Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:24:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 First Pitch: Finding an Accurate Trade Value For Relief Pitchers http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-finding-an-accurate-trade-value-for-relief-pitchers.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-finding-an-accurate-trade-value-for-relief-pitchers.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:24:03 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84689 The Pittsburgh Pirates have been connected to a lot of relief pitchers leading up to the trade deadline. Any time there is a trade rumor connecting the Pirates to a player, I usually do a Trade Value article, looking at what that player will probably cost. The exception comes with relievers. The value of relievers never matches up with the trade value that teams give up in prospects. In some cases, the price that teams pay for relievers is insane. So I could do a trade value for relievers, but it wouldn’t compare to what those relievers would actually fetch in a trade.

On Friday I looked at an example of the true price for starting pitchers in this seller’s market, using the Jeff Samardzija trade as an example. The price was $9.5 M per win, when you considered the amount in salary and the amount in prospects given up. I wanted to do something similar for relievers, to at least put some sort of number on the value that they would bring in a trade. Unfortunately, there are only two big reliever trades to go on, which means once again we have a small sample to establish the market value.

I went ahead with the values, with the disclaimer that we’re only talking about two trades, and those trades ended up very different in terms of the cost per win. More on that below.

Joakim Soria for Jake Thompson/Corey Knebel

The Tigers acquired Joakim Soria, sending right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel to the Texas Rangers in return. Soria was making $5.5 M this year, with a $7 M option in 2015. He’s pitching like one of the best relievers in the game this year, and currently has a 1.7 WAR. He’s only been above a 2.0 WAR once in his career, but has hovered around a 2.0 WAR for most of his career. I set his trade value at a 2.0 WAR for each year, which resulted in a $5.0 M value. That’s worth a Grade B hitter, or two Grade C pitchers.

John Sickels rated Thompson and Knebel as B- prospects before the 2014 season. They didn’t rank in Baseball America’s top 100, but BA ranked them #2 and #4 in the Tigers system, respectively, at the mid-season update. It’s safe to say they’d carry a Grade B rating, which is worth $7.3 M each. So while Soria was worth $5 M, he ended up landing $14.6 M.

Huston Street/Trevor Gott for Taylor Lindsey/R.J. Alvarez/Jose Rondon/Elliot Morris

The Padres traded Street to the Angels, getting what seems like the final prospects that the Angels had. This included top 100 hitting prospect Taylor Lindsey, which is a big haul for a reliever. The trade included a prospect going to the Angels, but he didn’t really have any trade value, which means most of this deal is based on Street’s worth.

Street is under control through the 2015 season, making $7 M this year, with a $7 M club option next year. I put him as a 1.0 WAR player for both years. He hasn’t been above that since 2009, when he was a 1.5 WAR player. He has an 0.6 WAR this year, so it’s safe to say he’ll continue where he’s been at the last few years. With a 1.0 WAR, and his salary, he’s worth negative $2.5 M in trade value. The Padres should have had to pay some of his salary just for a team to take him for free, based on the same $/WAR values that are used for every other player in baseball.

Instead, the Padres got a nice return. Lindsey would be worth $10.43 M as a 51-100 hitting prospect. I’d say the other three prospects would be worth a combined $4.3 M, based on John Sickels’ pre-season ratings, along with their ratings from BA. That gives a $14.73 M trade return for Street, or $17.23 M above his value.

Adjusting the Reliever Values

It’s hard to draw a big conclusion based on two trades that have different results. The one conclusion that could be drawn is that trades for relievers are way more expensive than they should be.

In Soria’s case, the Rangers got $8.5 M per win in prospect value. Unlike a lot of relievers, Soria has a lot of value, and would be worth as much as a back of the rotation starter, or possibly a middle of the rotation guy. The $8.5 M figure is still crazy, but better than the early results for the starting pitching market.

Then we get even crazier. Huston Street has a negative value, but landed $14.73 M in prospect value. The Angels basically paid $17.25 M per win, when considering the prospects given up, and Street’s salary.

This amount is probably paid because Street is a closer, and teams still pay for saves and “Proven Closers.” But that number is just insane. There’s no way that Street should be worth twice the return that Soria got. And that’s when considering that Soria — a better reliever than Street, with a better contract — also got a high return.

It’s hard to say what someone like Andrew Miller would fetch in a trade, since he’s not a closer. But when you consider how many teams are looking for relievers, it becomes hard to imagine a reasonable $/WAR being accepted by the Red Sox, or any other team selling a reliever. At the least, you could expect a return like Soria got, worth $8.5 M per win. In Miller’s case, that would be $3.6 M in value, based on his $1.9 M salary and a 1.5 WAR. That would be a Grade C pitching prospect under the age of 23, and a Grade C pitcher over the age of 23. You’re probably talking about a lower level starting prospect and an upper level relief pitching prospect. And that’s assuming the demand on Miller doesn’t drive the price up higher.

The Pirates have a system strong enough that they can definitely afford to give up Grade C pitching prospects to better the team. The question is, do they spend those pitching prospects to get a reliever for two months, or do they put those same prospects towards something that could provide a bigger impact over the long-term? The example price I mentioned for Miller is the same price that the Pirates paid for Ike Davis, getting three years of control of a platoon first baseman. Davis hasn’t been that great, but the potential upside in that kind of deal is much greater than the potential upside for a middle reliever over a two month span.

I’ve never been a fan of trading for relievers, or giving up anything of value for a relief pitcher. They’re too volatile, don’t pitch often enough to make a big impact, and the prices that are paid for them can be insane. If you look at the value Soria had, it’s very similar to the Samardzija/Hammel trade in terms of $/WAR. The difference is that I think it’s easier to find a valuable reliever for a much smaller price than it is to find starting pitchers like the two that went to Oakland. For that reason, it would make more sense to put any prospects towards a much harder position to acquire, while continuing to go the cheap route with relievers — a route that has worked so well for the Pirates in the past.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: The One Thing Holding Willy Garcia Back From Being a Top Prospect

**Pirates Have Seven in MLB.com’s Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects List

**Minor League Schedule: Gerrit Cole Gets Rehab Start For Indianapolis Tonight

**Pirates Interested in Andrew Miller, Who is Drawing a Lot of Demand

**Casey Sadler blames pitch utilization on recent slide

**DSL Pirates Report: Two New Scouting Reports and an Injury Scare For a Top Prospect

**Prospect Highlights: Two Young Players From Australia Seeing Time With the GCL Pirates

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Prospect Watch: The One Thing Holding Willy Garcia Back From Being a Top Prospect http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-the-one-thing-holding-willy-garcia-back-from-being-a-top-prospect.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-watch-the-one-thing-holding-willy-garcia-back-from-being-a-top-prospect.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 05:08:21 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84662 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 - 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 0 HR

2. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - 3-for-5

3. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - 1-for-4

4. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

5. Alen Hanson, SS, Altoona - 1-for-5

6. Josh Bell, RF, Altoona - 2-for-5, SB

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

8. Cole Tucker, SS, GCL Pirates - DNP

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia - 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

10. Mitch Keller, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

11. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Altoona – DNP

12. JaCoby Jones, SS, West Virginia - 1-for-4, BB

13. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

14. Andrew Lambo, OF, Indianapolis - 0-for-4

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 - 0-for-4

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, GCL Pirates – DNP


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Top Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow, RHP – 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jose Osuna, DH – 4-for-4, 3 2B

Home Runs: Willy Garcia (14)



Box Score

Result: Rochester 6, Indianapolis 3

Starting Pitcher: Brandon Cumpton, RHP – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Chase d’Arnaud, 3B – 2-for-4, SB

Other Notable Performers:

Mel Rojas, CF – 1-for-3, BB

Game Notes: Brandon Cumpton looked good through the first four innings today, then gave up four runs in the fifth inning. The Indians were going up against Kris Johnson, who was one of the best starters for Indianapolis last year, and who was traded over the off-season to get Duke Welker back from the Twins. Johnson gave up three runs in 7.2 innings of work. Chase d’Arnaud played at third base today, and stole his 21st base. He has played second, third, and all three outfield spots this year.



Box Score

Result: Altoona 6, Bowie 3

Starting Pitcher: Pat Ludwig, RHP – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Willy Garcia, LF – 2-for-4, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Josh Bell, RF – 2-for-5, SB

Alen Hanson, SS – 1-for-5

Gift Ngoepe, 2B – 2-for-4

Game Notes: Willy Garcia hit his 14th homer of the year for Altoona. That total is four shy of his single season high of 18, set two years ago in West Virginia. He’s hitting for more power this year, with a .226 ISO. That’s way up from his .163 ISO two years ago, and up from his .181 ISO last year. Garcia is also trending in the right direction with his batting average (.240, .256, .271). Unfortunately, he’s going the wrong way with his walks (6.4%, 4.8%, 4.0%) and strikeouts (26.4%, 32.1%, 32.4%). The strikeouts are a bigger concern. To put them in perspective, Starling Marte only walked 3.8% of the time in Altoona, but only struck out 17.5% of the time. He also never struck out more than 23.3% of the time at any level in the minors. Even Pedro Alvarez didn’t strike out more than 24.6% of the time in his first run through the minors. Garcia has the power, speed, and defense in right field to be a starting outfielder, but that won’t happen with his strikeout totals.



Box Score

Result: Lakeland 5, Bradenton 3

Starting Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow, RHP – 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jose Osuna, DH – 4-for-4, 3 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Jordan Steranka, 1B – 2-for-4, 2B

Game Notes: Tyler Glasnow got off to a good start today, giving up one walk and one hit in four innings, with eight strikeouts. He ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up two runs on two walks and two hits. In the sixth he gave up another walk and another hit, leading to a third run, with the run ultimately scoring due to an error. This was the first start where Glasnow walked more than two batters since June 30th. It was the third time this has happened since May 22nd. In the month of July, Glasnow has a 1.82 ERA in 29.2 innings, with a 40:9 K/BB ratio. That’s a 12.1 K/9 and a 2.7 BB/9, even with the four walks today. Jose Osuna extended his hitting streak to six games with a four hit day and three doubles. He has 16 doubles on the year.



Box Score

Result: West Virginia 5, Rome 4

Starting Pitcher: Luis Heredia, RHP – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Edwin Espinal, DH – 3-for-4, BB

Other Notable Performers:

Austin Meadows, CF – 3-for-5

JaCoby Jones, SS – 1-for-4, BB

Erich Weiss, 2B – 2-for-5

Wyatt Mathisen, 3B – 2-for-4, 2B

Game Notes: Austin Meadows picked up three hits, and now has hits in nine of his last ten games, while reaching base safely in ten straight games. He has just one game out of 12 with West Virginia where he hasn’t reached base safely. The power hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s there and will eventually start to show up in the stat lines. The encouraging thing in the early part of his campaign with West Virginia is that his strikeout problems from the GCL last year aren’t an issue through his first 51 at-bats. Wyatt Mathisen returned from the disabled list today after missing a month of action. He picked up two hits, with his 11th double of the year. Luis Heredia has a 4.86 ERA in 53.2 innings, with a 22:26 K/BB ratio.



Box Score

Result: Auburn 3, Jamestown 1

Starting Pitcher: Jake Brigham, RHP – 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Taylor Gushue, C – 1-for-4, HR

Other Notable Performers:

Jordan Luplow, RF – 1-for-4

Trace Tam Sing, SS – 1-for-3, 2B

Marek Minarik, RHP – 4.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: Jake Brigham made his first rehab start, throwing three shutout innings with just one walk allowed. He had success with Indianapolis this year, posting a 4.05 ERA in 73.1 innings, with a 63:25 K/BB ratio. Brigham doesn’t have much of a future with the Pirates as a starter, but could be valuable as a reliever later in the season when rosters expand. Taylor Gushue hit his fifth homer of the year. Trace Tam Sing, who recently signed with the Pirates, made his debut and had a double.



Box Score

Result: Greeneville 7, Bristol 3

Starting Pitcher: Omar Basulto, LHP – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jose Salazar, 1B – 3-for-4, 2 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Edgardo Munoz, 3B – 2-for-4

Enyel Vallejo, LF – 1-for-5, 3B

Game Notes: Enyel Vallejo picked up his third triple of the year. He has been hot lately, with an .898 OPS in 70 at-bats during the month of July. It was about a year ago that Vallejo got his first real opportunity as a starter in the GCL, and he ended up posting a .793 OPS in 111 at-bats. So far this year in Bristol he has an .823 OPS in 96 at-bats. He only has two walks, which raises concern about whether he’ll be able to have success at higher levels. However, as we’ve seen with other Latin American hitters, you don’t necessarily need a high walk rate to move to higher levels and have success.



The GCL Pirates were off today.



The DSL Pirates were off today.

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

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Pirates Have Seven in MLB.com’s Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects List http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-seven-in-mlb-coms-mid-season-top-100-prospects-list.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-seven-in-mlb-coms-mid-season-top-100-prospects-list.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 04:31:52 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84672 MLB.com has released their mid-season top 100 prospects update, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have seven on the list. That’s the second highest amount, falling right behind the Chicago Cubs, who had the most with eight.

The highest ranked prospect was Tyler Glasnow, who came in rated 20th overall. Glasnow was also the top prospect in the system in MLB.com’s updated Pirates top 20. After Glasnow came Jameson Taillon at number 32, Josh Bell at number 33, and Austin Meadows as the final player in the top 50, coming in at number 50.

Nick Kingham was ranked 66th overall, taking the fifth spot on the top 20 list. Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire were the final Pirates on the list, being ranked 80th and 81st overall, respectively.

The top 20 didn’t offer many surprises in the top ten, with Harold Ramirez, Cole Tucker, and Mitch Keller rounding out the list. JaCoby Jones was a noteworthy prospect in the 11-20 group, coming in at number 12. MLB still has Barrett Barnes in the top 20, despite a poor injury history that has limited development. They have Adrian Sampson ranked 19th overall, with the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Along with Tucker and Keller, the Pirates had two other 2014 draft picks in the top 20. Trey Supak came in at 11th, and Connor Joe was rated 18th.

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Minor League Schedule: Gerrit Cole Gets Rehab Start For Indianapolis Tonight http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/minor-league-schedule-gerrit-cole-gets-rehab-start-for-indianapolis-tonight.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/minor-league-schedule-gerrit-cole-gets-rehab-start-for-indianapolis-tonight.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 03:30:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84642 All eight teams on the schedule tonight, with Gerrit Cole making a rehab start for Indianapolis tonight. Check out the Prospect Watch from last night. All minor league transactions over the last month can be found at the bottom of the page. Click the link on each pitcher’s name for more information.     

Cole hasn't pitched in three weeks due to right lat soreness (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Cole hasn’t pitched in three weeks due to right lat soreness (Photo Credit: David Hague)


AAA: Indianapolis (56-54) @ Rochester (60-48) 7:05pm
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (NR)
Yesterday’s Result: Rochester 6, Indianapolis 3

Gerrit Cole will make a rehab start for Indianapolis tonight. He is schedule to throw 80-85 pitches. He was put on the disabled list on July 9th with right lat soreness. In 14 starts with the Pirates this year, Cole has a 3.78 ERA over 85.2 innings, with a 29/78 BB/SO ratio, a 1.68 GO/AO ratio and a .255 BAA. Indianapolis has lost seven games in a row.

AA: Altoona (44-65) vs Erie (53-55) 7:00pm
Probable starter: Adrian Sampson (9-5, 2.60)
Yesterday’s Result: Altoona 6, Bowie 3

Adrian Sampson will make his 22nd start of the season tonight. He has thrown 128 innings, giving up 107 hits, seven homers and 29 walks. He has 89 strikeouts, a 1.14 GO/AO ratio and a .228 BAA. In his last start, Sampson gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in six innings. He threw a complete game one-hit shutout in his previous outing. Sampson threw seven innings against Erie on 7/7, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks.

High-A: Bradenton (57-46, 22-12 2nd half) @ Daytona (48-54) 7:05pm
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (6-5, 3.52)
Yesterday’s Result: Bradenton 5, Lakeland 1

Jason Creasy will get his 22nd start of the season tonight. He has thrown 110 innings, giving up 117 hits, six homers and 14 walks. He has 75 strikeouts, a 1.03 GO/AO ratio and .275 BAA. Creasy issued a walk in his last outing, his first since June 11th. He has thrown 44.1 innings with just that one walk in his last seven starts combined. Creasy had a 3.70 ERA before the All-Star break and 3.25 since then. He faced Daytona on 5/21, allowing one run over five innings.

Low-A: West Virginia (38-67, 18-19 2nd half) @ Rome (37-70) 7:00pm
Probable starter: Felipe Gonzalez (1-3, 2.74)
Yesterday’s Result: West Virginia 9, Rome 8

Felipe Gonzalez will make his fourth start. He has also pitched 25 times in relief. He has thrown a total of 69 innings, allowing 61 hits, six homers and 18 walks. Gonzalez has 68 strikeouts, an 0.59 GO/AO ratio and a .235 BAA. As a starter, he has a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings. In his last start, he allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over three innings.

Short-Season A: Jamestown (17-25) @ Auburn (20-22) 7:05pm
Probable Starter: Tyler Eppler (0-2, 4.08)
Yesterday’s Result: Jamestown 

Tyler Eppler will make his ninth start of the year. He has thrown 35.1 innings, surrendering 32 hits, four homers and seven walks. He has 23 strikeouts, a 1.05 GO/AO ratio and a .235 BAA. In his last start, which was against Auburn, Eppler gave up four runs(two earned) on four hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. He has a 6.00 ERA in three road starts and 2.66 at home.

RK: Bristol (10-25) vs Princeton (18-17) 7:00pm
Probable Starter: TBD
Yesterday’s Result: Greeneville 7, Bristol 3

Check out the Bristol season preview.

GCL: Pirates (11-19) vs Phillies (15-16) 12:00pm
Probable Starter:  TBD
Yesterday’s Result: Pirates were off yesterday

Check out the GCL Pirates season preview.

DSL: Pirates (22-26) vs Yankees2 (25-22) 10:30am

Yesterday’s Result: Pirates were off yesterday

Check out the DSL Pirates eighth week recap.

Recent Transactions

7/27: Wyatt Mathisen activated from the disabled list. Francisco Aponte sent to Jamestown.

7/27: Jake Brigham assigned to Jamestown on rehab.

7/26: Pirates sign Trace Tam Sing, assigned to Jamestown.

7/26: Adam Wilk placed on the temporary inactive list. Omir Santos activated from disabled list.

7/26: A.J. Morris assigned to the GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/25: Matt Curry activated from disabled list.

7/25: Pat Ludwig assigned to Altoona. Joan Montero assigned to Bradenton.

7/24: Orlando Castro placed on disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona.

7/23: Barrett Barnes placed on disabled list. Justin Howard activated from disabled list and assigned to Bradenton.

7/23: West Virginia places Danny Collins, Chris Diaz and Justin Topa on disabled list. Maximo Rivera, Jared LaKind and Francisco Aponte assigned to West Virginia.

7/23: Nathan Sopena promoted to Jamestown. Jose Salazar promoted to Bristol.

7/21: Tyler Sample assigned to Bradenton.

7/18: Pirates release Jason Townsend.

7/17: Josh Bell promoted to Altoona. Ralph Henriquez placed on DL.

7/17: Andrew Lambo activated from DL. Matt Curry placed on DL. Jhonathan Ramos assigned to Altoona.

7/14: Pirates release Duke Welker.

7/12: Pirates sign Rafael Perez. Perez assigned to Indianapolis.

7/11: Pirates release Jorge Mendoza.

7/11: Pat Ludwig assigned to Bradenton. Zack Dodson assigned to Altoona.

7/11: Austin Meadows assigned to West Virginia. Elvis Escobar assigned to Jamestown.

7/11: Barrett Barnes promoted to Bradenton.

7/11: Orlando Castro promoted to Altoona. Pirates release Yao-Hsun Yang.

7/11: Jarek Cunningham activated from disabled list. Quinton Miller placed on disabled list.

7/10: Shane Carle and Yhonathan Barrios promoted to Bradenton. Robby Rowland and Andy Otamendi assigned to West Virginia.

7/10: Matt Curry promoted to Indianapolis. Ralph Henriquez activated from Altoona disabled list.

7/9: Andrew Lambo assigned to Jamestown on rehab assignment.

7/8: Thomas Harlan promoted to Altoona

7/7: Francisco Liriano assigned to Indianapolis on rehab. Brent Morel activated from disabled list.

7/7: Chris Dickerson traded to Cleveland Indians.

7/7: Justin Howard placed on disabled list. Dan Gamache and Nate Baker assigned to Altoona.

7/7: Mike Fransoso assigned to West Virginia Power. Harold Ramirez placed on disabled list.

7/7: Collin Balester has his rehab assignment transferred from GCL Pirates to Bristol.

7/7: Cristian Mota promoted from DSL Pirates to GCL Pirates. Jhoan Herrera reassigned to DSL Pirates.

7/7: Jake Burnette sent to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/7: Edgardo Munoz promoted from GCL Pirates to Bristol.

7/5: Tyler Waldron placed on disabled list. John Holdzkom assigned to Indianapolis.

7/5: Dean Anna assigned to Indianapolis.

7/4: Jarek Cunningham placed on DL. Jeff Inman sent to Altoona.

7/3: Justin Maffei and Ashley Ponce promoted to Bradenton.

7/3: Bradenton placed Jonathan Schwind and Taylor Lewis on the disabled list.

7/3: Danny Collins and Francisco Diaz activated from disabled list.

7/3: Clario Perez promoted to West Virginia. Andy Otamendi assigned to Jamestown.

7/3: Austin Meadows assigned to Bristol.

7/1: Andy Otamendi assigned to West Virginia.

7/1: Connor Joe placed on temporary inactive list.

6/30: Austin Meadows, Barrett Barnes and Collin Balester assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

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Pirates Interested in Andrew Miller, Who is Drawing a Lot of Demand http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-interested-in-andrew-miller-who-is-drawing-a-lot-of-demand.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-interested-in-andrew-miller-who-is-drawing-a-lot-of-demand.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:00:22 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84656 Last night we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking at Boston Red Sox relievers. Today we get some more specifics, as it seems they’re one of many teams interested in left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

Rob Biertempfel says that the Pirates are interested in Miller.

Pete Abraham says that a lot of scouts are asking about Miller, and he suspects he will be the next to go.

Gordon Edes wrote about how Miller is in high demand, and that the Pirates have been tracking him for some time. He also mentions the Braves as a team that has been tracking Miller, and the Royals and “a host of other clubs” who have shown interest.

Miller has a 2.52 ERA in 39.1 innings, with a 1.82 xFIP. He’s putting up amazing strikeout numbers, with a 14.64 K/9. He’s making $1.9 M this year, and is a free agent at the end of the season.

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Casey Sadler blames pitch utilization on recent slide http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/casey-sadler-blames-pitch-utilization-on-recent-slide.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/casey-sadler-blames-pitch-utilization-on-recent-slide.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 15:50:46 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84639 Despite posting a season ERA of 2.85 with Indianapolis, Casey Sadler has seen his share of struggles since returning from Pittsburgh in mid-June. In his past six starts, he has allowed at least seven hits in all of them. In addition, in the 36.1 innings over this stretch, he has allowed 18 runs. Prior to this, he allowed 18 runs in the 61.2 innings leading up to the promotion.

With this struggle in mind, Sadler has two reasons for the slide. The first is falling behind in the count. Since returning in mid-June, Sadler has chalked up 12 of his 21 season walks.

“The last couple games have not been great,” Sadler said. “I just have to get back to not waiting until 1-0 and 2-0 to attack hitters. I have maybe been nibbling a little too much in the last couple outings.”

As for what has been working lately, Sadler said that it is his typical arsenal of throwing a lot of sinking fastballs. However, one pitch has been minimized as of late.

“I don’t know if there is a reason for it, but I have kind of been getting away from [the changeup] in the last few outings,” Sadler said. “I think that it has shown because every time that I throw it, I have a lot of confidence in it. It helps me get deep into games. I don’t know if it’s stubbornness or what, but I have to start bringing that out a little more.”

Sadler said that after his last home start, Pirates Pitching Coordinator Scott Mitchell inquired about the use of the pitch. The changeup is a pitch that Sadler began working on heavily in the spring and aided a fast start with Indianapolis.

“[Mitchell] asked if there was a reason that I have gone away from it,” Sadler said. “I just haven’t really thrown it. It’s not that I don’t trust it or it’s not good, I just haven’t thrown it.”

With this in mind, Sadler is looking to mix the pitch back in the repertoire in the second half of the season.

“I will absolutely [get back to using the changeup],” Sadler said. “I feel like that is a pitch that I need. It is something to get them off the fastball and give them a different speed of the same look. That is something that I have to get back to incorporating.”

As for his two primary pitches, the fastball and curveball, it is business as usual for Sadler.

“[The sinker and the curveball] are good,” Sadler said. “It’s there and something that I have always had. I think, as pitchers, we go through lapses where it is better at times than others, but it is just something that you have to battle through and keep using.”

Breaking down a start

After getting to see Sadler’s start on July 13, many of these aspects held true, as he struggled through six innings and failed to strike out a single batter.

Sadler walked three hitters and allowed seven hits in these six innings. In the start, he labored to throw 113 pitches, while only 65 were strikes. In addition, Sadler fell behind 10 of the 28 hitters that he faced on the first pitch of the at bat. Three of those hitters, he threw at least two balls before crossing the plate with a strike.

For the season, when he is behind in the count, Triple-A hitters are batting .299 against Sadler. This is compared to the .218 that they are batting against him when he is ahead in the count.

The type of pitches that Sadler threw also lined up. Nearly half of the pitches that he threw were fastballs, which were between 90-92 MPH. This is compared to the around 25 changeups that Sadler threw, which sat between 83-85.

These control issues, along with the pitch selections, play heavily into Sadler’s struggles on this day. While he only allowed a pair of runs and it went down as a quality start, the struggles that Sadler discusses were prevalent.

Accolades and the future

After the success in the first half of the season, Sadler got an opportunity to throw an inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game in mid-July. In the inning of work, Sadler was able to get four outs after a hitter reached on a dropped third strike. While he did allow a single, he got out of the frame unharmed.

In four relief appearances over 8.2 innings with Pittsburgh, Sadler allowed eight hits and six earned runs while working out of the Pirate bullpen. In those outings, the same control issues that Sadler has shown since coming back were there, as he walked four hitters and hit another.

While there were struggles present, the sample size was small and four of the six runs were allowed in one appearance against Chicago. A couple of these runs were ruled questionably earned as Gregory Polanco could have received an error on a play that was ruled a hit.

Getting some taste in Pittsburgh has Sadler excited to aid the squad down the stretch in a playoff run in September.

“Anytime that you get up there and have a chance to play with those guys, it is a great experience,” Sadler said. “Hopefully, I get a chance to go back up sometime this year. I know that they are right in the playoff race. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple months and hopefully get back to the playoffs.”

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DSL Pirates Report: Two New Scouting Reports and an Injury Scare For a Top Prospect http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/dsl-pirates-report-two-new-scouting-reports-and-an-injury-scare-for-a-top-prospect.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/dsl-pirates-report-two-new-scouting-reports-and-an-injury-scare-for-a-top-prospect.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 15:00:55 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84608 The DSL Pirates had some injuries this week that left them short-handed and we found out that one player is done for the year. The first injury of note is the one to shortstop prospect Adrian Valerio, who twisted his knee during practice. Luckily for the Pirates, the injury turned out to be minor and he returned to action on Saturday. He missed three games in the middle of the week and ended up going 0-for-11, so it wasn’t a good week for him. His hitting has been hot and cold this year, but he has consistently made solid contact, with just 19 strikeouts in 161 at-bats.

Valerio tweaked his knee this week, but has already returned to action

Valerio tweaked his knee this week, but has already returned to action

Two other players have missed time with injuries, though both should return soon. Infielder Jesus Ronco hasn’t played since July 1st. He was only being used in a utility role, so it wasn’t a huge loss for the team. Outfielder Sandy Santos was playing everyday though and he has now missed the last two weeks. That has allowed Eliezer Ramirez to see more playing time. The 17-year-old from Venezuela wasn’t playing much, but he is a talented player, who should see regular time with the team next year when he is more experienced. He got four starts and went 2-for-12 with three walks.

The player that is out for the season is outfielder Huascar Fuentes. He hasn’t played since early June and isn’t expected to return before the season ends. He played just five games in this rookie season.

There was some great pitching this week from the Pirates starters. Richard Mitchell threw ten innings without allowing an earned run this week.  He now has his ERA down to 3.17 through ten starts, with a .223 BAA and just 11 walks in 48.1 innings. That innings pitched total is impressive considering the Pirates have strict pitch limits and starters cannot go more than five innings in a start.

Top pitching prospect Luis Escobar has shown why he is considered the best at his position. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up just one hit. He allowed ten earned runs in his second start this year, then has followed that up with ten earned runs allowed over his last eight starts combined. This month he has given up two earned runs in 19 innings and has held batters to a .133 average.

Starter Nestor Oronel had his best start as a pro this week, throwing five shutout innings. He is a 17-year-old lefty from Venezuela, who has struggled with giving up hits in his rookie season, with batters hitting .369 against him. Oronel hasn’t walked many batters, but the early results haven’t been good. Luckily, age is on his side and the fact that he is pitching so many innings shows that the Pirates think highly of him.

For the first time this year, the Pirates broke from their five man rotation, giving a start to Jherson Esqueda. He was injured in June and has slowly been working his way up to enough pitches to start. He threw five shutout innings this week and over 15.1 innings this season, Esqueda hasn’t given up a walk, while picking up 15 strikeouts.

On offense, second baseman Raul Siri did well after winning the All-Star game MVP last Sunday. He had six hits and drew five walks this week. In 48 games, he has a .331/.430/.556 line, with 18 doubles, five triples, four homers and eight stolen bases. We posted an article on him last week with scouting reports from four different people that have seen him play this year.

High-Priced Signing Paying Off

When the Pirates signed Edison Lantigua last year, he got the third highest bonus, inking a deal for $275K. The 17-year-old lefty has looked like he is worth every penny early in his career. He is hitting .273/.381/.414 in 36 games, with ten doubles, four triples, 23 walks and three stolen bases. Lantigua is actually hitting better against left-handed pitchers, which is a great sign at his age. At 6’0″, 175 pounds, he doesn’t have the impressive size of Jeremias Portorreal, the 6’3″ right fielder that signed for $375K last year, but Lantigua has been the more consistent player. Portorreal is hitting .186 through 40 games, with a .581 OPS.

The scouting report when Lantigua signed said that he was a line drive hitter that made solid contact. They also believed he could play center field and he had a strong arm. I was able to get a new scouting report on him, now 13 months after he signed and it sounds like he is living up to his reputation for the most part. The current report is as follows:

Lantigua is a line drive hitter that puts the ball in play often and uses the whole field. He is aggressive at the plate, but doesn’t swing and miss much. He is an above average runner, with very good range in the outfield. His arm is average, but very accurate. Lantigua is a smart player that makes good decision, an all-around solid player.

The only difference between the old and new scouting reports is the strength of his arm, though he gets some extra credit for accuracy on his throws. Going by the stats and past experiences with the way Pirates handle players, Lantigua seems like he is a prime candidate to move up to the United States next year.

Scouting Report on the Player With the Best Name in Baseball

The Pirates have a relief pitcher this year that is gaining some attention based on his name alone. The 18-year-old, 6’0″ right-hander from the Dominican Republic goes by the name Mister Luciano, which is his given name. He has pitched ten innings over nine relief appearances this year in his rookie season. The numbers are sub-par with a 7.20 ERA and eight walks, but the scouting report on him makes him sound as good as his name. Luciano can hit 93-94 MPH with his fastball. His best pitch though is his hard-breaking curve that has good velocity and he can throw it often for strikes. He also mixes in a change-up, giving him a three-pitch mix typical of most Pirates pitchers in the minors.

With better fastball control, he could be a very interesting prospect. His main focus for now will be fastball command and if he improves it, then as a reliever he could live off a mid-90′s fastball and a plus curve. Then he would be more than just a cool name in the system, he would be a legitimate power arm out of the bullpen.

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Prospect Highlights: Two Young Players From Australia Seeing Time With the GCL Pirates http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-highlights-two-young-players-from-australia-seeing-time-with-the-gcl-pirates.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/prospect-highlights-two-young-players-from-australia-seeing-time-with-the-gcl-pirates.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84522 The Pittsburgh Pirates have two 18-year-old players from Australia making their pro debuts in the Gulf Coast League this year. If you follow the site closely, both players have been mentioned here often because they have played Winter ball, including stints in the Australian Baseball League, playing against competition that is usually much older and much more advanced. The league has some players with Major League experience, as well as many minor league veterans. That’s great experience for young players, but it also shows how advanced they are, because you don’t play in the ABL unless you’re good enough to help the team.

The first player from today is starting pitcher Nick Hutchings, who has made six starts so far. He has a 5.33 ERA in 25.1 innings, with a 9/16 BB/SO ratio and a 1.65 GO/AO ratio. The important thing to remember with the 6’2″, right-hander is that he is younger than many high school draft picks from 2014, so while the results might not look great, you have to keep them in perspective.

Below are four videos of Hutchings last outing, starting with him in the bullpen. All videos here are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.

Hutchings mound warm-ups

Hutchings facing a righty

Facing a lefty

Sam Kennelly has seen limited action in his first year in the States. He has played 11 games, hitting .231 with two doubles(one shown below) and a 5/6 BB/SO ratio. He got in a lot of action in the off-season, playing tournament ball, seeing time with a club team and playing for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League. He will likely play in the ABL again this year and of course, he will see time in the Fall Instructional League, so the limited playing time shouldn’t have an adverse effect on him. Kennelly signed for $225K in 2012, so he was one of the higher profile signings that year. Just like Hutchings, he finished out school before coming to the United States to play.

The three videos below are all we have on him, so while it starts off good with a double, there is also a ground out and the ever-popular walk. It’s still three chances to get to see a player at a level you normally get nothing from as far as video.

The double. This is a nice long at-bat that obviously ends good.

The ground out.

The 3-1 pitch here looked hard to lay off of…

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First Pitch: Taking the John Buck Approach to Adding a Relief Pitcher http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-taking-the-john-buck-approach-to-adding-a-relief-pitcher.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/first-pitch-taking-the-john-buck-approach-to-adding-a-relief-pitcher.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 08:25:50 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84620 Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates had a need for a starting right fielder. By the end of August, they made a deal for Marlon Byrd, sending Dilson Herrera and Vic Black to the New York Mets. In the same deal, they also got catcher John Buck, who they used as their backup the rest of the season.

Buck wasn’t a very good backup catcher. He was replacement level, and was horrible at pitch framing. You can’t really say that the entire return in this deal was for Byrd, but it’s safe to say that he was the reason for the bulk of the return, and Buck was a much cheaper part of the deal.

The Pirates have been looking for relief pitching this year. They were interested in Huston Street, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels for a group of prospects, including Taylor Lindsey, who entered the year as a top 100 guy. They were interested in Joakim Soria, who was dealt for two of the Tigers top six prospects entering the year. There are a lot of teams looking for relievers, and not many teams selling relievers, which means the price should continue to be high.

I don’t think the Pirates should pay a high price to add a relief pitcher. But if they’re looking to make another trade — such as adding a starting pitcher or a piece to the offense — then it wouldn’t hurt to take the John Buck approach in adding a reliever. That doesn’t mean adding someone who won’t really help out or make a difference, as was the case with Buck, but adding someone who would be the Part B in the trade, and wouldn’t drive the price up much.

You’re probably not getting a closer or eighth inning guy. But you could get a quality reliever, and might not have to pay much for that reliever if he’s being paired with a bigger return. For example, the Pirates were watching Jon Lester this week, and have also been looking at Red Sox relievers. If they did decide to trade for Lester, that would be a good opportunity to add a seventh inning guy to the mix. Of course the reason this would work is because the return for the first piece would be so big. The Pirates would have to decide whether the price for the main piece in the trade was worth the upgrade.

I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence that they’re tied to teams for both relievers and a main piece. Aside from Lester and the Red Sox, there’s A.J. Burnett and Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies. I’m not sure who they could look at with Arizona, aside from the bullpen, although I’d certainly pursue Didi Gregorius as the primary piece. They have also been tied to Ian Kennedy and were tied to Huston Street before he was dealt. Maybe this is nothing more than the Pirates looking for all types of pitching, and most sellers having both starters and relievers available.

Personally I don’t think the Pirates need to make a splash in this seller’s market, as they don’t really have a big enough need that would warrant giving up so much in prospects. It seems like they’re looking hard at relievers, which goes against their approach in previous years of finding value relievers. I’m still going to be very surprised if they actually pay for a reliever this year, unless that reliever comes in a deal with a bigger piece that they’re paying for.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Kevin Krause Showing Power From the Catcher’s Position

**Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Shortstop Trace Tam Sing

**Minor League Schedule: Glasnow and Heredia Get Sunday Afternoon Starts

**Minor Moves: Pirates Going the Stetson Allie Route With Hayden Hurst

**What is A.J. Burnett’s Trade Value?

**Pirates and Phillies Continue to Discuss A.J. Burnett

**Prospect Highlights: A GCL Pitcher Showing Improvements After a Solid Rookie Season


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Pirates Looking at Red Sox Relievers http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-looking-at-red-sox-relievers-2.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-looking-at-red-sox-relievers-2.html#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:30:43 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84624 The list of relievers that the Pittsburgh Pirates are tracking continues to grow. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston says that the Pittsburgh Pirates are following Red Sox relievers. The Pirates have two scouts watching the Red Sox, and plan to scout them through the trade deadline. They had two scouts for the Jon Lester start the other night, which is a reminder that it’s always difficult to know the main focus for those scouts in attendance.

Edes mentions that Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow can all become free agents at the end of the season. He also mentions Felix Doubront and Edward Mujica as guys who are having down years.

It seems that the Pirates are casting a wide net for their relief pitching search. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add a reliever before the deadline, although I think they will go for a seventh inning guy, rather than going the “Proven Closer” route and getting a high priced, big name 8th inning guy or closer.

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