The A-ball teams were in action at Pirate City today, playing the Toronto Blue Jays farm system. The highlights were 2013 draft picks Buddy Borden and Chad Kuhl pitching four innings each, along with Jeff Locke and Mark Melancon getting some work in, with each pitcher throwing two innings to start the game. Here are some notes from the day’s action.
**I was mostly focused on Buddy Borden today, as this was the first time I had seen him pitch. He was quick and efficient, working down in the zone with an 89-93 MPH fastball. Borden threw 44 pitches over four innings of work, with 29 strikes. He was perfect in those four innings, not allowing a walk or a hit, and striking out five. He mixed in an upper 70s changeup and an 82-84 MPH curveball. Borden, who was a seventh round pick last year, is expected to start the season in the West Virginia rotation, and could make it to Bradenton by the second half of the season.
**I didn’t see much of Chad Kuhl, but saw his results after the game. He went four innings, although I didn’t get a clear stat line, since one of his innings was rolled due to a pitch count. Kuhl was sitting 92-93 MPH pretty consistently in the first two innings, then dropped to 89-91 MPH in the last two innings. He gave up a two out error on a grounder to the third baseman in the first, and that was followed by a two-run homer. Kuhl responded by retiring his next nine batters, which is nice to see. He was drafted in the ninth round last year, and works heavy with his sinker, getting a lot of ground ball outs today.
**I saw a good sequence from Erich Weiss at the plate in the low-A game. Weiss battled in a long at-bat, fouling several pitches off. He then went downstairs to line an opposite field double to the right-center field gap. It was a soft liner that rolled to the outfielder, but Weiss hustled to stretch it to a double, and made it easily after a wild and rushed throw. The next batter was Danny Collins, who hit a ground ball to first base. The first baseman bobbled the ball, then tossed it to the pitcher, who was late getting to the bag. During this time, no one noticed Weiss running home, allowing him to score easily on the clumsy play at first. Both plays showed some heads up base running. Weiss turned a single into a double, then scored from second on an infield single, and his speed could probably be classified as average at best.
**I didn’t see Locke or Melancon, since I was at McKechnie Field getting interviews during the first two innings of the game.
**I wrote about how Reese McGuire has pushed Wyatt Mathisen to third base, and how Mathisen pushed Weiss to second base.
**The Pirates released four minor league pitchers.
**Borden was the highlight for me, too, as he breezed through his four innings. He followed Jeff Locke, who scuffled a little, largely due to some shaky defense and weak hits. Weiss got him into some trouble by muffing a routine grounder, although he did make a nice play later.
**Kuhl’s velocity was lower than his last outing, when he sat around 94.
**Two new right-handed pitchers finished the two games. Jonathan Minier threw the final inning of the West Virginia game. He’s a recent signee from the Dominican. He’s already 24, so he probably was signed to provide pitching depth in light of the Pirates’ addition of a new affiliate in Bristol. Minier threw in the low-90s and worked a very quick inning. Marek Minarik worked the last inning of the Bradenton game. He’s a 6′ 7″ righty from the Czech Republic who washed out of the Phillies’ system after only 20 innings. His fastball ranged from 91-94 today. He got into some trouble with some control issues, but escaped thanks to a double play induced by a 75 MPH curve.
**This was my first chance to see JaCoby Jones in action and it wasn’t hard to understand why scouts remained high on his potential despite pedestrian performances in college. He’s a very athletic player with excellent speed. The Pirates are trying him at short now with the West Virginia team. He looks big there, but may have the quickness to pull it off. In the one at-bat I saw, Jones lined a rope off the base of the wall in straightaway center and eased into third with a standup triple.
**As advertised, Wyatt Mathisen played third and Erich Weiss second for West Virginia. Between Weiss and Jones in low A, and Adam Frazier and Max Moroff, who are playing short and second for Bradenton, the Pirates have an interesting group of middle infielders in class A. Of course, added to that are Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe, who’ll play short and second, for Altoona.
**Jhondaniel Medina, whom the Pirates acquired for Yamaico Navarro, threw an inning for Bradenton. Medina had a huge strikeout rate (14.0 K/9) last year for West Virginia and his fastball sat at 95 today, but he struggled with his control and failed to finish his inning.
**Reese McGuire picked a runner off first with a throw that was right on the bag.
**Edwin Espinal seems to be battling Danny Collins for the first base job, or possibly a 1B/DH job share, at West Virginia. Espinal today hit a drive that landed on top of the fence in left and bounced back into play for a double.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Tim: Buddy Borden and Reese McGuire were the stars of the day, IMO. Borden was in, out, up, and down and everything with authority. I did not recall much offspeed as much as just a slower type fastball. The first few batters he faced he threw some nasty breaking pitches to and then really did not need to show that pitch much more afterwards. I remember one kid he decided to challenge and threw three straight fastballs just above the waist and he was gone. McGuire was the Catcher for both Locke and Borden, and the kid is a lot more impressive in person than you can imagine from reading his stats. Even in warmups he is moving and blocking pitches in the dirt – does not take time off just because it is not live – and the throw behind the kid at 1B was quick, sharp, and right on the money. I would not be surprised to see him rising quickly through the ranks. Jeff Locke was a surprise starter, and it seemed as if he was on an all fastball regimen just to log a few innings. I think I remember him throwing possibly a handfull of changeups and I cannot recall him throwing a curve. Most impressive was the number of coaches, all of the other pitchers there in their warmup gear, number of scouts, and yes, Jose’s is the best – we did a number 12 and the Cuban Sandwich.
Something seems amiss, Tim. Did you really mean to write Borden had an 89-93 fastball and an upper 80’s change up?
I mentioned Borden on the PMB last night . I was so impressed with him yesterday . He throws hard and for this effort had his pitches down . He was the class pitcher of this particular game . I have read that the knock on him is his lack of control on occasion but he did not show that yesterday ,
What? no pics of Buddy Borden from either of you guys? How can you NOT have a pic of BB? Is there one on a milk carton somewhere?
Did you know that the great Selena Gomez is a spokesperson for the company? I bet SHE has a pic of Buddy B.
Elsie the Foo
Best pic I have of Borden is on his player page: http://players.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/buddy-borden.html
I learned the hard way that taking pictures through the chain link is not the easiest thing to do. I went over to Bradenton yesterday – had ticket to the Red Sox game – but REALLY wanted to see Pirate City. The luck of the draw I guess was I got there about the time the Blue Jays bus arrived.
If you are a baseball fan and have the chance you really need to check this place out – it was a totally awesome afternoon – you are SOOOO close to the action – and the players – and the players are really great about it. One of the fun things was watching the kids with their three ring notebooks trying to figure out who the player was – most Pirate guys just numbers – and the ones not playing were in T shirts and shorts. Once the got it they would open the binder to the players baseball card – pull it out of the plastic sleeve and ask the guy to sign. Pretty amazing to watch – the players were not only patient – but in a couple of cases went out of their way to make sure everyone who wanted an autograph got one.
The fields are so close to each other – the two Pirate benches were separated by a 8 foot walkway – so lots of mixing – back and forth.
I caught a bit of Locke – he looked sharp – but got in trouble with some help from his defense. Watched all four innings of BB – he was most impressive – will be interesting to follow his progress this summer. The pitches were one thing – but the poise and awareness were also pretty mature.
Jacoby Jones seemed to be the class of the hitters – the triple was impressive – but he never seemed to be fooled overmatched. Some of the other guys not so much.
Wandered around a bit – seemed to be a mix of fans – family – pro observers – and semi-pro.
Again – I thought it was a really great experience – and a must for a fan if you are in the area.
And having the Pirate Prospectus with me was awesome – Tim should have them for sale there – could have sold at least a Dozen…
I’m gonna really try to make it down next year.
I wished our club was in Tampa…I’m good friends with 3 folks who live there in retirement….
Depending on where your friends are exactly in Tampa, Pirate City is about an hour away.
I am still trying to find a place that has info on what is happening at Pirate City – not sure if Tim knows of a source – but I really got lucky – stumbled into a great situation.
Based on what Tim has posted in the past – this if probably the best time of ST to visit Pirate City – last 10 days or so.
Here is the schedule. All games at 1 PM.
Thanks Tim – did not see this when it was posted the first time…
Wondering if there was a way to organize this stuff so it had more visibility..
A link to…
“So you are coming to Spring Training”
You have posted a ton of great stuff – just needs a way to organize I think…
Happy to help I if can in any way
Don’t know if you saw this, but it lists things to do in Bradenton during ST.
Keeping articles near the top of the page is a challenge. We post so many articles per day that they get buried quickly. For example, we already have seven articles up today, not counting last night’s First Pitch, and not counting tonight’s First Pitch. I use a magazine theme to keep articles on the main page for a few extra days. The best thing to do is to search the archives. For example, if you search “Pirate City schedule”, that link is the first to come up.
I might have to make the search feature more prominent on the site. The search box that came with the theme is easy to overlook.
Thx – I was thinking there might be a way to do a “resources” – “useful links” box
In any case, not a big deal – thanks to you and this site I had a really great day Thursday. Would never have gone to pirate city had you not written about how interesting it was/is
Definitely going back next year
Thx again for you great work!
If you want to see the kids, that’s what I’ve been told, also.
I am really, really gonna try to make it down next year.
Unfortunately for Tim, I am really, really gonna try to meet up with him.