Morning Report: Things to Watch For on Friday

The big story today will be the first game for the team formerly known as the West Virginia Black Bears because we will be referring to them as the team in Morgantown. I could understand not wanting to call the Power by the Charleston name because the Charleston(SC) River Dogs also play in the South Atlantic League, but then to name two teams in the same organization the same just because they’re in the same state? I refuse to play part in their attempt at confusion.

Now that the mini rant is over, the Morgantown opener got a lot better on Thursday when it was announced that Tyler Glasnow would begin his rehab by starting the first game in franchise history. It’s pretty hard to unseat the pro debut of your first round draft pick as the top story, but when your number one prospect(and one of the best prospects in the game) returns for the first time in just over a month, he becomes the bigger story. The first game with have some story lines to follow.

Kevin Newman’s debut will still be a big deal, even if it isn’t the biggest deal. Second round pick Kevin Kramer is there as well, plus many more draft picks that just signed. Check the links below in the transactions for all 15 players signed. So it is more than just Glasnow, but that will be the big story to watch in this one particular game. If Glasnow shows he is healthy, then that is a sigh of relief for every Pirates’ fan, but Newman doing anything in short-season A-ball won’t mean much since he is an advanced college hitter.

For those that ask why he is there, it’s because the Pirates like new players to get acclimated to life in pro ball first, then wait until their first full season to assign them to appropriate levels. There really isn’t a big difference in talent between the SAL and the NYPL anyway. A lot of college players making their debut tomorrow around the NYPL are older than the average age in the SAL. The other part is that many of the better players in Low-A move up around the All-Star break, so they’re being replaced by players that either just got drafted or were in Extended Spring Training, making the levels very close in overall talent.

Other things to watch today and next week:

How does Adrian Sampson bounce back from one of the worst starts of his life. It’s hard to be worse than 12 hits and eight earned runs in 1.2 innings. That was coming from the International League pitcher of the week the prior week. This start was also pushed back two days, due to rain and an off day. Sampson was closing in on being ready to step into the rotation if the Pirates needed him, so you want to see a quick recovery and hope it’s just a small blip in his season.

Will JaCoby Jones stop striking out? He has seven straight games with at least two strikeouts. He has struck out 80 times this year in 263 at-bats. Last year, walks and strikeouts were a problem for him, but he put up strong overall stats despite two weaknesses to his game. His walks are actually up a little this year, but the strikeouts are a bigger problem and his slugging percentage is 104 points lower this season. Jones has off now for the All-Star break, so three days away could help him get back on track, though he will be in the All-Star game.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Indianapolis is 8-2 in their last ten games and they have a seven game lead in their division.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they have a 3.5 game lead in their division.

West Virginia has been eliminated from their first half playoff race.

Bradenton has been eliminated from their first half playoff race.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates beat the White Sox by a 3-2 score for their eighth straight win. They now travel to Washington, where A.J. Burnett will take on Joe Ross. Burnett threw nine shutout innings in his last outing. Ross has a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings. This will be his third start of the season.

In the minors, Tyler Glasnow and Adrian Sampson are the big stories as noted above. Bradenton is on their All-Star break until Monday. The Morgantown era begins today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (39-27) @ Washington (34-33) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (1.89 ERA, 24:74 BB/SO, 85.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (42-25) @ Charlotte  (36-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adrian Sampson (3.58 ERA, 19:67 BB/SO, 75.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (38-26) vs Harrisburg (28-37) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (5.46 ERA, 7:12 BB/SO, 28.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (30-35) @ Charlotte) 6:30 PM 6/22 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (36-31) vs Hickory (43-23) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.65 ERA, 9:61 BB/SO, 66.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (0-0) vs Mahoning Valley (0-0) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Tyler Glasnow (NR)

DSL: Pirates (8-9) vs Marlins (8-9) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here’s video of a two-run homer from Mel Rojas Jr., who was recently demoted to Altoona. This was his first home run of the season.

Recent Transactions

6/19: Collin Balester traded to Cincinnati Reds.

6/18: Steven Brault promoted to Altoona. Jin-De Jhang added to Bradenton roster.

6/18: Ten draft picks signed and assigned to various short-season teams. Link here with details. Five others were also signed later in the day. Details here.

6/17: Alen Hanson placed on disabled list. Kelson Brown added to Indianapolis roster.

6/17: Pirates sign Kevin Kramer, Tanner Anderson, Nicholas Economos and Mike Wallace. Kramer assigned to Morgantown. Anderson and Wallace assigned to Bristol. Economos assigned to GCL.

6/16: Pirates sign Ke’Bryan Hayes. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/15: Willy Garcia promoted to Indianapolis. Mel Rojas Jr. sent to Altoona.

6/15: Pirates sign Kevin Newman. Assigned to West Virginia

6/14: Angel Sanchez promoted to Indianapolis.

6/14: Tyler Eppler added to Bradenton roster. Ryan Hafner released.

6/13: Brad Lincoln and Wilkin Castillo placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Radhames Liz activated from reserve roster.

6/12: Pirates sign J.T. Brubaker, Seth McGarry and Bret Helton.

6/11: Pirates acquire John Bowker from the San Francisco Giants.

6/10: Yhonathan Barrios promoted to Indianapolis.

6/9: John Holzkom activated from Indianapolis disabled list

6/9: Brett McKinney promoted to Altoona. Ryan Hafner added to Bradenton roster.

6/7: Pirates release Tyler Sample.

6/5: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

6/5: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

6/5: Francisco Diaz activated from WV Power disabled list.

6/5: Kawika Emsley-Pai promoted to Bradenton roster. Jin-De Jhang assigned to Extended Spring Training.


This Date in Pirates History

Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two very good pitchers. Here is a quick list of the first eight, starting with the most recent. Catcher Dusty Brown(2011), first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz(2008), pitcher Willis Roberts(2004), outfielder Butch Davis(1987), shortstop Johnnie LeMaster(1985), third baseman Fernando Gonzalez(1972-73, 1977-78), pinch-hitter Don Gutteridge(1948) and pitch-hitter Harry Daubert(1915).

Jerry Reuss pitched for the Pirates from 1974-78, then returned during the 1990 season. He went 61–46, 3.52 in 158 games for Pittsburgh. The Pirates traded him to the Dodgers right before the start of the 1979 season. He pitched 22 seasons in the majors and won 220 games. You can read much more on Reuss here.

Bill Swift pitched for the Pirates from 1932 until 1939 and he won at least 11 games in each of his first five seasons with the club. He finished with a 91-79, 3.57 record in 164 starts and 141 relief appearances with Pittsburgh. As a rookie in 1932, he walked 1.09 batters per nine innings, which is the lowest total for a Pirates pitcher since that season. You can read a full bio on Swift here.

  • That’s honorable and much appreciated since my Dad spent 47 years in the coal mines. You are welcome at my dinner table anytime. Let me know when your coming to town.

  • JD. You are preaching to the choir. I submitted the name Muskets as the nickname and made the final 10 in the contest. Black Bear is the State animal and again the most politically correct. Logo is terrible. But we got Glasnow and Newman tonite and if the rain holds off that ain’t bad.

    • John Dreker
      June 19, 2015 2:11 pm

      Being coal mining country, I said they should honor those men that worked hard back in the day and were forced to tuck a piece of coal in their coats to bring home just to help keep their family warm, so my submission was Morgantown Coal Tuckers….of course, that was back when I assumed Cole Tucker would start the year there.

  • The name is purely political. If we had named it anything other than West Virginia like the totally logical Morgantown Black Bears, other communities that are stakeholders would not have supported the location. Trust me. I live here and don’t like it. Confusing is the word for sure.

    • I think the worst part is that up until the team name was announced, all we heard was Morgantown. Ready for the new name for the Morgantown franchise….West Virginia Black Bears! I don’t even like the team name or the look of the jerseys, the name confusion just makes it worse.

  • The MOTOWN game will be the manager throwing out the bats and balls and telling the guys to go to their positions. I would assume that he was told who they wanted in what positions, but can you imagine 3-4 days before your season starts you getting 20-25 players to fill out a lineup. Poor Wyatt!

    • John Dreker
      June 19, 2015 9:30 am

      Yes, the lineup will basically be set for him, so in that sense it makes his job easier than being a Major League manager. He will be bringing about ten players that he has been with in Extended Spring Training, so not everyone is brand new and they have had workouts the last few days