Morning Report: Where Did the Minor League Starters Come From?

By Monday, all four of the minor league affiliates will have gone through their five-man rotation once. There have been some changes from the planned rotations, with Casey Sadler skipping his start at Indianapolis to pitch for the Pirates today. Tyler Eppler and Luis Heredia were supposed to be in the Bradenton rotation and Stephen Tarpley was supposed to be pitching for West Virginia now. All three are in Extended Spring Training. With that in mind, lets looks at where the Pirates got the twenty starters that make up the opening week rotations.

Indianapolis

Nick Kingham- 4th round, 2010

Adrian Sampson- 4th round, 2012

Chris Volstad- minor league free agent

Wilfredo Boscan- minor league free agent

Charlie Leesman-minor league free agent

Altoona

Angel Sanchez- waiver pickup

Jason Creasy- 8th round, 2011

Tyler Glasnow- 5th round, 2011

Chad Kuhl- 9th round, 2013

Zack Dodson – 4th round, 2009

Bradenton

Cody Dickson- 4th round, 2013

Felipe Gonzalez – minor league rule 5 pick, 2013

Frank Duncan- 13th round, 2014

Steven Brault- trade with Baltimore Orioles, 2015

Justin Topa- 17th round, 2013 (Topa was placed on the DL, so it looks like he will be replaced, possibly by Matt Benedict, who was sent down this morning from Altoona. That would just replace one late round draft pick with another)

West Virginia

Jake Burnette – 7th round, 2011

Alex McRae – 10th round, 2014

Dovydas Neverauskas – international free agent, 2009

Austin Coley – 8th round, 2014

John Sever – 20th round, 2014

As you can see from the list, there are a lot of draft picks taken in the first ten rounds and the fourth round seems extremely popular. What you don’t see much of is international free agents. Dovydas Neverauskas is the only one and he hasn’t exactly shot through the system since signing six years ago. He has a terrific arm, but he hasn’t been able to translate that to success on the mound and his debut yesterday for West Virginia was not pretty.

Part of the reason you only see one international arm there is because Luis Heredia is out due to conditioning issues and the Pirates traded Joely Rodriguez to the Phillies in the off-season for Antonio Bastardo. For those that are wondering, Rodriguez threw four innings in his AAA debut on Thursday, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks, with three strikeouts. Those two pitchers would have made things look better for international pitchers.

The other reason you don’t see many, is that the Pirates have spent more of their international money on hitters, while focusing in on pitching in the draft. In the last three international signing periods, the top 11 bonuses have gone to hitters, but success on the pitching side could soon change. The Pirates have four interesting starters in Extended Spring Training that will be assigned to short-season teams. They are Hector Garcia, Luis Escobar, Dario Agrazal Jr and Richard Mitchell. They also moved DSL starter Yeudy Garcia right to West Virginia this year(skipping three levels) and put him in the bullpen, where he threw two shutout innings in his debut. There have also been great reports on three players signed back in July, with each of them showing a big jump in velocity since signing nine months ago.

The draft will still be the Pirates main source for pitching talent in the minors for years to come. Especially when you factor in that Sadler, Eppler, Jameson Taillon and Clay Holmes will all be starting at some point this year, plus their three best pitchers in Extended Spring Training are Mitch Keller, Trey Supak and Gage Hinsz. That high-priced trio from last year’s draft, is also joined by Neil Kozikowski and Billy Roth, who both got over-slot deals in 2013. That group should keep the pitching in the system strong for years to come.

While you would like to see the Pirates succeed with both pitchers and hitters on the international side, they seem to do well with the likes of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson, plus you have potential in Willy Garcia at Altoona, Harold Ramirez at Bradenton and it looks like Tito Polo in West Virginia could be a breakout prospect this year. It shows that despite the lack of pitching, they are still having some success on the market and as mentioned up top, there could be some strong international pitching on the way.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost to the Brewers on Saturday night by a 6-0 score.  Casey Sadler becomes the sixth starter for the Pirates in the first six games. He will take the place of Francisco Liriano, who was placed on the paternity list. This will be the first big league start for Sadler.

In the minors, Steven Brault will make his Pirates’ debut. He was acquired in the Travis Snider deal, along with Stephen Tarpley, who will begin his season with the West Virginia Power. Brault spent most of last season in Low-A, where he posted a 3.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 115 strikeouts in 130 innings. He made three starts in High-A at the end of the season and allowed just one run in 16.1 innings. Two draft picks taken in the top ten rounds go today, with 2013 ninth rounder Chad Kuhl making his Altoona debut, and 2014 eighth rounder Austin Coley making his debut for West Virginia.  You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (1-4)  @ Brewers (1-4) 2:10 PM
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (NR)

AAA: Indianapolis (1-2) vs Columbus (2-1) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (NR)

AA: Altoona (1-2) @ Harrisburg (2-1) 1:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-3) vs St Lucie (3-0) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (2-1) vs Savannah (1-2) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (NR)

Highlights

From Friday in Indianapolis, Alen Hanson made the great leaping catch, which led to a double play. His defense has been a big subject throughout his career and it led to his move from shortstop to second base. Hanson did make his first error in this game, but the play below is a nice one.

From Saturday night, the debut of Tyler Glasnow. He struck out six batters in five shutout innings. Here is a video of the full at-bat from his sixth strikeout.

Recent Transactions

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.

4/2: Pirates acquire first baseman Hunter Morris from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later.

4/1: Pirates release Danny Collins, Joan Montero, Will Kendall, Remy De Aza, Raul Fortunato, Taylor Lewis, Colter Moore and Cory Rhodes.

3/31: John Holdzkom and Rob Scahill optioned to AAA, Blake Wood assigned to minor league camp.

This Date in Pirates History

There have been seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis, who spent just four seasons with the Pirates, but he put up some big stats during that time. When the Pirates acquired Willis, he was known as a workhorse starter, though it was with the Boston Doves(Braves) and they weren’t a good team. In the three seasons prior to his acquisition by the Pirates, Willis had a combined 42-72 record. That was back when a starting pitcher usually finished what they started.

The four-player deal that brought him to the Pirates in December of 1905 turned everything around for Willis and was the key to getting him inducted to the Hall of Fame 90 years later. In his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he won at least 21 games each year and threw at least 289.2 innings each year. He had a 2.08 ERA in 1209 innings with the Pirates and helped the team to the 1909 World Series.

Willis was sold to the Cardinals prior to the 1910 season and lasted just one more season in the Majors. He finished with 249 wins and 50 shutouts, which ranks 19th all-time. Willis completed 388 of his 471 starts. You can read much more on his career in the link above under his name.

The Pirates opened the 1960 season in Milwaukee on April 12th that year. They lost 4-3 to the Braves after Roy Face gave up two runs in the eighth inning. Warren Spahn was the opposing starter and he homered off Pirates’ starter Bob Friend. Dick Stuart had three hits, while Roberto Clemente had two hits and drove in a run. You can view the boxscore here.

  • Not to change the subject, but was Jerek Cunningham let go this past Winter?

    • Minor league free agent, signed with the Dodgers. He put in his seven seasons

  • I am surprised Dodson is still around, I thought he was finally let go this spring.

    • The only three remaining from the 2009 draft are Dodson, Tony Sanchez and Jeff Inman, who appears to be injured again

  • Nice videos

  • Would lobe this for the position players. I enjoy seeing how we acquired players.

  • Lee Foo Young
    April 12, 2015 9:03 am

    Glasnow walked four. Hopefully that was early season rust, since that is essentially the only thing holding him back.

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