Pirates Prospects » Top Stories http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 20:01:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 Luis Heredia Pulled From His Start After Throwing One Pitch http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/luis-heredia-pulled-from-his-start-after-throwing-one-pitch.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/luis-heredia-pulled-from-his-start-after-throwing-one-pitch.html#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 19:38:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76320 According to multiple people in attendance at today’s West Virginia game, Luis Heredia was pulled from his start after throwing one pitch. It’s unknown why he was pulled from the game, but this isn’t usually a good sign. More updates will be provided as they come.

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The Adjustments Andrew Lambo is Making After His Slow Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/the-adjustments-andrew-lambo-is-making-after-his-slow-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/the-adjustments-andrew-lambo-is-making-after-his-slow-start.html#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76250 Tough beginnings

After a rough spring training that caused him to lose the first base battle handily to Travis Ishikawa, and an 0-for-8 start to the Triple-A season at the plate, Andrew Lambo set off some warning alarms within the organization. However, Lambo has rebounded well from the slump, by going 8-for-16 in his five previous games through Friday.

As for the cold onset to the campaign, Lambo blamed some of it on the success that he had last year — where he smacked 33 home runs between Altoona, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh. The power numbers that he was able to produce last year created the mindset that he should hit home runs on every trip to the plate.

“As a hitter, if you have a good year, as far as my standpoint, you kind of expect that it will always be there,” Lambo said. “You forget the work that you need to put in to create that year. I went out to Venezuela and didn’t really do a whole lot and created some bad habits that carried over into the Spring, unfortunately.”

Though Lambo knows that he is expected to drive in runs and produce extra-base hits, he also now realizes that the power numbers will come naturally with the pitches that he is thrown and the various situations.

“You can’t control if you hit home runs or not,” Lambo said. “All you can control is what your plan is and what your approach is. Am I a home run hitter? In my head, I don’t think so. Throughout my career, I have been a guy who puts the barrel on the ball.”

With this approach, Lambo sets goals to hit over .300, have over 40 doubles, and drive in over 100 runs each season. He said that home runs come and go and he lets the fans worry about them more than he does.

Adjustments

Not wanting to dwell on the slump, Lambo referred to himself as a “big fix it guy.” The main adjustment that Lambo has been working on with hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo is to let the ball get a little deeper in the zone before attacking.

“We kind of simplified it for him and focused on some of the things that he does well,” Pagliarulo said. “We are working on staying on the ball a little longer. It is really a commitment to that. He’s the kind of guys that is not afraid and is willing to commit to things, as long as they are connected to the right stuff. That’s what we are trying to get him focused on, so that it is just one thing at the plate.”

In addition, Lambo has put a focus on using all fields and driving the ball from foul pole to foul pole, which is a skill that Pagliarulo thinks will contribute heavily to Lambo’s future success.

“I did not really know him until last year when he came up here,” Pagliarulo said. “The way that he was able to hit the ball to all fields, was really effective. It was really difficult for pitchers to face him because he is dangerous to all fields. We are just getting disciplined on his contact point and using all fields.”

Another goal that Lambo is taking to the plate is quite simple – don’t beat yourself. Rather than trying to replicate his swing from last year, Lambo is looking to get back to the basics and start from square one. Lambo said that not having a plan or an approach at the plate was also to blame with his struggles.

Though Lambo admitted that he is not where he wants to be offensively just yet, he stated that getting back to the basics has him a lot closer to where he wants to be, and ultimately, Pittsburgh.

Success against lefties

Though a bugaboo for some left-handed hitters is facing situational left-handed pitchers late in the game, Lambo has thrived against lefties early in the season. Through Friday, Lambo was 5-for-8 against left-handed pitching with two doubles.

Lambo’s initial expectations at the Major League level is to be facing right-handed pitching as a platoon player. In 2013, his splits were .288/.353/.591 against righties. In addition, in 2013, Lambo handled lefties fairly well. He had an .810 OPS against left-handed pitching, compared to the .944 he posted against right-handed pitching.

If Lambo can continue this success against southpaws, his value in Pittsburgh is even stronger than it would otherwise be. Hitting lefties gives Lambo the opportunity to also beat out Gaby Sanchez and take over the everyday position, regardless of the match-up, rather than platooning.

Defensive adjustments

Lambo is also looking to adjust to his defensive role with the organization from outfield to first base, as the road is blocked to years to come in the outfield.

While this is a change that Lambo is embracing, the first thing that he learned was the heavier workload that comes with playing the infield, as opposed to the outfield. This alone provided an adjustment for Lambo physically. However, he did not blame the position change on his early offensive struggles.

“I’m not going to blame me moving into the infield on why I didn’t hit,” he said. “Why I didn’t hit was for me and the reasons in the box. Me in the box had to iron some things out. Playing a new position is not why you don’t hit. I don’t believe in that.”

The agility with side to side movement and the focus within the game in the infield are two more aspects that Lambo acknowledged as adjustments. Though Lambo downplays the effect of the position change, Pagliarulo think that it may have had an impact on Lambo this spring.

“This spring, he was asked to play a new position and to do a lot of things,” Pagliarulo said. “I think that some people underestimate the difficulty of playing a new position, especially outfield to infield. We have a lot of things going on. I think that he is going to be fine and he is going to help later in the year in Pittsburgh.”

It is well-known and foreseen that Lambo’s chance to contribute for the Pirates is at first base, as Gregory Polanco has the route to the final outfield position locked down. With Ishikawa as the only obstacle in the way, Lambo will take the role if his offensive efficiency continues for another month or so, regardless of his defensive prowess in the infield. However, he is gaining necessary experience at Indianapolis that will prove valuable in the long run at the next level.

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First Pitch: Why the Pirates Should Wait For Super Two With Gregory Polanco http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/first-pitch-why-the-pirates-should-wait-for-super-two-with-gregory-polanco.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/first-pitch-why-the-pirates-should-wait-for-super-two-with-gregory-polanco.html#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 05:28:43 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76275 The Super Two subject is never popular with top prospects. It’s a smart practice to keep a player down for just two months, all to avoid an extra year of arbitration. If the player projects to be a star, then that extra two months could be worth $10-15 M over the long run. Nothing that a top prospect could do in his rookie season would be worth $10-15 M in the long run for two months in the short-term. Putting that in perspective, that’s like paying a guy $30-45 M over a full season.

But fans don’t want to hear about money. The only thing fans care about is winning now. Meanwhile, a General Manager has to balance winning now with the long-term chances of winning. This creates an unfavorable situation where the team doesn’t promote a top prospect for very valid reasons, and it doesn’t go over well with the fan base. I’m not talking specifically about the Pirates here. Every team does this. There are a few examples where a top prospect is called up before Super Two status, but generally that doesn’t happen with small market teams.

Earlier today I wrote about the projected cutoff for Super Two. I also pointed out an estimated date of June 10th to call a prospect up this year and avoid Super Two status. That date would be relevant for Gregory Polanco, who has been off to a hot start with Indianapolis.

There were a few calls for Polanco to come up early, ignoring the Super Two status. Aside from the monetary reasons, I find this kind of strange. If Polanco came up, he’d be replacing Travis Snider in the starting lineup. Currently Snider has been one of the best hitters on the team, with a .766 OPS after tonight’s game (ranking 4th among starters). It’s very early in the season, and we’re dealing with small sample sizes here. Snider had an .800 OPS before going 1-for-4 with a single tonight.

It’s also early for Polanco. He’s off to a great start, and his talent makes you want to believe that his hitting is legit. But right now he only has 34 at-bats. By comparison, Chris Dickerson is hitting great in 26 at-bats, and no one is calling for him to come up. Andrew Lambo, Brent Morel, Robert Andino, Blake Davis, and Chris McGuiness are all guys who entered tonight’s games with an OPS over .900. A lot of people are hitting in Indianapolis. That tells me that the team has had some favorable matchups/stadiums, or a few big games, and the small sample size really highlights this. This isn’t discounting what Polanco has done. It’s just looking at him with a skeptical view, which you kind of have to do when everyone on the team is crushing the ball. Suddenly it doesn’t seem like Polanco is doing something special that is unique to his talent level.

But let’s just say that Polanco is legitimately crushing the ball. Let’s also ignore that Snider is doing well right now, and not the problem with the team offense at the moment. We’ll entertain the idea of calling up Polanco to give the offense a huge boost. Is that really the environment you want to create for a top prospect in his early 20s? Call a guy up to be the savior of the offense when he’s yet to see a single Major League pitch? Let him know that he only has about a week and a half to prove himself before he’s deemed replaceable?

That’s kind of ridiculous, and it’s something that would never happen. But that’s basically what is being said with any “call Polanco up early” campaign. It’s saying that Polanco, a rookie with no MLB experience, is the difference between a bad offense and a good offense. It’s saying that we can dismiss individual players based on not-even two weeks worth of at-bats. Neither of those is a good stance to take.

The truth about the offense right now is that there are players under-performing. However, several of those under-performing players are guys who should be performing. Andrew McCutchen has a .661 OPS. Jordy Mercer has a .403 OPS. Starling Marte isn’t doing horrible, but his .741 OPS isn’t cutting it. At this point if you’d call up Polanco to take over for Travis Snider, you’d be replacing your most productive outfielder.

McCutchen will bounce back (assuming he’s healthy after leaving in the eighth inning tonight). Mercer will do better than this. Marte should do better than this. And the Pirates should give everyone else the proper time for evaluations. This way you can tell if Snider’s success is actually legit, or if Polanco is actually dominating Triple-A, rather than just having a hot week (and it has been just one week in the minors), or being a part of a team that is collectively hitting the ball well.

In the process, you keep Polanco down and avoid Super Two status with him, which is great for the organization in the long-term. That’s not favorable to the “win now at any cost” group. But the irony with that group is that these are the same people who would have had Polanco traded over the previous two seasons, all to get a short-term rental player to provide a marginal in-season upgrade. That’s the thing about “win now at any cost” moves. A few years down the line, the “any cost” part can look very foolish.

Links and Notes

**Over the weekend I’ve been working on adding new writers to the site. I’m still in that process, but we’ll have some new writers starting this week, mostly at the minor league level. Adding new writers is made possible by purchases on the products page of the site. That’s where you can buy our 2014 Prospect Guide, with information on every player in the minor league system. We also now have a Pirates Prospects logo t-shirt available. It’s my goal to keep all of the website content free, while also adding as much content as possible. The more funds received through these products, the more coverage we can add going forward.

**Andrew McCutchen Leaves Game With Discomfort in His Left Ankle

**Super Two and the Impact on Gerrit Cole and Gregory Polanco

**Prospect Watch: Two More Hits For Polanco, Kingham With Another Good Start

**Minor League Schedule: Heredia Tries To Bounce Back From Rough Opener

**Chris Stewart’s Rehab Moved to Indianapolis

**Prospect Highlights: Gregory Polanco’s Speed, Andrew Lambo, Chris Dickerson

**Jeff Locke Activated From the DL, Optioned to Triple-A

**Draft Prospect Watch: Kyle Freeland Strikes Out 15 Again

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Prospect Watch: Two More Hits For Polanco, Kingham With Another Good Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-watch-two-more-hits-for-polanco-kingham-with-another-good-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-watch-two-more-hits-for-polanco-kingham-with-another-good-start.html#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:47:36 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76251 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 (Tony Sanchez #11, Stolmy Pimentel #13). 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 #2, 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 2014 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Gregory Polanco, CF, Indianapolis - 2-for-4, 3B

2. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - Disabled List (3/22 Update)

3. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/2 Update)

4. Alen Hanson, SS, Altoona - 0-for-4, BB, SB

5. Nick Kingham, RHP, Altoona - 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

6. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - 1-for-5

7. Josh Bell, RF, Bradenton - 2-for-4, BB

8. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia Power - DNP

9. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/7 Update)

10. Andrew Lambo, 1B, Indianapolis - 1-for-4, BB

11. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

12. Blake Taylor, LHP, Extended Spring Training - DNP

13. Cody Dickson, LHP, West Virginia - 4.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

14. Barrett Barnes, CF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/7 Update)

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

16. Michael De La Cruz, OF, Extended Spring Training - DNP

17. Wyatt Mathisen, 3B, West Virginia - 2-for-3, 2B, BB

18. Jin-De Jhang, C, Bradenton - DNP

19. Brandon Cumpton, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

20. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

 

2014FrontCoverORDER YOUR 2014 PROSPECT GUIDE

The 2014 Prospect Guide is now available, and is the perfect resource to follow the minor league system during the 2014 season. You can order your copy on the products page of the site.

 

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Nick Kingham, RHP – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Gregory Polanco, RF – 2-for-4, 3B

Home Runs: Willy Garcia (2)

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 6, Toledo 4

Starting Pitcher: Jake Brigham, RHP – 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Gregory Polanco, RF – 2-for-4, 3B

Other Notable Performers:

Michael Martinez, SS – 2-for-5

Andrew Lambo, DH – 1-for-4, BB

Carlos Paulino, C – 2-for-3, BB

Game Notes: Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco continued to excite, as the he tripled to center in the third inning and had the fans on the edge of their seats and he was preparing to round third before being held up. He also reached on an infield single in the sixth to drive in a run. It is this speed combined with the power that has so many Pirates fans chomping at the bit to see Polanco in Pittsburgh.

For starter Jake Brigham, unlike his first outing, it was a mixed bag. Brigham struck out seven in just 4.1 innings. However, he walked four and allowed four runs, three of which were earned. With a three run fifth inning, Indianapolis did give Brigham a no decision, however.

Former top Tigers prospect Andy Oliver threw two shutout innings for the save, striking out four. – Ryan Palencer

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Richmond 5, Altoona 4

Starting Pitcher: Nick Kingham, RHP – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Willy Garcia, RF – 1-for-4, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Stetson Allie, 1B – 1-for-3, 2B, BB, SB

Gift Ngoepe, 2B – 1-for-2, 2 BB

Game Notes: Nick Kingham now has one run allowed on six hits in 12 innings of work over his first two starts of the season. He also has ten strikeouts in that time. The one drawback is that he has six walks in those 12 innings. Kingham normally has excellent fastball control, and was never over a 2.6 BB/9 in A-ball (1.8 BB/9 in High-A last year). In his time in Altoona last year he had a 3.7 BB/9 ratio. His numbers have been excellent across the board, with the exception of the walks so far in Double-A. Willy Garcia hit his second homer of the season in 25 at-bats. Stetson Allie picked up his second double in two days.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Box Score

Result: Jupiter 9, Bradenton 2

Starting Pitcher: John Kuchno, RHP – 3.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Josh Bell, RF – 2-for-4, BB

Other Notable Performers:

Jose Osuna, 1B – 2-for-5, RBI, SB

Raul Fortunato, LF – 1-for-4, 2B, BB, SB

Adam Frazier, DH – 1-for-3, BB, SB

Game Notes: Josh Bell now has a hit in all seven of his games this season, including five multi-hit games. He is currently 12-for-28 (.429) with three doubles, a triple, and a homer. Jose Osuna picked up two hits on the night to raise his early season average to .346. He also stole home plate on the back end of a double steal in the first inning. John Kuchno threw five no-hit innings during his last start, but was hit around tonight, giving up seven runs on nine hits.

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

Box Score

Result: Lexington 6, West Virginia 3

Starting Pitcher: Cody Dickson, LHP – 4.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

Top Hitter: Erich Weiss, 2B – 3-for-4, 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Wyatt Mathisen, 3B – 2-for-3, 2B, BB

Justin Maffei, CF – 2-for-2, 2 BB

Game Notes: Erich Weiss picked up three hits tonight, and now has a hit in six straight games, after starting the season 0-for-9 in his first three games. Wyatt Mathisen had a two hit night, and picked up his first extra base hit of the season. Cody Dickson had a great start in his debut, throwing five shutout innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. Tonight he was hit around for six runs on ten hits. The one positive here is that he hasn’t issued a walk in 9.2 innings over his two starts. One of the big issues with Dickson when he was drafted was a lack of control.

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Andrew McCutchen Leaves Game With Discomfort in His Left Ankle http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/andrew-mccutchen-leaves-game-with-discomfort-in-his-left-ankle.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/andrew-mccutchen-leaves-game-with-discomfort-in-his-left-ankle.html#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:04:25 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76255 Andrew McCutchen left tonight’s Pittsburgh Pirates game in the eighth inning due to left ankle discomfort, the team announced. McCutchen ended the top of the eighth inning by lining out to third base, then walked off the field and was replaced defensively in the bottom of the eighth inning.

No word yet on the situation. We’ll update if more information becomes available.

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Super Two and the Impact on Gerrit Cole and Gregory Polanco http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/super-two-and-the-impact-on-gerrit-cole-and-gregory-polanco.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/super-two-and-the-impact-on-gerrit-cole-and-gregory-polanco.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:40:59 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76224 MLBTR released the projected Super Two cutoff following the 2014 season. Super Two status is awarded to players with more than two, but less than three years of service time. Only the players with the top 22% of service time in that group are Super Two eligible. Any player who is Super Two eligible gets their third league minimum year replaced with an extra year of arbitration. This gives a Super Two player two years of league minimum pay, and four years of arbitration, rather than the usual three and three. The extra year of arbitration can be costly, especially to impact players, which is why teams try to avoid Super Two status.

According to MLBTR, the projected Super Two cutoff is two years and 128 days, which reads as 2.128. This means that anyone with 2.128 years of service time at the end of the 2014 season, but less than three years of service time, would be eligible for arbitration.

Currently the Pirates have no players projected for Super Two status following the 2014 season. But the big focus for Super Two and the Pirates comes with their top prospects.

First, there’s Gerrit Cole, who was called up in the middle of last June, and projects to remain in the majors for good. Cole finished last season with 111 days of service time. If he remains in the majors all year this year, and all year in 2015, he would end the 2015 season with 2.111 years of service time.

We don’t know what the Super Two cutoff will be after the 2015 season. However, the lowest that the cutoff has been in recent years was 2.122 years, which happened in 2013 and 2010. It seems that Cole is safe with his projected 2.111 years of service after the 2015 season.

There’s also the issue of when to call up Gregory Polanco. If we use the 2.122 date as a cutoff for future Super Two years, then teams would be able to start calling their top prospects up on May 31st. That would give those prospects 121 days of service time at the end of the 2014 season, and a projected 2.121 at the end of the 2016 season.

But teams like to play it safe, and call players up a few weeks after the normal Super Two “deadlines” pass. If a team was aiming to call up a player and give them similar service time to what Cole received last year (111 days), then the call up date would be June 10th.

I’m guessing that the Pirates will want to avoid Super Two status with Polanco. That means he probably won’t be in the majors until it’s safe to call him up and avoid Super Two status. As today is April 11th, we’re probably almost exactly two months away from Polanco’s debut in the majors, assuming the Pirates avoid Super Two time with their top prospect.

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Prospect Highlights: Gregory Polanco’s Speed, Andrew Lambo, Chris Dickerson http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-highlights-gregory-polancos-speed-andrew-lambo-chris-dickerson.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-highlights-gregory-polancos-speed-andrew-lambo-chris-dickerson.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:44:32 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76212 Here are some highlights from the last few days in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, including two videos of top prospect Gregory Polanco.

There’s always time for Gregory Polanco highlights, especially a highlight of him showing off his speed by stealing second base, and taking third on a wild throw by the catcher.

Here’s another video of Polanco picking up a single up the middle.

The Indians won in walk off fashion last night, as outlined in the Prospect Watch. Andrew Lambo started the comeback earlier in the game with this RBI single.

Indianapolis eventually won it on this walk off single by Chris Dickerson.

Down in Double-A, Andy Vasquez had a two run homer on Wednesday night. Vasquez is more of an upper level organizational guy, due to his ability to play almost any position on the field.

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Jeff Locke Activated From the DL, Optioned to Triple-A http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/jeff-locke-activated-from-the-dl-optioned-to-triple-a.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/jeff-locke-activated-from-the-dl-optioned-to-triple-a.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:22:55 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76208 The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated Jeff Locke from the 15-day disabled list, and have optioned him to Indianapolis. Locke made his final rehab start on Wednesday night, striking out ten batters in six innings in Bradenton. I wrote about how Locke looked during that start. Yesterday I asked whether Locke had a spot in the Pirates’ rotation. At the moment there isn’t a spot open for him, which is why this move isn’t much of a surprise. However, if Wandy Rodriguez continues to struggle, Locke could be one of the challengers for his rotation spot.

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First Pitch: What Do the Pirates Have in Their Rotation? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/first-pitch-what-do-the-pirates-have-in-their-rotation.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/first-pitch-what-do-the-pirates-have-in-their-rotation.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 05:05:13 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76185 Earlier today I wrote an article looking at what should be expected from each spot in the rotation from a numbers standpoint. That focused on the league averages, and the ERA from each spot. As a side note, I prefer FIP and xFIP over ERA, but when you’re talking about league averages, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Also, the goal was to look at what teams actually did last year, rather than what they’d be expected to do going forward. That means ERA is a better choice.

For the purposes of this article, I wanted to look at the numbers from today’s article, and apply the rotation rankings to each Pirates’ starter. For this reason, I’m going to focus more on the FIP numbers, since that projects what they should be doing going forward. I included the ZiPS projections for each pitcher, but I mostly went with the 2013 FIP numbers, since I feel that tells the story of what should be expected of these pitchers. Note that this is true regardless of whether the 2013 FIP numbers led to improvements over the ZiPS projections, or a decline compared to ZiPS.

Check out the article from earlier today to get an idea of what is to be expected from each rotation spot. Here is how each spot applies to the Pirates’ 2014 starters.

Francisco Liriano

ZiPS ERA/FIP: 3.21/3.30

2013 Stats: 3.02 ERA / 2.92 FIP

Liriano doesn’t meet the standard of a number one starter based on the MLB average. His numbers from last year were close, and his FIP last year suggests that going forward he would be around a 2.92 ERA. To put that in perspective with the number one rankings, Liriano would have been an ace for about a third of the teams in the league last year. He would have been a number two starter for all but one team in the league last year (the Dodgers).

Liriano’s ZiPS numbers weren’t as optimistic this year, although those are based on his career numbers, and he doesn’t look like that pitcher. I’d say Liriano is closer to his 2013 numbers, making him an ace in a weaker rotation, or one of the best number two starters in the league.

Gerrit Cole

ZiPS ERA/FIP: 3.61/3.76

2013 Stats: 3.22 ERA / 2.91 FIP

Cole is in a similar situation as Liriano. His 2013 numbers are much better than his ZiPS numbers. The 2013 FIP is almost identical to Liriano’s, which means that if he continues that going forward, he would be a number one for about a third of the teams in the league, or a number two for almost every team in the league. I think it’s more likely that Cole repeats his 2013 numbers, rather than putting up the numbers ZiPS projects.

Charlie Morton

ZiPS ERA/FIP: 4.10/4.26

2013 Stats: 3.26 ERA / 3.60 FIP

Morton looked great last year, and this is a case where I would trust his 2013 numbers over his FIP. The FIP considers past stats, which don’t factor in his new sinker, and which factor in his injured 2012 season. Morton’s FIP last year, if he carries that over this year, would be a strong number three starter, or a number two starter in a weak rotation.

Wandy Rodriguez

ZiPS ERA/FIP: 3.83/4.15

2013 Stats: 3.59 ERA / 4.42 FIP

It’s really hard to say what Rodriguez could do, especially with his velocity down in his first two starts, and neither start going well. At this point, I’d go with the lowest projection, which was the 2013 FIP. That FIP would make him one of the best number five starters in the league, or a number four starter in a weak rotation. If you go with the ZiPS projections for this year, he’s either a weak number three, or a strong number four. However, the ZiPS projections take into consideration his previous stats, which probably aren’t relevant with his injury. I’d say the weak 4/strong 5 prediction works best.

Edinson Volquez

ZiPS ERA/FIP: 4.50/4.28

2013 Stats: 5.71 ERA / 4.24 FIP

It’s hard to say what Volquez will do going forward. I’m not going to say he’s fixed after seven innings, but I will leave it open that he could have a good year, and do much better than most are anticipating. His FIP is pretty much the same from last year and the ZiPS projections, so that seems like a safe bet to go with for his projection. That FIP would make him a league average number four starter if he maintains that going forward. I think those types of numbers are achievable.

What Do the Pirates Have?

Liriano and Cole are both guys who project as number one starters in a weak rotation, or some of the best number two starters. Charlie Morton projects as a number three starter in a strong rotation, or a number two in a weak rotation. Edinson Volquez projects as a league average number four starter. Wandy Rodriguez looks like a number four starter in a weak rotation, or a number five starter in a strong rotation.

Putting this in perspective, last year there was only one team in baseball with two starters that had a 2.92 ERA or better. If Liriano and Cole pitch like they did in 2013, and their FIP numbers translate to ERAs this year, then they could do just that. If you add in Morton and his projected 3.60 ERA (using last year’s FIP), then you’ve got an average of a 3.14 ERA over the top three rotation spots. Last year there were eight teams who could match or beat that, and one of them was the Pirates.

The weakest spots for the Pirates are with Volquez and Rodriguez. However, if you add those two in the mix, the Pirates are projected for a 3.63 staff ERA. That would make them one of the top seven teams in the league, based on last year’s numbers. The Pirates rotation was in the top seven last year.

Links and Notes

**Over the weekend I’ve been working on adding new writers to the site. I’m still in that process, but we’ll have some new writers starting this week, mostly at the minor league level. Adding new writers is made possible by purchases on the products page of the site. That’s where you can buy our 2014 Prospect Guide, with information on every player in the minor league system. We also now have a Pirates Prospects logo t-shirt available. It’s my goal to keep all of the website content free, while also adding as much content as possible. The more funds received through these products, the more coverage we can add going forward.

**What Should You Expect From Each Rotation Spot?

**Is There a Spot in the Majors For Jeff Locke?

**Prospect Watch: Three Hits For Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco and Stetson Allie

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Gets Second Start

**Vin Mazzaro Accepts Assignment to Indianapolis

**Jameson Taillon Undergoes Successul Tommy John Surgery

**Draft Prospect Watch: Baseball America Updates Rankings

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Prospect Watch: Three Hits For Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco and Stetson Allie http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-watch-three-hits-for-alen-hanson-gregory-polanco-and-stetson-allie.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/prospect-watch-three-hits-for-alen-hanson-gregory-polanco-and-stetson-allie.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:59:43 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=76172 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 (Tony Sanchez #11, Stolmy Pimentel #13). 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 (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 2014 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Gregory Polanco, CF, Indianapolis - 3-for-3, 2B, BB

2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Indianapolis - Out for the Season (Jameson Taillon to Have Tommy John Surgery)

3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - Disabled List (3/22 Update)

4. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/2 Update)

5. Alen Hanson, SS, Altoona - 3-for-5, 2 R, SB, RBI

6. Nick Kingham, RHP, Altoona - DNP

7. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - 0-for-4

8. Josh Bell, RF, Bradenton - 1-for-3, BB

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia Power - DNP

10. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/7 Update)

11. Andrew Lambo, 1B, Indianapolis - 2-for-3, BB, RBI, SB

12. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

13. Blake Taylor, LHP, Extended Spring Training - DNP

14. Cody Dickson, LHP, West Virginia - DNP

15. Barrett Barnes, CF, West Virginia - Disabled List (4/7 Update)

16. JaCoby Jones, SS, West Virginia - 1-for-4, SB

17. Michael De La Cruz, OF, Extended Spring Training - DNP

18. Wyatt Mathisen, 3B, West Virginia - 0-for-3, BB

19. Jin-De Jhang, C, Bradenton - 0-for-4

20. Brandon Cumpton, RHP, Indianapolis - 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR

 

2014FrontCoverORDER YOUR 2014 PROSPECT GUIDE

The 2014 Prospect Guide is now available, and is the perfect resource to follow the minor league system during the 2014 season. You can order your copy on the products page of the site.

 

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Buddy Borden, RHP – 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Alen Hanson, SS – 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, SB

Home Runs: None

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 4, Toledo 3

Starting Pitcher: Brandon Cumpton, RHP – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Gregory Polanco, RF – 3-for-3, R, BB, 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Andrew Lambo, 1B – 2-for-3, RBI, BB

Game Notes: Chris Dickerson singled in pinch runner Adalberto Santos from second in the bottom of the ninth inning for a walk off victory. Gregory Polanco continued his seven-game hitting streak by going 3-for-3 with a run and a double. Andrew Lambo also contributed a pair of hits, a stolen base, and a RBI. After starting the season 0-for-8, Lambo has gone 7-for-12 over his last four games. Brandon Cumpton threw six innings, allowing three runs with five strikeouts for a no decision. Cumpton threw 85 pitches, 52 for strikes. – Ryan Palencer

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Altoona 6, Richmond 1

Starting Pitcher: Adrian Sampson, RHP – 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Alen Hanson, SS – 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, SB

Other Notable Performers:

Gift Ngoepe, 2B – 1-for-4, R

Mel Rojas, CF – 1-for-4, BB

Stetson Allie – 3-for-5, 2B, RBI

Game Notes: Both Alen Hanson and Stetson Allie collected three hits in Altoona’s 6-1 win over Richmond. Adrian Sampson allowed one run over five innings in his second start of the year. Emmanuel De Leon followed him with two scoreless innings, then Ryan Beckman and Brandon Mann each threw one inning of shutout ball. The Curve put together 11 hits in the game. Allie’s double was their only extra base hit and they were 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Willy Garcia and Gift Ngoepe each struck out three times. Garcia is 2-for-21 with 11 strikeouts.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Box Score

Result: Palm Beach 6, Bradenton 0

Starting Pitcher: Chad Kuhl, RHP – 1.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Josh Bell, RF – 1-for-3, BB

Other Notable Performers:

Raul Fortunato, LF – 1-for-3, BB

Game Notes: Chad Kuhl suffered a fate that can be common for ground ball pitchers. A lot of the ground balls he produced either found a hole in the infield, or were placed good enough for an infield hit. Kuhl didn’t have the best command of his fastball tonight, and was relying more on his slider in the second inning. Pat Ludwig came on in relief and immediately gave up a two run homer. After that, Ludwig settled down, striking out the side in the third inning, and striking out six batters through four innings. Josh Smith came on with two outs in the sixth and left two batters stranded. Josh Bell had two hard hit balls on the night. The first one was a liner over the second baseman’s head. The second baseman got a glove on it to knock it down, but Bell reached easily for a single. The next hard hit was a line drive which went directly to the right fielder. – Tim Williams

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

Box Score

Result: Lexington 2, West Virginia 0

Starting Pitcher: Buddy Borden, RHP – 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Danny Collins, RF – 2-for-4

Other Notable Performers:

JaCoby Jones, SS – 1-for-4, SB

Erich Weiss, 2B – 1-for-4, 2B

Game Notes: Buddy Borden threw five shutout innings against Lexington on Thursday, six days after he gave up three runs over four innings against the same team. For the second time, he was going up against Luis Rico, who was also hit hard in his first start. Rico threw four shutout innings today. He was part of the four player deal with the Kansas City Royals that brought Vin Mazzaro to the Pirates. Justin Topa allowed both runs in the game. Isaac Sanchez threw a scoreless ninth. West Virginia had five hits and four walks, but they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Reese McGuire was 0-for-4 in the game. He is 5-for-20 through five games.

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