has a .286/.382/.448 line in 105 at-bats, with four homers. Luplow has shown a good approach at the plate, with a 13.4% walk rate and a 15.1% strikeout rate.

Kevin Krause – The Pirates drafted two catchers in the top ten rounds, with Krause taken in the ninth round. He hasn’t had as much time behind the plate as fourth rounder Taylor Gushue, but has done well at the plate. Krause has a .275/.361/.593 line in 91 at-bats, with six homers. Just like Luplow, he has good plate patience, with a 10.4% walk rate and an 18.9% strikeout rate.

Taylor Gushue – He’s the higher ranked catcher of the two, and young for a guy coming out of college. Gushue has a .263/.375/.447 line in 114 at-bats. The video only showed one swing, but it came at the end of a nine pitch at-bat. Continuing a trend, Gushue has a 14% walk rate and a 17.6% strikeout rate this season.

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First Pitch: As Expected, Trades For Starting Pitchers Will Probably Cost a Ton http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-as-expected-trades-for-starting-pitchers-will-probably-cost-a-ton.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-as-expected-trades-for-starting-pitchers-will-probably-cost-a-ton.html#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 09:03:25 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84498 Here’s something that probably won’t be a surprise: starting pitching looks like it’s going to cost a lot on the trade market this year.

We saw this already when Jeff Samardzija was traded to the Oakland Athletics, with the Chicago Cubs getting multiple top prospects in return, highlighted by one of the best prospects in the game, Addison Russell. Based on the current rumored asking prices, it doesn’t look like the remaining pitchers on the market will come cheap.

**The Rays have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, and while they’re still under .500, they’re technically just a few games out of .500. This means David Price is almost certainly off the table, thus driving up the value for everyone else who might be available. If Price does become available, then the asking price will probably be insane.

**The Rockies wanted Kevin Gausman from the Orioles for Jorge de la Rosa, according to Jon Heyman. That’s the 33-year-old Jorge de la Rosa who has only pitched more than 130 innings twice in his career, and who currently has a 4.19 ERA in 116 innings for the Rockies, with a 4.11 xFIP that suggests things won’t be getting better. You can be the proud owner of this back of the rotation starter making the remainder of his $11 M salary, and heading to free agency in the off-season, all for the low price of one of the most promising young starting pitching prospects in the game.

**The Padres want Ian Clarkin and Eric Jagielo for Ian Kennedy, but the Yankees don’t want to pay that price, also according to Heyman. If that’s the price for Kennedy, then it might not be too bad from a rankings perspective. Clarkin and Jagielo can’t be found on any of the big pre-season top 100 lists, or mid-season top 50s. Baseball America had them ranked 7th and 5th in the Yankees system, coming into the year. However, there’s a lot of potential upside here, as both were first rounders last year. Both players received 55 potential and high risk ratings from BA. The Pirates had two players with that rating: Josh Bell and Harold Ramirez. JaCoby Jones was given a 55, but also an extreme rating. Bell may have moved beyond those rankings, but it’s also possible that one of the Yankees prospects (Clarkin, most likely) has also improved his stock. While this potential price for Kennedy seems reasonable, it also might not be complete. Heyman says the Padres need to be overwhelmed to move Kennedy.

**Jayson Stark says that Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels aren’t likely to be dealt. In regards to Hamels, he says that this is due to a price “that no one would possibly give up.” We heard earlier about how the Pirates don’t like the 2015 player option for A.J. Burnett. Stark says that the Orioles have lukewarm interest in Burnett, while the Yankees said “no thanks.”

**The Cubs want to trade Edwin Jackson. He does have a 3.95 xFIP, which suggests he’ll be better than his 5.61 ERA. However, his ERA is constantly worse than his xFIP, and he’s making $11 M a year through the 2016 season. Even if he does start putting up results closer to the advanced metrics going forward, I don’t think $11 M a year plus trading prospects to get him is worth it for his production.

Just to recap, if you want a top pitcher, be prepared to give up the farm. If you want a back of the rotation starter, be prepared to pay a price that you’d think would be reserved only for a top of the rotation guy. Kennedy seems like he could be the best value on the market, but with the Padres looking to be overwhelmed, it’s very possible that he could end up being over-priced.

For the Pirates, the most important thing in the final two months might be a healthy Gerrit Cole and having Francisco Liriano pitch the way he has been pitching in his last two starts. It seems that if they want outside help, the cost will either be a lot for something they already have, or way too much for an upgrade that might not be worth the massive price.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham’s Dominating Start Goes Downhill Quick

**Injury Updates: Harold Ramirez, Connor Joe, Barrett Barnes, Austin Coley

**Pirates Don’t Seem to Like A.J. Burnett’s 2015 Salary

**Andrew Lambo off to a hot start after return from thumb injury

**Prospect Highlights: Back-to-Back-to-Back Homers in Altoona

**Minor Moves: Orlando Castro Placed on the Altoona DL

**Minor League Schedule: Chad Kuhl Has Everything Working For Him This Year

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Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham’s Dominating Start Goes Downhill Quick http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-nick-kinghams-dominating-start-goes-downhill-quick.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-nick-kinghams-dominating-start-goes-downhill-quick.html#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:31:55 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84474 TOP OF THE SYSTEM

A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, 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 (Jameson Taillon #1, Clay Holmes #12), 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 20 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the mid-season top 20 update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - DNP

2. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - 2-for-4, 2 2B

3. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - 0-for-2, BB, RBI

4. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis - 5.1 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

5. Alen Hanson, SS, Altoona - 0-for-3, BB

6. Josh Bell, RF, Altoona - 1-for-3, BB

7. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (7/7 Update)

8. Cole Tucker, SS, GCL Pirates - DNP

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

10. Mitch Keller, RHP, GCL Pirates -DNP

11. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Altoona – DNP

12. JaCoby Jones, SS, West Virginia - 3-for-5, 2B, SB

13. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

14. Andrew Lambo, OF, Indianapolis - 1-for-3, BB

15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

16. Michael De La Cruz, OF, GCL Pirates - DNP

17. Trey Supak, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

18. Buddy Borden, RHP, West Virginia - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

19. Stetson Allie, 1B, Altoona - 0-for-4

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, GCL Pirates – DNP

 

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DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Alex McRae, RHP – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Carlos Ozuna, 2B – 3-for-4, 2 R

Home Runs: Jaff Decker (5)

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Charlotte 9, Indianapolis 2

Starting Pitcher: Nick Kingham, RHP – 5.1 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jaff Decker, LF – 1-for-4, HR, RBI

Other Notable Performers:

Jose Tabata, RF – 0-for-4

Andrew Lambo, 1B – 1-for-3, BB

Tony Sanchez, C – 1-for-3, 2B

Game Notes: After five dominant innings to start the game, Nick Kingham reverted back to some of his control issues from earlier in the campaign. After walking six total hitters in his first 45 Triple-A innings, Kingham walked five in the sixth inning alone. Between these walks and a bases loaded double, Kingham allowed seven earned runs in the frame, which he was not able to survive. Only ten of his 34 pitches in the sixth inning went for strikes.

After going 11 straight appearance without allowing a run, Wirfin Obispo allowed a run for the third consecutive games in relief.

Andrew Lambo added a single, and has six hits in his first seven games since returning from the DL. Tony Sanchez broke a three-game hitless streak with a double. The mini slump for Sanchez came after having a seven-game hitting streak. – Ryan Palencer

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Bowie 9, Altoona 1

Starting Pitcher: Jhonathan Ramos, LHP – 5.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Dan Gamache, 3B – 2-for-4, 2B, R

Other Notable Performers:

Alen Hanson, SS – 0-for-3, BB

Josh Bell, DH – 1-for-3, BB

Elias Diaz, C – 1-for-4, 2B, RBI

Game Notes: Altoona put up huge numbers on offense the last two games against New Britain, but tonight was Bowie’s turn to put up the crooked numbers. Starter Jhonathan Ramos allowed eight runs(three earned) on nine hits in five innings. Dan Gamache had two errors and Willy Garcia committed his tenth error. Elias Diaz had the only RBI, while Gamache scored the only run. Josh Bell went 1-for-3, giving him a .167 average through his first eight games with Altoona. He has five singles and four walks.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Box Score

Result: Lakeland 4, Bradenton 3

Starting Pitcher: Shane Carle, RHP –  7.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Justin Maffei, CF – 2-for-3, RBI, BB

Other Notable Performers:

Max Moroff, 2B – 2-for-4, 2B

Jin-De Jhang, C – 2-for-3, 3B, RBI

Game Notes: Shane Carle went seven innings in a loss to Lakeland on Thursday. He allowed three earned runs, with no walks and five strikeouts in his third start since being promoted from West Virginia. It was his longest outing with Bradenton and the third time he went seven innings this year. The Marauders had 11 hits, including two doubles and two triples. Catcher Jin-De Jhang has had a recent hot streak, boosting his average to .230 with a 2-for-3 in this game. He is hitting .324 in his last ten games. It looks like his bat might be finally adjusting to skipping over a level this year. Jhang is still only 21 years old, so it’s too soon  to judge him based on poor early results from an advanced placement this season.

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

Box Score

Result: Hickory 4, West Virginia 1

Starting Pitcher: Buddy Borden, RHP – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: JaCoby Jones, SS – 3-for-5, 2B, SB

Other Notable Performers:

Austin Meadows, CF – 2-for-4, 2 2B

Reese McGuire, C – 0-for-2, RBI, BB

Game Notes: Austin Meadows had two doubles on Thursday, one day after collecting his first extra-base hit with West Virginia. In ten games, he has 15 hits, giving him a .349 average. Meadows is 8-for-16 with runners on base for West Virginia, but surprisingly he hasn’t driven in a run yet. JaCoby Jones collected his 16th double and stole his 16th base. Buddy Borden bounced back from a rough start in which he gave up four runs and five walks in three innings. On Thursday, he went five innings, allowing two runs and he picked up seven strikeouts.

 

A-: JAMESTOWN JAMMERS   

Game One Box Score

Result:  Jamestown 3, Batavia 1

Starting Pitcher: Alex McRae, RHP – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Kevin Krause, C – 2-for-3, 2B, SB, R

Other Notable Performers:

Jordan Luplow, RF – 1-for-4

Erik Forgione, SS – 1-for-3, RBI, SB

Game Notes: Jamestown won the opener of Thursday’s doubleheader against Batavia behind strong pitching from Alex McRae. The tenth round draft pick threw five shutout innings, giving up two hits and hitting one batter. Sam Street threw two innings to pick up the save. He allowed his first run of the season, breaking a string of 13 straight shutout innings to open up his career. Street gave up four hits, equaling the amount of hits/walks he allowed in his first seven appearances. Five different Jamestown players stole a base, including the 12th of the season from Carl Anderson.

Game Two Box Score

Result:  Batavia 10, Jamestown 0

Starting Pitcher: Jose Regalado, RHP – 2.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Elvis Escobar, CF – 1-for-3, 3B

Other Notable Performers:

Michael Suchy, RF – 1-for-3

Game Notes: In game two, Jose Regalado made his first start of the season and it was a disaster, giving up five runs on eight hits and two innings. He had pitched 17.1 innings this year over nine appearances, yet he still has a 5-3 record, picking up a decision in all but one of his relief outings. Jamestown had just two hits in the game and their first 12 hitters were retired in order. Michael Suchy had a fifth inning single and Elvis Escobar added a one out triple in the sixth inning.

 

RK: BRISTOL PIRATES

Box Score

Result: Bristol 5, Pulaski 0

Starting Pitcher: Junior Lopez, RHP – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Carlos Ozuna, 2B – 3-for-4, 2 R

Other Notable Performers:

John Sever, LHP – 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

Candon Myles, LF – 2-for-4, 2 R

Eduardo Figueroa, CF – 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Game Notes: Starter Junior Lopez pitched brilliantly for Bristol, allowing two hits and no walks over five shutout innings. Due to a caught stealing and a double play, he faced the minimum of 15 batters and had a 10/1 GO/AO ratio. Reliever John Sever had an incredible performance, throwing three shutout innings, striking out seven batters. He has started his career with 22 strikeouts over 13.2 innings in which he has yet to allow an earned run. The 8-9 hitters in the lineup, Carlos Ozuna and Candon Myles, combined for five hits and four runs scored. Jerrick Suiter drew three walks, giving him a .449 OPS in his first 20 games.

 

RK: GCL PIRATES

The GCL Pirates were rained out.

 

RK: DSL PIRATES

Box Score

Result: Pirates 6, Angels 0

Starting Pitcher: Nestor Oronel, RHP – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Victor Fernandez, CF – 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB, HBP

Other Notable Performers:

Raul Siri, DH – 0-for-1, 3 BB, 2 SB

Luis Perez, 2B – 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB

Eliezer Ramirez, RF – 0-for-2, 3 BB

Edison Lantigua, LF – 0-for-3, 3 BB

Game Notes: The Pirates won 6-0 thanks in part to some wildness from Angels’ pitchers, who allowed 13 walks and hit four batters. Edison Lantigua, Eliezer Ramirez and Raul Siri each had three walks. Luis Perez had two walks, a single and scored two runs. The Pirates had six stolen bases, including two each by Siri and Perez. As bad as the Angels pitchers were with their control, the Pirates pitchers were throwing strikes all game. Starter Nestor Oronel threw five scoreless innings, spreading out five singles and a walk. Three relievers finished off the shutout. Pirates pitchers had just two strikeouts in the game.

You can check out the DSL Pirates week seven recap here.

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Injury Updates: Harold Ramirez, Connor Joe, Barrett Barnes, Austin Coley http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/injury-updates-harold-ramirez-connor-joe-barrett-barnes-austin-coley.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/injury-updates-harold-ramirez-connor-joe-barrett-barnes-austin-coley.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:21:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84475 The 2014 season has been the year of the injury for the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. Here are the latest updates on four notable prospects who have gone down this month with injuries.

**Harold Ramirez has been out with a stress reaction in his shin. He has been out since July 1st. Earlier in the year he missed a little over a month with a hamstring injury.

**Connor Joe, who was taken with the number 39 pick this year, has yet to play a game. He went to Jamestown, then suffered a back strain, and has been rehabbing in the mornings in Bradenton.

**Barrett Barnes has dealt with a lot of hamstring injuries over the last few years, and returned from his most recent one on July 12th. He last played on July 21st for Bradenton, and is now out with an oblique strain. The good news is that it’s not another leg injury, but the bad news is that he’ll miss more time.

**Austin Coley, drafted in the ninth round this year, is out with a shoulder strain. Coley only made two starts with Jamestown. The first outing saw him give up six runs on four hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. The next start he gave up one run on four hits in three innings.

There is currently no ETA on when these four will return.

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Pirates Don’t Seem to Like A.J. Burnett’s 2015 Salary http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-dont-seem-to-like-a-j-burnetts-2015-salary.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-dont-seem-to-like-a-j-burnetts-2015-salary.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:40:13 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84467 Jayson Stark has several updates over at ESPN, including an update on the Pirates and A.J. Burnett. Earlier this week we heard that Burnett preferred to go back to Pittsburgh if he was going to get moved. Stark says that sources tell him the Pirates would need assurance that Burnett would retire, rather than picking up his player option next year that would pay as much as $14.25 M. In the article earlier this week, I pointed out how Burnett is still owed a little over $25 M from the end of July to the end of his contract, as long as he makes 32 starts in 2014 and 32 in 2015.

Stark also says that it would be a surprise if the Pirates don’t add at least one pitcher, and maybe two. He says that they’ve been looking at potential seventh inning arms for the bullpen, rather than supplanting the current combo of Mark Melancon and Tony Watson as the late inning guys.

UPDATE 8:15 PM: Jon Heyman also says that the Pirates aren’t too excited about Burnett’s 2015 player option. He also says that the Pirates’ interest is believed to be mild at best, and might fall further if Burnett intends to pick up his option.

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Andrew Lambo off to a hot start after return from thumb injury http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/andrew-lambo-off-to-a-hot-start-after-return-from-thumb-injury.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/andrew-lambo-off-to-a-hot-start-after-return-from-thumb-injury.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:36:50 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84233 After missing two and a half months following surgery on his right thumb, Andrew Lambo did not waste any time getting back into the swing of things. In the first six games, he is hitting for a .462/.481/.808 line in 26 at-bats, with three doubles and two home runs.

“It’s feeling good,” Lambo said. “I got some good pitches to hit the other day. I faced (Justin) Masterson yesterday. That is different, four days in to be facing some arms and having to face a pretty established big leaguer. It was a good opportunity to see some pretty good pitching. I had some quality at bats and we are getting better. It is getting stronger and I am getting more comfortable at the plate.”

Overall, Lambo is hitting .370 with four home runs and 16 doubles in 32 games with Indianapolis this season. However, on Sunday, against Masterson, Lambo struck out twice on the way to a 0-for-5 game. Strikeouts have been an issue for him, as he has fanned 28 times in 119 at bats for the campaign. This is compared to just 14 walks through Wednesday. Last season, Lambo struck out 127 times in 444 at bats between Altoona and Indianapolis, so the struggle is nothing new for the slugger.

Lambo credits the fast start to the work that he put in with the rest of his body while rehabbing the thumb. While the rehab process can be a tedious endeavor for athletes, Lambo said that the hard work is now paying off.

“Sometimes when you get into a rehab, you can get caught up in that negative, ‘this is a drag,’ routine, but you just have to try to make a positive out of things and challenge yourself to work as hard as possible when you are in that cast and in that splint,” Lambo said. “The harder that you work in that cast and in that splint, the recovery of getting back on the baseball field is that much easier. You definitely don’t want to go home and sit on the couch for a month and a half and try to get back to pro ball because this is a tough game.”

Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington has noticed Lambo’s hard work as well and is aware that the bounce back is due to the effort that he put in.

“It’s been great to see him get rewarded for how hard he worked on his rehab,” Huntington said. “He worked hard to keep the non-injured baseball parts of his body in baseball condition. That’s definitely showing. He’s been able to jump back much quicker than most young players, or most players come back from thumb surgery.”

The two home runs since returning matched Lambo’s production in that category for the entire first half of the season. However, Lambo did have 13 doubles over that span. As he told me earlier this season, Lambo looks to drive the ball into the gaps for doubles when he is at his best, and will just let the home runs come.

“It felt really good to get some swings off like that,” Lambo said. “I am just playing day by day, excited to help the team. I feel fortunate to have a jersey on and we go from there.”

While Lambo went only 4-for-25 in rehab stints with GCL and Jamestown, getting some work in was something that he credits for easing him back in. He also is pleased with how the coaching staff handles the players within the organization.

“We have a great coaching staff and a great manager here, who knows when to put you in the lineup and when to give you a day off,” Lambo said. This also allowed him to ease back in once he gets to the Triple-A level.

Lambo will split time between first base and the outfield – right and left — with some DH mixed in. He played his first game at first base last night since his return. Regardless of where he is placed on the field, Lambo is up to the challenge.

“There is going to be bounce-around situations, and you have to take on the challenge,” Lambo said. “I want to help out the big league club, but also help out this club. If that is playing one day at first, then one day in right, one day in left and then one day DHing, I look forward to that challenge.”

It is this versatility that leads Huntington to point out how excited that they were with Lambo going into the spring and that he is “certainly still in our plans moving forward.”

While he is making no doubt that his ultimate goal is to end up in Pittsburgh by the end of the season, Lambo is setting his remaining season goals to improving each day.

“I just want to get better in every facet of the game,” Lambo said. “I want to have fun and play this game the way that I know that I am capable of and play hard. It’s all about coming here and getting better. Nobody is going to be perfect in this game. We are going to make mistakes. We’re not going to get hits and then we are going to get hits, it’s all in how you deal with them.”

While the injury severely set Lambo back, there is little doubt that he will get another big league look in September when the rosters expand, if not before. With the lack of depth in the Pittsburgh outfield, outside of Josh Harrison, if Lambo is able to keep the hits consistent and the strikeouts down, he could be able to provide a nice shot in the arm in Pittsburgh this season. Lambo could also see some time at first base if Ike Davis continues to struggle.

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First Pitch: More of This From Liriano and Fixing the Competitive Balance Lottery http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-more-of-this-from-liriano-and-fixing-the-competitive-balance-lottery.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-more-of-this-from-liriano-and-fixing-the-competitive-balance-lottery.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 04:54:32 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84436 The Pirates need the 2013 version of Francisco Liriano in the second half. Last time out he struggled in the first, but recovered and threw five innings with no earned runs, striking out eight in the process. Tonight against the Dodgers the results were much like the 2013 Liriano, with one run on four hits and two walks in seven innings, along with four strikeouts.

Liriano got off to a horrible start this year, and missed about a month with an injury. He has quietly been pitching better over his last six starts. In his last five outings prior to tonight, he had a 2.78 ERA. His 3.80 xFIP suggests he won’t continue with those numbers if he keeps up what he was doing, and that was issuing a lot of walks, but limiting the hits and striking out a lot of guys. The version we’ve seen the last two starts can not only put up strong numbers, but would also have the advanced metrics to back up those numbers.

We’re a week away from the trade deadline, and the Pirates will be looking at starting pitching. A big reason for this is because Liriano hasn’t lived up to his role this year. If Liriano can continue pitching like he has since returning from the disabled list, then that would be one of the biggest boosts the Pirates pitching staff could receive in the final two months.

**

MLB held their Competitive Balance Lottery today, and there was nothing about it that said “Competitive Balance”. The Pirates, Rays, and Royals were all shut out from draft picks, while the Cardinals and Mariners both received picks. The draft lottery has been flawed since day one. Any system that recognizes the need for competitive balance, but doesn’t offer draft picks for all of the teams that need such balance, is pointless.

I offered up a suggestion after the first draft, and the suggestion would still work today. For some background, the teams that make up the lottery are the ten teams with the lowest revenue, and the ten teams in the smallest markets. Any team who received revenue sharing, but doesn’t qualify for those lists, is entered in the lottery for a Comp Round B pick. This year there were 13 teams for the first round, and two more added for the second round. Here is how the system could be fixed.

1. Take whatever teams that fall in to both low revenue and small market categories, and have them compete for a first round compensation pick. Make as many picks as there are teams. We know that there would have been seven of those teams this year, which means there would be one extra pick in Round A.

2. Take all of the teams who only fell in to one category and give them compensation picks in section B after the second round. After those six picks, give picks to any teams who received revenue sharing, but don’t qualify as small market or low revenue (in this case, the Mariners and Twins).

Under this simple system, the teams that need help the most (small market AND small revenue) are not only guaranteed picks, but get the best picks. Teams that only fall into one of those categories would get a pick, but a lower valued pick. And a team that receives revenue sharing, but isn’t a small market or low revenue team would get the least valuable picks.

This would add three picks to the draft — one after the first round, and two after the second round. It wouldn’t blow up the draft, and it would achieve the goal of working toward Competitive Balance, even if these draft picks are just a very, very small piece of assistance towards that balance.

Links and Notes

**This Chart Shows the Steady Decline in Tyler Glasnow’s Walks This Year

**Prospect Watch: Jason Creasy Goes Over 43 Innings Without Issuing a Walk

**Starling Marte Placed on Disabled List, Brent Morel Recalled

**Pirates Miss Out on a 2015 Draft Pick in the Competitive Balance Lottery

**Pirates Connected to Phillies Reliever Antonio Bastardo

**Pirates Scouting Diamondbacks Relievers

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Has Improved Command Since Arriving in Indianapolis

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Prospect Watch: Jason Creasy Goes Over 43 Innings Without Issuing a Walk http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-jason-creasy-goes-over-43-innings-without-issuing-a-walk.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-jason-creasy-goes-over-43-innings-without-issuing-a-walk.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:31:19 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84419 TOP OF THE SYSTEM

A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, 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 (Jameson Taillon #1, Clay Holmes #12), 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 20 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the mid-season top 20 update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - DNP

2. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - 1-for-4, 2B

3. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - 1-for-3

4. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

5. Alen Hanson, SS, Altoona - 1-for-4

6. Josh Bell, RF, Altoona - 1-for-5

7. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (7/7 Update)

8. Cole Tucker, SS, GCL Pirates - DNP

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

10. Mitch Keller, RHP, GCL Pirates -DNP

11. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Altoona - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

12. JaCoby Jones, SS, West Virginia - 0-for-4

13. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

14. Andrew Lambo, OF, Indianapolis - 3-for-5, 2B

15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

16. Michael De La Cruz, OF, GCL Pirates - DNP

17. Trey Supak, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

18. Buddy Borden, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

19. Stetson Allie, 1B, Altoona - DNP

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, GCL Pirates – DNP

 

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The 2014 Prospect Guide is on sale for $5 off, using the code “JULY2ND”. The code can be applied to all regular priced items purchased from the store. You can order your copy on the products page of the site.

 

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Jason Creasy, RHP – 7.2 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jose Osuna, DH – 2-for-4, 2 HR

Home Runs: Keon Broxton (10), Gift Ngoepe (8), Jose Osuna 2 (5), Eric Wood (3), Erich Weiss (3), Danny Arribas (2), Carlos Paulino (1), Walker Gourley (1)

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Charlotte 8, Indianapolis 4

Starting Pitcher: Adam Wilk, LHP – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 2 HR

Top Hitter: Andrew Lambo, 1B – 3-for-5, 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Chase d’Arnaud, CF – 1-for-5, SB

Robert Andino, SS – 1-for-5

Mel Rojas, RF – 1-for-2, 2B, 2 BB

Game Notes: Since coming off the disabled list, Andrew Lambo is hitting for a .462 average with a 1.289 OPS in the month of July, spanning 26 at-bats. On the season he has a .370 average and a 1.062 OPS. Chase d’Arnaud stole his 19th base of the year, with four of them coming in his last nine games. Robert Andino picked up his sixth hit in his last seven games.

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Altoona 8, New Britain 5

Starting Pitcher: Adrian Sampson, RHP – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

Top Hitter: Gift Ngoepe, 2B – 3-for-5, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Keon Broxton, CF – 3-for-5, HR

Carlos Paulino, C – 2-for-4, 2B, HR

Willy Garcia, RF – 2-for-4, 2B, BB

Drew Maggi, LF – 3-for-5, 2B, SB

Game Notes: Adrian Sampson made his first start since last week’s one hitter. He had a good follow up to that start, giving up two runs in six innings of work. Both runs came on solo homers. He has a 2.60 ERA in 128 innings this year, along with an 89:29 K/BB ratio. Altoona’s offense exploded for the second night in a row. Keon Broxton hit his tenth homer, Gift Ngoepe hit his eighth homer, and Carlos Paulino hit his first homer to lead the way. All three homers came in the second inning, giving Altoona a 5-0 lead at the time. Willy Garcia hit his 20th double of the year. Drew Maggi stole his 26th base of the season.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Box Score

Result: Bradenton 4, Dunedin 0

Starting Pitcher: Jason Creasy, RHP – 7.2 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jose Osuna, DH – 2-for-4, 2 HR

Other Notable Performers:

Jordan Steranka, 1B – 2-for-4

Eric Wood, 3B – 1-for-3, HR, BB

Walker Gourley, RF – 1-for-4, HR

Game Notes: All four of Bradenton’s runs came off the solo homer. Jose Osuna hit two homers, giving him five on the year. Walker Gourley hit his first homer of the year, and Eric Wood hit his third. Jason Creasy issued a walk in the seventh inning, snapping a streak of 43.2 innings pitched without a walk. Creasy gas a 3.52 ERA in 110 innings, with a 75:14 K/BB ratio. He has walked just six batters in 84.1 innings since the start of May.

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

Box Score

Result: Hickory 3, West Virginia 2

Starting Pitcher: Felipe Gonzalez, RHP – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Erich Weiss, 2B – 1-for-3, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Austin Meadows, CF – 1-for-4, 2B

Reese McGuire, C – 1-for-3

Game Notes: Austin Meadows extended his hitting streak to seven games, and hit his first double of the year with West Virginia. It was also his first extra base hit of the year. Reese McGuire picked up a hit, and now has a hit in each of his last five games, and hits in nine of his last ten games. Erich Weiss hit his third homer of the year, and has a 1.037 OPS in the last ten games. Zack Von Rosenberg pitched a scoreless inning in relief, then was pulled from the game after pitching to one batter the next inning. The box score said that the ball was hit back to the pitcher, so you hope it’s nothing serious. No word yet on the specifics.

 

A-: JAMESTOWN JAMMERS   

Box Score

Result: Auburn 6, Jamestown 2

Starting Pitcher: Tyler Eppler, RHP – 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Michael Suchy, RF – 3-for-4, 3B

Other Notable Performers:

David Andriese, 1B – 2-for-3, 2B

Game Notes: Tyler Eppler has had a decent start to his pro career, with a 4.08 ERA in 35.1 innings. He has struggled in his last two outings, although most of tonight’s start was due to his defense. He has a 23:7 K/BB ratio on the season, showing some good control and the ability to get some strikeouts. Michael Suchy picked up three hits, and now has an .819 OPS in 41 at-bats over his last ten games.

 

RK: BRISTOL PIRATES

Box Score

Result: Pulaski 3, Bristol 2

Starting Pitcher: Mervin Del Rosario, LHP – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Danny Arribas, C – 1-for-4, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Jonathan Sandfort, RHP – 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Jerrick Suiter, DH – 2-for-3, BB

Game Notes: Jon Sandfort has a lot of upside, but has struggled this year, entering tonight’s game with an ERA over 11. He’s been pitching in a piggyback role, working as the second pitcher on the mound. Tonight’s game was one of his best of the year, and the best start since July 1st. Sandfort has a good K/BB ratio of 17:4 in 21.1 innings, but needs to limit the hits, as he has given up two per inning this year. Danny Arribas hit his second homer of the year. Jerrick Suiter had two hits, and has an .814 OPs on the season.

 

RK: GCL PIRATES

The GCL Pirates were suspended due to rain.

 

RK: DSL PIRATES

Box Score

Result: Angels 4, Pirates 3

Starting Pitcher: Luis Escobar, RHP – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Patrick Reyes, 1B – 2-for-4

Other Notable Performers:

Raul Siri, 2B – 1-for-3, BB, SB

Game Notes: The Pirates lost 4-3 on Wednesday, but the big story from the day was the pitching of Luis Escobar. He threw five shutout innings, giving up one hit and two walks. Escobar allowed ten earned runs over 1.2 innings in his second start of the season, which was also his second start as a pro. Since then, he has given up ten earned runs in his last eight starts combined, covering 36.2 innings. Outfielder Eliezer Ramirez had the only RBI for the Pirates and lead-off hitter Victor Fernandez had the only extra-base hit, a seventh inning double that followed the RBI single from Ramirez. Catcher Mikell Granberry drew two walks, while All-Star second baseman Raul Siri had a single, walk and stolen base. - John Dreker

You can check out the DSL Pirates week seven recap here.

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Starling Marte Placed on Disabled List, Brent Morel Recalled http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/starling-marte-placed-on-disabled-list.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/starling-marte-placed-on-disabled-list.html#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:06:11 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84405 The Pittsburgh Pirates have placed outfielder Starling Marte on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion. They have recalled third baseman Brent Morel to take his roster place. Marte was hit in the head by a pitch on Friday. He sat out Saturday, pinch-hit on Sunday, then played Monday, before sitting out last night’s game. Morel was up with the Pirates earlier in the year, but just for one game. He struck out in his only at-bat.

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