Five Candidates For a Promotion From Indianapolis

With the midway point of the season coming on Tuesday for Indianapolis, there are several players who are eyeing the next level. While many of the prospects are looking at a September call-up when rosters expand, there are still players who could see their call-ups coming with an injury or an emergency situation.

Could Come Up Now

The first three players are guys who could see a promotion to Pittsburgh any day with the right situation.

Adrian Sampson: With Sampson, consistency has been there most of the season. However, two outings ago, he did not have his best stuff and got beat around some. Rather than stay in the rut, Sampson bounced back nicely on Friday night.

For the season, Sampson has a 3.39 ERA and a strong 72 strikeouts to only 18 walks. This season, he has established himself as more of a strikeout pitcher and has shown that he is not afraid to elevate the ball. While this hasn’t always worked, the stuff is there to show that he is ready for the next level. In addition, it might just be a coincidence, but he was lined up with Jeff Locke until an off day threw off the latest start.

Casey Sadler: Sadler is the player with the most big league experience of all of the prospects on the Indianapolis roster. He also has experience as both a starter and reliever, both in the minor leagues and with the Pirates.

Sadler has a 4.22 ERA, but that can be deceiving, as he allowed 10 earned runs in his last outing on Sunday and four earned runs in the start prior. He has been strong with his two-seam fastball and sinker in getting hitters to pound the ball into the ground. One slight issue with the right-hander is that the walk totals have been inflated as well, with 15 in his last five outings.

Jaff Decker: Decker missed the start of the season with a leg injury and then some more time later in the campaign with a thumb injury. However, he still did not miss a beat after a strong Spring Training.

Decker is hitting .305 with an .824 OPS through 33 games with Indianapolis this season. With that, he has six doubles and three home runs. He is a strong defensive outfielder and got his feet wet with the Pirates last season, but was shunned as a September call up last season. He used this as offseason motivation and has taken it with him into the season.

Waiting For September

In addition, there are also a handful of players who could find themselves added to the September rosters once they expand. This is where you find some of the prospects making their first splash.

Alen Hanson: With a strong start to his Triple-A season and career, Hanson has himself in a nice position to get some big league action before the year is out. A hand injury has provided a bit of a setback to his season, but he is only expected to miss a couple of weeks.

Additionally, Hanson has shown strong play at second base, to go along with his .362 batting average and .998 OPS in May. While April and June have not been quite as strong for Hanson, he still has put together a strong season altogether. He is also on the 40 man roster, which adds some motivation to give him a shot to see what they have in September.

Elias Diaz: Diaz’s defensive prowess is well-known around baseball circles, and his strong arm has people raving, his offense appears to have caught up as well. Along with Hanson, Diaz has also gotten better at the plate as the season has gone along.

After hitting just .203 in April with a .559 OPS, Diaz raised that to .325/.782 in May and .313/.903 in June. He also has 11 doubles and three home runs while splitting time behind the plate with Tony Sanchez with Indianapolis. It would be difficult to see Diaz supplanting Sanchez if a catching injury happens before September, but afterwards seems to be a toss-up if the success continues.

Along with these names, there are pitchers like Bobby LaFromboise and John Holdzkom who are on the 40 man roster. Both are names that could find themselves in the bullpen by September. Holdzkom has seen more success since coming off the DL, and LaFromboise has been fairly consistent most of the season.

Blake Wood and Deolis Guerra are both players who have seen a lot of success in the Indianapolis bullpen most of the season. However, neither player is on the 40 man and both may be long shots for promotions.

Steve Lombardozzi and Willy Garcia are both on the 40 man as well as position players. Lombardozzi has been strong all season and appears to be a lock to be there, but Garcia is far from a lock as he just joined Indianapolis last week. Gorkys Hernandez has seen a strong season with Indianapolis, but isn’t on the 40-man roster and also still looks like a long shot.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mitch t

Worley has a better career ERA than Buck, a better ERA this year, a better ERA last year… he is just a better pitcher then now and for the future. Oh, and he will probably cost around $22M less through 2017. Time to put him into the rotation. Luke S had the right idea, put Worl in the rotation and use Richard as his designated long man for 2-3 turns. W Guerra, Volstad in the pen this is a good time to make a move.


Anyone else swear out loud when Hart hit the worthless homer yesterday? I don’t wish bad for the guy, but him hitting the ball even a little bit keeps us from getting someone healthy on the field

Brian Bernard

You can definitely feel the pressure building – maybe the Nats series added to it as well.
It seems like many have been asking what does this team really need to add for most of the season, and to this point it hasn’t really needed much as it’s produced a top 3 record in MLB.
The question then must be what would put this team over the top as a favorite and also put them in position to kick the Nats in the Nutz when they play them again – and what would need to depart to get that?
Although the starters struggled against the nats, you’re not going to replace any of them as they’ve been lights out. They will have to pitch better next time and that’s it.
The offense however is where a few holes have emerged. King Kang has earned a spot.
Harrison has earned a spot.
Cutch, Marte, Cervelli, have earned their spots.
That leaves Short, Second, First, and Right Field.
I still think Walker deserves to stick around as he plays a solid 2 bag and has a great stick for the position. Even in a down year his bat is good enough and he’s clutch. I send Mercer to the bench and I think Kang is better at short than third and Harrison is better at third than Kang.
So Polanco to me may be a flex guy, but he’s still the guy in RF. I’d play him lower in the order at times or at second spot but he’s still too big an impact player at times to sit.
So that leaves first base and Pedro.
If K-dro would or could live up to even half the player he’s capable of being and will be with another team some day he’d be the perfect guy for the job at first. However, he is destined to be the next Bautista. So this is the place to change the team and Pedro plus prospects is the right approach to go get a playoff kind of of first baseman.
Who to get?
The one guy I would focus on is Freddy Freeman. Face it Atlanta has traded away their whole team and what’s one more guy? He’s not good enough to be the face of the franchise but he’s good enough to land a good return for a rebuilding franchise. He’s also 25 and can be a part of the Bucs team for years to come. He’s hitting .299 with 12 bombs and he’s desperate for a lineup with protection and pop.
Pedro is obviously a solid replacement for Freeman in Atlanta and some of the prospects above should be included to seal the deal. Start with Tony Sanchez. He’s shown pop at times and he’d easily be the starter in Atlanta. I’d think that you would have to add a significant arm as well – Adrian Sampson is that arm. The bucs will not move Taillon or Glasnow.
Personally I think that’s enough to do a deal, but if you had to push the ante some value players like Liz, Wood, Lombardozzi would all add some value – or a lower prospect with a bit more upside like Gift, or Heredia or Jacoby Jones.
It gets messy but Pedro, Sanchez, and Sampson should be the kind of package that John Hart would start to think strongly about and Freeman may be the player that Neal Huntington could dream on completing this almost playoff ready roster.

Luke S

After all the “oh lord no” in that last few paragraphs, i still find the most out there thing you said was that Walker plays a solid 2 bag.


You’re not getting an All-Star for Pedro, Tony Sanchez (our 4th C), and Adrian Sampson. You are not including even ONE top 100 prospect for a 25 year old All-Star who has, I believe, previously garnered MVP votes. That’s insane.

Brian Bernard

You overvalued Freeman. Pedro isn’t worthless he’s a young 1b too. Heywood was gotten for Shelby Miller.
As I also mentioned a top 100 piece may be needed so another piece may be needed but that would be worth it

Luke S

Heywood made it known he was going to test FA after this year, thus the salary dump and get of Miller made sense for an ATL team unlikely to compete. Freeman is under contract for many years.

ATL would lose quality at 1B and years of control. They’d gain a fringe C prospect and a back end rotation arm. Fans would burn the field if ATL made that trade. I’d feel bad for ATL, and i hate ATL.

michael t

First base is the need, and maybe the 4th outfielder with pop. Will Byrd be available again? You have to wonder what a package of Pedro and prospects would yield. Not Taillon or Glasnow, but other legitimate propects can be spared.

Robert W

Run production is a concern.. Our pitching has been awesome but 4 runs per game average would definitely help.

Luke S

No idea where i saw it (either here or BucsDugout) but it was only a few weeks ago we were at that mark of like 3.96 or something runs per game. Certainly cant discount the last week or so, but i think the ebbs and flow of the season may play out to this offense being a 4 run per game type team.


If a SP went down, I’d be very curious to see if they picked Sampson or Worley or Clayton Richard to fill in. And if Worley, then would they bring one of the other guys up for long relief or go with Liz, Wood, etc.


I think you’d see Worley go back to the rotation and sampson or Richard come up for long relief, and if after 2-3 starts Worley struggled, you’d see a quick change

Luke S

How they would handle that would be interesting to watch. Worley likely wouldnt be going 6-7 innings without getting stretched out, so they could (but never would) use both guys in the same start. Worley for 4, Richard for 4. I doubt any team would do it, but it would save the bullpen a bit as opposed to Worley for whatever he can do and then inning to inning relievers.


Worley was out there a pretty long time yesterday…….5,6,7- he would only need 3 starts really to be at 90+ pitches

Luke S

Right, im just curious as to how they handle those 3 starts. if you roll with Worley for 5 innings, bullpen the rest of the way that puts a strain on the bullpen each 5th day for nearly a month. He went 4.1 the other day. I doubt they get creative, but it could actually benefit to piggyback another long man with Worley until he gets stretched out. Worst case would be the 2nd long man struggling and you use the bullpen at that point.


Whatever it is I think I see becomes a tootsie roll to me. In other words, all will be well.


This Pirate team right now is a solid “iffy” candidate for a WC. The only way they get there is if a couple of the team leaders from the past few years – Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker – start to put up numbers that reflect their 2014 year. Both are down in batting average. ‘Cutch hit 25 HR’s last year but is presently at 8 which is at least 15 games below that pace. Walker hit 23 HR’s last year and presently has 4 and we are only 13 games from the mid-point of the season. He has looked lost at the plate lately, and has almost 4 strikeouts for every walk.

Neil has to hit 20+ HR’s a season. Hanson is an instant offense type of kid who needs to be at 2B. Neil either becomes the 1B stand-in until Josh Bell is ready, or he has to go out the door. I would hate to see that happen, but it is a business. He is currently being paid $8 mil, and he is getting dangerously close to Free Agency (after 2016). He has to prove he is worth retaining at $10 to $12 mil a year.


And that comment I agree with 100 % !


Emjay- with all due respect as a regular poster, you are very incorrect. Noone has to “start” or “change” anything. If we continue doing what we’ve done for the last month (whether thats reasonable or not) we will win the wild card, we would be leading any division sans cardinals at this point. Would it help if Walker turned it on? If Cutch stopped trotting out balls to the wall and Harrison hit 30 more doubles the rest of the year? Sure- but with players like Kang and our starting pitching picking up the slack, it isn’t a necessity at this point to win a wild card birth. We are on pace for a w/c birth to be a cake walk, the things you want to happen would allow us to potentially top st. louis…..just put things in a little perspective


The current team, as configured, will likely be able to win 84-88 games. Will that be enough for a WC? Hard to say, as the Cubs, SF, Mets, and even possibly SD could all be WC contenders.

But, to have hope of winning the division and/or going deeper into the playoffs, this team isn’t good enough. Their combined record against the Nats, Cards, Cubs bear that out. First base has to be upgraded, although I don’t know if that is doable via a trade. Moving Walker to first base and bringing up Hansen sounds like a plan for Spring 2016, but not likely feasible in mid season. Polanco is not producing enough for a RF, so that is another key position in need of an upgrade offensively. Maybe a 50/50 platoon with a RH hitting outfielder would be the right move, but I don’t think we have that guy inhouse – unless you think Tabata, Garcia, or Lombardozzi are the answer.

I think we can do better than Worley and Bastardo in the bullpen, and at some point we may need a more dependable starter at the back end of the rotation.


I would be surprised if we didn’t win 90 with this team if they stay healthy. I don’t think we could win more than 92 though, and I think st. louis is going to come in at 94. We are a 1st wild card this year.


Just an FYI, even with our horrendous beginning yet again to the year, we are currently sporting a .565 win percentage…that’s good enough to win 91-92 games…that’s quite a bit more than you 84-88 win projection. And what is wrong with Worley in the bullpen? You do realize he’s out pitched Locke in everything but xFIP, right? Here are the slashes: 4.74/4.00/3.90 vs. 3.54/3.44/4.29. He also just went 4.1 innings of scoreless ball in relief of Morton after not pitching in how long?

Luke S

“A more dependable starter at the back end of the rotation” is a myth. A dependable back end rotation arm is called a middle rotation arm. Only a handful of teams have 5 arms they can depend on most nights. Unless your rotation is just stacked, one of them will be inconsistent and perform very average. Its the nature of a 5th starter.


Luke said it !


The defending World Champions started Travis Ishikawa in LF and had Ryan Vogelsong in their playoff rotation.

This current Pirate club is the strong favorite to win the first WC and is unquestionably good enough to go deep in the playoffs.


Mad Bum essentially won the post season for the Giants, not the rest of their team. If the Pirates play up to their potential offensively they can go deep into the playoffs. So far they are still sputtering offensively. The only position player exceeding expectations is Cervelli, and that has to change. Could Cole become a Mad Bum? Maybe, he has the competitive temperment, and he is learning how to pitch better. It’s been one of the pleasures of this season to see that unfold.

Travis P

Why does everyone say move Walker to 1B? How long until the first poster says, “We can’t have a 1B hitting 10-15 HRs”…with probably a ceiling of 20-22. Those numbers last year were wonderful to see…but I don’t think they are sustainable. And we’re seeing that this year. You keep him for one more year or through arbitration and you trade him. Get back valuable piece(s) to restock and we move on.


WC, as in Wild Card? You’re kidding, right?


NMR: I do not see making it as a 1st or 2nd WC as a cakewalk for the Pirates. The Mets, Nationals, Dodgers, San Francisco, and the Cubs are competing teams that have the pitching to be there in September. The Pirates played a game above .500 in both April and May and then were awesome for much of June. And then they go to Washington and make Joe Ross, straight up from AA, look like a Cy Young candidate? Scherzer is on his annual unhittable period, and Gio always finds a way.

We have struck it rich so far in 2015 with Marte, Cervelli, and Kang, but they are not going to carry this team down the stretch – ‘Cutch and Walker must step up and have solid 2nd halfs if this team stands any chance to overcome the Cardinals. If they can hang with them, I will feel a lot more comfortable with their WC chances.

Luke S

We are on pace for a 90 win season, even if we stumble and that lowers 2-3 games it means you see the NYM, SFG, and CHC as all near 88ish win teams.

Count me skeptical of the K heavy Cubs sustaining 88 win success all year, and having said that i like the Cubs offense more than the Mets. I think both fade to the tune of 82-85 wins and there is a clear field of teams in the NL. WSH-LAD-STL-PIT-SFG all seem a bit better than most.


The Cubs are a concern because they have money and some excess players other teams may want (e.g. Starlin Castro). There won’t be a WC coming from the East as Alderson won’t add offense. The main threat, to me, from the West isn’t SF, it’s the DBags. But I think Bucs are more than capable of holding them off. So it’s possible Cubs get the 1st WC (although I think they’ll peter out like the 2012 Bucs), however, I’m pretty comfortable claiming at least the 2nd one.

And if we can go 9-3 vs. StL, there’s our divisional title.


Oakland with a better record than the Giants? For real? Whatever you’re having I’ll have 1/3rd of the dose!


There’s some rationale for that prediction – Oakland is horrible in 1-run games, 6-18, and 0-6 in extras. Sound familiar? Otherwise, same run diff as Houston, 2nd best in AL. Same reason you can’t count out Toronto from winning AL East. Still too early to really use run diff as a solid predictor, but Oakland isn’t nearly as bad as their current record.


This team is a pitching-heavy team right now. The question is whether that will hold up the remainder of the year (and clearly I don’t mean the string of shutout type pitching). Our offense is going to have to catch up and its going to have to consistently catch up. Marte has been great, but inconsistent. We lack a true leadoff hitter. We don’t have a great spot for Polanco right now because of his deficiencies. McCutchen isn’t himself. Harrison and Kang have been ok. Our bench is underwhelming to be honest. I really would like to see Hanson in the leadoff spot…his bat and speed are really intriguing and could, well, be exactly what we are missing from the lineup (a true leadoff hitter). I would love to see a lineup where Hanson-Harrison-McCutchen-Marte-Alvarez-Kang-Cervelli-Polanco…and I definitely would like to see an upgrade at our bench depth.


Hanson has no plate discipline hence he isn’t a true leadoff hitter either. Polanco is actually a better fit at least against righties, although it would help if he would learn how to bunt.


I wouldn’t say Hanson has no plate discipline. His discipline and coverage has been better than marte’s was. He has shown the potential to walk 50 times a year and k less than 100. Guys that can put up a .330 ops and put themselves in scoring position 75 times a year on their own are guys I love to have. A .350 + obp isn’t always necessary if you have top of the O guys who can consistently get themselves to second base or better. Hanson has always shown pop and his sb skills have really improved.


Marte has less than zero plate discipline until the last 1/2 year, how is he being used as a comparison, he hasn’t been leading off now for a full season. I’ll retract the statement on Hanson’s plate discipline, he doesn’t have “no” plate discipline, he doesn’t have it as a strength, even in AAA, which would make it even more a liability for the first year at least in the majors. Not a good short term answer


I agree Hanson hasn’t shown the same plate discipline at higher levels. But he always has been really young for the level. He does battle and keep his strikeouts down while still hitting for some power. Really good signs for a 22 year old at AAA. I love that he has handled every promotion he has had and has shown maturity and has really improved at 2B. If he was needed I think he would provide solid ABs off the bench right now. One dominant month does not make him a player yet but the fact he could put up a 1.000 OPS for a month at AAA as a MI is hopefully a sign of things to come.


Disappointing to read in Ryan’s last update on Adrian Sampson that he hasn’t developed his changeup to the point of comfort in game situations. Good luck finding many successful big league RH starters who get by on two average-ish pitches.

I sure hope the mythical 40-man roster crunch doesn’t actually keep the best players off the field. Radhames Liz and Blake Wood would be solid bullpen additions if Holdzkom can’t find the zone.

Luke S

I am increasingly surprised at many who yearn for Sampson to get a shot over Locke. I dont enjoy some of Locke’s performances, but watching Sampson makes me cringe. He doesnt do anything terribly, but his lack of support pitches and/or an overpowering go to pitch make me struggle to see future ML success over extended periods of time. Spot starter and depth move is one thing.


I am not a Locke fan, never have been. But honestly, right now I’m more concerned with Chuck than Locke. I didn’t get to watch the pasting on Sunday, but I did see Chuck’s comment that, “It’s not that easy,” to just shower that one off. Sounded like he has PTSD. He needs a strong outing next time out to prove he did get over it.

Locke is Locke. IMO, if he does anything more than just keep you in the game for six innings, it’s a bonus. And that’s not a bad thing.

Arik Florimonte

Morton wasn’t that terrible on Sunday. Harper crushed the HR but he does that a lot. I am not looking at the play by play now, but my recollection is that the hits were mainly really softly hit balls that found holes… until he started to get tired around pitch 35 or so.


Chuck has seemed to struggle at the start of nearly ever game this season. I don’t know if it’s the jitters or what. He was able to get out of it in his first 5 games. Cole seems to have a similar struggle. He very rarely has a 1-2-3 first inning. They both always seem to get better as the game goes on if they can weather that early storm.


I think you’re reading way, wayyyy too far into that.

Luke S

Idk, it was a rather rough one for Morton but its not as if he hasnt gone through bad games before. I think it was just soon enough after the outing that he was clearly still dwelling on it. Key to success for Morton is relatively well known, so not as if he has to search for answers. Repeat the arm slot, keep everything down, mix pitches off the sinker. He got elevated and hammered. And, WSH hit a few good pitches well.


As I noted, I didn’t see it, but my understanding is his curve on Sunday was pretty bad. As that’s been a key to his recent success, I’d hate to see him back off of it.

Luke S

Morton? Idk, he doesnt use the curve enough to be “key” for me. If he leaves it up all day it can certainly end his day, but i think his biggest key is just location/command of all his stuff. If the curve is up and the sinker is up, dumpster fire. If he has semi okay control, he is able to get weak contact.

John W

Please no Casey Sadler unless it’s last resort. Has very mediocre K/9 of 5.33(one of worst in International League) and while I understand he is a pitch to contact hitter his K-BB% of 6.9% is not elite either.


few sinker ball pitchers have an elite k-bb ratio especially if their movement is significant. The idea is that the pitch sinks- which means occasional walks, the good news is, if you miss low, you don’t get beat with the long ball. Take it for what it is


John: Agree, and if it is not Taillon or Glasnow, we have more than enough pitching to get to Sep, barring injuries to more than one of our current SP’s.

Jaff Decker needs to be in Pittsburgh right now auditioning for the position made famous by Travis Snider. In comparison, Snider is 27, the 14th overall selection in the 2006 draft, makes $2.1 mil, and will be a FA after the 2016 season. Decker is 25, the 42nd selection in the 2008 draft, makes $500K, and has 6 years of team control after 2015. Decker can and has played all 3 OF positions in the minors, and has maybe 30 AB’s in MLB. Time to move forward.


I would agree with you about Decker, but I doubt very much if ypu see Taillon this season, and Glasnow almost definitely won’t see MLB in 2015. He isn’t ready yet.


I agree, short of somebody special like those two, we probably have better with Vance Worley who is already on the team. Taillon may have two more rehab outings before he starts pitching in somebody’s rotation in July. If he can get to AAA for about 8-10 starts, he could be very beneficial to have as a Sep call-up. Does a call-up when the rosters expand start his MLB Service Clock?

Luke S

Totally not gonna answer the question (im curious if anyone does know if Sept. call up starts the clock) but i doubt PIT brings Taillon up for just September if they bring him up. That’d be at most 4-5 starts, and unless the rotation is desperate id be surprised at this FO seeing 4-5 starts being worth it as opposed to him just going into offseason training mode.

As content as they have been with bringing the recovery along slowly, they could see a handful of starts for him as likely to be up and down. For me, if the FO feels another SP is what they need to get then either traded for a mid rotation arm or have Taillon throwing by mid August for the parent club.

Comments are closed.

Most Voted Comments