Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:20:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 How Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer Became One of the Best 3B/SS Combos in the NL http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/how-josh-harrison-and-jordy-mercer-became-one-of-the-best-3bss-combos-in-the-nl.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/how-josh-harrison-and-jordy-mercer-became-one-of-the-best-3bss-combos-in-the-nl.html#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:20:51 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88977 During the first two months of the season, if I would have told you that the Pittsburgh Pirates would have finished the 2014 season with one of the best shortstop/third base combos in the NL, you would have said I was crazy. Pedro Alvarez couldn’t complete a throw to first base to save his life. Jordy Mercer was struggling offensively, finishing the month of May with a .508 OPS on the season.

But everything changed in June, and the changes are probably one of the biggest factors in why the Pirates are currently in the playoffs.

The big change for Mercer was his offense coming back around. The shortstop started the month going 4-for-5 with a homer, and didn’t look back. He posted a .767 OPS in the final four months of the season.

“It was difficult. To be honest with you, it’s one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever had,” Mercer said about his slow start. “Being in the situation I had. Being the everyday guy, and now here, the expectations, and the big leagues. All of that stuff comes into play, and to not start off on the right foot definitely made it worse. I kind of let it pile on me, and I let it get to me.”

Mercer said that support from his family, teammates, and Clint Hurdle helped him get through the struggles. That sounds cliché, but he noted that support goes a long way, especially when you’re a young shortstop in his situation.

“Any time you struggle, that’s kind of one of the things that comes to mind, is demotion, you lose your starting spot, or whatever it might be,” Mercer said. “Having that reassurance of your teammates, of your coaching staff, knowing that ‘You’re our guy, we’re going to stick with you, you’re eventually going to get out of it.’ And I was eventually able to take off from there.”

One thing Mercer did well all year was play defense. Mercer was never considered a strong defensive shortstop, with his offense always being touted first. This year, he was a defense-first guy for the start of the season, and didn’t let his offensive struggles impact that part of his game.

“I was able to separate it,” Mercer said. “I just kept telling myself, if you can play defense, you can play in this game for a long time. I just felt that, if I can’t help the team out in some sort of offensive way, I can save runs.”

Travis Sawchik wrote an article about how Mercer has looked like one of the best defensive shortstops in the league, posting a fourth-best nine Defensive Runs Saved.

“I think it has to do with a lot of experience,” Mercer said on his improvements. “Playing in different parks, different atmospheres, different surfaces. All of that has to do with experience. The more you play, the more you get to know the hitters and their tendencies. I think all of that just came together, and it’s worked out for me real well.”

Mercer credits Clint Barmes with a lot of his improvements, including being a guide for angles to balls, and being there for advice.

“I think more than anything that has helped is him being there for me to ask questions for him,” Mercer said on Barmes. “Not only on the field, but off the field too as well. He’s more of a guy that’s been there. He’s done it before. He kind of knows the ropes. Whenever you have a question, you can go to him for anything.”

Pedro Alvarez didn’t fix his throwing issues at third base, and his offense slumped. Meanwhile, Josh Harrison was having a breakout year as a utility player, while showing some good defense everywhere he played. Harrison led the Pirates with 14 Defensive Runs Saved, including nine at third base. He started getting more time at the position in June and July, and by the middle of August, he was the regular starter.

“I got comfortable at all of [the positions], but now it feels good to be at a position where I can just focus solely on it,” Harrison said about his move to third base impacting his overall play and his defense.

As for the offense, Harrison says that nothing has really changed with his game, except for the fact that he’s not getting the chance to play everyday.

“That utility role on the bench, it’s not easy,” Harrison said. “But somebody has got to do it. It’s tough getting one at-bat here and there, a start here and there.”

“I got an opportunity to go out there and make adjustments. I haven’t necessarily done anything different than what I’ve done in the past. I’m not a guy who toots my own horn or anything. In the minor leagues I played everyday, and this is what I did. I can play. It’s just a matter of getting an opportunity, and I’m thankful I got one this year.”

That’s true for Harrison from a stats perspective. He had a career .856 OPS in Triple-A, while getting everyday playing time. He had a .648 OPS in 2011-13 as a bench player in the majors. Now he’s got an .837 OPS as a starter this season. He’s even drawing MVP consideration, although he insists that’s not on his mind.

“Personal things are fun, but that’s not really what I focus on,” Harrison said. “I’m more excited about tomorrow, the Wild Card game and playing in the playoffs. That’s one thing about our team. I don’t really get the feel from anybody that anything is personal. You’ve got a guy here (Andrew McCutchen) that’s running for the MVP, and not once has he mentioned the MVP. You’ve got [Russell Martin], who has played outstanding. And all they talk about is the playoffs.”

Together, Harrison and Mercer have combined for a 6.9 WAR at shortstop and third base — only counting Harrison’s games at third base and disregarding his numbers while playing other positions. That 6.9 WAR ranks third in the NL, behind Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond in Washington (10.7) and Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta in St. Louis (9.2).

When you look at the second half numbers, Mercer and Harrison are right with those two. They combined for a 4.4 WAR in the second half, while Rendon/Desmond were at 4.7 and Carpenter/Peralta were at 3.6. Harrison finished first in the NL in third base WAR in the second half (3.0), while Mercer finished third in the NL in shortstop WAR in the second half (1.4). If you want to point to one big change that led to the Pirates reaching the playoffs, fueled by their .582 winning percentage in the second half, it would be the improvements that Mercer and Harrison brought to the left-side of the infield, both offensively and defensively.

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The Pirates Didn’t Make a Big Splash, But Had the Best NL Bullpen in September http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/the-pirates-didnt-make-a-big-splash-but-had-the-best-nl-bullpen-in-september.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/the-pirates-didnt-make-a-big-splash-but-had-the-best-nl-bullpen-in-september.html#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 23:49:35 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88925 It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a weak bullpen. The group collectively combined for a 3.79 xFIP in the first half of the season, which tied for the second worst in the NL. Their -0.5 WAR was also second worst. Despite the struggles, they didn’t add anyone at the trade deadline. Instead, they made a few minor moves.

First, the team claimed John Axford off waivers from the Cleveland Indians on August 14th. About ten days later, they claimed left-hander Bobby LaFromboise, and sent him to Indianapolis. He was called up when rosters expanded. The biggest addition happened a few months earlier, when they signed John Holdzkom out of indy ball. Holdzkom was also called up when rosters expanded in September.

It might not just be the addition of Axford, Holdzkom, and LaFromboise, but the Pirates bullpen was outstanding in the final month of the season. They ranked first overall in the NL with a 2.74 xFIP. Their 1.1 WAR tied for second, behind the Phillies, and tied with Milwaukee. That’s a huge difference from where they were in the first half.

The biggest impact came from Holdzkom, who quickly established himself as an option for the seventh inning, putting up a 2.00 ERA and a 1.65 xFIP in nine innings of work, while dominating with a 14.0 K/9 ratio. Holdzkom said that he was surprised at how quickly manager Clint Hurdle trusted him in the late innings.

“A little bit, just because he had never seen me before,” Holdzkom said about the instant trust. “I’m happy he did. I messed up in Cincinnati, but hopefully I can go back out and get on the right track.”

The entire bullpen had trouble in the final series, which was an outlier for the month. The performance from Holdzkom was impressive enough that you could pencil him in to future bullpens. But the tall right-hander, who was playing in indy ball about four months ago, isn’t getting comfortable just yet.

“I haven’t secured anything by a long margin,” Holdzkom said. “I’ve been here a month and I’ve had some success, but that’s all it’s been. Every time you go out there, you’ve got to prove yourself.”

One thing that Holdzkom has almost certainly secured is a spot on the Wild Card roster tomorrow. There will be some relievers left off the list, as the Pirates will be carrying nine pitchers, but Holdzkom doesn’t look like a risk to be one of the guys left off the list.

Bobby LaFromboise is a risk to be left off the list, although if the Pirates want three lefties — which would be smart against the Giants — then it would make sense to carry him. That’s especially true considering his limited success as a LOOGY. He had a 2.45 ERA and a 9.82 K/9 in 3.2 innings over six appearances, with a .400 ISO against the five left-handers he faced.

LaFromboise said that the Pirates had watched him for a few years, and were excited to get him, as he was also excited for the opportunity. He also said that he was a little surprised to get the call to the majors in September and get time in important situational roles.

“I was a little surprised, but at the same time, they don’t know what they’ve got until they get somebody out there,” LaFromboise said. “I was just happy for the opportunities that they kept giving me.”

Axford has been to the playoffs before, including last year against the Pirates while he was with the Cardinals. He was the first of the trio to join the team, and while his September numbers aren’t as good, he offered up a different theory on why the bullpen did so well down the stretch.

“I think a lot of it just had to do with lifting a little bit of the weight off some of the guys,” Axford said, noting that he’s a guy who has pitched in a lot of roles in the past, allowing him to lift some pressure off other guys.

That definitely fits the results. Mark Melancon and Tony Watson have been lights out all year, and that continued this month. Jared Hughes also continued his strong season. But Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez have struggled this year. Both relievers had good months in September. Gomez only made five appearances, but didn’t allow a run in those outings, with a 3.13 xFIP. Wilson drastically cut down on his walks, going to a 2.35 BB/9, which resulted in a 3.52 ERA and a 3.35 xFIP in nine appearances.

With Melancon and Watson, the Pirates had a strong late inning combo. They just couldn’t get the middle innings working. It all came together in September, and hopefully that strong finish will carry over to the post-season, allowing the Pirates to shorten a lot of games if they get a lead.

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Taking a Guess at the Pirates’ Wild Card Roster http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/taking-a-guess-at-the-pirates-wild-card-roster.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/taking-a-guess-at-the-pirates-wild-card-roster.html#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:09:45 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88921 The Pittsburgh Pirates will release their Wild Card rosters tomorrow morning at 10 AM. Clint Hurdle gave a few hints on the makeup of the roster, but wouldn’t reveal any names until tomorrow. Based on what we know, I wanted to do a prediction on who might be on the team. Below is just my guess, based on what Hurdle said in his press conference today, along with a look at how the Pirates handled the roster during the final month of the season.

Pitchers (9)

Edinson Volquez

Mark Melancon

Tony Watson

John Holdzkom

John Axford

Jared Hughes

Justin Wilson

Vance Worley

Bobby LaFromboise

Last year the Pirates carried nine pitchers in the Wild Card game. Clint Hurdle said that they would carry nine again this year, although the names won’t be announced until tomorrow.

The last two spots for the pitchers are where I feel things could be up in the air. Last year the Pirates carried a second starting pitcher, in the event that things didn’t go well for the starter. They would have had Vance Worley as a backup plan if there was a tiebreaker on Monday. I think he will still be the backup plan.

The final spot, which I have going to Bobby LaFromboise, depends on whether the Pirates want a third lefty in the bullpen. I went with LaFromboise as my guess over Jeanmar Gomez because the Giants have a lot of left-handers, which means carrying three guys makes a lot of sense.

Catchers (3)

Russell Martin

Chris Stewart

Tony Sanchez

I wrote earlier about how Russell Martin said he feels good enough to play. In that article, Clint Hurdle talked about how the Pirates will probably carry three catchers.

Infielders (6)

Ike Davis

Gaby Sanchez

Neil Walker

Jordy Mercer

Josh Harrison

Clint Barmes

All of the usual starters, plus Barmes as the backup shortstop. I’ll go into this more in the next section.

Outfielders (7)

Andrew McCutchen

Starling Marte

Travis Snider

Gregory Polanco

Jose Tabata

Chase d’Arnaud

Andrew Lambo

The Pirates carried 17 position players in September. With nine pitchers in the Wild Card game, that only leaves room for 16 position players. After running through all of them, I got down to three guys for the final two spots: Brent Morel, Andrew Lambo, and Chase d’Arnaud. I keep going back and forth on this. Part of me thinks they’ll go with Morel because of his ability to back up third base. I think d’Arnaud has a good shot to make the team due to his availability as a pinch runner. Andrew Lambo actually got more playing time than either of them in September, and got more time than Jose Tabata. It’s possible Tabata could be in this mix as well. I think the cut will come from this group, and the actual player cut will depend on what the Pirates are prioritizing.

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Russell Martin Expects to Play Tomorrow http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/russell-martin-expects-to-play-tomorrow.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/russell-martin-expects-to-play-tomorrow.html#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:42:03 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88917 Russell Martin has been dealing with a hamstring issue, and his status for the Wild Card game was in question. That was until he spoke with the media today. Then there was little doubt that the star catcher would play. Martin said that he felt good enough to play, and when asked what led to that decision, his answer was as simple as can be.

“It’s the playoffs,” Martin said.

He later addressed the same question and indicated that any issues he might have, he’d be playing through them.

“It’s pretty important baseball,” Martin said. “Not that the other games weren’t. But this is for all the marbles. I can definitely go.”

The news offers some big relief for the Pirates, who were also dealing with an injury to backup Chris Stewart. Clint Hurdle said in his press conference that Stewart was good to go, and Stewart said that his wrist is feeling better.

“It’s sore, but it’s progressively gotten better every day,” Stewart said. “Even initially, probably ten minutes after it happened, it started feeling better.”

Despite the fact that Martin is expected to play, and Stewart is healthy, the Pirates will most likely carry three catchers tomorrow.

“I think it would behoove us to carry three,” Hurdle said.

The important thing is having Martin as the starter, and from the sound of things, he will be making that start tomorrow.

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First Pitch: Dear ESPN and TBS, Please Show This in Your Pre-Game Broadcasts http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/first-pitch-dear-espn-and-tbs-please-show-this-in-your-pre-game-broadcasts.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/first-pitch-dear-espn-and-tbs-please-show-this-in-your-pre-game-broadcasts.html#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:00:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88894 Last year when the first #PNCBLACKOUT campaign rolled around, I was a bit skeptical of how it would work out. I figured the crowd would be amped up, but I don’t think anyone was expecting what actually happened.

A few hours before the game, I exited PNC to go outside to do a radio interview. What I saw was just a preview of that night. Federal Street was packed, due to thousands of people coming over the Clemente Bridge. It rivaled walking through Rockefeller Center a few days before Christmas. You’re just walking down the street, everything seems normal, then you turn a corner and suddenly you’re swimming through people, just trying to move five feet.

Then the fans started pouring in the park. They were loud. They cheered everything. They waved their Jolly Rogers, and gave thunderous ovations to every player that was announced in the pre-game ceremony. There was a “Let’s Go Bucs” chant almost half an hour before the game even started. They sang along with Andrew McCutchen’s mom during the National Anthem.

I looked up at the TV in the press box during the intros, when every Pirates player got the biggest cheer of his life, and every Reds player got the biggest boo (most notably with Aroldis Chapman and Dusty Baker). I expected to see the scene on the broadcast. Instead, what I saw was Pedro Martinez offering up analysis.

At the time I thought that there was nothing Martinez could have said that would have been better than just showing the atmosphere at PNC Park. There was no sound on the TVs, and I don’t think anyone would have been able to hear it if there was. But unless Pedro said “The fans are going to go crazy tonight, make Johnny Cueto drop a ball, then give up a home run to Russell Martin on the very next pitch. MARK IT DOWN!”, then there was no need for the analysis.

I bring this up now because over the next two days, MLB will have some amazing playoff atmospheres. The AL Wild Card game will be hosted in Kansas City. By the Royals. A team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1985. Here were some other things that happened in 1985:

**Compact Discs were released. No one even uses those anymore.

**Windows 1.0 was released.

**Back to the Future was released. We’re a year away from living in the future described in the sequel.

**22 members of the current Royals active roster (the September expanded version) weren’t even born yet.

I’m going to just take a guess that the crowd in Kansas City is going to be insane.

As for the Pirates, we saw what happened last year. The Pirates are calling for another #PNCBLACKOUT this year. And this time around, we know what to expect.

So here is my advice to TBS and ESPN this year (not that I think their producers will be reading this): Just show the crowd. There’s no need for pointless studio analysis at that stage in the pre-game. You don’t even need to talk over the crowd shots. It can just be a live feed of the stadium. There will be thousands of fans going crazy in Kansas City and Pittsburgh the next two nights. There will be millions of fans watching at home, also going crazy, and I know they will want to see the scene inside of the stadium, rather than the same old pre-game analysis that never really offers up anything substantial.

As we saw last year, a fan base that has been starved for a playoff appearance can become the story of the game, and can impact the game. Hopefully, Royals and Pirates fans at home will get to see some of this during the next two nights.

Links and Notes

**Houston Astros Hire New Manager, Banister Stays in Pittsburgh

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Minor League Recaps and Top 10 Lists

**World Series Projections Show a Tough Path For the Pirates

**Pirates Currently Pick 23rd in the 2015 MLB Draft

**Edinson Volquez Officially Announced as the Wild Card Game Starter

**Morning Report: The Top Prospects That Didn’t Make the Cut

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Houston Astros Hire New Manager, Banister Stays in Pittsburgh http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/houston-astros-hire-new-manager-banister-stays-in-pittsburgh.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/houston-astros-hire-new-manager-banister-stays-in-pittsburgh.html#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:09:34 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88891 The Houston Astros have ended their search for a new manager quickly, announcing today that A.J. Hinch will fill the position. We heard a few days ago the Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister, who has been in the organization for 29 years, was contacted by the Astros about the job opening. He has never managed in the majors before, while Hinch has managed parts of two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Good news for the Pirates because it obviously means Banister isn’t going to Houston.

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Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Minor League Recaps and Top 10 Lists http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/pittsburgh-pirates-2014-minor-league-recaps-and-top-10-lists.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/pittsburgh-pirates-2014-minor-league-recaps-and-top-10-lists.html#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:30:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88873 Yesterday we completed the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates minor league recaps, finishing with the GCL Pirates. Each recap featured notes on all of the best prospects at each level, along with a season-ending top 10 list. The lists are basically rough draft versions, which will be finalized in the 2015 Prospect Guide. Our top 50 prospects for the 2015 season will also be included in the upcoming Prospect Guide. That will go on pre-sale at some point in October, and will be released in mid-December. For now, you can buy the discounted versions of the 2014 and 2013 Prospect Guides on the products page, and you can view the 2014 season recaps and top 10s below.

Indianapolis

1. Gregory Polanco

2. Nick Kingham

3. Andrew Lambo

4. Tony Sanchez

5. Brandon Cumpton

6. Casey Sadler

7. Mel Rojas

8. Jaff Decker

9. Andy Oliver

10. Chris McGuiness

Altoona

1. Nick Kingham

2. Alen Hanson

3. Adrian Sampson

4. Elias Diaz

5. Stetson Allie

6. Willy Garcia

7. Mel Rojas

8. Joely Rodriguez

9. Keon Broxton

10. Gift Ngoepe

Bradenton

1. Tyler Glasnow

2. Josh Bell

3. Jose Osuna

4. Jason Creasy

5. Chad Kuhl

6. Jin-De Jhang

7. Adam Frazier

8. John Kuchno

9. Shane Carle

10. Eric Wood

West Virginia

1. Austin Meadows

2. Reese McGuire

3. Harold Ramirez

4. Buddy Borden

5. JaCoby Jones

6. Cody Dickson

7. Luis Heredia

8. Wyatt Mathisen

9. Edwin Espinal

10. Shane Carle

Jamestown

1. Jordan Luplow

2. Taylor Gushue

3. Tyler Eppler

4. Kevin Krause

5. Elvis Escobar

6. Michael Suchy

7. Alex McRae

8. Austin Coley

9. Frank Duncan

10. Chase Simpson

Bristol

1. Billy Roth

2. Jon Sandfort

3. Hector Garcia

4. Nick Buckner

5. Pablo Reyes

6. John Sever

7. Trae Arbet

8. Luis Paula

9. Danny Arribas

10. Jerrick Suiter

GCL Pirates

1. Cole Tucker

2. Mitch Keller

3. Trey Supak

4. Michael De La Cruz

5. Tito Polo

6. Carlos Munoz

7. Yoel Gonzalez

8. Dario Agrazal

9. Alexis Bastardo

10. Neil Kozikowski

DSL Pirates

1. Edison Lantigua, LF

2. Adrian Valerio, SS

3. Raul Siri, 2B

4. Jeremias Portorreal, RF

5. Luis Escobar, RHP

6. Richard Mitchell, RHP

7. Yeudy Garcia, RHP

8. Mikell Granberry, C

9. Jhoan Herrera, 3B

10. Victor Fernandez, CF

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World Series Projections Show a Tough Path For the Pirates http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/world-series-projections-show-a-tough-path-for-the-pirates.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/world-series-projections-show-a-tough-path-for-the-pirates.html#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:30:37 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88860 The MLB playoff field has been set, which means we’ve got our first set of finalized World Series projections. Anything can happen in the playoffs, so the projections should be viewed as a guide for what is expected to happen, rather than a stone cold lock. Of course, that’s how all projections should be viewed. I bring this disclaimer up because the Pittsburgh Pirates are seeing some pretty poor odds to win the World Series. That’s understandable when you try and dig a bit further into what the projections might be predicting. Here is a look at the Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs odds.

Baseball Prospectus

The Baseball Prospectus odds have been down on the Pirates all season. So it’s a bit surprising that they’re favored slightly higher in the NL than the Cardinals, and ranking third in the league behind the Nationals and Dodgers. Here are the top five in the NL.

1. Washington Nationals – 16.1%

2. Los Angeles Dodgers – 13.1%

3. Pittsburgh Pirates – 5.6%

4. St. Louis Cardinals – 5.3%

5. San Francisco Giants – 4.9%

The Pirates only rank ahead of one team in the AL, and that team is the Kansas City Royals. If they win the Wild Card game, they’d have to go through the Washington Nationals, who are the favorites in the NL, and rank second to the Los Angeles Angels for the World Series favorites.

FanGraphs

FanGraphs released an article today, detailing the odds of the Wild Card games, along with two sets of World Series odds. The Pirates are slight favorites in the Wild Card game, with a 52% chance of winning, even with Edinson Volquez as the starter.

Beyond that, the Pirates have the second worst odds of all ten playoff teams, finishing above the Giants with a 4% chance to win the World Series. An alternate model with the season-to-date stats has the Pirates at 5%, finishing ahead of the Giants and the Royals.

The Pirates are probably lower here for similar reasons as above. FanGraphs has the Nationals as favorites to win the World Series in both projections, and the Pirates would have to go through the top ranked team to just get to the NLCS (where they would then have to go through one of the top five ranked teams in the FanGraphs projections).

Overall, the Pirates could certainly upset some teams and make the World Series, but their path to the World Series likely goes through some of the toughest teams in the playoffs. Thus, it makes a lot of sense that the odds are slim.

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Pirates Currently Pick 23rd in the 2015 MLB Draft http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/pirates-currently-pick-23rd-in-the-2015-mlb-draft.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/pirates-currently-pick-23rd-in-the-2015-mlb-draft.html#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:07:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88868 Jim Callis released the initial 2015 MLB draft order today, and the Pittsburgh Pirates currently pick 23rd overall. That is one spot higher than where they picked in the 2014 draft, when they took Cole Tucker in the first round.

The Pirates can move up from this spot. Picks 12-22 are unprotected, which means if one of those teams signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer, that team would lose their draft slot and everyone would move up a spot. Considering the Yankees are one of the teams with an unprotected pick, it seems likely that the Pirates will move up at least one spot. The Red Sox, however, have a protected pick at number seven.

The draft order will undergo a lot of changes during the off-season, and we’ll also get a better idea of where the Pirates will pick after the first round. They currently have zero competitive balance picks, but they could get up to two compensation picks with qualifying offers to Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano. For now, this initial list is a good reference to see where everyone will start out prior to the off-season.

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Edinson Volquez Officially Announced as the Wild Card Game Starter http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/edinson-volquez-officially-announced-as-the-wild-card-game-starter.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/edinson-volquez-officially-announced-as-the-wild-card-game-starter.html#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:01:54 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=88861 Last night I wrote about how Edinson Volquez had been listed on the Pirates.com page as the starter for the Wild Card game, which went along with a lot of speculation to say that Volquez would be the guy getting the ball. Today, the Pirates have made it official that Volquez is the starter.

https://twitter.com/Pirates/status/516602650520199169

I gave my thoughts on the subject in last night’s article. In short: I’d rather have Francisco Liriano on short rest than Volquez, assuming Liriano is healthy. It’s a bit of a gamble to go with Volquez in a one game playoff. However, if it works out, the Pirates are set up well for the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, with Liriano and Gerrit Cole as the starters for the first two games, Volquez available for game three, and one or two of the first two guys available for the fourth and fifth games.

Even with Volquez, FanGraphs has the Pirates as slight favorites, giving them a 52% chance to win the Wild Card game.

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