Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:44:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 First Pitch: Who Will Be Eligible For the Pirates’ Playoff Roster? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/first-pitch-who-will-be-eligible-for-the-pirates-playoff-roster.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/first-pitch-who-will-be-eligible-for-the-pirates-playoff-roster.html#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:44:09 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87438 For the second straight year, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in good position to make the playoffs heading into September, which means we need clarification on how playoff rosters are determined. Today was the final day to shape those rosters, whether that’s by adding outside help, or just adding players to a roster to make them eligible. To get a better understanding of how playoff rosters work, let’s review all of the rules, restrictions, and exemptions for the rosters.

Who is Eligible For the Playoff Rosters?

The players who can be added to the playoff rosters had to be on one of the following rosters by 11:59 PM EST on August 31st.

  • MLB 40-Man Roster
  • Major League Disabled List (7-day, 15-day, 60-day)
  • Bereavement List
  • Suspended List

In previous years, players had to be on the active roster to be eligible. This year, the rule has changed so that players are eligible for the playoff roster if they’re on the 40-man roster by August 31st. This is how the Pirates have been able to option Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke, and Gregory Polanco to the minors in the last week, while still maintaining that they’ll be eligible for the post-season.

In previous years a team had to add a player to the active roster by midnight to be eligible. Now a team had to add a player to the 40-man roster by midnight for him to be eligible. The Pirates didn’t make any additions to the 40-man roster today. Thus, everyone on this list can be added to the playoff roster.

Adding Outside Help

Teams can make waiver trades all season-long, even in September. However, in order for a new addition to be eligible for the playoffs, he must be acquired by the organization by August 31st. If a team adds a player in September, that player can help the team down the stretch, and possibly in future years, but wouldn’t be eligible for the post-season. The Pirates added John Axford in August, so he would be eligible for the post-season. Any player they might add in September wouldn’t be eligible for the post-season.

Disabled List Exceptions

Any player who is eligible for the playoff roster, and who is on the 60-day disabled list or the 15-day disabled list when the playoffs begin, can be replaced with anyone who was in the organization on August 31st. The players must be on the disabled list for at least 60 or 15 days, respectively.

Currently the Pirates have no players who would be eligible for the 60-day disabled list. They have Charlie Morton on the 15-day DL, and if he remains on the DL the rest of the season, they could use his spot as a “flex” spot. The Pirates could get an additional flex spot if someone goes on the 15-day DL in September and is out for 15 days by the time the playoffs begin.

It’s possible to call up a minor leaguer and place him on the DL, creating a spot. As an example of what the Pirates could do, Alen Hanson (currently out with a hamstring injury, and also on the 40-man roster) could be called up and placed on the DL. The downside is he would accumulate service time while he is on the DL. The upside is that the Pirates would have an additional flex spot.

These “flex” spots can be used for anyone in the organization, including minor league players who aren’t on the 40-man roster. That includes a speedy player in the lower levels who would only be used as a pinch runner, a lefty specialist, or a fireball starter who you’d want to use in relief. Those players would have to be added to the 40-man roster to be called up.

Injuries During the Playoffs

If a player is injured during a playoff series, he can be replaced with permission from the commissioner’s office. However, that player would be ineligible for the remainder of that playoff series, as well as the following series. So if a player goes down in game one of the NLDS, the Pirates could replace him, but he wouldn’t be eligible to return until the World Series, missing the NLCS.

If a player is injured before the series starts, he can be replaced on the roster for that series, and would be eligible to return the following series.

Rosters Can be Set For Each Round, Even the Wild Card Game

Each round of the playoffs brings a new roster. That includes the Wild Card game, which is its own round. This means teams can get very creative with their rosters, including the Wild Card round. We saw this last year when the Pirates had 16 position players and 7 relievers in the Wild Card round.

Teams could also get creative in the division series or any other series. If their opponent has a lefty-heavy lineup, they might want to add more left-handed pitchers. A division series would only have a maximum of five games, which means you might be able to get by with 3-4 starting pitchers (depending on whether you’ve used a starter in the Wild Card round).

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Stetson Allie Leads a Big Day of Homers; Bradenton Clinches Playoffs

**Neal Huntington on Who Could Join the Pirates When Rosters Expand Tomorrow

**No Moves Imminent For the Pirates as Waiver Trade Deadline Approaches

**Sampson Finishes Strong at Indianapolis, But Still Has Work to Do Before the Majors

**Fastball Command is Key for Francisco Liriano

**Morning Report: What Kind of Upside Does Erich Weiss Possess?

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Prospect Watch: Stetson Allie Leads a Big Day of Homers; Bradenton Clinches Playoffs http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/prospect-watch-stetson-allie-leads-a-big-day-of-homers-bradenton-clinches-playoffs.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/prospect-watch-stetson-allie-leads-a-big-day-of-homers-bradenton-clinches-playoffs.html#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:08:29 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87478 TOP OF THE SYSTEM

A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season (Jameson Taillon #1, Clay Holmes #12), he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 20 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the mid-season top 20 update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - DNP

2. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - DNP

3. Reese McGuire, C, West Virginia - DNP

4. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

5. Alen Hanson, SS/2B, Altoona - Disabled List (8/25 Update)

6. Josh Bell, RF, Altoona - Disabled List (8/19 Update)

7. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (7/24 Update)

8. Cole Tucker, SS, GCL Pirates – DNP

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

10. Mitch Keller, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

11. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

12. JaCoby Jones, SS, West Virginia - DNP

13. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

14. Andrew Lambo, OF, Indianapolis - In Majors

15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

16. Michael De La Cruz, OF, GCL Pirates - DNP

17. Trey Supak, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

18. Buddy Borden, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

19. Stetson Allie, 1B, Altoona - 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

 

2014FrontCover 2014 PROSPECT GUIDE SALE!

The 2014 Prospect Guide is on sale in the Pirates Prospects store. The paperback version has dropped to $14.99 plus shipping. We currently only have one case of books remaining, and the offer is only valid while the books are in stock. There is also an eBook version available for $9.99. The 2013 Prospect Guide is on clearance for $1.

 

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Chad Kuhl, RHP – 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Stetson Allie, 1B – 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB

Home Runs: Stetson Allie (21), Keon Broxton (15), Robert Andino (7), Dan Gamache (6), Chase d’Arnaud (2), Ralph Henriquez (2), A.J. Morris (1)

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 5, Louisville 3

Starting Pitcher: A.J. Morris, RHP – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

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

Other Notable Performers:

John Holdzkom, RHP – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Robert Andino, SS – 1-for-3, HR, 2 BB

Chris McGuiness, 1B – 2-for-3, 2B, BB

A.J. Morris, RHP – 1-for-2, HR

Game Notes: Robert Andino hit his seventh homer of the year, while Chase d’Arnaud hit his second homer of the year. Also hitting a home run was A.J. Morris, who hit his first pro home run. Morris also had a decent start, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He hasn’t had the best stuff since returning from the disabled list, giving up a 7.00 ERA in three starts with Indianapolis. John Holdzkom threw two shutout innings. He has a 2.49 ERA in 21.2 innings with Indianapolis, along with a 27:10 K/BB ratio.

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Bowie 8, Altoona 7

Starting Pitcher: Tom Harlan, LHP – 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Stetson Allie, 1B – 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB

Other Notable Performers:

Drew Maggi, 3B-SS – 2-for-5

Dan Gamache, 2B – 1-for-4, HR

Keon Broxton, CF – 2-for-4, HR, 2 SB

Ralph Henriquez, C – 1-for-5, HR

Game Notes: Stetson Allie hit his 20th homer of the year last night, and followed it up with his 21st of the year today. That matched his total last year, which came in two levels of A-ball, and happened with 77 more at-bats. Allie’s slugging percentage was down this year, from .483 to .442. However, his ISO was about the same, going from .206 to .196. Keon Broxton reached two notable milestones. He hit his 15th homer of the year, while also stealing his 25th base of the year. Broxton has an .850 OPS on the year. Dan Gamache hit his sixth homer in 157 at-bats on the season. Altoona had their franchise worst 81st loss.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Game One Box Score

Result: Bradenton 3, Charlotte 2

Starting Pitcher: Chad Kuhl, RHP – 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jordan Steranka, DH – 2-for-3, 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Walker Gourley, RF – 1-for-2, SB

Yhonathan Barrios, RHP – 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: Bradenton clinched the post-season with this win, locking down the second half FSL South title. They will play their first game on Tuesday, starting a best of three series at home. Tyler Glasnow will probably be in line to make that start, since that would be normal rest for the starter.

Game Two Box Score

Result: Bradenton 4, Charlotte 1

Starting Pitcher: Felipe Gonzalez, RHP – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Max Moroff, 2B – 1-for-2, 2B

Other Notable Performers:

Jose Osuna, DH – 2-for-2, 2B, BB

Jordan Steranka, 1B – 2-for-3

Game Notes: The second game of the day was pointless in the standings, and it didn’t seem like either team was taking it seriously, as there were a lot of mistakes. Max Moroff did hit his 30th double of the year, and Jordan Steranka picked up two more hits, giving him four on the day. The Marauders went with an assortment of relievers, with only Felipe Gonzalez pitching more than one inning. The Marauders had their franchise best 78th win with this victory.

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

West Virginia had their game cancelled due to rain.

 

A-: JAMESTOWN JAMMERS   

Jamestown was postponed due to rain. They will wrap up their season with a double-header tomorrow.

 

RK: BRISTOL PIRATES

The Bristol season is over.

 

RK: GCL PIRATES

The GCL season is over.

 

RK: DSL PIRATES

The DSL season is now over. You can read the DSL Pirates season recap here, complete with scouting reports every player.

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Neal Huntington on Who Could Join the Pirates When Rosters Expand Tomorrow http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/neal-huntington-on-who-could-join-the-pirates-when-rosters-expand-tomorrow.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/neal-huntington-on-who-could-join-the-pirates-when-rosters-expand-tomorrow.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:59:18 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87467 Major League Baseball rosters expand tomorrow, with teams able to call up anyone on the 40-man roster, giving them the possibility for an active roster that can hold up to 40 players. Not all of the guys on the 40-man roster will be called up, but you can expect the Pirates to make several moves.

“We’re going to be very cognizant of the numbers that we add to this club,” Pittsburgh Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington said. “We’ve got some guys that are obvious additions, like [Gerrit] Cole and [Jeff] Locke, and [Gregory] Polanco is coming back, and we get Stolmy Pimentel off the disabled list. So you’re already at 29 before you start to talk about guys that have spent the majority or their recent time at Triple A.”

Cole, Locke, and Polanco were optioned in the last week, allowing the Pirates to add additional bench players before rosters expanded. All of them will be eligible for the post-season roster this year, despite being in the minors on August 31st, due to a rule change that made everyone on the 40-man roster eligible for the post-season. Previously the rule was that you had to be on the 25-man roster on August 31st to be eligible.

In Polanco’s case, he was sent down to get some regular work in Triple-A, while Travis Snider got starts in right field. Snider went down with an injury a few days later, but Andrew Lambo took over as the starter recently. Huntington said that he feels Polanco has been doing well in his time in Indianapolis.

“We think so,” Huntington said, when asked if the time for Polanco has been beneficial. “Just to get the at bats, just to get out and hit again. After the four-day layoff where Travis [Snider] was swinging the bat so well and deserved to continue to play, Gregory looked a little rough. So that was where we took the opportunity to give him a reach for at bats in Triple A.”

You can expect Polanco, Cole, Locke, and Pimentel to be added. But who else will join the team? I posted my predictions earlier this week, noting that a lot of bullpen arms could come up, along with several bench players. Huntington didn’t want to comment on the moves before they happened. He did discuss what went into the decision to call a specific player up.

“Our first three, four, and five years here, September call ups have been about opportunity and rewards and guys who were getting a chance to see if they belong on next years club,” Huntington said. “This year’s September call ups, and last year’s September call ups are about giving a player’s skill set that Clint can use to win a game. So there may be some guys that you all look at and say ‘I wonder why he didn’t he get call up and why did he get called up.’ Again, the recognition is these are guys that help Clint manage to win a game in some way, shape, or form.”

One area where the Pirates obviously have a need has been the bullpen. They’ve been looking for bullpen help over the last month, and it can only be expected that they’ll add players from the minors tomorrow. Casey Sadler will probably be one of those guys. You could also assume that Ernesto Frieri will come up, since the Pirates are paying him the remainder of his $3.8 M salary. John Holdzkom is a sleeper who was added by the Pirates as a minor league free agent this year, and who has been throwing in the upper 90s with Indianapolis. But I don’t think anyone would be a guarantee, based on Huntington’s comments.

“There will be some surprises that will make some people scratch their head,” Huntington said.

There’s no one who would be a total shock to be left in the minors, and that includes Frieri, who has continued his struggles with Indianapolis, and who would require a 40-man roster spot. There are a few guys who could be called up for specific skills, despite not having the best numbers. Chase d’Arnaud is an example here. He only has a .662 OPS, but he has a lot of speed, is an excellent base stealer, can play a lot of different positions, and has done well against lefties in his career. I’ve heard some talk that d’Arnaud is in the discussions to come up, although I don’t know if that would qualify as a surprise. It will be interesting to see these surprises when rosters expand tomorrow.

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No Moves Imminent For the Pirates as Waiver Trade Deadline Approaches http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/no-moves-imminent-for-the-pirates-as-waiver-trade-deadline-approaches.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/no-moves-imminent-for-the-pirates-as-waiver-trade-deadline-approaches.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:32:09 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87462 The Pittsburgh Pirates have until midnight tonight to make a waiver trade and have that player eligible for their playoff roster. But by the looks of things, it doesn’t appear that they’ll be adding anyone before that deadline passes.

“We’ve been aggressive in claims, as has much of the industry has, so there’s not a lot of players that we feel are significant additions for us available that have cleared waivers or that have gotten to us on a waiver claim situation,” Neal Huntington said to the media on Sunday. “Hasn’t been a lack of effort, hasn’t been a lack of interest, but nothing imminent at this point and time.”

The Pirates have been very active on the waiver wire this month, mostly adding guys who are Triple-A depth at best, or DFA candidates not long after being claimed. The best addition was John Axford, who has looked good in a very limited appearance of 4.2 innings. The Pirates could use additional relievers, but any future bullpen help might come from the minors, rather than adding another player off waivers like the Axford deal.

“We’ve got some guys that we think we’ll add here in the next day or so that can help,” Huntington said on future bullpen additions. “Our plans have kind of been all over the map.  It’s been position players, starting pitchers, bullpen guys. It’s been a lower percentage of successful claims this year than ever, meaning guys are going before us. You expect the American League guys not to get through the American League, but there’s been some clubs that have given up some guys in the National League that have been claimed before they get to us this year, which has been a bit of a surprise.”

It’s too small of a sample size to say that Axford will work out, but if he does work out, that would be a huge boost for the bullpen. Mark Melancon and Tony Watson have been great in the late innings. If Axford can take over the seventh inning, the Pirates would be in a strong position down the stretch, and wouldn’t need a big boost from the minors, or from a trade.

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Sampson Finishes Strong at Indianapolis, But Still Has Work to Do Before the Majors http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/sampson-finishes-strong-at-indianapolis-but-still-has-work-to-do-before-the-majors.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/sampson-finishes-strong-at-indianapolis-but-still-has-work-to-do-before-the-majors.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:16:44 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87451 In his final start before the minor league season ending, Adrian Sampson allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings on four hits. Sampson walked a pair and struck out five.

Coming into the start, Sampson’s ERA had ballooned up to over 8.00 with Indianapolis. Odd numbered outings did not go well for the right-hander. In his first and third start combined, Sampson allowed 11 runs on 19 hits in 5.2 innings. In his second start, Sampson was strong, as he tossed six innings, allowing six hits and two runs.

Over four starts and 19 innings, Sampson struck out ten, while walking seven. The five strikeouts on Saturday night was easily the most that he had at the Triple-A level.

On Saturday night, Sampson struck out a pair in each of the first and the fifth inning. All four of these strikeouts were from the slider, which appeared to be the pitch that Sampson used to put hitters away. The slider, as well as the changeup, varied in speed from 84 to 87. However, he did reach as low as 81. This increased the appearance of his fastball, which consistently sat in the low 90s – ranging from 88 to 91 on Saturday. In addition, Sampson was consistently working inside to right-handed hitters. He was not quite as effective getting into lefties, which is something that Sampson told me earlier in the month that he has put an emphasis on.

Being in the low 90s, control is something that is going to be key for Sampson. Of his 94 pitches on Saturday, 57 crossed the plate for strikes. Though the ratio is not as high as he would like, he did seem to miss down in the zone more often than up. There were a pair of long outs to the warning track on pitches that he missed up, but the damage was limited.

Sampson worked primarily with the fastball, especially early. In the first inning, 13 of Sampson’s 18 pitches were fastballs, including his first 10 offerings. Well over half of his pitches were fastballs. On Saturday, he used the fastball to set up the breaking ball and changeup very effectively.

The International League hit .358 against Sampson in the four starts, so he clearly has some work to do before he is big league ready. However, only turning 23 next month in his third year of professional ball, he is clearly ahead of the curve and has plenty of time to pick it up.

In order to get some extra work in, Sampson will join fellow Indianapolis rotation member Nick Kingham in the Arizona Fall League this year. Both of the right-handers will return to the Indianapolis rotation next season and will benefit from getting the Triple-A experience this season.

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Fastball Command is Key for Francisco Liriano http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/fastball-command-is-key-for-francisco-liriano.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/fastball-command-is-key-for-francisco-liriano.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87439 Over his career, Francisco Liriano has proven to be an exceptionally volatile pitcher. One start, he’s dominating, generating numerous swings and misses. The next, he can’t find the strike zone.

In his last start against Cardinals, Liriano put together an outing which was typical of him last season, when he struck out 163 in 161 innings and posted a 3.02 ERA. In six innings he allowed zero runs, four hits, and struck out eight.

The success was a result of him being able to better locate his sinker, throwing it 41 times.

“I really liked the way he used his fastball,” Hurdle said. “There was increased percentage of fastball use, fastball velocity played both sides of the plate, late life and movement, and it set up all the swing and miss stuff.”

When he can’t locate his fastball, Liriano tends to shy away from it, instead throwing his breaking pitches at an atypical rate.

Two starts ago, against the Braves, he struggled to locate his sinker, throwing it only 24 times. He threw 25 changeups and 29 sliders in efforts to compensate for his fastball, as opposed to 11 changeups and 29 sliders against the Cardinals.

The results were as expected, as Liriano surrendered seven runs and ten hits in four innings.

“It’s command oriented,” Hurdle said. When he’s had command it’s lights out. So it all goes back to fastball command.”

These two starts are a microcosm of Liriano’s career. Not only is he ever-shifting from start to start, but year to year. By any standard, Liriano has never put together consecutive successful seasons.

Besides simply command, it’s Liriano’s command out of the stretch that has resulted in his unpredictability from year to year.

“If you go one layer deeper, it’s basically the ability to have command pitching out of the stretch,” Hurdle said. “Years he’s done that have been those years that jump out at you. The years that he’s struggled with his command out of the stretch are the years that the numbers are kind of disconnected.”

Yet, with Liriano coming off a successful outing and having a clean bill of health, Hurdle is encouraged.

“He’s been healthy the second half, and that’s another reason to have optimism,” Hurdle said.

Today’s Lineup

Here is the lineup for today’s 1:35 PM game, with Liriano on the mound.

BwX_cGCIQAA-1oP.jpg-large

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Morning Report: What Kind of Upside Does Erich Weiss Possess? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/morning-report-what-kind-of-upside-does-erich-weiss-possess.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/morning-report-what-kind-of-upside-does-erich-weiss-possess.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87391 Last year, The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Erich Weiss in the 11th round out of Texas and he was the last player they signed. They gave him a $305,000 bonus, which put them over their draft bonus pool, costing the team approximately $75,000 in penalty taxes on top of the bonus amount. It was a surprising total because Weiss really struggled his junior year and he didn’t seem to have huge upside.

This season, Weiss has a .287/.378/.376 slash line through 129 games, with 21 doubles, 60 walks and 21 stolen bases in 33 attempts. He has made 20 errors in 113 games at second base and he has struck out 115 times. There are some good signs to his season, but he is also about to turn 23 years old, so you take what he’s doing in Low-A with a grain of salt.

Early in the season, it seemed as if he could be a mid-season call-up to Bradenton. Weiss was an All-Star and he hit .307 with an .808 OPS in the first half. He ended up spending the entire year at West Virginia and his second half hasn’t been that good, especially for someone his age. Erich Weiss

I got a chance to watch him during a four game series this year and he looked more like the second half player. Weiss made a lot of soft contact at the plate, which helps explain the four home runs all season. He showed decent speed, nothing special, but he is known as a smart player, so the 21 steals aren’t a huge surprise, especially when you factor in the poor success rate. The one thing that differed from his scouting report was the range he showed. He looked good at second base and made at least three difficult plays.

It’s tough to see huge upside with Weiss, at least enough to explain the bonus he was given. He will likely never hit for power and he strikes out too much for someone that doesn’t hit for power. His speed isn’t a plus and he will probably be an average second baseman that could also play third base, where his bat really doesn’t fit. Perhaps the worst part is that the left-handed hitting Weiss already projects as a platoon player with a .213 average and .614 OPS vs lefties. In limited at-bats last year against southpaws, he went 4-for-20, so he hasn’t shown any success.

I’m not writing him off, because the Pirates obviously saw something in him and he has looked good at times. He’s not a top 30 prospect in the system, but he shouldn’t have any trouble making the top 50 list in the upcoming Prospect Guide. Right now, I’d say his ceiling looks like a backup infielder in the Majors. A smart bench player that you can put at a couple different positions and expect him to hold his own. That’s not the upside you want from someone that cost what he did, but it’s possible with more consistency, he can exceed his current projections.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are one game behind St. Louis for the second Wild Card spot. They are two games behind San Francisco for the first spot. They are currently two games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, 1.5 games ahead of Palm Beach and Fort Myers. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs, unless Fort Myers wins the second half title. Fort Myers won the first half title, so if they also win the second half then the team with the second best overall record would make the playoffs. In the overall standings, Bradenton is a half game ahead of Palm Beach for the second best overall record. The Marauders have two games left in their season.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  Today is all about the playoffs for Bradenton, who need to just win one game of their doubleheader to clinch a playoff spot. It’s the last day of the FSL season and they have a 1.5 game lead over both second place teams(see playoff push above). Cody Dickson and Montana DuRapau each make their last start of the season. DuRapau was featured here prior to his last start, then he went out and gave up one run over six innings. Bristol’s season ended on Friday. The GCL season ended Thursday. The DSL season ended last Saturday. You can read the season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (71-64) vs Reds (64-71) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.98 ERA, 135:60 K/BB, 124.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (72-70) vs Columbus (77-65) 6:05 PM
Probable starter: TBD

AA: Altoona (60-80) @ Bowie (71-69) 2:05 PM
Probable starter:  Thomas Harlan (3.25 ERA, 24:17 K/BB, 55.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (76-61, 41-27 2nd half) @ Charlotte (63-68) 10:30 AM DH
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (54-80, 34-32 2nd half) vs Asheville (88-49) 2:05 PM
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.96 ERA, 103:58 K/BB, 127.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (34-39) @ Williamsport (33-41) 4:05 PM
Probable Starter: Montana DuRapau (2.21 ERA, 52:7 K/BB, 57 IP)

RK: Bristol (22-46)

GCL: Pirates (20-40)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)

Highlights

This highlight from Indianapolis involves two players that will soon be in Pittsburgh when the rosters expand and one that just joined the team. Tony Sanchez lines a single that scores Gregory Polanco. Brent Morel tried to go to third base on the play and got thrown out.

Erich Weiss hit an RBI triple earlier this week against Lexington.

Recent Transactions

8/30: Brent Morel promoted to Pittsburgh. Jeff Locke sent to Indianapolis.

8/30: Blake Davis activated from disabled list.

8/29: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/29: Tommy Field sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/29: Andrew Lambo promoted to Pirates. Gerrit Cole sent to Bristol.

8/28: Jayson Nix claimed by Kansas City Royals.

8/28: JaCoby Jones activated from disabled list. Adam Landecker placed on disabled list.

8/28: Brett McKinney promoted to Bradenton. John Kuchno placed on disabled list.

8/28: Charlie Morton sent to Altoona on rehab.

8/26: Jake Brigham placed on temporary inactive list.

8/25: Jhonathan Ramos placed on disabled list.

8/25: Alen Hanson placed on disabled list. Drew Maggi activated from DL.

8/25: Clint Barmes activated from disabled list. Gregory Polanco sent to Indianapolis.

8/25: Jose Tabata added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Jayson Nix designated for assignment.

8/25: Jonathan Schwind assigned to GCL on rehab.

8/24: Pirates claim Bobby LaFromboise. Designate Tommy Field for assignment.

This Date in Pirates History

The Pittsburgh Pirates made six trades of note on this date, including the acquisition of second baseman Johnny Ray in exchange for Phil Garner. Thirteen years earlier, the Pirates traded away reliever Elroy Face, sending him to the Tigers right after he made his 802nd appearance for the team, a total that tied Walter Johnson for the most games pitched for the same team. That game recap can be found in the link below.

There have been eight former Pirates born on this day, including Ramon Hernandez, a lefty reliever for the 1971 World Series champs. He made ten appearances for the Pirates that year, throwing shutout ball in the first nine games. The following year, he had a 1.67 ERA and 14 saves in 53 games. You can read more about him, as well as bios for the other seven players here.

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First Pitch: Why the Pirates Optioned Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke to the Minors http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/first-pitch-why-the-pirates-optioned-gerrit-cole-and-jeff-locke-to-the-minors.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/first-pitch-why-the-pirates-optioned-gerrit-cole-and-jeff-locke-to-the-minors.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:13:20 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87426 Over the last two days, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made a few moves to add some short-term depth, sending down players who have and will continue to be a big part of the 2014 season, all to get a few days of extra depth on the bench.

The first move saw the Pirates option Gerrit Cole to Bristol, which allowed them to bring up Andrew Lambo. Then, they optioned Jeff Locke to Indianapolis, bringing up Brent Morel. Both moves probably raise a lot of questions to those who aren’t familiar with the MLB rules on roster construction, playoff rosters, and so on. I thought I’d put together a FAQ, looking at a few of the questions that you might have on the moves.

Why Bristol For Cole and Indianapolis For Locke?

Normally an optional assignment means a player must spend ten days in the minors before he can return to the majors. There are two exceptions. The first exception is that the player can replace someone who goes on the disabled list after he is optioned. The second exception comes at the end of the minor league season. A player can be recalled from his assignment if the minor league team he was assigned to finishes their season, even if that takes place before his ten-day period is up.

In Cole’s case, Bristol ended their season tonight. His next scheduled start was going to be on September 1st, which is after active rosters expand from 25 to 40. Cole can be brought back for that start, and the Pirates won’t have to send anyone down. Meanwhile, they get three extra games from Andrew Lambo off the bench.

Locke wasn’t going to make his next start until September 2nd. Indianapolis has been eliminated from the post-season, which means their season ends on September 1st. So Locke can return on the 2nd.

Aren’t They Burning an Option?

One concern I’ve seen about this involves option years being wasted. In Locke’s case, the option was already used. Options are measured in years, and no how many individual times a player goes back and forth between the minors. Once a player is optioned to the minors, he can be called up and sent down as many times as necessary that season. Since Locke had already used his option year this year, he could be sent down with no worries.

Cole hasn’t been sent down on optional assignment this year, but he also won’t use an option year. A player needs to be on optional assignment for 20 days in a season to use an option. Anything less than 20 days means the player keeps the option, and also gets MLB service time for the amount of time he was on optional assignment. Since Cole will be down for less than a week, he won’t use an option year.

Will They Be Eligible For the Playoffs?

This issue came up when Gregory Polanco was sent down, where it seemed that he might not be eligible for the post-season rosters. It was my previous belief that to be added to the playoff roster, you must be on the 25-man roster by August 31st. However, according to this document from the Seattle Times, MLB Rule 40(a)(1)(A) says that anyone on optional assignment is eligible. This means anyone on the 40-man roster on August 31st is eligible for the post-season. So it doesn’t matter if Cole, Locke, or Polanco are in the majors before rosters expand. As long as they’re on the 40-man roster (and they are), they will be eligible for the playoffs.

In summary, the Pirates can send these pitchers down, rather than having them do nothing off the bench for a few days. The pitchers can then return for their next scheduled starts. In the mean time, the Pirates get extra bench help that could be useful for those few days. The pitchers who were sent down don’t see an option year used in the process, and they maintain eligibility.

It’s weird to see Gerrit Cole optioned to the low-levels of the minors, or Jeff Locke optioned right after a great start. But that’s just the Pirates getting creative with roster moves at the end of the season.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Homers From JaCoby Jones and Stetson Allie

**The Type of Win That Defines a Contender

**Clint Hurdle Looks for Quality At Bats from Andrew Lambo

**Locke optioned, Morel called up

**How is Alen Hanson Adjusting to Second Base?

**Morning Report: Edwin Espinal is Still a Sleeper, But For How Much Longer?

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Prospect Watch: Homers From JaCoby Jones and Stetson Allie http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/prospect-watch-homers-from-jacoby-jones-and-stetson-allie.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/prospect-watch-homers-from-jacoby-jones-and-stetson-allie.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 03:43:53 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87393 TOP OF THE SYSTEM

A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season (Jameson Taillon #1, Clay Holmes #12), he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 20 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the mid-season top 20 update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Bradenton - DNP

2. Austin Meadows, CF, West Virginia - 1-for-3, BB

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

4. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

5. Alen Hanson, SS/2B, Altoona - Disabled List (8/25 Update)

6. Josh Bell, RF, Altoona - Disabled List (8/19 Update)

7. Harold Ramirez, OF, West Virginia - Disabled List (7/24 Update)

8. Cole Tucker, SS, GCL Pirates – DNP

9. Luis Heredia, RHP, West Virginia - DNP

10. Mitch Keller, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

11. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Indianapolis - 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

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

13. Casey Sadler, RHP, Indianapolis - DNP

14. Andrew Lambo, OF, Indianapolis - In Majors

15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Altoona - DNP

16. Michael De La Cruz, OF, GCL Pirates - DNP

17. Trey Supak, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

18. Buddy Borden, RHP, West Virginia - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR

19. Stetson Allie, 1B, Altoona - 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, GCL Pirates - DNP

 

2014FrontCover 2014 PROSPECT GUIDE SALE!

The 2014 Prospect Guide is on sale in the Pirates Prospects store. The paperback version has dropped to $14.99 plus shipping. We currently only have one case of books remaining, and the offer is only valid while the books are in stock. There is also an eBook version available for $9.99. The 2013 Prospect Guide is on clearance for $1.

 

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Angel Sanchez, RHP – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Eric Wood, 3B – 2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI

Home Runs: JaCoby Jones (23), Stetson Allie (20)

 

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS    

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 4, Columbus 2

Starting Pitcher: Adrian Sampson, RHP – 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Top Hitter: Elias Diaz, C – 2-for-3, R

Other Notable Performers:

Jaff Decker, LF – 1-for-4, RBI

Gregory Polanco, RF – 1-for-4, RBI

Game Notes: Of his four starts in Triple-A to wrap up the campaign, Saturday night’s finale on the season was among the strongest for Adrian Sampson. While he was not able to survive the sixth inning, Sampson still only allowed one run on four hits. He struck out five hitters with two each in the first and the fifth.

Bobby LaFromboise relieved Sampson and got a pair of outs, one by strikeout, before being relieved by Adam Wilk. Wilk allowed one run on two hits in 0.1 inning. Vin Mazzaro allowed just one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings of work.

Elias Diaz had his first multi-hit game, as he was 3-for-26 total at Triple-A coming into the game. Gregory Polanco went 1-for-4 in his fifth game back with Indianapolis. He is now 4-for-19 since coming back to Triple-A, but has three hits in his last nine at bats. Ernesto Frieri nailed down the save with a pair of strikeouts. – Ryan Palencer

 

AA: ALTOONA CURVE

Box Score

Result: Altoona 3, Bowie 1

Starting Pitcher: Angel Sanchez, RHP – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Stetson Allie, 1B – 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

Other Notable Performers:

Andy Vasquez, CF/LF – 2-for-4, 2 2B

Drew Maggi, LF/3B – 1-for-4, BB, SB

Game Notes: Stetson Allie had his second straight 2-for-5 game, breaking a recent 3-for-29 slump. Allie hit a two-run homer in the top of the 11th to secure a win for Altoona. It was his 20th homer of the season. Angel Sanchez finished his season on a high note, allowing just one run over 6.2 innings, his best outing since joining the Pirates. Drew Maggi had a single and a walk, plus he stole his 37th base of the year, tops in the Pirates organization. Andy Vasquez hit two doubles, giving him 18 on the year. Willy Garcia went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but still managed to draw two walks. He had just 21 walks coming into the game. He has drawn five walks in his last seven games, one of the best streaks of his career.

 

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS   

Game One Box Score

Result: Bradenton 7, Charlotte 2

Starting Pitcher: Shane Carle, RHP – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Eric Wood, 3B – 2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI

Other Notable Performers:

Jose Osuna, DH – 3-for-5, 2B

Jordan Steranka, 1B – 3-for-3, RBI

Max Moroff, 2B – 2-for-4, 3B, RBI

Game Notes: This game was suspended yesterday in the top of the third inning due to weather. Shane Carle threw the first two innings and looked good, striking out three batters over two no-hit innings. This game was called in the eighth inning and the scheduled second game of the doubleheader was postponed until tomorrow. Jason Creasy threw six innings to pick up the win, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. Jose Osuna and Jordan Steranka each had three hits, while Eric Wood drove in three runs. Wood hit his 28th double. Max Moroff had two hits, including his sixth triple. Adam Frazier committed his 35th error.

 

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER   

Box Score

Result: Asheville 5, West Virginia 1

Starting Pitcher: Buddy Borden, RHP – 3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR

Top Hitter:  JaCoby Jones, SS – 1-for-4, HR, RBI

Other Notable Performers:

Edwin Espinal, 1B – 1-for-4

Austin Meadows, CF – 1-for-3, BB

Erich Weiss, 2B – 2-for-3, BB

Reese McGuire, DH – 1-for-4

Game Notes: Buddy Borden ended his season with one of his worst outings, giving up five runs in 3.2 innings. It was just the second time he allowed more than four runs this year and the fourth time that he couldn’t make it through at least four innings. Zack Von Rosenberg followed Borden and threw 4.1 shutout innings, allowing one hit while facing the minimum amount of batters. JaCoby Jones hit his 23rd homer and drove in his 70th RBI.

 

A-: JAMESTOWN JAMMERS   

Box Score

Result: Williamsport 7, Jamestown 6

Starting Pitcher: Frank Duncan, RHP – 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: David Andriese, 1B – 2-for-5, 2B, 3 RBI

Other Notable Performers:

Elvis Escobar, CF – 1-for-5, 2B

Michael Suchy, RF – 2-for-4, 2 2B, BB, SB

Game Notes:  Frank Duncan gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. He finished with a 3.58 ERA in 14 starts. In his last three starts combined, he allowed 24 runs over 15 innings. Duncan ended up with a 49:11 K/BB ratio. Michael Suchy hit two doubles and stole his seventh base of the year. Chase Simpson hit his 14th double and drove in his 30th run. He is hitting .474 in his last ten games.

 

RK: BRISTOL PIRATES

The Bristol season is over. We will have a season recap for the team in the next few days

 

RK: GCL PIRATES

The GCL season is over. We will have a season recap for the team in the next few days.

 

RK: DSL PIRATES

The DSL season is now over. You can read the DSL Pirates season recap here, complete with scouting reports every player.

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The Type of Win That Defines a Contender http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/the-type-of-win-that-defines-a-contender.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/the-type-of-win-that-defines-a-contender.html#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 01:44:55 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87412 In the quest to the playoffs, a team has to win in a variety of ways. There’s the blowout, offense-outburst type wins. There’s the close, well-played wins. Then there’s wins where a team doesn’t play well, but does just enough to squeak by. Today was one of those wins.

The Pirates didn’t do anything special today. Vance Worley was good enough, allowing one earned run and striking out four in six and two thirds innings. He walked two, hit one batter, and worked his way out of seven three ball counts. The offense was largely unspectacular, managing only four hits, one of those a three run homer by Neil Walker in the 1st inning. And the defense was average, nothing special like yesterday’s game.

Yet, it was enough to get the win. It’s the type of win the Pirates need to manage when they’re not at their best if they’re going to make the playoffs.

“These are the type of games that you have to win if you’re going to get where your trying to go,” Walker said.

It’s the type of win that separates a contender from a non-contender.

“The thing that separates really good teams are locking those one, two run leads down late in games, especially late in the year, and we’ve been pretty successful at that,” Walker said.

In order to win close games like todays, it’s often about quality pitching and clutch hitting. Worley and Walker provided the Pirates with both today.

Worley had struggled in his last two outings. Today, he was able to get back on track, mostly due to his fastball command. Even when Worley wasn’t throwing low strikes, he was able to pick corners and keep the ball down, essentially giving the Reds nothing to hit.

Recently, Worley had worked to get the proper angle on the ball again and to keep the ball down in the zone.

“Today, it was just a matter of working on the back side of the rubber, doing all of my work over the rubber before I went home, and I was able to get the angle on the ball again,” Worley said.

Hurdle concurred that it was the angle on Worley’s pitches that allowed him to have regain success.

“Worley was much more efficient today,” Hurdle said. “Better angle on all his pitches. It was a very good mix from start to finish.”

With Worley back on track, Hurdle is hoping that the rest of the pitching staff can mimic his success.

“Those starters, they keep grinding like they are right now, it’s going to put us in a good place,” Hurdle said.

Of course, the staff realizes that, as they’re pushing each other from outing to outing.

“We’re all pushing each other to go out there and be the best we can,” Worley said. “It’s a game within a game. We’re trying to one up each other and push each other to do better each outing.”

On the other end, Walker noticed a theme from Reds’ starter Alfredo Simon, and took advantage of it.

“He was trying to establish his fastball the first time through the order,” Walker said. “He was more tentative than we’re used to seeing him. After he walked Cutch, I thought being aggressive was something I wanted to do.”

Luckily for the Pirates, they were able to get to Simon when he was more vulnerable early in the game. After the first inning, Simon pitched six scoreless, one hit innings. On the day, Simon allowed four hits, three runs, and struck out seven.

But despite Simon’s mostly dominant outing, it wasn’t enough for the Reds to get the win. And despite the Pirates’ lackluster hitting, it was enough for them to come out on top.

After the game, Worley apologized to the media for keeping his old minor league stuff around his locker. He keeps it there as a reminder of the minors, showing him what he doesn’t want to go back to. But for the Pirates, today’s close win is a reminder of exactly where they want to go. And if they continue to win games like today’s, they just might.

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