Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:18:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 AFL: Joely Rodriguez Throws Four Shutout Innings, Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-joely-rodriguez-throws-four-shutout-innings-elias-diaz-reaches-base-three-times.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-joely-rodriguez-throws-four-shutout-innings-elias-diaz-reaches-base-three-times.html#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:17:11 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89722 Joely Rodriguez got the start on Monday night for Scottsdale, coming off three shutout innings his last time out. He did even better this time out, throwing four shutout innings. Three Pirates were in the starting lineup as Scottsdale won 7-3 to move to 6-6 on the season.

Rodriguez gave up a single to the first batter, then immediately erased him on a pick-off. He struck out the next hitter, then got a fly ball to center field on the first pitch to the third batter, ending the inning. Rodriguez needed just ten pitches.

In the second inning, he started off with his second and third strikeout, with all three batters going down swinging. Rodriguez walked the third hitter on seven pitches, missing badly on three of those pitches. That walk was followed by a single to center field. He got out the inning with no damage, getting a fly ball to center field. Rodriguez worked hard in the second, throwing 22 pitches in the inning.

Rodriguez hit the lead-off batter in the third inning. The rest of the inning went quickly as he picked up his fourth strikeout, then got out of the inning on the next pitch, inducing a 4-6-3 double play. He needed just six pitches in the inning. Rodriguez came out for the fourth inning, the first Pirates pitcher to pitch into the fourth. He got the first batter to fly out to center field. The next batter popped out to Dan Gamache. With two out, Rodriguez gave up an infield single. He then had an eight pitch battle that ended with his fifth strikeout.

Rodriguez threw a total of 56 pitches, 36 going for strikes. In four innings, he allowed five base runners, but kept Glendale off the board. He has thrown 9.1 innings this year in the AFL, giving up just one run.

Josh Bell batted fifth and was at first base. He flew out to left field in his first at-bat. Bell grounded out to shortstop to end the third inning. In the fifth, he hit a ground-rule double to left field. It was his fifth double of the season. In the seventh inning, Bell struck out swinging, though he did reach on a wild pitch and came around to score. He finished 1-for-4 with a double. In the field, Bell committed his fourth error. He did field two ground balls in the last two innings after his error in the seventh and handled seven of his eight chances cleanly.

Dan Gamache was in the sixth spot and playing third base. He struck out swinging in the second inning. Leading off the fourth, he grounded out to second base. Gamache followed Josh Bell’s double in the fifth with a walk. In the seventh, he doubled, which scored Bell from first base.

Elias Diaz hit eighth and walked on four pitches in his first plate appearance. He tripled in the fourth inning, bringing home Scottsdale’s fourth run. Diaz reached for a third time in the sixth inning with his second walk. In his last at-bat, he grounded out to shortstop.

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First Pitch: Is Chris Stewart the Best Catching Option If the Pirates Can’t Re-Sign Martin? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-is-chris-stewart-the-best-catching-option-if-the-pirates-cant-re-sign-martin.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/first-pitch-is-chris-stewart-the-best-catching-option-if-the-pirates-cant-re-sign-martin.html#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:00:23 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89720 The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in Chris Stewart last year to serve as a defensive specialist behind Russell Martin. Stewart did not exactly specialize in defense during the 2014 season.

The catcher posted his best year ever offensively, with a .693 OPS that was over 100 points higher than his career numbers entering the season. That was largely fueled by a .364 BABIP, which is way up from his career .259 BABIP. Stewart has never really provided any power, and actually saw his power drop during the 2014 season, to a very small .037 ISO.

Defensively, Stewart saw his numbers regress. He has a career 31% caught stealing rate, but saw that drop to 23% this year. His blocking skills have been good in the past, but were down this year by several metrics. FanGraphs had him dropping from 2.7 in 2013 to 0.9 in 2014 in RPP (blocked pitches in runs above average). Baseball Prospectus had him going from 2.2 blocking runs per 7000 chances to -1.6.

With all of that said, I raise the following question: could Chris Stewart be a good option as the Pirates’ starting catcher in 2015?

I’m sure that the quick answer is going to be “No!” and that answer is probably warranted without a specific set of conditions surrounding the question. So let’s add those conditions.

I’ve written a lot of articles saying the Pirates should bring back Russell Martin. As long as the price isn’t huge, I still think that should be the case. If Martin costs $15 M per year over four years, then that’s a price the Pirates can, and should pay. But what if a big market team like the Dodgers gets involved, pushing the bidding to five years, or well above $15 M per year, or both? The reality of Major League Baseball is that if a big market team wants a player bad enough, they can easily out-bid small market teams to get that player.

In 2014 there were 54 deals that paid $15 M or more. Out of those deals, only five were made by teams that could be classified as “small market”. The Rockies (Troy Tulowitzki) and Twins (Joe Mauer) were both on the list due to franchise players who signed massive extensions. The Twins might be starting to regret the Mauer deal, and the Rockies have been talked about in rumors involving Tulowitzki being traded. The other three teams are Baltimore, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

The Orioles were paying $15.35 M to Nick Markakis, at the end of a six-year deal. The Indians were paying $15 M to Nick Swisher, as part of a four-year, $56 M deal. The Brewers paid $15.1 M to Aramis Ramirez in the final year of a three-year, $36 M deal.

On the other side of the spectrum, there were eight teams that made up almost three-quarters of the $15 M salaries. Those teams were the Yankees (8 players), Dodgers (7), Tigers (5), Cardinals (4), Phillies (4), Angels (4), Red Sox (4), and Giants (3). The Cardinals aren’t exactly a big market team, but their annual attendance figures, their prolonged success, and their drafting and developing of players makes it possible for them to spend on multiple teams. The attendance figures play a huge factor here.

As we saw with Cleveland, Baltimore, and Milwaukee, a small market team can spend $15 M on a player, but not much more than that. And usually, a player making $15 M will end up with a big market team.

So let’s assume Martin gets paid by a team like the Dodgers, to the point where the Pirates can’t match the salary. Now the Pirates are looking for a new starting catcher. Free agency isn’t an option. They could go for a trade, and this is an area that I’m not going to explore deeply in this article, because we have no clue at this point who is going to be available. I’m not dismissing that a trade is possible. That said, the idea that a team is willing to give up a Russell Martin type player in a trade is impossible. If the Pirates are making a trade, they’re doing it for a defensive specialist. Teams don’t just trade two-way catchers.

If the question about Stewart being a good catching option is “Chris Stewart vs Russell Martin”, the answer is clearly in Martin’s favor. If Martin is gone, and the Pirates are left looking for a defensive specialist, Stewart might not be a bad bet.

For this to be true, you’d have to assume Stewart was just having a down year in 2014. His career caught stealing rate is 31%. He dropped down to 23% in 2012, before jumping back to 31% in 2013 as a starter. It’s not out of the question that he could see his caught stealing numbers bounce back next year. The blocking numbers were also poor, although they look like an outlier when compared to his career numbers. As an interesting side note, Russell Martin’s blocking numbers were also way down this year. The difference between last year and this year was 6.1 runs. The difference for Stewart was 1.8 runs.

Then there’s the area where Stewart didn’t struggle this year — his pitch framing. Stewart posted 9.0 framing runs, according to his Baseball Prospectus page. That was as a backup catcher, which translates to 21.3 framing runs per 7000 framing chances. By comparison, Russell Martin had 7810 chances as a starter this year, and had 17.3 Framing Runs per 7000 chances. Stewart was a better framer than Martin, and that’s been the case every year they’ve been in the league together.

I looked at the framing runs numbers over the last two years, and out of the 133 catchers in the league, Stewart ranked 17th in framing runs per 7000 chances. If you remove the catchers who had less than 3000 chances in those two years, Stewart ranks 12th with 16.4 runs, and Russell Martin ranks 13th with 14.6 runs.

The impact of pitch framing is much bigger than the impact for blocking or caught stealing. Stewart had a rSB (Stolen base runs saved) of 2 last year, when he caught 31% of base stealers. He was at 1 this year, with 23%. If he goes back to 31%, it won’t make a massive difference. His blocking, according to BP, would have been worth 2.2 runs per 7000 chances last year, and -1.6 runs this year. If he reverts back there, it would be another 3.8 runs. Together, he’d have about 5 runs, or half a win extra, if he reverts back to his old defensive ways.  But the framing runs have always been there, and could add an extra 2-2.5 wins as a starter.

Stewart wouldn’t be close to Martin. For one, Martin throws out an unreal amount of base stealers. His 40% caught stealing over the last two years has led to 15 rSB. The difference in 2013, when both catchers were starting, was seven runs in Martin’s favor. The blocking for Martin last year would have been worth an extra 3.5 runs per 7000 chances (although catchers usually get around 5000 chances, so the season impact would be smaller). Those two factors give Martin about an extra win in value over Stewart, defensively.

Looking at the DRS numbers, it could be more. Martin was worth 16 DRS in 2013, while Stewart was worth 1 DRS. That 15 run difference would be about 1.5 wins. If you consider the pitch framing about equal (and slightly in Stewart’s favor), then Martin’s defense gives him an extra 1-1.5 wins over Stewart.

The biggest divide comes on the offensive side. Martin and Stewart both had career years at the plate in 2014, although “career year” needs to be defined in each case. A career year for Martin makes him a middle of the order hitter. A normal year for Martin provides average to below average offense from the catcher position. Chris Stewart needs a career year to get in the normal range for Martin. His normal play would make him one of the worst offensive regular catchers in baseball. His .575 OPS coming into the season would rank dead last among the 31 catchers with 300+ plate appearances in 2014.

That’s a huge downgrade from Martin. But we’re not exactly comparing those two, since we know Martin is much more valuable. What we’re comparing is Stewart versus every other option that the Pirates could get via trade. In the likely event that they can only get a defensive catcher, then they’re looking at someone very similar to Stewart on the offensive side, and possibly no better defensively.

If the Pirates can’t bring back Russell Martin, the options are bad. They would most likely be looking at a backup and defense only at the catching position. In that event, Stewart would be one of the best options they could get. That is, at least until Elias Diaz is ready for the majors.

Links and Notes

**2014 Recaps: Russell Martin Had a Career Year Offensively, But Defense Will Get Him Paid

**Baseball America’s 2014 Pirates Draft Report Card

**Winter Leagues: Willy Garcia Picks Up Two Hits in First Start

**AFL: Joely Rodriguez Throws Four Shutout Innings, Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times

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Winter Leagues: Willy Garcia Picks Up Two Hits in First Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-willy-garcia-picks-up-two-hits-in-first-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-willy-garcia-picks-up-two-hits-in-first-start.html#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 03:35:06 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89698 Both Sunday and Monday were quiet days in the winter leagues, with just two games played Monday and Sunday had a game postponed, plus two teams with Pirates players were scheduled off.

On to the little bit of action to cover and we start with a missed at-bat from Saturday in the Dominican. Andy Vasquez struck out as a pinch-hitter late in the game for Toros del Este. It was his first game of the season.

On Sunday night, Mel Rojas Jr. was the only Pirate player to see action in the Dominican. He played left field and went 1-for-6 with a run scored and RBI. Rojas was in center field for his first two games this winter. He has one single in each of his three games.

In Mexico, two hit streaks were broken, though both players reached base. Stetson Allie and Dean Anna had season-long seven game hit streaks coming into Sunday. Allie went 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He has a .300/.400/.400 slash line in 30 at-bats. Anna went 0-for-3 with a walk, HBP and run scored. He is hitting .345 and has reached base 18 times in eight games, giving him a .500 OBP.

In Venezuela on Sunday, Ramon Cabrera was the only player to see action and he went 1-for-4 with a single. He is hitting .152 in 33 at-bats and does not have an extra-base hit.

On Monday, Willy Garcia got his first start, batting ninth and playing center field. He went 2-for-4, with a double and run scored in his team’s 7-1 win.

Rafael Perez pitched a scoreless inning, allowing one hit, which happened to be the double by Willy Garcia.

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2014 Recaps: Russell Martin Had a Career Year Offensively, But Defense Will Get Him Paid http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/2014-recaps-russell-martin-had-a-career-year-offensively-but-defense-will-get-him-paid.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/2014-recaps-russell-martin-had-a-career-year-offensively-but-defense-will-get-him-paid.html#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:29:47 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89706 Almost two years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Russell Martin to the biggest free agent deal in franchise history. The deal was for two years and $17 M, outbidding the New York Yankees by a few million. Martin turned down a three-year deal from the Pirates, opting to enter free agency a year earlier. That turned out to be a very wise decision.

At the end of the 2013 season, I looked at Martin compared to the previous catchers in the system, such as Rod Barajas, Chris Snyder, and Ryan Doumit. It wasn’t difficult to rank better than those catchers, and Martin’s defense alone made him about three wins more valuable in 2013 than Barajas in 2012. This year, Martin went a step further, and became one of the most valuable players in baseball.

Behind the plate, Martin’s defense was once again outstanding. He ranked first in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved, with 12, finishing one ahead of Jonathan Lucroy, and three ahead of Yadier Molina, Carlos Ruiz, and Salvador Perez, who tied for third with 8 DRS. He tied Wellington Castillo for first in Stolen Base Runs Saved, with 6. Overall, FanGraphs rated him as the fifth best defensive catcher in the majors.

Those rankings don’t include Pitch Framing, which is an area where Martin excels. He was worth 19.3 framing runs, which could be the equivalent of about two wins. That tied for fifth in all of baseball.

It wasn’t just defense this year for Martin. His offense came up big, with his best year since 2007, and the second best year of his career. Martin had an .832 OPS, fueled by a .290 average. His walk rate was up slightly from last year, going from 11.5% to 12.8%. His power was down slightly, going from a .151 ISO to a .140 ISO. What helped Martin offensively was his .336 BABIP, which was the highest mark of his career, and about 50 points higher than his career line of .289.

Martin’s offense this year fueled him to be one of the best players in baseball. He had a 5.3 WAR, which tied for 20th in the majors. If you add the pitch framing numbers to the WAR numbers, Martin would have been the fourth most valuable player in baseball this year, behind Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Trout, and Buster Posey.

Going forward, Martin’s offense isn’t going to be as good as it was in 2014. His BABIP certainly won’t stay where it was this year, and his declining power numbers the last two years are a concern when the batting average ends up dropping. But Martin will still have plenty of value due to his defense. That defense doesn’t look like it is declining. He’s been number one in DRS the last two years, and it’s not close. His pitch framing has been top five in each of the last two years. The offense gave him a lot of attention this year, but the defense is what will make him worth paying for in the future.

The Future

The biggest subject this off-season will be the Pirates’ ability to re-sign Martin. It might not even be something they can control. If a big spender like the Dodgers, Rangers, or Red Sox decide that they want Martin as their starting catcher, then the Pirates simply won’t be able to out-bid those teams.

This isn’t like two years ago, when the Yankees wanted Martin, but the Pirates were one of few teams to see the value in catcher defense. That value has become widely known the last two years. The Yankees turned down a reported four-year and $40 M demand from Martin at the time. They offered a reported three years and $20 M. Now Martin is looking at four years easily, and more than $10 M per year.

If the Pirates can’t bring Martin back, then they’ll have a problem in the short-term. Their current internal options are Chris Stewart, Tony Sanchez, and Elias Diaz. All three profile as backups. Stewart seems the most ready to take over out of the three, since he can play defense at the major league level. That has been a question mark for Sanchez.

Diaz is a better defender than Sanchez, and his defense is major league ready. However, there might be more to Diaz than just a backup who specializes in defense. His offensive tools always showed potential, and the offense broke out this year in Altoona. He hasn’t received much time above Double-A, and only had half a season of at-bats at the level. I’d be surprised if the Pirates rushed him to the majors. He might be an option to take over by mid-season, or maybe in 2016. If they go with him on Opening Day, they risk sacrificing his future upside, which could be a starting catcher.

In the long-term, the Pirates have a lot of options available. The top choice is Reese McGuire, who has the best defense in the system. That defense will eventually get McGuire to the majors, but if his offense comes together, he will be one of the best all-around catchers in the game. McGuire won’t be ready for another 3-4 years, so the Pirates will need someone to bridge the gap until he arrives. There are other interesting catching prospects in the lower levels of the minors, such as Jin-De Jhang, Jacob Stallings, Taylor Gushue, Kevin Krause, and Yoel Gonzalez. Some of those guys are just defensive specialists, and some are good for their offense, but will probably eventually move to another position. No matter what, they’re all behind McGuire on the depth charts.

It seems unlikely that the Pirates will be able to bring Martin back next year. That’s just based on the probability that one big market team will be interested in him, enough to push the bidding to a place where the Pirates can’t go. Elias Diaz looks like the best option to be the starting catcher in Pittsburgh until Reese McGuire arrives, although Diaz doesn’t look like he will be ready by the start of the 2015 season, and might not be ready in 2015 at all. The Pirates will need to find a one-year option if they can’t bring Martin back, and it’s unlikely that this option will be able to replicate the numbers that Martin put up defensively over the last two years.

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Baseball America’s 2014 Pirates Draft Report Card http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/baseball-americas-2014-pirates-draft-report-card.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/baseball-americas-2014-pirates-draft-report-card.html#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:10:35 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89701 Baseball America has released their 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates draft report card, which gives insight into the best tools among pitchers and position players. John Manuel did the report and said that the Pirates didn’t get a lot of players that currently have plus tools, but Cole Tucker, Mitch Keller, Trey Supak and Gage Hinsz offer future potential.

You can read more in the link above, but here is a quick summary of the best tools with some notes:

Best Pure Hitter: Tucker has a good command of the strike zone and a strong feel for hitting.

Best Power Hitter: Connor Joe and Jordan Luplow, with a shout out to ninth round pick Kevin Krause, who flashed above-average power in school and in Jamestown. No one really has stand out power.

Fastest Runner: Tucker and Carl Anderson rated as 60 runners on the 20-80 scale. Not sure if Eric Thomas Jr. was left off on purpose, but he is faster than both of those players, ranking as an 80 runner from some scouts.

Best Defensive Player: Erik Forgione(25th round) is an above average shortstop, so he gets the nod here. Tucker is mentioned as a player they believe can stick at shortstop despite being tall for the position. Trace Tam Sing went undrafted(though he has been drafted twice in previous years), but the Pirates quickly picked him up, leading you to believe he was on their draft board. His defense was rated ahead of Forgione’s, who played in the same conference in college.

Best Fastball: Mitch Keller has the best fastball, as it reaches 95 MPH and has more consistency than Trey Supak, who also got notice with a fastball that reaches 94 MPH. Keller also got a mention for the best secondary pitch for both his change-up and curve. That is quite some praise for a high school player, having three pitches that rank among the best in the draft class.

Best Pro Debut: Montana DuRapau and Jon Sever, two starting pitchers drafted out of Bethune-Cookman and both pitched great. Sever was a level lower, but as a 6’5″ lefty that can touch 93 MPH, he is the more interesting of the two players.

Best Athlete: Tucker. They think he will be able to grow into his tall, lanky frame and add muscle, while still being able to stick at shortstop. Good foot speed helps.

Closest to Majors: This is an interesting one, but might speak more to the lack of college talent they drafted. Connor Joe didn’t play at all due to back issues, but they believe he is the closest to the majors. He is already 22 years old, so if he can stay healthy, they may feel he can move quick through the system. Jordan Luplow might be another choice here, or Tyler Eppler, the sixth round pick, who is the best starting pitcher they selected and could move up to Bradenton next year. Also Sam Street, the 16th round pick, could move quick as a reliever with advanced feel for pitching.

Best Late Round Pick: Gage Hinsz, who was voted by Baseball America as the top overall pick that signed after the 11th round.

The One That Got Away: Paul DeJong, who hit 20 homers in college summer league this year, was taken in the 38th round. The Pirates apparently made a run at him, but couldn’t sign him due to MLB’s bonus pool constraints. They signed a lot of draft picks this year, included every pick in the top 22 rounds, so there wasn’t much that got away.

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Winter Leagues: Alen Hanson Comes Up Big in Season Debut http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-alen-hanson-comes-up-big-in-season-debut.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-alen-hanson-comes-up-big-in-season-debut.html#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89690 On Saturday night in winter ball, eleven Pittsburgh Pirates players saw action between play in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican.

In the Dominican, Alen Hanson made his season debut and it was a great one. He went 2-for-3, collecting two singles, two walks and he scored four runs. Hanson was at second base, where he expects to play all winter.

Willy Garcia also made his debut, coming into the game as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning and he stayed on to play center field. He later walked and scored a run in his only plate appearance.

Wirfin Obispo pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his team’s 4-1 win. He picked up the save, allowing one hit, while striking out one.

Mel Rojas Jr. batted lead-off and played center field, going 1-for-4 with a single.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 0-for-2 before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He is just 1-for-17 so far this year. The good part is that he is seeing more playing time in the VWL. Last year, Osuna played eight games in winter ball and had just nine plate appearances, spending the rest of his time in the minors(Parallel League).

Julio Vivas made his second appearance, retiring the only batter he faced. Any playing time that Vivas sees in the VWL is impressive because he spent most of this season in the GCL and the play in Venezuela this time of year is equivalent to AA. As the season goes along, better players join the league and the level of play bumps up to AAA equivalent, so he probably won’t see time during the second half of the season.

Jhondaniel Medina pitched one inning tonight, plus faced two batters in the follow inning without recording an out. All told, he gave up one run on one hit and three walks.

Ramon Cabrera went 0-for-1, coming in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and he stayed in the game behind the plate.

In Mexico, Stetson Allie extended his hit streak to seven games, a streak that began on Opening Day. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored. This was the first game in which Allie didn’t strike out. He is hitting .333 in 27 at-bats.

Felipe Gonzalez went one inning, allowing one run on one hit, one walk and he struck out one batter. The run came on a homer. Gonzalez just re-signed with the Pirates  as a minor league free agent.

Dean Anna also extended his hit streak to seven games, going 1-for-3 with two walks, a run scored and an RBI.

 

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AFL: Three Pirates Pitchers Combine For Six Shutout Innings http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-three-pirates-pitchers-combine-for-six-shutout-innings.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-three-pirates-pitchers-combine-for-six-shutout-innings.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 22:46:51 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89682 The Scottsdale Scorpions sent Tyler Glasnow to the mound on Saturday afternoon, going up against Peoria, who was throwing Kyle Zimmer out there as his mound opponent. Recent scouting reports on the AFL, called Glasnow and Zimmer the two best looking pitchers in the league. Zimmer left the game after just one inning and pitch tracker had his fastball slower than normal, so the hyped match-up didn’t last long. Josh Bell and Dan Gamache were both in the starting lineup, as Scottsdale lost 4-3 in 11 innings to move to 5-6 on the season. They are off on Sunday.

Glasnow started the first inning by allowing an infield single. One pitch later, he allowed a line drive single to center field. Glasnow walked the third batter, but not before he picked off the runner at second base. He threw a wild pitch on a curve ball in the dirt after the walk, to advance both runners. On a 95 MPH fastball, Glasnow got the fourth place hitter to line to right field, which ended up being a double play with the lead runner out at home. He gave up two hits, a walk and threw a wild pitch, yet didn’t allow a run. He was 93-95 MPH with his fastball and threw four curves(76-79), three going for balls and one called strike.

The second inning started with a ground out to Dan Gamache on the first pitch. He got the second batter to strike out looking on a curve. Glasnow threw his first change-up this at-bat, resulting in a foul ball. He picked up his second strikeout to retire the side in order, this time swinging on a 93 MPH fastball.  Glasnow threw just ten pitches in the inning, but again had trouble with the curve, throwing one of four for a strike.

Glasnow allowed a sharp single to center field on a curve to begin the third inning. He got the next batter swinging on a 93 MPH fastball. The third hitter reached on a bunt single, the fourth hit allowed by Glasnow. That batter was quickly erased on a double play started by Gamache to end the inning. Glasnow threw 15 pitches that frame, 11 of them were fastballs. That was the end of his outing. His fastball was mostly 93-95 MPH and he threw just one change-up all game. He threw a total of 38 pitches, 22 for strikes.

Josh Bell was at first base again and batting fourth. He came up in the first with two outs and a man on third base. Bell battled, fouling off three pitches, but he ended up grounding out to second base to end the inning. Bell also ended the third inning with a ground out to second base, this time with a man on second base. In the sixth inning, he hit his fourth double of the AFL season and came around to score Scottsdale’s second run. In the eight inning, Bell grounded out to second base for the third time.

If Bell had a game plan to ground out to second base as much as possible, he accomplished that goal with his fourth ground ball to second in the tenth inning. He ended the day 1-for-5 with a double and run scored. In the field, he committed his third error, a grounder in the seventh inning. He handled 14 other chances in the field cleanly.

Dan Gamache moved over to second base on Saturday, as he continues to flip between third base and second in the AFL. In his first at-bat, he flew out to center field. Gamache struck out in the fourth inning. He flew out to left field in his third at-bat, then walked in his fourth plate appearance. Gamache struck out again in the tenth inning. He was having a busy game in the field with great results until a throwing error in the seventh inning that led to a run. It was his first error of the AFL season.

Angel Sanchez made his second appearance in the AFL, coming into the league as a late addition. He followed Glasnow in the fourth inning and allowed one hit, a single to the lead-off batter. He got the last batter on a strikeout swinging with a 93 MPH fastball. His fastball was in the 92-94 MPH range and he went heavy with curves. Sanchez’s second inning lasted just seven pitches before he retired the side. He got two ground balls to Gamache and one back to him. Sanchez needed just 22 pitches for his two innings of work, 16 going for strikes.

Scottsdale continued to run out Pirates pitchers, calling on Adrian Sampson for the sixth inning. He had a quick inning, getting two grounders to Gamache and struck out the third batter to retire the side in order. That was the end of the day for Sampson, who has been on a limited pitch count out of the Scottsdale bullpen. He threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes and his fastball topped out at 92 MPH.

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Pirates Re-Sign Felipe Gonzalez http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/pirates-re-sign-felipe-gonzalez.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/pirates-re-sign-felipe-gonzalez.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 15:25:40 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89678 Baseball America posted the latest transactions today, announcing that the Pittsburgh Pirates have re-signed pitcher Felipe Gonzalez. After being picked up from the New York Yankees in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft, Gonzalez spent most of the 2014 season in the West Virginia Power bullpen, making 33 total appearances, eight as a starter. He had a 2.81 ERA in 93 innings before being promoted to Bradenton, where he made two starts and one relief appearance. Gonzalez had a .229 BAA and 31:94 BB/SO ratio in 102.1 innings this season.

Despite reaching minor league free agency already, he will play the 2015 season as a 23-year-old. Gonzalez signed as a 16-year-old back in 2008. He is currently playing winter ball in Mexico for Mazatlan.

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Winter Leagues: Mel Rojas Jr. Makes Season Debut, Allie Extends Hit Streak to Six Games http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-mel-rojas-jr-makes-season-debut-allie-extends-hit-streak-to-six-games.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/winter-leagues-mel-rojas-jr-makes-season-debut-allie-extends-hit-streak-to-six-games.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 12:30:19 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89645 The Dominican League started play on Thursday night, with Alen Hanson among the seven players on the rosters for the two teams that played on opening night. On Friday night, all six teams were expected to play, but there was one rain out. Mel Rojas Jr. played his first game for Tigres del Licey and went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He played center field and was the only Pirates player that saw action in the Dominican.

In Mexico, Stetson Allie went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. He has hits in all six games so far, but he has also struck out at least once in all six games. Allie has a .962 OPS in 26 plate appearances.

Dean Anna went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored during his team’s heartbreaking loss. After scoring two runs in the top of the sixth, they held an 11-2 lead, but two runs in the bottom of the inning, followed by an eight run seventh inning, sent them to a 12-11 loss.

In Venezuela, Jose Osuna went 0-for-3 before being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning. He is 1-for-15 on the season.

Matt Nevarez threw a scoreless eighth inning, retiring the side in order. He was recently named by Baseball America as one of the top independent league pitchers this year.

Ramon Cabrera played all 14 innings in his team’s 4-3 win. As the DH(which he has been playing almost exclusively) he went 0-for-5, though he did walk in each of his last two plate appearances. He is hitting .143 through seven games.

The Extreme Fatigue List

I just got a hold of the Extreme Fatigue lists for players in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican. It’s a list of players that teams put on a list, making them ineligible to play winter ball before mid-November and then only after that with the club’s permission. For pitchers, it’s usually due to pitching too many innings or relievers making too many appearances, while hitters it’s based on plate appearances, although it can also be due to injury. In the case of Elias Diaz, he is playing in the Arizona Fall League, so the only way that could happen is if he wasn’t eligible to play in his home country.

Other Pirates players on the list include: Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Luis Heredia, Gerardo Navarro, Junior Sosa and Emmanuel De Leon. For Heredia, I read recently that he was having problems with his immigration status and once the problems are cleared up, he would likely be allowed to play for 45 days before returning to the United States. He didn’t expect to be with Mazatlan right away, so he may show up in mid-November and play the last six weeks. In other news, Moises Alou, who is the GM of Leones del Escogido, recently said that he expects Gregory Polanco to play this year and Starling Marte is a possibility.

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AFL: Pirates Prospects Face Off Against Wei-Chung Wang http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-pirates-prospects-face-off-against-wei-chung-wang.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/10/afl-pirates-prospects-face-off-against-wei-chung-wang.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 04:35:32 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=89667 On Friday night in the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale had Josh Bell, Dan Gamache and Elias Diaz batting 5-6-7 in the lineup. Early in the game, the trio faced Wei-Chung Wang, who was taken from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule V draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Scottsdale lost the game 6-5 to Glendale, dropping them to 5-5 on the season.

Bell was at first base and batting righty against Wang to start the game. In his first at-bat, he flew out to right field. He switched to lefty for his second at-bat and grounded out to second base. Bell switched back to hitting righty for his third at-bat and popped out to first base. For his fourth at-bat, he went back to the left side and singled. In the ninth inning, Bell singled again, making the score 6-5 with two outs, leaving him 2-for-5 on the day.

In the field, Bell made his second error, this time on a missed catch during an attempted double play. He handled ten other plays in the game, including a pop up and ground ball from the first two batters in the third inning.

Gamache was at third base and he singled in his first at-bat. He followed that with a walk in the fourth inning and then flew out to right field in the sixth. In the eighth inning, Gamache walked for the second time. In the ninth inning with two outs, his team down one and two runners on, Gamache struck out to end the game. He reached base three times and scored one run.

Diaz came into the game with a .133 average in 15 at-bats. In his first at-bat against Wang, he grounded into a double play that ended the second inning. In the fourth, he drove in Gamache with a two-out double. In was the first RBI for Diaz and second run of the game for Scottsdale. In the sixth, he lined out softly to second base.

Diaz came up in a huge spot in the eighth inning. With his team down 6-2 and two outs in the inning, he came to the plate with the bases loaded. He didn’t hit the ball hard, but reached on an infield single to shortstop, which scored a run. On defense, Diaz was 1-for-2 in throwing out runners.

Tyler Glasnow will be on the mound Saturday afternoon at Peoria. Scottsdale is off on Sunday.

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