Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:27:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 AFL: Tyler Glasnow Runs Shutout Streak to Three Starts http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-tyler-glasnow-runs-shutout-streak-to-three-starts.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-tyler-glasnow-runs-shutout-streak-to-three-starts.html#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:19:44 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89902 Tyler Glasnow got the start for Scottsdale on Friday afternoon, his fourth start of the Arizona Fall League season. After a rough first outing, Glasnow made two straight appearances in which he threw three shutout innings. On Friday, he ran that streak to three games and struck out six batters in the process. Elias Diaz and Dan Gamache were in the line for the Scorpions, who lost 2-1 to Surprise to drop to 7-9 on the season.

Glasnow began the game with a grounder to second base that was booted for an error. On the third pitch to the second place hitter, Glasnow allowed a ground-rule double. With two runners in scoring position, he struck out the next batter. Glasnow started the game with seven straight strikes. He followed up the first strikeout with another, then got a ground out to first base to retire the side without allowing a run. He threw 17 pitches in the inning, 13 going for strikes.

The second inning started off just like the first, with the lead-off hitter reaching base via error. This time it was the center fielder that made the error and the batter made it to second base. After the error, Glasnow struck out the next two hitters. He then had his only moment of poor control in the game, walking the ninth place hitter on five pitches. That brought up the lead-off hitter, who laced a single into right field and Aaron Judge came up throwing, nailing the runner at the plate to end the inning with no damage. Glasnow needed 19 pitches in the second, ten went for strikes.

Glasnow led off the third inning with a strikeout. The next batter singled on a ground ball up the middle, then stole second base. Glasnow picked up his sixth strikeout for the second out of the inning, then finished off the inning with fly ball to right field. That ended his day, giving him his third straight outing with three shutout innings. He threw a total of 53 pitches in the game, 34 for strikes.

Adrian Sampson came on in the seventh inning, making his sixth relief appearance. He struck out the first batter he faced on four pitches, then walked the next guy on six pitches. The next batter singled to left field on the first pitch he saw. Sampson got out of the inning quickly, getting a 1-6-3 double play on the next pitch. He threw 12 pitches in the inning and despite the walk, seven went for strikes.

Sampson came out for the eighth inning and just like in the seventh, he started the frame with a strikeout. The next batter grounded out to third base. With two outs, Sampson allowed a double, but he got a ground out to shortstop to end the inning. He threw a total of 26 pitches in the game, 18 for strikes.

Elias Diaz was batting eighth and he grounded into a double play in his first at-bat. Leading off the fifth inning, he flew out to center field. Diaz came up in a big spot in the seventh inning. With his team down 2-1, there were runners on first and second and no outs. He couldn’t move the runners along, flying out to right field. Scottsdale came up empty in the inning. Diaz finished the day 0-for-3 at the plate.

Dan Gamache was the designated hitter on Friday. He came into the game with a .185 average and grounded out to first base in his first at-bat. Gamache singled in the fourth inning, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. In the seventh inning, he singled again, this time beating out a grounder to first base. In the ninth, Gamache grounded into a double play. He represented the winning run at the time. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two singles.

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Winter Leagues: Stetson Allie Extends On-Base Streak to 11 Games http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-stetson-allie-extends-on-base-streak-to-11-games.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-stetson-allie-extends-on-base-streak-to-11-games.html#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:16:33 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89884 In Mexico on Thursday night, Stetson Allie went 1-for-3 with two walks, extending his on-base streak to 11 games. That is a streak that started on Opening Day. He is hitting .302 so far, while also drawing seven walks. On the downside, Allie has also struck out 14 times, which is the third highest total in the league. In 43 at-bats, he has a .784 OPS, which ranks him 23rd among all qualified hitters.

In that same game, Dean Anna had his ten game on-base streak broken. He didn’t get the start, pinch-hitting in the tenth inning and flying out to left field in his only at-bat.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna was back in left field for a second straight night. He went 0-for-2 with a walk. Osuna is 2-for-22 this season.

Junior Sosa was in center field next to Osuna. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI, though he did strike out three times.

Matt Nevarez threw a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit. He has made five appearances, allowing one run in 5.2 innings. The one hit Nevarez allowed came off the bat of Ramon Cabrera, who came in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Cabrera is 5-for-34 this year, with five singles.

Jhondaniel Medina made his third relief appearance and for the third time, he walked three batters. He ended up throwing two shutout innings, with no hits and one strikeout. He has nine walks in 4.2 innings.

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First Pitch: Who Are the Best Reclamation Starting Pitchers For the 2015 Season? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-who-are-the-best-reclamation-starting-pitchers-for-the-2015-season.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-who-are-the-best-reclamation-starting-pitchers-for-the-2015-season.html#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:00:41 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89878 Over the last few years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have gotten a lot of value on the pitching market. They added A.J. Burnett for two years, Francisco Liriano for two years, Edinson Volquez for a year, Vance Worley for the 2014 season plus four more years of control, and several other relievers for small costs.

The combined cost for Burnett, Liriano, Volquez, and Worley was just under $30 M. The four pitchers combined for 164 starts with the Pirates. If 32 starts is a full season, then the Pirates got 5.125 seasons out of those four pitchers. They combined for 1020 innings, which is an average of 6.22 innings per start. And the combined ERA of the group was 3.21.

That means the Pirates have been paying, on average, about $5.85 M for a full season of a 3.21 ERA and just over six innings per start. Based on the prices normally paid for that expected production, the Pirates have been getting a massive discount.

I did base that on ERA, and normally a better focus for pitchers should be xFIP. However, in this case I think ERA is more appropriate, as it considers all of the outside factors that are helping a pitcher. The Pirates get a huge boost from Ray Searage and Jim Benedict with all of their reclamation projects. But their pitchers also get a boost from a focus on advanced catching metrics behind the plate, advanced metrics with defensive shifts in the field, and their park factors.

I mentioned several times this season that the Pirates ended up being right about their choice of Edinson Volquez over A.J. Burnett. I cited the ERA, while noting that the xFIP numbers were the same most of the year. The argument from the other side of that debate was that Burnett could have had the same results if he was with the Pirates, benefitting from Russell Martin’s pitch framing, their defensive shifts, and the park factors.

Some of that is definitely correct. Burnett did not have a good pitch framer in Philadelphia, with Carlos Ruiz contributing -3 runs due to his framing. Meanwhile, Russell Martin contributed 19.3 runs of positive value on the season. You can imagine how Burnett’s ERA might have jumped higher, and how Volquez’s ERA would have dropped, had they switched catchers. As for the park factors and the defense, Burnett had a slightly lower BABIP this year than he did last year, showing that the defense didn’t hurt him. He also matched his career average in HR/FB, so the new park didn’t add many extra homers.

Overall, if you’re arguing that the Pirates could have brought back Burnett to have the same type of success as Volquez, then you’re probably right. Burnett would have done much better from an ERA standpoint if he benefitted from the Pirates’ catchers and defense. But here’s my question: why would you want to bring back Burnett?

This whole argument is based on the idea that a guy like Burnett would benefit from outside factors that any pitcher would benefit from. In this situation, the pitcher is the variable, and Russell Martin, PNC Park, and the defense are the constants. If you can get an ERA in the low 3.00 range from either Burnett or Volquez because of those constants, then why would you ever think about paying Burnett $16 M when you could get the same results from Volquez for $5 M?

And that brings us to this off-season. The Pirates need two starting pitchers to open the season. Their internal options are Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley, and Charlie Morton, and Morton might not be ready for the start of the season. Jeff Locke or Brandon Cumpton could cover for him until he is ready to return, but that still leaves the need for two additional starters (and before you note the prospects set to arrive by mid-season, remember that the Pirates used 12 different starters in 2013 and 8 in 2014).

There will be a call to go the comfortable route and spend big money to bring back Francisco Liriano. There will be a call to make a trade for an established pitcher, or to try and get another big name or big money guy. But why should the Pirates do that? They’ve shown an ability to find value with starting pitchers, and it’s not just dumb luck. It’s an established system that scouts for the best reclamation projects, uses great coaches and in-depth scouting history to get those pitchers back to their best form, and then uses advanced metrics behind the plate and on the field to maximize the results. The Pirates have established themselves as the place to go for reclamation projects. Why would they even want to spend money like other teams, when they’ve shown the ability to get value from starting pitchers?

Last year I looked at some of the potential reclamation projects, although the Pirates didn’t sign any of the ones I brought up. That said, most of those guys received around $8-11 M per year, while the Pirates got Volquez for $5 M. Obviously I don’t have the resources they have (although with enough Prospect Guide sales, maybe we can one day add a vast scouting department to the site). With that disclaimer, here are some of my thoughts on potential reclamation projects for the 2015 season. These don’t include potential trade targets, since I don’t know who is actually available at this point. I tried to avoid players who projected to receive big contracts.

Gavin Floyd – He has always been a guy whose name has been bigger than the results. That probably stems from his 3.84 ERA in 206 innings in 2008. Since then, he’s posted closer to league average numbers, followed by a few injuries that shortened his 2013 and 2014 seasons. The 2014 injury was a broken elbow, which wasn’t Tommy John related. He’s expected to be fine for Spring Training. Last year he put up a 2.65 ERA in 54.1 innings, along with a 3.47 xFIP. Floyd might not be a reclamation project, but he might come cheaper than normal due to health concerns over the fact that he pitched just 78.2 innings the last two seasons (not counting the 24 innings rehabbing in the minors). He’s 32 years old, so there’s no guarantee that he remains healthy after recovering from his currently injury. But he’s exactly the type of pitcher the Pirates go after, with a great ground ball rate (above 47% in four of the last five years), and good advanced metrics (3.47-3.73 xFIP range in five of the last six years).

Jason Hammel – He was on my list last year, and the Pirates were linked to him at one point in the off-season. I liked him better than Volquez going into the year. He ended up signing with the Cubs, putting up a 2.98 ERA and a 3.21 xFIP, then getting traded to the Athletics. There, he put up a 4.26 ERA and a 4.15 xFIP. Those results weren’t bad, although the perception that he was a horrible pitcher in the second half might prevent his value from soaring. He got $6 M for one year last year.

Colby Lewis – He’s coming off a year where he posted a 5.18 ERA and a 4.36 xFIP. The ERA might drive down his value, although the advanced metrics suggest he wasn’t that bad. He pitched 170 innings, which is the third time in the last five years that he has pitched 170+ innings (he missed some of 2012 and all of 2013 with an injury). Lewis had good numbers before his injury. His ratios were fine this year, and his velocity was normal. The Rangers are trying to re-sign him after he finished the season strong, so he might not even be an option as a free agent, much less a reclamation project.

Justin Masterson – He’s my pick for the top comeback player. Masterson posted a 5.88 ERA, but a 4.08 xFIP. That followed three seasons where he pitched 193+ innings per year, posting an ERA below 3.50 in two of those years. He fits every check mark of a Pirates’ reclamation project. He’s got one of the best ground ball ratios in baseball, at 58% the last two years. He strikes out a lot of batters, with an 8.1 K/9 in 2014. His main issues was his walk rate being elevated in 2014, at 4.8 BB/9. The main concern here is that his velocity dropped from 93.1 MPH in 2013 to 90.3 MPH in 2014 (and 89.6 MPH with the Cardinals). The numbers look good, but the velocity could point to an injury. If he is healthy, he’d be a great reclamation project, and a guy who could end up being an ace again.

Carlos Villanueva – He’s been a bit under-rated, despite posting some league average numbers the last few years, and better xFIP numbers. Last year he had a 4.64 ERA, but a 3.97 xFIP. That followed three years in a row where he had an ERA in the 4.04-4.16 range. He strikes out a good amount of people, with a career 7.8 K/9, and an 8.3 K/9 last year. He also doesn’t walk many people. Villanueva is coming off a two-year, $10 M deal. He wouldn’t be a bad signing as a guy who could start the year in the rotation, then finish the year in the bullpen after some of the prospects arrive.

Edinson Volquez – He’s already been a reclamation project, posting a 3.04 ERA in 192.2 innings this past year, along with a 4.20 xFIP. This is the opposite of the situations above. Volquez had fantastic numbers, but the advanced metrics suggest he won’t repeat that success. But what if there is more to Volquez that the advanced metrics aren’t showing? At the start of the month, I wrote about how Volquez has some of the best stuff in baseball. What if the Pirates could continue to refine his stuff, and turn him into a true top of the rotation guy, rather than someone who gets those numbers due to his defense and other factors? He got $5 M last year, and should be in line for more this year. If the price is $8-10 M per year, then that wouldn’t be bad if they believe that Searage and Benedict can take the next step and turn his top stuff into a top pitcher.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**2014 Recaps: The Fall and Rise of the 2014 Pirates Rotation

**Starling Marte and Russell Martin Named Gold Glove Finalists

**Tyler Glasnow Named MiLB.com Starting Pitcher of the Year

**Pirates Sign Right-Handed Pitcher Josh Stinson

**Josh Stinson Player Page

**AFL: Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times, Josh Bell Ejected

**Winter Leagues: A Couple Players See Time at Their Old Positions

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AFL: Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times, Josh Bell Ejected http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-elias-diaz-reaches-base-three-times-josh-bell-ejected.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-elias-diaz-reaches-base-three-times-josh-bell-ejected.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:35:04 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89877 On Thursday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale had Josh Bell and Elias Diaz in their lineup representing the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. The Scorpions lost 7-3 to Mesa, dropping them to 7-8 on the season.

Bell was in the lineup as the designated hitter. He popped up to second base with a runner on second to end the first inning. In the third inning, Bell came up with a runner on third and two outs, and he flew out to left field. He also ended the fifth inning with a double play ground ball back to the pitcher. Bell led off the eighth inning and hit a ball just in front of the plate. He was called out for batter interference(running inside the 1B line) and was ejected from the game for arguing the call. Bell went 0-for-4 and he is now hitting .234 through 47 at-bats.

Diaz had an infield single his first at-bat, then a couple batters later, was thrown out trying to steal third base. Diaz has 18 steals in 34 attempts during his six-year career, so it was a peculiar decision to have him run in that situation and trying for third base for that matter. In his second plate appearance, Diaz drew a walk. Three batters later, he came around to score Scottsdale’s third run. In the sixth inning, he led off with a soft liner to left field for his second single. In the eighth, Diaz popped out to first base. He finished 2-for-3 with a walk. On defense, he was 1-for-2 in throwing out runners.

Tyler Glasnow will be on the mound for tomorrow afternoon’s game. The AFL television schedule was posted yesterday and no Scottsdale games are currently on the schedule, though that could change.

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2014 Recaps: The Fall and Rise of the 2014 Pirates Rotation http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/2014-recaps-the-fall-and-rise-of-the-2014-pirates-rotation.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/2014-recaps-the-fall-and-rise-of-the-2014-pirates-rotation.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:53:45 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89861 The results from the 2013 season gave some hope for the 2014 rotation. At the end of the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates looked like they had three top of the rotation guys in Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, and A.J. Burnett. During the off-season, they didn’t bring back Burnett, and instead went for Edinson Volquez. As a result, there was a lot of fan backlash to the set of moves, with Pirates fans wanting Burnett back, and predicting an early exit from the rotation for Volquez.

Prior to the season, I felt the rotation looked fine. They still had Liriano and Cole returning, and would have each for a full season (Liriano was injured to start the 2013 season, and Cole was in Triple-A). They had Jameson Taillon in the wings, ready for a promotion to the majors in June. Charlie Morton looked like a middle of the rotation starter at the end of the 2013 season, and would be pitching a lot more than he did in 2013. And Volquez looked like he could at least be a league average pitcher who could throw 180+ innings.

It turned out that pretty much every prediction on the rotation was wrong. The Pirates didn’t miss Burnett. Volquez did better than everyone expected. Cole and Liriano both struggled in the first half, and both missed time due to injuries. Taillon had Tommy John surgery at the end of Spring Training.

There were some predictions that came true. Wandy Rodriguez was unreliable, and left the rotation after six starts. Charlie Morton pitched well, and pitched more than he did in 2013, although he did miss time at the end of the year with a hip injury.

Overall, the rotation struggled on the season. By the end of the season, the results looked a little better. That was thanks to Volquez and the emergence of Vance Worley.

Worley was the silver lining of the season for the Pirates. He was acquired at the end of Spring Training from the Twins for cash, and spent his first month in the organization working on his mechanics with Jim Benedict. He went to Indianapolis for a month, and looked like the pitcher he was in 2011-12 with Philadelphia. After Rodriguez was released, plus injuries to Liriano and Cole, a spot opened for Worley. He took advantage of that spot, putting up a 2.85 ERA in 110.2 innings this year. His 3.54 xFIP that suggested he wasn’t as good as the ERA, but definitely one of the better starters in the rotation.

Meanwhile, Volquez struggled some during the first half of the season, posting a 4.67 ERA through the middle of June, with a 4.24 xFIP that suggested he would get better. He was fantastic in the second half, with a 1.85 ERA, although his 4.16 xFIP suggested this time that he was getting lucky. That luck ran out in the Wild Card game, as Volquez was hit hard by the Giants, while Madison Bumgarner shut down the Pirates’ offense. On the season, Volquez had a 3.04 ERA and a 4.20 xFIP. By ERA standards, he was the second best starter in the rotation behind Worley.

Worley and Volquez gave the rotation a boost in the second half, but the bigger boost came from Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole. Liriano struggled before the All-Star break, posting a 4.72 ERA, but a 3.73 xFIP suggested he should have been better. Something clicked for him in the second half. He had a 2.20 ERA after the All-Star break, and a 3.11 xFIP that justified the good results.

Cole was in a similar situation. He had a 4.02 ERA through the end of June, with a 3.59 xFIP. He missed about a month and a half in July and August, after missing most of the month of June. After his return, he posted a 3.44 ERA and a 2.75 xFIP.

The Pirates struggled in the first half. Their starters combined to finish 17th in ERA, which was higher due to the strong performances from Brandon Cumpton and Jeff Locke in June, when Cole and Liriano went down. Locke continued performing well in July with Cole out, but struggled in the second half. The advanced metrics backed up the first half ERA, with the Pirates finishing tied for 19th, posting a 3.83 xFIP.

The second half results were much better. The Pirates’ rotation finished 5th in ERA, and 2nd in the National League with a 3.14 ERA. The xFIP of 3.63 was 10th in the majors and 5th in the NL. The plan going into the season was to rely on their top starters (Liriano and Cole), go with some reclamation projects (Volquez and Worley), and rely on some of their internal guys to step up and perform (Morton). All of that came together in the second half, leading to a group that helped the Pirates make the post-season for the second year in a row.

The Future

Heading into the 2015 season, the Pirates will have some holes in the rotation. Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez are departing as free agents. There’s a chance the Pirates could bring either guy back. Charlie Morton will probably miss some time at the start of the season after having surgery last month. That leaves Cole and Worley as the only starters.

Jeff Locke could be an option, but his struggles in the second half this year will once again put his status in question. Locke looked amazing in the first half of the 2013 season, although his xFIP suggested a regression would come, and that eventually happened. He looked amazing in the first half of the 2014 season, and this time the advanced metrics backed up the ERA. He struggled once again in the second half, seeing a lapse in control. Locke would be a good depth option next year, and possibly an early season replacement for Morton, but he’s not a guy you can rely on as a starter for the entire year.

That means the Pirates will need at least two starters this off-season, via free agency. They have had a lot of success with reclamation projects, focusing on a combination of scouting, plus adjustments from Ray Searage and Jim Benedict. Add in the defensive help from their focus on catcher defense and shifting, plus the park factors at PNC, and the Pirates are set up to improve pitchers, and have them perform above their advanced metrics, just like what happened with Volquez and Worley this year. They should continue this approach over the off-season.

Things will get better for the long-term. The Pirates have a group of pitching prospects in the upper levels, with most of them ready to take over in 2015. Jameson Taillon should be ready to go in Indianapolis on Opening Day, and could be in the majors by next June. Nick Kingham and Adrian Sampson both had success in Altoona this season, and both moved up to Indianapolis with some success at the level. They both profile as mid-rotation starters in the future, and could both be up in the first half of the 2015 season. Tyler Glasnow is the top prospect in the organization, and will start off in Double-A this year. He will probably need a full year in Double-A before getting the call to Indianapolis. His ETA will most likely be the middle of the 2016 season.

Between their top pitching prospects, and their approach with coaching, scouting, and advanced metrics, the Pirates have what it takes to put together a great starting rotation in the not-too-distant future.

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Starling Marte and Russell Martin Named Gold Glove Finalists http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/starling-marte-and-russell-martin-named-gold-glove-finalists.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/starling-marte-and-russell-martin-named-gold-glove-finalists.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:02:12 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89862 Rawlings has announced their Gold Glove finalists, naming three players at each position in the AL and NL. The Pittsburgh Pirates had two finalists, with Starling Marte and Russell Martin being named finalists at their respective positions. This is the second year in a row that Marte and Martin were named as finalists. Last year Andrew McCutchen was also named a finalist, although he didn’t make the cut this year in center field.

Russell Martin was a finalist at catcher, along with Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, and Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers. Molina wins this award almost every year, although this year he’s the clear number three option. Martin and Lucroy finished one and two, respectively, in Defensive Runs Saved this year, with Molina finishing third. Lucroy finished first in pitch framing in the NL, while Martin finished third, about 4.5 runs behind. You could make a case for Lucroy being the winner over Martin. Those are pretty much the only two finalists, as Molina shouldn’t be a contender this year.

Starling Marte is a finalist in left field, going up against Justin Upton of the Braves and Christian Yelich of the Marlins. Yelich was by far the number one defender this year, and it would be difficult for Marte to win the award. If you go by DRS, it is a bit closer, but Yelich still beats Marte 13 to 10.

The Pirates were shut out last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that happened again this year. I think Martin has the best chance of winning, but could see arguments in favor of Lucroy and Yelich winning at each position.

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Tyler Glasnow Named MiLB.com Starting Pitcher of the Year http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/tyler-glasnow-named-milb-com-starting-pitcher-of-the-year.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/tyler-glasnow-named-milb-com-starting-pitcher-of-the-year.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:06:36 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89855 Tyler Glasnow has been getting a lot of recognition for his superb season at Bradenton this year and he picked up another honor Thursday morning. Glasnow was named the top starting pitcher in the minors by MiLB.com. The 21-year-old righty had a 1.74 ERA over 23 starts, throwing a total of 124.1 innings. Glasnow had 157 strikeouts and a .174 BAA, while allowing just three homers. He led the FSL in ERA and WHIP(1.05) and finished second in strikeouts. He is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Glasnow has also been named Baseball America’s top FSL prospect. He’s also been named MLB.com’s pitching prospect of the year and the Pirates named him the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year. Glasnow also won the MiLB award for FSL pitcher of the year, he made Baseball America’s minor league all-star team. Basically, he has received a lot of honors this year. Glasnow was also named Pirates Prospects’ pitcher of the year for the second straight season.

Sam Dykstra from MiLB has a terrific article on Glasnow from this morning that I highly recommend.

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Pirates Sign Right-Handed Pitcher Josh Stinson http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/pirates-sign-right-handed-pitcher-josh-stinson.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/pirates-sign-right-handed-pitcher-josh-stinson.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:34:04 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89850 The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced the signing of free agent right-handed pitcher Josh Stinson to a minor league contract. They have also given him an invitation to Spring Training.

Stinson has pitched parts of four seasons in the majors, spending time with the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles. He made eight appearances for the Orioles this season, posting a 6.23 ERA in 13 innings. At AAA, he had a 5.48 ERA over 85.1 innings, making 13 starts and nine relief appearances. While just two of his 39 big league appearances have been as a starter, nearly half of his minor league appearances over a nine-year career have come in a starting role.

The 26-year-old Stinson was drafted in the 37th round out of high school in 2006 by the Mets. He has a 1.39 GO/AO ratio and a 6.2 SO/9 ratio during his minor league career.

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Winter Leagues: A Couple Players See Time at Their Old Positions http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-a-couple-players-see-time-at-their-old-positions.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-a-couple-players-see-time-at-their-old-positions.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:31:08 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89831 Wednesday night in winter ball was busy for Pittsburgh Pirates players. Ten of them saw action and we start with play in the Dominican.

Alen Hanson went 0-for-4 with a walk. His team lost 4-1 in ten innings and Hanson split the game evenly between second base and shortstop, moving over after the fifth inning.

Rafael Perez threw a shutout inning of relief, retiring the side in order. It was his second relief appearance.

Willy Garcia went 1-for-3 with a single. He has hits in all three starts and hasn’t struck out in 13 plate appearances.

Mel Rojas Jr. was in left field Wednesday. His team got beat bad, losing 11-1, but he went 1-for-2 with two walks and an outfield assist. In that same game, Wirfin Obispo threw a scoreless inning of relief. He allowed one hit.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna played his first game in left field. He played outfield in the lower levels of the Pirates system, but only played first base in 2014 and hasn’t played outfield regularly in three years. He played one game in left field in 2013 with Bradenton and didn’t play any outfield in 2012 with West Virginia. Osuna went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. It was just his second hit in 20 at-bats.

Junior Sosa was next to Osuna in center field. He went 2-for-3 and scored on Osuna’s RBI double.

In Mexico, Mazatlan ended up winning their game in the bottom of the 14th inning. Stetson Allie went 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts, before being pinch-run for in the 13th inning. Felipe Gonzalez picked up the win with two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and he struck out one batter.

Dean Anna was on the opposing side of that 14 inning game. He finished 1-for-5, with two walks and he drove in two runs. Both Allie and Anna have reached base in all ten games they have played.

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First Pitch: What if the Pirates Keep Everyone This Off-Season? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-what-if-the-pirates-keep-everyone-this-off-season.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-what-if-the-pirates-keep-everyone-this-off-season.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:02:19 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89833 The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to have an interesting off-season. In the last two weeks I have been recapping all of the individual positions, noting what happened during the 2014 season and looking ahead to future years. Aside from the Russell Martin situation, and all of the decisions to be made on pitching, the Pirates have a lot of decisions to make that could go a lot of different ways. Here is a rundown of each situation.

**Should they keep Travis Snider as an expensive bench player, or try to deal him based off his second half success?

**Should Josh Harrison be a starter, or a super utility player, getting starts all over the field?

**Which of Ike Davis, Pedro Alvarez, and Gaby Sanchez should the Pirates trade?

All of these moves are connected. For example, if you have Travis Snider as an expensive bench player, then that reduces the possibility for Josh Harrison to get time in the outfield. That means Harrison has less value as a utility player (basically a backup infielder) than he does as a starter. If you start him at third base, then Alvarez isn’t needed at third, which means you don’t really need Davis and Alvarez on the roster. And you might not need Sanchez, unless you want him as a backup third baseman, which wouldn’t be necessary if you keep Alvarez.

I’ve given my thoughts on what the Pirates should do: keep Snider, start Harrison at third, trade Alvarez, and start Davis and Sanchez. Some of you have disagreed with me on certain ideas, and that’s totally understandable. This off-season, especially the situation involving first base, is full of decisions that have no clear right answer.

You don’t know if Travis Snider will repeat his second half, so paying him through arbitration again, and giving him some starts in the outfield might be risky.

Josh Harrison has more plate appearances where he looked like a struggling bench player, compared to plate appearances where he looked like an All-Star. He definitely should get a chance for regular playing time, but this is another area where the Pirates have some risk.

There’s no consensus choice between Davis and Alvarez. Davis has actually been better than Alvarez in his career against right-handers, and the two were about the same in 2014. Yet, Pirates fans don’t like Davis and prefer Alvarez. I’m guessing the situation would be reversed if Davis was drafted by the Pirates, and Alvarez came over in a trade only to have a down year. As for Sanchez, it’s a question of whether he just had a down year, or is starting his decline. The risk at first base involves picking the right guy(s). Even if the Pirates traded Alvarez and got a good player in return, it would hurt seeing him bounce back next year, especially if Davis doesn’t bounce back.

I wanted to play Devil’s Advocate with my suggestion for these guys, thinking about the benefits of keeping everyone. What if there weren’t really set positions, but just a plan for everyone to get X amount of at-bats. This would help negate some of the risk involved with these guys, and make it less likely that the Pirates have holes on their roster.

Take Pedro Alvarez, for example. If you keep him around, even with Davis on the roster, you’ve basically got a very expensive bench player for a small market team. But Alvarez provides the chance for insurance at two positions. If he bounces back and shows that he can once again play third base, then he’s insurance for Harrison. If he bounces back and Davis struggles, then he can take over at first base. And if both players are productive, and Alvarez is also productive, then you’ve got a huge power bat off the bench.

A perfect scenario with these guys involves Alvarez, Davis, and Sanchez to bounce back to their career norms, with Harrison and Snider staying hot after their breakout seasons. That would give the Pirates a lot of depth. They’d have a team of super utility players, with Harrison getting time all over the infield, and some time in the outfield. They’d have Alvarez splitting between first and third. Snider would be starting insurance in the outfield if someone struggled or went down with an injury. And as for other injuries, they’d be covered and wouldn’t have a situation where Michael Martinez, Jayson Nix, and Brent Morel were starting games — unless they dealt with several injuries at the same time again.

The downside to this approach would be that they could only do it if they didn’t bring back Russell Martin. And they definitely should prioritize Martin. If he does end up signing (which seems unlikely), then they wouldn’t be able to afford the expensive bench, all while adding the necessary pitching that they will need in the rotation and bullpen. But if Martin doesn’t return, then a “keep everyone” plan might be a good way to help replace his value, as the contingency plans involved here could help keep the Pirates with a top offense, even without Martin.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**AFL: Thomas Harlan Struggles With Control in One-Sided Loss

**2014 Recaps: Is Josh Harrison the Future at Third Base For the Pirates?

**The Pirates New Affiliate in Morgantown Will Be Called The West Virginia Black Bears

**Winter Leagues: Alen Hanson Homers During Team’s 5-3 Victory

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