Morning Report: Bradenton is Loaded With Inconsistent Prospects

Last week when Indianapolis was off, we took a look at who was doing well, who was slumping and just some things of note. Bradenton was off last night, so today is their turn. This team has more prospects than any other in the Pirates’ farm system and there are even more on the way. Tyler Eppler, Clay Holmes and Harold Ramirez should all join the team sometime this year, with Ramirez the closest. He could be back this week, which would strengthen an already great lineup.

Prospects in your lineup doesn’t always guarantee a winning record and the Marauders are 22-22 just like their parent club. Just by that record, you wouldn’t think that Bradenton has occasionally sent a lineup out there, plus a starting pitcher, that all have a chance to make the big leagues. That is something you don’t see often at this level.

Now for the players that have been hot and we start with Barrett Barnes, who has the highest OPS, though he has only played 17 games due to a lower body injury that cost him a month. Barnes has hit just .235 since he returned 12 games ago, but he has a .735 OPS due to seven extra-base hits and perhaps most importantly, he has stolen three bases. That’s a good sign for someone that has dealt with multiple hamstring injuries. There have also been a couple strong reports about his defense in left field, so despite the low average, there is a lot to like.

Jose Osuna is eighth in the league with an .805 OPS and he has been doing well all season. We broke down how he is currently blocked in the system, which the Pirates feel is fine for now while he learns to play better defense in right field, but they also expect him to move up sometime this season. With the way he is hitting, he may force the issues sooner rather than later.

Austin Meadows has been in the hot column all season and he is just tapping into his potential at this point. In the lead-off spot, he has a .315/.385/.420 slash line, which puts him .001 behind Osuna for the OPS lead. He has an .862 OPS in May and has scored 22 runs in 20 games, which is what you like to see from your lead-off guy. The Pirates don’t expect him to hit at the top of the order in the future, he is just in that one spot to get more at-bats after missing time last year.

Reese McGuire is the second best prospect on the team behind Meadows, but it’s all about potential with the 20-year-old catcher. He is hitting .259/.310/.294 in 34 games. One positive stat that stands out is his eight steals. I don’t expect him to be that rare catcher that steals bases in the pros, but it shows how athletic he is and it shows behind the plate, where his defense has been above average, as advertised.

Wyatt Mathisen falls in both the hot and not category. He was hot because he had an incredible hitting streak going, with eight straight multi-hit games, but now he’s cold, as in he hasn’t played since May 20th. He left the game on the 18th early with a stomach virus that was going around the clubhouse. He returned two days later, went 0-for-3 and hasn’t played since. Hopefully once he does return, he can pick up where he left off, because he was the best hitter on the team for that stretch.

JaCoby Jones has shown flashes of being a great player and other times he looks like he won’t even make it to AAA. That has been the story of Jones since back when he was in high school. He leads the team with five homers, he has stolen seven bases, and there have been very positive reports about his defense. He has also struck out 53 times already and committed nine errors. The bad signs with him are what currently keeps him from being a top ten prospect in the system, but he has that potential.

Jin-De Jhang was hot in April, posting a .426/.475/.481 slash line during the first month. In May, those numbers are down to .275/.306/.325, which isn’t bad, but it’s well of his early pace.

On the pitching side, Luis Heredia has been the big story recently. He returned to action just over a week ago and couldn’t get out of the first inning in his season debut. His next outing was one run over four innings, which was a huge improvement, but just a small step in the right direction. He needed 71 pitches to get through his four innings and there were some control issues.

Steven Brault was cold in April, but he’s now hot in May. His ERA went from 5.40 his first month, to 2.60 in five May starts. If he can keep that up, he will make the Snider deal look good on his own.

Jayson Aquino also plays both sides of the hot/cold game. He has made two starts since the Pirates got him. The first was seven shutout innings, the second was a disastrous five inning affair. He pitches tonight and we will see which one is closer to the real Aquino.

Cody Dickson has a 3.71 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in nine starts. He has thrown five, six and seven shutout innings and he’s been knocked out in the first and got hammered for three innings before being pulled in his first start. Dickson has the stuff to be good, but not the consistency, which could keep many of these prospects from fully realizing their potential.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 4-2 over the Marlins on Monday night to give them four wins in a row and move them back to the .500 mark. Pittsburgh will send Jeff Locke to the mound tonight to make his ninth start of the season. Locke allowed three runs over six innings in his last start. He has pitched better at home, posting a 4.13 ERA at PNC and 8.10 on the road. Jose Urena will be on the mound for the Marlins making his first career start.

In the minors, Casey Sadler looks to continue his impressive season which has seen him go at least six innings in every outing and he’s done that while giving up three earned runs or less in every game. He threw seven shutout inning in his last game. Jayson Aquino is making his third start and he hopes it’s more like his first start than his second. His Marauders debut was seven shutout innings, but he followed that with four earned runs on ten hits and three walks in five innings. Zack Dodson is fifth in the Eastern League in WHIP(1.00) and seventh in ERA. I’ll have a live report from West Virginia’s game tonight. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (22-22) vs Marlins (18-28) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (5.28 ERA, 16:36 BB/SO, 46.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (26-19) @ Buffalo (23-22) 6:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (2.12 ERA, 8:28 BB/SO, 46.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (25-17) @ New Britain (28-15) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (2.36 ERA, 5:17 BB/SO, 42.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (22-22) vs Daytona (26-18) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jayson Aquino (3.00 ERA, 4:7 BB/SO, 12.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (26-18) @ Lakewood (21-22) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.63 ERA, 7:22 BB/SO, 35.0 IP)


Here are two highlights from Altoona on Memorial Day. The first is Dan Gamache’s fifth hit of the game.

This one is Stetson Allie’s seventh homer of the season.

Recent Transactions

5/25: Charlie Morton activated from disabled list. Radhames Liz designated for assignment.

5/25: Stephen Tarpley added to WV Power roster.

5/25: Jerrick Suiter activated from WV Power disabled list. Miguel Rosario and Montana DuRapau promoted to Bradenton

5/22: Jaff Decker activated from disabled list. Andy Vasquez assigned to WV Black Bears.

5/20: Tyler Glasnow placed on disabled list.

5/19:  Julio Eusebio, Cesilio Pimentel and Ryan Hafner assigned to Extended Spring Training. Bradenton adds Henry Hirsch, Felipe Gonzalez and Brett McKinney to roster.

5/19: Jose Tabata added to 40-man roster and recalled. Wilfredo Boscan optioned to Indianapolis.

5/19: Justin Seller transferred to 60-day disabled list.

5/19: Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona.

5/17: Jeff Roy placed on disabled list. Trace Tam Sing added to WV Power roster

5/17: Bradenton adds Julio Eusebio, Cesilio Pimentel and Ryan Hafner to roster. Henry Hirsch, Felipe Gonzalez and Brett McKinney assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/16: Luis Heredia added to Bradenton roster. Matt Benedict promoted to Indianapolis.

5/16: Wilfredo Boscan added to 40-man roster and promoted to Majors. Steve Lombardozzi sent to Indianapolis.

5/16: Brandon Cumpton transferred to 60-day disabled list.

5/15: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

5/15: Antonio Bastardo activated from Paternity List. Bobby LaFromboise optioned to Indianapolis.

5/14: Charlie Morton assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

5/14: Pirates sign catcher Paul Brands.

5/13: Hayden Hurst placed on Voluntarily Retired List.

5/12: Indianapolis placed John Holdzkom on disabled list.

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus the debut of one of the best pitchers in franchise history and a historic pitching performance. The players born on this date include catcher Dann Bilardello, who played for the Pirates in 1989 and was a member of the 1990 NL East champs. Pitcher Chuck Hartenstein, who played for Pittsburgh in 1969-70, and pitcher Jack Cronin, who was a teammate in 1898 of the pitcher who made his debut on this date.

Sam Leever, who went 194-100 in 13 seasons in Pittsburgh, made his debut on this date in 1898 as a reliever. There were two interesting things of note from the post-game recap about Leever’s debut. The local newspaper praised his speed and control, saying if he listened to instructions, he should become a winner. Leever was quoted after the game, saying that he will work to become a better hitter. The Pirates lost to 11-7 to the last place Senators that day, but Leever obviously became a winner and went on to help the Pirates to four NL titles and one World Series title.

On this date in 1959, Harvey Haddix pitched what is called by many, the greatest pitched game ever. He retired the first 36 batters he faced, only to lose the game in the 13th inning. While he got the loss, he is still remembered for this amazing feat 56 years later and it is unlikely to ever be topped.

  • Inconsistent… High A… Isn’t that what you would expect or would that be more Low A?

    As for Romero… I have heard that they play well in Korea and Japan for players of his skill. They only have so many years to make the big bucks.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 26, 2015 11:30 am

    What are McGuire’s numbers in regards to catching base stealers? Same question for Jhang?

  • Did the Pirates not see even a bench role for Romero?

    • Must have thought the KBO provided him with a better opportunity I suppose.

      • Romero was probably approached with an opportunity and the Pirates I’m sure thought his upside or future of the team was limited at best. Classy move. I would’ve thought he had some sort of shot with the team but with S Rod and Kang and even Hanson later on they probably felt he wasn’t going to get a shot at the IF, even with injuries.

        • John Dreker
          May 26, 2015 10:49 am

          Just posted an article on this, purely speculation based on the timing and past instances, but he may have had a June 1st out clause in his contract. It also looks good for teams if they don’t bury players that are having good years in the minors, but they have no place for them. It helps when approaching other players the following winter, like they did with Chris Dickerson last year.

          • I feel like the opt out clauses are very secretive.

            • John Dreker
              May 26, 2015 11:58 am

              Honestly, I wouldn’t say secretive. You hear them for big names and you can find out if you pry, but it’s wording in a contract and for a normal minor league free agent, it’s not something you normally hear. Someone asked Chris Volstad this spring if he had one and his answer was basically, I think so, doesn’t matter though, I’m not using it. If someone didn’t ask him specifically, we probably would have never heard about it and his answer tells you that he may even be wrong about it.

  • Just read on mlbtr that romero was acquired by the doosan bears. Seemed like a good depth guy who was having a pretty nice year at Indy.

  • Lot of Jason Kendall in Reese McGuire, once the quality of contact improves.