Morning Report: Sunday News and Notes

I couldn’t think of anything to write today, so I’m just going with some random thoughts/notes/links instead of expanding on one area.

The DSL season opened up on Saturday and the Pirates immediately saw something from their top signing. Yondry Contreras played center field, collected three hits, scored three runs and stole a base. He signed for a $400,000 bonus back in July. That reminded me of last year’s second highest signing, Jeremias Portorreal, who homered in his debut last year. He ended up with a .529 OPS and two homers all season. Reports from Spring Training in the Dominican were positive on both players.

West Virginia outfielder Elvis Escobar may finally be turning into the player the Pirates saw when they gave him a $570,000 bonus in 2011. He was listed at 5’7″ when he signed and that seems like a closer guess than his listed 5’8″ height, so I wouldn’t expect many homers from him, but he is driving the ball well recently. His 13 doubles are tied for fourth in the league and he has the most among Power players. The BB/SO rates have always been bad with him and while the strikeouts are down, he still isn’t taking walks, so I’ll still need to see more before I think this is more than just a hot streak.

It’s interesting to see that Willy Garcia finally homered this year and then it must have got in his head. Since the homer, he has struck out six times in nine at-bats. Before that, he turned into an impossible to strikeout singles hitter, going down on strikes just five times in 81 plate appearances over the previous 19 games. He has a .705 OPS in 40 games this year, after putting up a .789 OPS last year at Altoona.

Wyatt Mathisen finally hit a double on Saturday. Only took 36 games to pick up his first double, though he has two triples and he’s hitting .306 this year, so you take what you can get.

Speaking of a lack of doubles, Gustavo Nunez has 35 hits this year, a .318 average and all 35 hits are singles. His .683 OPS is one of the lowest you will see for a .300+ hitter.

Matt Garrioch posted his top 400 prospects list for the upcoming draft, which is just eight days away now. Many of the players on the list(100+) have scouting reports. Definitely worth checking out.

Here’s an interesting link about two 27-year-old Cuban pitchers that are eligible for the 2015 amateur draft. As strange as that sounds, it’s true.

Be sure to check the highlights below for a play from Josh Bell on a ball hit down the line. It will give you an idea of how he progressing at first base. He committed his seventh error of the season on Saturday.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-2 over the Padres on Saturday night. They wrap up the four-game series with a night game tonight. Jeff Locke will take the hill for the Pirates. He threw 5.2 shutout innings in his start against the Marlins on Tuesday. The Padres will send Odrisamer Despaigne to the mound with his 5.23 ERA.

In the minors, Indianapolis will get a good test today against Justin Verlander making a rehab start. Casey Sadler will oppose Verlander, trying to bounce back from his worst start of the season, which wasn’t that bad. He gave up four earned runs over seven innings. Jayson Aquino threw seven shutout innings in his debut it the Pirates’ system, but his two starts since then have been bad. In ten innings combined, he has allowed 11 earned runs on 19 hits. The DSL Pirates are off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (26-23) @ Padres (24-27) 9:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (4.70 ERA, 20:42 BB/SO, 51.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (30-20) vs Toledo (20-29) 1:35 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (2.52 ERA, 9:33 BB/SO, 53.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (28-19) vs Binghamton (25-24) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (2.63 ERA, 7:19 BB/SO, 48.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (23-26) vs Jupiter (23-26) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jayson Aquino (5.82 ERA, 5:10 BB/SO, 17.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (29-20) @ Delmarva (23-26) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.95 ERA, 7:28 BB/SO, 41.0 IP)

DSL: Pirates (1-0) vs Yankees2 (0-1) 10:30 AM 6/1 (season preview)


In the video below, you’ll see some defense at first base from Josh Bell. It’s not the prettiest play, but he gets the job done and he is still early in the learning process.

Recent Transactions

5/29: Andy Vasquez added to Altoona roster.

5/29: Keon Broxton promoted to Indianapolis. Adam Miller placed on disabled list.

5/29: Jeff Roy activated from West Virginia disabled list. Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/28: Jose Osuna promoted to Altoona. Jordan Steranka added to Bradenton.

5/28: Andy Otamendi added to WV Power roster. Trace Tam Sing assigned to WV Black Bears.

5/27: Kelson Brown added to Indianapolis roster.

5/26: Harold Ramirez added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka and Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/26: Josh Wall placed on disabled list. Collin Balester added to Indianapolis roster.

5/26: Dovydas Neverauskas placed on disabled list. Julio Vivas sent from Bradenton to West Virginia.

5/26: Deibinson Romero sold to Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization.

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.


This Date in Pirates History

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a memorable Memorial Day from exactly 100 years ago. The players born on this date were 2003 center fielder Kenny Lofton and 1983-86 outfielder Joe Orsulak. Lofton didn’t sign with the Pirates until March in 2003. He did pretty well in his time, but didn’t last long. In July, he was part of the highly unpopular Aramis Ramirez deal, going to the Chicago Cubs. Orsulak was a sixth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1980 and worked his way up the system, making his debut three years later. He batted .300 during the 1985 season, but by 1987, he was in the minors and then dealt away before the 1988 season. The Pirates got nothing in return for him, just two minor league players that never made the Majors. Orsulak went on to play another ten years.

On this date in 1915, the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs twice by matching 1-0 scores. It was Decoration Day, which is now called Memorial Day. The Pirates were at Forbes Field and the first game started at 10:30 in the morning. By 12:06, it was over and Wilbur Cooper, the team’s all-time winningest pitcher, had a complete game shutout. The crowd was shuffled out and at 3:00, they started the second game, which took all of 91 minutes to complete. Al Mamaux got the win, one of 21 that season, and eight of them were shutouts.

  • Any update on Liz, John?

  • Gereat draft names, from Garrioch’s list:

    Taylore Cherry – RHP UNC huge guy, good arm, absolutely a great stripper name
    Jason Bilious – RHP HS (DE)
    Bubba Derby – RHP SD State
    Vahn Bozoian – OF Concordia-Irvine
    Austin Rubick – RHP HS (CA) – “The Cube”
    Keaton Haack – RHP Alabama – with a name like this he should be a low-average slugger
    Mitch Gunsolus – 3B Gonzaga
    Adam Choplick – LHP Oklahoma – huge guy, Garrioch would call him “Pork”
    Trey Cabbage – 3B HS (TN) – I hope he sticks at the hot corner.

    • Low hanging fruit (apologies in advance):

      Bilious has ‘sick’ stuff.
      Derby looks good in a baseball cap.

      Bozoian clowns around too much for my taste.
      Cabbage stinks when the weather gets hot.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 31, 2015 9:31 am

    The Pirates gave a lot of money to Escobar, despite him being only 5’7″/5’8″….they must have saw something special in him. Given his size, I assume he is fast….what else did they see in him that they felt he was worth that kind of a signing bonus?

    • John Dreker
      May 31, 2015 10:16 am

      Here is the original write-up from the day he signed, the information that was given on him:

      Escobar is described as having above average baseball instincts and a feel for hitting. He is an average runner with a solid arm but both are predicted to be plus tools down the road.He also comes from a baseball family with his dad, brother and three cousins all playing pro ball. The knock on him is his small stature and possible low ceiling due to that.

      • At the time, I remember reading that and wondering why they gave him so much money. Unfortunately, he wasn’t worth it.

        • John Dreker
          May 31, 2015 1:44 pm

          It was a bit perplexing at the time, but he is 20 years old in Low-A ball, which is a good age. If he’s developing late, then he still has potential. He is in terrific shape, small, but very strong, so doubles power isn’t surprising at this point. I wouldn’t totally write him off just yet, but I’m also waiting to see if he can keep it up.