We mentioned the other day about the offense in both Altoona and Indianapolis struggling. It hasn’t got any better the last two days, but the bats down in Bradenton have been hot so far this season. Seven players on the team are hitting over .300, led by Barrett Barnes(.450), Jin-De Jhang(.429) and Austin Meadows with a .389 average. Jhang(pictured above) is the league leader in batting average, as Barnes falls just short of qualifying for the leader board.

It isn’t just average though, as JaCoby Jones with his .278 average, is third in the league with his 1.017 OPS. He is the only FSL player with three homers. Justin Maffei and Meadows are both in the top ten in OPS and Jordan Steranka would be sixth, but he is just a few plate appearances short of qualifying. Basically, almost the whole team is hitting.

On the team side of things, the Marauders have a .313 combined average, which is 33 points ahead of the second best team. Their combined OPS is 117 points higher than the next team. Usually team averages don’t mean a whole lot because the important(prospects) players usually make up a small part of the team. That isn’t the case with Bradenton this year though. They can put out a lineup with nine players that all have a chance to make the Majors. That is without outfielder Harold Ramirez, who should join the team sometime soon.

It’s very rare to have that many prospects on one team and that doesn’t even include Steven Brault and Cody Dickson on the pitching staff. The rotation will get even more interesting once Tyler Eppler and Luis Heredia start their seasons. Despite all those names though, Bradenton seems to get overlooked. Two recent articles pointing out the best ten teams to watch in the minors, didn’t even mention the Marauders. The Pirates have one of the best farm systems in baseball and this is unquestionably their best team for prospects, so their exclusion from those lists is hard to figure out. They should have at least made the back-end of the list, or got an honorable mention, especially with two top 100 prospects in Reese McGuire and Austin Meadows.

As we will keep saying for at least another week or so, it’s still very early in the season. So far though, the Marauders are living up to their billing as the best team in the system and as far as prospects go, they should get even better.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Brewers by a 6-3 score on Friday. Last week, the Pirates won two games in Milwaukee, including a 6-2 win with Jeff Locke on the mound. He makes his second start of the season tonight, after getting pushed back a night in favor of Vance Worley.

In the minors, Chad Kuhl tries to continue the eight game stretch of terrific pitching by Altoona starters. They have combined to give up two earned runs in 43 innings this year. That has helped the team to a 5-3 record, despite some dreadful hitting from the Curve batters. Wilfredo Boscan gets his second start for Indianapolis, trying to build on his six shutout innings in his season debut. Austin Coley, the eighth round pick from last year, makes his second start. He gave up two runs over five innings in his first outing. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (4-6) vs Brewers (2-8) 7:05 PM
Probable starter:  Jeff Locke (3.00 ERA, 1:2 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (4-5) @ Louisville (4-5) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (0.00 ERA, 0:6 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (5-3) vs Akron (3-5) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (1.80 ERA, 2:5 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (4-5) vs Jupiter (3-6) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (4.50 ERA, 0:3 BB/SO, 4.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (5-3) @ Lexington (5-4) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.60 ERA, 1:2 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

Highlights

From Thursday night in Altoona, something you don’t see often. Josh Bell stole his first base of the season and just the 12th of his minor league career. Bell went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday, but he has looked good early in the season, posting a .762 OPS. He came into Friday’s game with two strikeouts on the season.

Recent Transactions

4/17: Brad Lincoln assigned to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez assigned to Altoona

4/17: Chris Stewart activated from disabled list. Tony Sanchez optioned to Indianapolis.

4/16: Jordan Luplow added to West Virginia Power. Jose Regalado transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.

4/16: Kelson Brown transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.

4/14: Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power. Erik Forgione assigned to West Virginia Black Bears

4/14: Collin Balester assigned to Altoona.

4/13: Pirates release Jonathan Sandfort.

4/13: Francisco Liriano reinstated from paternity list. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

4/12: Chris Stewart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/12: Justin Topa placed on Bradenton disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Bradenton from Altoona

4/11: Pedro Florimon clears waivers. Assigned to Indianapolis.

4/11: Stolmy Pimentel claimed off waiver by the Texas Rangers.

4/9: Chris Stewart assigned to Altoona on rehab. Jaff Decker assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/7: Pirates release Matt Nevarez, Andrew Dennis and Dwight Childs.

4/5: Pirates recall Rob Scahill, designate Stolmy Pimentel and Pedro Florimon for assignment.

4/5: Pirates place Charlie Morton, Brandon Cumpton, Jaff Decker, Justin Sellers and Chris Stewart on the disabled list.

This Date in Pirates History

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including pitcher/announcer Steve Blass. He won 103 games over ten seasons for the Pirates and was on the mound at the end of the 1971 World Series. Blass has been announcing for 30 seasons with the Pirates. You can check the link for a detailed bio from his playing days.

Other Pirates born on this date are catcher Angelo Encarnacion(1995-96), pitcher Larry Foss(1961), catcher Bob Linton(1929), pitcher Jack Scott(1916), first baseman Jack Rothfuss(1897).

Two significant Opening Days have occurred on this date, both before the Pirates moved to the National League. In 1885, the Pirates(then called the Alleghenys) played their first game in April. Their first three seasons all started in May. The next year, the team played their one and only Opening Day doubleheader in franchise history. They lost both games to the St Louis Browns, who are now the St Louis Cardinals, not to be confused with the St Louis Browns team that played in the American League. That team is now the Baltimore Orioles and they actually started as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. JaCoby Jones continues to impress, in spite of all the doubters. This kid is electric in his God given ability. He obviously has things to improve on, but he has a VERY high ceiling IMHO.

    • He was taken out for a defensive replacement during Wednesday’s game after he batted in the ninth. He hasn’t been placed on the disabled list, which is as short as seven games in the minors, so right now I’ll say it is something minor. Even if they thought he would miss 4-5 days, with him you would always err on the side of caution and just grab a player from Pirates City for a week. If something is wrong though, Tim will find out when he gets back to Bradenton in a couple days.

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