Back in 2010, it looked like the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to fill their system with top rated prep pitchers as a result of the amateur draft. They ended up with three pretty good pitchers in Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow, so now it’s hard to complain. Back then it was easy to complain, partially due to the fact one of the pitchers agreed to a deal, then backed out because MLB was taking too long to approve his deal. For those that don’t remember, or tried to forget, over-slot deals back in 2010 were announced during the last couple days as a way to try to keep prices down. When that didn’t work,. MLB put in the new system to keep big spenders like the Pirates from throwing around cash to amateurs.
During that 2010 draft, the Pirates signed six of their top ten picks, but couldn’t sign Austin Kubitza, Dace Kime, Jason Hursh and Zack Weiss. Kime was the one who backed out of the deal because he didn’t want to miss out on his college deadline. The Pirates also couldn’t sign 13th round pick Chris Kirsch and 19th round pick Kent Emanuel, both highly projectable pitchers with upside. So what ended up happening with these six players? This is a little “what could have been” article, while also saying that there is no way to know how going to college made them better/worse than being in the Pirates’ system.
Since they were all high school pitchers, that means they would have been drafted by now. The 2013 draft is the most likely, but some high school players end up in college 4-5 years, especially if there is an injury involved. Starting with the top pick from the group, sixth rounder Jason Hursh. He went to Oklahoma State and ended up as a first round pick in 2013 by the Braves. He is already in AA, though having trouble. Hursh has a 5.40 ERA in 63.1 innings, with a 1.80 WHIP. He is actually repeating the level and the results are much worse than last year.
Austin Kubitza was next and he had a high price tag and a Rice commit. He was drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round in 2013 and he’s the reason I did this article because he keeps facing Altoona this year. Kubitza has a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts, but you can see why the Pirates liked him. He has a 3.14 GO/AO ratio. That’s a number you rarely see from a starting pitcher, with anything over 2.00 being very good. Kubitza dropped in the draft because his fastball sat high-80’s in college.
Dace Kime was the eighth round pick and he attended my favorite college baseball school, Louisville. So there was some good that came out of it for me. Kime was a third round pick of the Indians in 2013 and he just reached High-A ball midway through the first half of this season. He has a 4.50 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP in eight starts, plus he is a fly ball pitcher.
Zack Weiss went to UCLA and he was a sixth round pick of the Reds in 2013. He is currently in AA, where he has 5.19 ERA as a reliever. He actually has a nice 4:19 BB/SO ratio in 17.1 innings and he pitched great in the Florida State League to start the season.
Chris Kirsch didn’t go to a four-year college, going the JUCO route instead. He was selected by the Cardinals in 2011 and didn’t sign, then signed with the Rays in 2012 when they took him in the 14th round, so this is his fourth year of pro ball. He is starting in High-A ball, where he has a 2.28 ERA in 75 innings. He has a low BAA, a nice ground ball rate and he’s keeping runners off base. His strikeouts are a little low with 50, and he is 23 years old already, so there is some good and bad with him.
Last we have Kent Emanuel, who went to North Carolina and was taken in the third round in 2013 by the Astros. He is in AA, but has been on the disabled list since late April. In early June, right around his 23rd birthday, he had Tommy John surgery, so he will miss the rest of this season and most of next year as well.
So the six top pitchers that all decided to go to college for one reason or another, have all had their share of difficulties in the minors so far. None of them look like sure things at this point, though you can’t rule out any of them making the majors either. The Pirates signed Taillon, Kingham and Glasnow and all three of them are legit prospects, so maybe things would have worked out differently for the others had they decided to sign. Taillon was obviously a top prospect before he was drafted, but Glasnow and Kingham certainly have developed well in the Pirates’ system.
Pirates Game Graph
The Pirates trail by eight games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 1.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.
Indianapolis is 3-7 in their last ten games. They have a 4.5 game lead in their division.
Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are now tied for the lead in their division.
Bradenton and West Virginia did not win their first half title. The second half began Thursday for both teams and the second half records will be included below in the schedule.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Braves by a 3-2 score in ten innings on Friday night. Charlie Morton will be on the mound today, trying to recover from his disastrous start on Sunday when he recorded just two outs, while allowing nine earned runs. He will face-off against Julio Teheran, who has a 4.67 ERA in 88.2 innings this season. He faced the Pirates back on June 6th and allowed four earned runs over 7.1 innings.
In the minors, Tyler Eppler will make his third start of the season for Bradenton tonight. He missed the start of the season due to shoulder soreness and returned to throw three innings in his first outing back. Last time out, Eppler got the shortest complete game possible when the game was called after the Marauders batted in the fifth inning and the home team held the lead. He retired the first ten batters of the game, then gave up two runs before he could get the last two outs of the fourth inning. Stephen Tarpley starts for West Virginia tonight, looking to build off a solid outing his last time out. Prior to that, he had two poor starts in which he allowed a total of 18 hits and five walks in 8.1 innings. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (41-32) vs Braves (35-39) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (3.97 ERA, 9:16 BB/SO, 34.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (44-31) vs Syracuse (26-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (4.28 ERA, 25:40 BB/SO, 61.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (42-31) @ Harrisburg (33-41) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (3.63 ERA, 13:32 BB/SO, 79.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (33-39, 1-1 second half) vs Brevard County (29-40) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (6.43 ERA, 1:4 BB/SO, 7.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (39-32, 2-0 second half) vs Greensboro (29-42) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (3.10 ERA, 10:27 BB/SO, 29.0 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (4-4) @ Auburn (5-3) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (1-3) vs Princeton (3-1) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
GCL: Pirates (2-2) vs Astros (0-5) 11:00 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (12-12) vs Rangers2 (13-11) 10:30 AM (season preview)
In his second start at Altoona, Steven Brault threw six shutout innings against Erie on Thursday night. Here is video of his fifth and final strikeout.
6/26: Tyler Glasnow assigned to Altoona.
6/26: Deolis Guerra added to Pirates roster. Rob Scahill placed on disabled list.
6/26: Wilkin Castillo activated from Indianapolis disabled list.
6/25: Robert Stock added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka placed on disabled list.
6/24: Casey Sadler placed on disabled list. Brad Lincoln and Josh Wall added to Indianapolis roster.
6/24: Corey Hart placed on disabled list. Chris Volstad added to Pirates roster.
6/23: Pirates sign Shane Kemp. Assigned to Bristol.
6/22: Andy Otamendi assigned to Morgantown.
6/22: Pirates sign Austin Sodders. Assigned to GCL.
6/21: Marek Minarik and Luis Paula sent to Bristol.
6/20: Pirates release Edgar Munoz
6/20: Pirates sign Garrett Russini as a non-drafted free agent.
6/19: Pirates sign Sean Keselica and Stephan Meyer. Both players assigned to Morgantown.
6/19: Collin Balester traded to Cincinnati Reds.
6/18: Steven Brault promoted to Altoona. Jin-De Jhang added to Bradenton roster.
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: 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.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the first player to hit a ball into the Allegheny on a fly. Starting with the oldest today, we have 1883-84 catcher Jackie Hayes, 1947 pitcher Hank Behrman, 1962-63 catcher Elmo Plaskett and 1995-96 lefty pitcher Lee Hancock. The fifth player is Daryle Ward, who played for the 2004-05 Pirates, but it was something he did with another team that makes him special. Ward is the son of Major League outfielder Gary Ward, who had a decent career himself. The younger Ward broke into the big leagues with the Astros in 1998 and on July 6,2002, he became the first player to reach the Allegheny River on the fly. It took 11 years before that feat was equaled by Garrett Jones.
The link above also includes a game recap from 1991, in which the eventual NL East champs, had a ninth inning comeback at home to beat the Cubs.