Morning Report: Cole Tucker Holds His Own in His First Pro Season

Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick Cole Tucker finished off his first season in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday afternoon. Usually some GCL players move up at the end of the year because the GCL season ends earlier than the other leagues. Bristol has just one game left this year, so that would seem like an unlikely destination and Jamestown’s season ends on Monday, so their season is almost over too. Call-ups from Bristol to Jamestown would seem more likely if any moves are made.

Tucker led the Pirates in stolen bases and runs scored
Tucker led the Pirates in stolen bases and runs scored

Assuming Tucker is done, he finished his first pro season with a .267/.368/.356 slash line in 48 games. He had 13 stolen bases in 18 attempts and collected ten extra-base hits, six doubles, two triples and two homers. He showed some decent plate patience, collecting 26 walks. On the bad side, Tucker led the team with 13 errors in 41 games at shortstop(he was the DH in seven games). It should be pointed out that he had three errors in his first game, so some Opening Day jitters skews his total. Tucker also struck out 38 times, second most on the team. He was nowhere near team-leader Nelson Jorge, who had 61 strikeouts.

To put Tucker’s stats into GCL perspective, he was fifth on the team in OPS among regulars. He led the team in stolen bases and ran away with the runs scored lead, crossing the plate 39 times. That total was actually second in the entire GCL. Tucker’s ten extra-base hits and 64 total bases each ranked him fourth on the Pirates.

After writing all that, the only thing that really matters is that he held his own in the league. Tucker is the third youngest player on the club and it wasn’t by much. Michael de la Cruz is a week younger and catcher Yoel Gonzalez is a month younger. Tucker started the season off well(after that first game). He had 11 hits and nine walks in his first nine games. His month of July was pretty bad, with a .232 average in 20 games. Tucker had a .743 OPS in 22 August games, so it was a decent final month.

Tucker’s stats don’t compare well to the 2013 stats of Reese McGuire or Austin Meadows, last year’s first round picks. Both of them were 18 years old, so the age was similar, but those two players were also high first round picks and they were rated high by everyone, while Tucker wasn’t a consensus first round pick and taken 24th overall. People will want to compare them, but he really wasn’t in the same class as the other two players and shouldn’t be judged the same just because they were all first round picks.

Tucker had a decent season and about what you should expect from someone his age in a league where the average age is two years older than him. As mentioned above, the important part is that he held his own in his first season of pro ball.

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are two games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently four games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday night.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, a game ahead of Palm Beach. 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(they trail first place by 1.5 games), then the team with the second best overall record would make the playoffs. In the overall standings, Bradenton is tied with Palm Beach for the second best overall record. The Marauders have three games left in their season.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  In Indianapolis, Nick Kingham will make his last start of the season tonight. Between Indianapolis and Altoona, he has made 25 starts already, throwing a total of 153.1 innings. Only Adrian Sampson has thrown more innings this year than Kingham has among Pirates players. Kingham has a 116:48 K/BB ratio, a .231 BAA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 1.02 GO/AO ratio. In his last outing, Kingham gave up three earned runs over five innings, allowing six hits and two walks. He has thrown ten more innings than he did last year, setting a career high. The GCL season ended Thursday. The DSL season ended Saturday. You can read the season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player.

MLB: Pittsburgh (69-64) vs Reds (64-69) 7:05 PM
Probable starterEdinson Volquez (3.56 ERA, 103:55 K/BB, 151.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (70-70) vs Columbus (77-63) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (3.28 ERA, 62:23 K/BB, 82.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (59-79) @ Bowie (70-68) 6:35 PM
Probable starter: TBD

High-A: Bradenton (75-61, 40-27 2nd half) @ Charlotte (63-67) 6:30 PM
Probable starter: Shane Carle (3.74 ERA, 33:13 K/BB, 53 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (53-79, 33-31 2nd half) vs Asheville (87-48) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jake Burnette (27.00 ERA, 3:4 K/BB, 1.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (33-38) @ Williamsport (32-40) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Tyler Eppler (2.59 ERA, 44:11 K/BB, 62.2 IP)

RK: Bristol (22-45) vs Danville (37-30) 7:00 PM
Probable StarterOmar Basulto (3.44 ERA, 39:12 K/BB, 49.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (20-40)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)


Ramon Cabrera hit a two-run homer during Wednesday’s 8-7 win over Richmond. It was his first homer since joining Altoona and his sixth of the season. He had never hit more than three homers in a season before this year.

Andrew Lambo hit his 11th homer for Indianapolis on Wednesday. It was his sixth homer in his last seven games. Lambo has a .328/.389/.563 slash line through 61 games with Indianapolis.

Recent Transactions

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 traded away long time second baseman Johnny Ray on this date in 1987. He played 931 games for the Pirates during his seven seasons. The return was disappointing, getting two minor leaguers back who played a total of 13 games with the Pirates. Five former Pirates players have been born on this date, including catcher Joe Schultz Jr. He played three years for Pittsburgh from 1939 until 1941. Schultz came from a baseball family with ties to the Pirates. His dad Joe Sr. was an infielder for the 1916 Pirates and his cousin Hans Lobert was a member of the 1903 Pirates, a team that played in the first World Series. He also had a cousin named Frank Lobert, who also played in the majors. For more info on the trade, bios on all five players and a game recap from the 1995 season, check the link here.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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I’ll also add that it’s tough to compare Tucker to the ’13 R1 picks because he has so much more physical projection than the other two. You can easily see another 20 lbs of muscle on Tucker’s frame without even beginning to look bulky.

Overall, I think this pick taught us something about just how much information outside analysts have leading up to the draft. Good learning experience.


Agree with your assessment.

Tucker is still a pup. He’ll probably have a radically different physical makeup when he’s 20 y/o.


Again going off of Baseball Prospectus’ report since I’ve never seen him in person, they said he’s every bit of 6’3″ with broad shoulders so could easily add on good weight.

Also noted that he looks like a steal at #24 , which came about a week after Keith Law said he’s the only prospect that he’s drastically changed his opinion on since the 2014 draft concluded.

Law’s reasoning was that, after talking to scouts, he realized he was significantly lighter on him than the industry was. Mentioned teams were hoping to be coy and grab him in the sandwich round but had him at or near the top of their boards.

Kevin Anstrom

He’ll be bigger than Josh Bell. Seemed to be a legit 6’4″ to me.

At the time I liked Forrest Wall but Tucker seems to be the right pick.

Chris M

I was going to say the same thing. Cole is thin as a rail.


He performed relatively well compared to the other 2014 HS draftees he was taken with. Had a better wRC+ than guys like Nick Gordon and Ti’Quan Forbes, a significantly better wRC+ than Gatewood (who was abysmal), and a comparable wRC+ to some bat-first/only guys like Harrison, Wall, Vallot, Chavis, and Davidson.

Baseball Prospectus wrote him up in a recent Monday Morning Ten Pack and mentioned he was battling arm soreness early in the season.


It seems clear the organization made a conscious decision to target contact/on base skills over raw power/speed. I think it was a mature decision.


After reading post-draft reports, I think it’s entirely plausible that they simply went with best available.

Keith Law came right out and said in his August 14 chat that he was much lighter on him than the industry after talking to multiple scouts.


I appreciate your objectivity John, given your distaste for Cole’s selection. Who knows how he will work out. But if it turns out that he is crowned King Tulo II a decade from now I hope that you’ll join in the celebration.


they could have taken someone else,but what if cole went on to be tulo 2 and you know pirates fans would of went on to be angered on how we passed him up


And you guys clearly missed.


Right, but he was clearly on other organization’s radar, as has come out post-draft. Whether he was on outside analyst’s radar or not has absolutely no bearing on reality.

If I interpreted your response to james as you intended, that you don’t feel fans would be mad about Tucker turning into an All Star for another team just because Pirates Prospects and other outlets missed on him leading up to the draft, then I believe that’s just silly.

Of course fans would be upset, as they should.


John, who did you want them to take ahead of Tucker? Or I guess I should just say who were you hoping they’d take at 24?


the fact that Harrison is a OF and probably a corner OF his upside is much lower than a SS. Clint Barmes has played many MLB games than Willy Garcia and his Harrison like upside ever will.


You were saying that Tucker didn’t have much upside. I’m saying that Tucker playing a position that is very scarce is his upside… and his HR ceiling as compared to a corner OF like Harrison is an unfair comparison.

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