After every game covered, our writers submit player reports with observations from that game. The best reports are collected each week for this feature, where we will feature about four or five players per level and the progress they’ve been making in the last week. Below are the reports from our writers who covered games this week.

Ryan Palencer – Indianapolis

Blake Wood (5/10 – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR) – Worked predominately with a fastball from 95-97, which had some zip up in the zone. Was wild on the first hitter, as he went 3-0 to start. Rebounded to retire him on a 3-2 fastball. Downhill thrower to get easier velocity. Picked up a four-pitch strikeout. Worked efficiently with a 16-pitch, four-out save.

Tony Sanchez (5/11 – 0-for-3, BB) – Held onto a foul tip strike three early. Fouled out into the large foul territory in his first at bat. Made two nice throws on base stealers, but was not able to get either runner. Both were toward the right side of the bag and in a perfect tag area. Also had a nice block into the left batters box with a runner at second on a ball in the dirt. Struck out at the plate on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Popped out on a first pitch. Walked on five pitches in his final at bat.

Gorkys Hernandez (5/11 – 1-for-3, K) – Looked bad on curve balls most of the night. In the first at bat, he had a pair of them, and was frozen on a strike three hook. Was very smooth and casual getting to the ball in centerfield. Fought off an 0-2 ball down for a bloop single. Looked bad on another curve in his final at bat, falling behind in the count 1-2. Eventually got sawed off and grounded out to shortstop. (5/14 – 1-for-3, 2B) – Grounded out on a 1-2 fastball that got a lot of plate in his first at bat. Went the other way with an outside pitch for a two-run double in the first pitch of the next at bat. Showcased the strong arm, as he threw behind a runner and nearly got them at second.

Elias Diaz (5/12 – 0-for-5, 2 K) – Worked the count most of the night. Bounced out to shortstop on a 2-2 pitch down in the zone. Showcased his arm well. Had a snap pickoff attempt and nearly got a runner at second. Showed an excellent pop and arm to nail a runner trying to steal second on a low pitch. Was on the same page as Adrian Sampson most of the night. Flew out on a 2-1 pitch out over the plate. Grounded out on a 1-2 pitch with a runner on third with less than two outs, and was unable to get the runner in.  Went from up 2-1 to a strikeout on an elevated fastball. Fell behind 0-2 with the go-ahead run at third and was called out on strikes on a questionable curve ball down in the zone.

Clayton Richard (5/13 – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – Went 3-0 to at least one hitter in each of the first three innings. Control was not sharp. Had a couple of deep fly balls that could have been home runs on days the wind was not blowing in. Worked in the high 80s with the fastball. Had a sharp curve to lefties, but not as strong in to righties. Worked away more than he came in, but kept the ball down for the most part. Tried to bury the curve ball a couple times, but hitters did not bite. Went to deep counts most of the game and was only able to go five innings. Allowed too many fly balls for his style.

Sean McCool – Altoona

Max Moroff (5-11-5/15 – 3-for-16, 2B, 3 BB, 5 K, SB) – Even though Moroff was able to continue his on-base streak this week and extend it to 30 games (as of Friday, 5/15), his bat cooled off considerably early in the week and strikeouts were creeping back into his game. Between 5/11-14, Moroff was 1 for 12 with an infield single, mostly groundouts, and five strikeouts; however, he broke out of his mini slump on Friday the 15th going 2 for 4 with every at bat resulting in a hard hit line drive (two of which were right at defenders).

Josh Bell (5/11-5/15 – 5-for-18, 4 BB, 3 K) – As I think about Bell’s week, there has been nothing that has stood out that overly impressed me; however, when I check back on my notes, Bell continues to find ways to get on base and be in the middle of a multitude of plays offensively. On the 11th, Bell singled twice on ground balls that found holes through the infield. On the 12th, he didn’t have a great night from the plate, but he did make a nice over the shoulder play in foul territory at first base. On the 14th, Bell started the game with a hard hit line drive single in the first but didn’t convert on two other occasions with runners in scoring position. He did, however, draw a bases loaded walk to win the game. His defense at first base is definitely still a work in progress, but you can see signs of improvement.

Chad Kuhl (5/11 – 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – Chad Kuhl told his catcher Jacob Stallings that he wasn’t feeling his greatest going into the game. In the first two innings of the game, it seemed as if it could be an early night for Kuhl because his pitch count was high, and a lot of hits were getting through the infield. He struggled with his command early. With the bases loaded, he threw a changeup that stayed up in the zone that was unloaded for a triple. Kuhl gave up four earned runs in the second inning, but battled through a high pitch count to give his team six innings. After the second, he settled down and got a lot of ground ball outs. His changeup was resulting in a lot of swing and misses to lefties. He used his slider when he had two strikes, which helped him record four strikeouts.

Jason Creasy (5/14 – 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) – He worked six innings in an outing where he threw a lot of pitches and didn’t seem to have the greatest control through the night, but Akron was only able to score three against him. Creasy benefited from two inning ending double plays back to the pitcher in the fourth and fifth. Through the first four innings, his fastball was locating decently well. Once he seemed to tire in the fifth and sixth, the fastball began to elevate and miss the strike zone. He didn’t have good control of the curveball all night, either. Creasy worked between 89-91 MPH with his four-seam and around 88 MPH with his two-seam fastball.

Zack Dodson (5/15 – 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR) – Dodson threw probably the most impressive pitching performance I’ve seen this year in Altoona, going seven shutout innings while only throwing 78 pitches. He allowed a ground ball double down the first base line on the first at-bat of the game and didn’t allow another hit until there were two outs in the fifth. Going into the game, he had eight strikeouts in six appearances (five starts). He struck out eight to match that total tonight. There were stretches in the game where he appeared unhittable. Dodson was able to execute his pitches down in the zone through the night. He used an extremely well located fastball, changeup, and slider, keeping batters off balanced all game. He threw 50 pitches for strikes (out of 78) and had eight groundouts compared to three flyouts.

Tim Williams – Bradenton

Jayson Aquino (5/15 – 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – For my report on Aquino’s start, check out my article from earlier today.

JaCoby Jones (5/15 – 1-for-4, HR, BB, 2 K) – Connected for a towering home run that cleared the left field bullpen and landed on the boardwalk. He had an ugly strikeout in his next at-bat, getting fooled by a low and away breaking pitch. Jones has a short swing, but needs to improve his pitch recognition in order to cut down on his high strikeout rate.

Reese McGuire (5/15 – 2-for-5, SB) – McGuire had two hits on the night, with both being hard hit. One was ripped down the first base line, while the other was a line drive to the right field gap. The most impressive thing of the night was his caught stealing on the only stolen base attempt. He was going up against C.J. McElroy, who had a 76% success rate heading into the night. McGuire didn’t have time to get on his feet, and fired a perfect strike down to second from his knees, easily getting the runner.

Barrett Barnes (1-for-3, 2B, BB, SB) – Barnes showed off some quick bat speed and pull power, hitting a hard fly ball off the scoreboard in left field to the left of the 375 foot sign for a double. He followed that up by stealing third base on the very first pitch of the next at-bat.

Tim Williams – West Virginia

Cole Tucker (5/7-5/11 – 4-for-22, BB, 3 K, 2 SB) – Tucker was cold the first three games, but got a hit on Sunday, and really started to heat up on Monday. This came after some work over the weekend with hitting coordinator Larry Sutton and West Virginia hitting coach Keoni DeRenne. Tucker showed good athleticism on the field, along with good arm strength. He does have an unusual throwing motion, with a short high sidearm delivery that looks like his arm is tucked close to his body. He showed good patience at the plate, but didn’t make a lot of solid contact until the last game. He doesn’t get out of the box quickly, but once he starts down the line he has a lot of speed.

John Sever (5/7 – 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR) – He had good results, but not the best stuff tonight. His command of his breaking stuff was off. The curveball was getting loopy and bouncing in the dirt ahead of home plate, while the slider was flat and up in the zone at times. He went to the breaking stuff too early, and the hitters weren’t fooled by it later in the game when he had two strike situations. He still managed to strike out plenty of batters, mostly due to his ability to get ahead with his fastball all night. He was sitting around 89 MPH. His outing was cut short due to high pitch counts, including two innings where he went over 20 pitches each inning.

Yeudy Garcia (5/8 – 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – He was one of the most impressive pitchers I saw while in West Virginia. He throws his fastball in the 93-96 MPH range, mostly sitting around 95, and I heard he touched 97 in another outing. His delivery is effortless. An AL scout liked him better than guys like Sever and Coley. He needs to refine his off-speed stuff, but has a good feel for a change, and gets plenty of strikeouts due to his plus fastball.

Austin Coley (5/11 – 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 HR) – Coley was getting ahead of hitters and generating a lot of ground balls with his two-seam fastball. He also showed good command of his changeup, using the two pitches to set up his curveball for strikeouts. The fastball and curve are his best pitches, but he has work to do with the changeup to improve the command. He’s pitching from a new arm slot this year, dropping from overhand to a high three-quarters arm slot to ease the stress on his shoulder. The new approach seems to be working for him lately, as he has 28 strikeouts in his last 22 innings pitched.

Connor Joe (5/11 – 1-for-4, BB) – Joe made his pro debut, and was aggressive at the plate from the start, swinging at the first pitch he saw and hitting a hard line out to center field. Despite the aggressive approach, he showed patience and good pitch recognition at the plate. His lone hit of the night came on a perfectly executed hit and run where he singled through the right side of the infield with Cole Tucker running. He worked deep into the count in his third at-bat, and showed off some quick bat speed on an inside fastball, turning on it and ripping a hard foul ball. Defensively he looked comfortable at first base, making two diving stops on balls hit down the line, and showing off the athleticism that you usually see from a third baseman, and not a first baseman.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. He’s not the reason they are losing, but Hart has to go – he offers nothing in the field and can’t hit. Tabata, Lombardozzi, Hernandez, Romero, Rojas – any of these guys would be upgrades. why wait?

  2. How come Joe is playing what seems like every other game? If he’s 100%, it doesn’t make any sense given how far behind he is in his development. If he’s not 100%, what is wrong with him?

    • He will play everyday eventually, but you usually ease players back into the lineup after they have missed so much time. One of the games he sat was a 10:30am start after a night game and the Power were off on Wednesday. He sat last night to play the day game today, so nothing out of the ordinary happened.

  3. With all the talent the pirates have in the minors and in the show the only thing standing between them and greatness is a good manager, as evidenced by the series against the cubs where hurdle has been outmanuevered at every turn by maddon. This is not an isolated incident as hurdle is frequently out thought by the opposing manager. The pirates are on the cusp of being great, I just don’t see them achieving that greatness with hurdle at the helm.

      • bucs: So you think pb is trying to hijack this article by referencing Clint Hurdle when the article has nothing to do with the major league ballclub?

        Tim: How long will Connor Joe continue to play on less than a full time basis? I thought the pitching effort of Jake Burnette the other night was worth a sentence or two as a part of the overall article.

        • They’re starting Joe off slow, which includes easing him into everyday play.

          I didn’t see the performance from Burnette, so I couldn’t comment on it in this article.

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