Pirates Prospects » Spring Training Coverage http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Sat, 17 May 2014 16:45:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Bryan Morris Will Make the Pirates 25-Man Roster http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/bryan-morris-will-make-the-pirates-25-man-roster.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/bryan-morris-will-make-the-pirates-25-man-roster.html#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 02:29:05 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=75089 According to Travis Sawchik, the Pittsburgh Pirates will add Bryan Morris to the 25-man roster.

Morris has looked great this Spring, with a new two-seam fastball, and a four-seam fastball that has been working in the mid-90s and hitting 97. Last year he relied heavily on his cutter. This year he’s expected to work off of his fastballs more, with the cutter being an out pitch.

This move means the Pirates now have three relievers — Stolmy Pimentel, Jeanmar Gomez, and Vin Mazzaro — competing for two spots. Clint Hurdle said yesterday that the team knew who the final cuts would be, and it’s all about everyone staying healthy from this point forward. My guess on the final cut would be Mazzaro. The Pirates could trade him in the next two days, or DFA him, giving them ten days to trade him or put him on waivers. The rosters don’t have to be finalized until 3 PM EST on Sunday.

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Pirates Reassign Kyle McPherson and Nevin Ashley http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-reassign-kyle-mcpherson-and-nevin-ashley.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-reassign-kyle-mcpherson-and-nevin-ashley.html#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:41:30 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=75028 The Pittsburgh Pirates have reassigned catcher Nevin Ashley and right-handed pitcher Kyle McPherson to minor league camp. That now leaves the active roster at 28 players. McPherson is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will begin the year on the disabled list, while Ashley should see regular playing time at Indianapolis until Chris Stewart returns to the Pirates, which would push Tony Sanchez into the AAA starting role. Ashley played 12 games this Spring, going 2-for-13 at the plate.

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Pirates Option Brandon Cumpton to Indianapolis http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-option-brandon-cumpton-to-indianapolis.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-option-brandon-cumpton-to-indianapolis.html#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 12:38:51 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74992 The Pittsburgh Pirates have optioned right-handed pitcher Brandon Cumpton to Indianapolis. Cumpton had a good Spring, working out of the starting rotation. However, he never really had a shot to make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster, since their rotation looked set heading into camp. He will provide the team with strong early season depth in the event of an injury, or if Edinson Volquez struggles in the rotation.

Cumpton would probably start for at least a third of the teams in baseball right now, especially after the small sample of success he had during the 2013 season. He profiles as a number four or five starter down the line, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him making starts in the majors at some point this year.

The Pirates are now down to 30 players on their roster, including Chris Stewart, who is expected to start the year on the disabled list. That means they have four more cuts to make. One cut will be taken care of when they eventually trade a reliever. Jeff Locke, Andy Oliver, and Nevin Ashley are the other expected cuts to be made.

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The Pirates Could Be Active on the Trade Market in the Next Week http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/the-pirates-could-be-active-on-the-trade-market-in-the-next-week.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/the-pirates-could-be-active-on-the-trade-market-in-the-next-week.html#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 19:07:34 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74834 The Pittsburgh Pirates made a big wave of cuts today, putting the Spring Training roster at 31 players. That includes Chris Stewart, who is projected to start the season on the disabled list. That leaves five more cuts remaining before Opening Day.

Neal Huntington said today that the team could make the final cuts in Philadelphia over the weekend.

“As hard as our decisions were last night and at the end of today, we’ve still got some challenging decisions,” Huntington said.

Those “challenging decisions” don’t appear to include many players on the active roster. If the Pirates don’t make any trades, then their roster appears to be set, with just a few expected cuts remaining. The only challenging decision would be deciding which reliever to let go out of the four relievers who are out of options and battling for the final three bullpen spots.

The Pirates could be active on the trade market this week, with as many as four trades being a possibility. We know they’ll end up making one trade out of the bullpen, but there could be three other moves made, depending on how things play out with the rest of the active roster. Here is a look at the final position battles, the expected cuts, and what trades could possibly be made.

First Base

Right now Travis Ishikawa is projected to be in the first base platoon with Gaby Sanchez. Neal Huntington didn’t sound like they were committed to Ishikawa in that role. The Pirates have been linked to first basemen in trade rumors all Spring, and now that they have optioned Andrew Lambo to Triple-A, that might be a more likely route.

The Bullpen Battle

The Pirates still have four relievers for three spots in Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, Bryan Morris, and Stolmy Pimentel. One of those guys has to go, since all are out of options. I’d expect Pimentel and Morris to stick around, which means Gomez or Mazzaro could be dealt by the end of the week.

The Pirates also have Andy Oliver remaining on the roster. He’s out of options, but doesn’t project to make the team. He’s a trade candidate if any team sees enough in him to try and jump the waiver wire line. However, that team would have to put Oliver on the active roster, which might make it more likely that he clears waivers. If that happens, the Pirates would be able to outright him to the minors, and keep him there until he’s eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

The Rotation Depth

Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton are still in camp, although neither player projects to make the Opening Day roster. Locke isn’t stretched out yet, throwing three innings today at Pirate City. If the Pirates need an early season starter, then Brandon Cumpton makes the most sense. The only way he makes the Opening Day roster is if there’s an injury.

The Bench

Today’s cuts of Robert Andino and Michael Martinez mean that Josh Harrison is the likely winner of the final bench spot. However, that could change if the Pirates decide to make a trade, such as the addition of someone like Didi Gregorious. If they don’t add outside help, then I see Harrison making the team.

The remaining player to be cut would be Nevin Ashley. The Pirates will go with Russell Martin and Tony Sanchez as their catchers on Opening Day, meaning Ashley will start off with Indianapolis.

Remaining Cuts

The Pirates need to make five more cuts. They will lose one player when they trade one of the four relievers who are out of options. Andy Oliver will be another cut, regardless of whether he is traded or waived. Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton are also expected to be cut. Nevin Ashley would be the final player to be cut.

If they bring in a first baseman or a middle infielder via trade, then Travis Ishikawa and Josh Harrison would also be cuts. Otherwise, those two currently project to make the active roster.

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Travis Ishikawa is in the First Base Platoon…For Now http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/travis-ishikawa-is-in-the-first-base-platoon-for-now.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/travis-ishikawa-is-in-the-first-base-platoon-for-now.html#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:59:28 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74836 Today the Pittsburgh Pirates made a big wave of cuts, including optioning first baseman Andrew Lambo to Triple-A. That leaves Travis Ishikawa as the only first baseman on the active roster for the other half of the platoon with Gaby Sanchez. However, Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington didn’t exactly say that Ishikawa has the job when asked about the platoon today.

“As we sit here today, yes, that would be the indication,” Huntington said on Ishikawa. “But we’ve got until Monday before we need to finalize anything.”

Ishikawa is getting notice for his good Spring Training. However, that’s only 24 at-bats, and his career numbers against right-handed pitching aren’t much better than what Garrett Jones did last year. Throughout his career, Ishikawa has basically been the 2013 version of Jones, with better defense. That’s not a bad option for a depth player, but it’s not who you want to go with on Opening Day.

“Travis had a nice Spring,” Huntington said. “He gives you good quality, professional at-bats, handles himself around the base, and if that’s where we end up, then we’ll be comfortable with that.”

Neither quote from Huntington was a huge endorsement for Ishikawa. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pirates end up making a trade before they finalize the rosters on Monday.

As for Lambo, he will go to Triple-A and play first base. Huntington said that the decision to option him was more about the offensive struggles than his work at first base.

“Andrew exceeded expectations defensively, and showed up very well there,” Huntington said. “Offensively, the results obviously weren’t there. He faced a lot of fastball count off-speed pitches, and in our minds, the right thing to do to get him back on track was to have him start the season in Indianapolis.”

The problem with sending Lambo to Indianapolis is that he’s already had success at the level. If he goes to Triple-A and starts hitting again, then the Pirates haven’t really learned anything, except that he can hit Triple-A pitching. Eventually they’re going to have to give him a shot in the majors to see how he does against Major League pitching. For now, Huntington said that the move to Triple-A will allow Lambo to “take a deep breath.”

“Get back to being the guy that we believe he’s going to be,” Huntington said on Lambo. “Hit fastballs to all parts of the field. Stay through off-speed pitches. And get back to the confident hitter that does damage in the box. Sometimes guys try to do too much. It seems like that certainly was the case with Andrew this Spring. We still believe in him. But to believe as of March 31st the switch is going to flip, and guys can all of a sudden change some things on day one, we felt the best way to get Andrew back on track was to go ahead and send him out.”

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Pirates Make a Lot of Cuts From Major League Camp, Including Andrew Lambo http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-make-a-lot-of-cuts-from-major-league-camp-including-andrew-lambo.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-make-a-lot-of-cuts-from-major-league-camp-including-andrew-lambo.html#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:47:36 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74822 The Pittsburgh Pirates made the next round of cuts from major league camp today, cutting 11 players.

The following players have been optioned to the minor leagues:

Jaff Decker (Indianapolis)

Jared Hughes (Indianapolis)

Andrew Lambo (Indianapolis)

The following non roster invitees were transferred to minor league camp:

Zack Thornton

Adam Wilk

Chris Dickerson

Jay Jackson

Daniel Schlereth

Robert Andino

Omir Santos

Michael Martinez

The Pirates now have 31 players remaining in major league camp. One of those players is Chris Stewart, who projects to start the year on the disabled list.

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Jameson Taillon Sidelined With “A Little Bit of Elbow Discomfort” http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/jameson-taillon-sidelined-with-a-little-bit-of-elbow-discomfort.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/jameson-taillon-sidelined-with-a-little-bit-of-elbow-discomfort.html#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 13:35:06 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74731 Pittsburgh Pirates’ top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is currently sidelined with what he describes as “a little bit of elbow discomfort.”

“I’ve had an MRI and the ligaments are all good,” Taillon said. “There’s nothing there, which is really good news. I’m going to go get a second opinion, and we’ll go from there. The early word is just there’s a little inflammation and a bone there in my elbow. Nothing too, too serious.”

The right-hander said that he noticed some discomfort going on for a while, but that things changed after his last start on Wednesday.

“My velocity was up, and everything was really sharp,” Taillon said of his start on Wednesday. “I threw well. I was really pleased with it, and I woke up in the middle of the night and had pain that I had never felt before. I figured that was when I should say something is when it just felt completely out of the norm and I couldn’t fake throw anymore.”

He had an MRI after alerting the team. He will get a second opinion early this week, although nothing has been scheduled yet due to the weekend. The first MRI did reveal some good news about the ligament in his elbow.

“They kept saying how big and strong the ligament is, and how there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it,” Taillon said. “Obviously with pitchers catching [Tommy John] this week like the cold, that was good to hear. We’ll just treat it, and see what happens.”

Right now Taillon is rehabbing the elbow with ice and anti-inflammatory methods. He said he’s already starting to feel better. He will be shut down for two weeks, then will be re-evaluated. If he’s cleared to pitch, he will take a week or two to build up his innings before going to Indianapolis. In his start on Wednesday, Taillon threw four innings, including some extra pitches at the end of the fourth inning after getting through the outing too quick. He said he was 94-97 MPH, and felt his curve was sharp and his changeup was good.

“It stinks, because it was such a good outing and had me really, really excited to get going,” Taillon said. “But it’s just a little setback and we’ll figure it out.”

The setback means that Taillon won’t be pitching in Indianapolis on Opening Day. If he takes two weeks off from today, then needs two weeks to get built up for the rotation, that would put him in Indianapolis as early as the end of April or the start of May. Taillon was projected to arrive in the majors by mid-season. It’s hard to say whether this could change that projection, since the projection is based in part on his progression in Triple-A. Currently, Taillon has 37 innings at the level. Gerrit Cole had 74 innings in Triple-A before being called up to the majors.

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Pirate City Notes: Luis Heredia Hits 95 MPH, Throwing Four Shutout Innings http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirate-city-notes-luis-heredia-hits-95-mph-throwing-four-shutout-innings.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirate-city-notes-luis-heredia-hits-95-mph-throwing-four-shutout-innings.html#comments Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:57:42 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74686 Charlie Morton threw seven innings and 97 pitches at Pirate City today against the High-A Yankees team. I didn’t follow Morton’s start much, since he didn’t have much trouble with the competition, and was mostly focused on getting up to 100 pitches. The Pirates had some interesting guys to follow at Pirate City today, as both A-ball teams were here, and the short-season team had a game. Here are the highlights from the day.

**Luis Heredia went four shutout innings today, getting closer to the start of the regular season. He was going against the short-season Yankees team, as Morton pushed every starter down a level. Heredia was sitting 91-93 MPH with his fastball, and touched 95. He had some difficulty commanding his new slurve, struggling to break a few off and leaving them high for a ball. However, he also had a few nice slurves for strikes. Overall Heredia looked good. He had a few hard hit balls, which went right to his fielders. Heredia was very efficient, throwing only 50 pitches in four innings, which led to him throwing about 10-15 pitches in the bullpen after his start to get all of his work in. He’s expected to open the season in West Virginia, and could have a shot at making it to Bradenton by the middle of the season.

**Harold Ramirez had a liner down the first base line, which he stretched for a double in the first inning. A few batters later, Reese McGuire brought him in with a hard single through the right side of the infield. The West Virginia lineup looks loaded with promising hitters, especially once Austin Meadows returns.

**Yhonathan Barrios looked good today, hitting 99 MPH in a one inning relief appearance. This isn’t a new territory for Barrios. I saw him working in the mid-to-upper 90s last year in the GCL, and he hit 99 MPH during the Fall Instructional Leagues. Barrios was signed for $250,000 in 2008 out of Colombia. He was converted to a shortstop, and eventually moved to third base. He was projected to hit for power, but that never caught on in the short season leagues. He should work out of the West Virginia bullpen this year, and is an interesting option due to his velocity and a promising slider.

**Justin Topa was drafted in the 17th round last year, and got some attention for hitting the mid-90s and putting up good numbers in Jamestown. I saw him hit 96 MPH today, and he hit the 95-96 MPH range a few times. However, he wasn’t very effective, getting hit around a bit. The 96 MPH fastball that I saw went for a triple to deep center field. Topa will be pitching out of the West Virginia bullpen.

**I got my first look at Michael De La Cruz in a game today. I didn’t get to see much, but I saw that he had a lot of range in center field, and a lot of speed down the first base line. There haven’t been many short-season games, so I’ll probably get a chance to see more of MDLC in extended Spring Training. Baseball America just named him a top 20 DSL/VSL prospect.

**One guy who stood out to me in the short-season game was Pablo Reyes. He’s a second baseman who showed a lot of speed and range at the position. He also had a good at-bat, hitting a triple down the third base line, with his speed allowing him to stretch it to three. John Dreker named Reyes one of the top ten prospects on the 2013 DSL Pirates.

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Tyler Glasnow to Miss the Start of the Regular Season http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/tyler-glasnow-to-miss-the-start-of-the-regular-season.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/tyler-glasnow-to-miss-the-start-of-the-regular-season.html#comments Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:03:50 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74673 Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow will miss the start of the 2014 season due to a tight lower back. Glasnow said he felt his lower back tighten up two weeks ago when running. He’s been throwing some bullpens, including one bullpen yesterday. Prior to the injury he threw two innings in an intrasquad game. However, the minor injury has prevented him from pitching in a game and getting built up for the regular season.

Glasnow is scheduled to throw a sim game on Monday, which will probably be two innings. From there, he will build up his innings count. That will include starts in extended Spring Training. The usual progression to build a pitcher up involves that pitcher going on the following schedule, throwing every five days:

Start 1: Two Innings (Sim Game)

Start 2: Three Innings

Start 3: Four Innings

Start 4: Five Innings

Start 5: Five Innings

I’m assuming that’s going to be the progression for Glasnow, starting on Monday with the sim game. If all goes well with Glasnow’s rehab and build up, then he should only miss the first two weeks of the minor league season. After that, he is expected to go to High-A Bradenton to pitch out of the rotation.

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Pirates Preparing Relievers For the Possibility of Multiple Innings http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-preparing-relievers-for-the-possibility-of-multiple-innings.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/pirates-preparing-relievers-for-the-possibility-of-multiple-innings.html#comments Sat, 22 Mar 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=74498 Two weeks ago, Tony Watson came over to minor league camp to get some work in. That’s not uncommon, since the Pirates send a lot of their established pitchers over to minor league camp to get innings. This allows the Major League coaching staff to get a closer look at the guys battling for roster spots, while still allowing guys like Watson to get their innings and get ready for the season.

On this day, Watson threw two innings, which I didn’t think much of. Watson has gone multiple innings in the past in the majors, so I chalked this up to him getting ready for the season and getting ready for the possibility of multiple innings at some point. A few days later I noticed the same thing from Justin Wilson, and I had the same thought since Wilson is a former starter who can go multiple innings.

Then I saw Jason Grilli throw two innings, which was unexpected. Mark Melancon threw two innings in his trip to Pirate City on Thursday. And Watson made a second trip to Pirate City this past week, going three innings this time around.

I talked with Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage about this approach, and found that it wasn’t new. The Pirates have their relievers going multiple innings during Spring Training to build up arm strength. Perhaps I just noticed it more this year because their established major leaguers are going over to Pirate City more frequently.

“Get them some more pitches. Get them up and downs — two up and downs, three up and downs,” Searage said about the focus on the multi-inning approach. “So this way it won’t be a shock to the system when the season starts. The biggest thing is the heat up, the cool down, the heat up, the cool down.”

The focus here is primarily about building arm strength, but also to get everyone prepared for multiple innings. In most of these outings, like Watson’s three inning appearance, the relievers are throwing primarily fastballs.┬áHaving relievers throw multiple innings at Pirate City is a good approach. Minor league Spring Training games are more relaxed. Players have specific pitch counts, and if they reach that pitch count, the inning gets rolled and the pitcher can go out and pitch the next inning. This allows the pitchers to focus on innings and pitch count, without having to worry about getting bounced from the game early due to a long inning.

“We just want to make sure everyone is prepared for [multiple innings],” Searage said. “We’re not really trying to look for that, but be prepared if it is a necessity.”

Watson seems like one of the most likely to go multiple innings, especially since he’s going beyond the two inning mark in camp. That’s not a surprise, since Watson had 17 appearances last year where he threw more than one inning. He also had eight appearances with two innings or more, and two appearances with three innings (both involving extra innings).

“We just want to make sure it’s not a shock to their system,” Searage said.

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