Morning Report: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not – The Pitchers

Yesterday we took a look at some hitters around the organization that have either been hitting well lately, or they have been in a slump. Today we check out the best/worst pitchers recently, picking out one good and one bad for each of the four full-season affiliates.

Starting with the good at Indianapolis and there hasn’t been much with all the injuries, yet they still have a 46-31 record. Clayton Richard is the one that stands out, with a 1.62 ERA in 33.1 innings. He only has 14 strikeouts and his .266 BAA is about league average, but he hasn’t issued many walks, he’s getting grounders at a high rate and that has led to runs being kept off the board.

For Altoona, I’m going to cheat a little and go with Steven Brault(pictured above), who spent most of the month with Bradenton. He has a 2.70 ERA, with 20 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. Most of the damage to his ERA this month came in his first start with Altoona, but he rebounded nicely with six shutout innings in his next outing.

With Bradenton I’m going to cheat as well, because their bullpen has had some brilliant performances this month. Montana DuRapau, Henry Hirsch, Miguel Rosario and Clario Perez all have an ERA below 2.00 this month and they are all keeping runners off the bases with sub-1.00 WHIP’s. Perez was just promoted to Altoona and in his place, Bradenton added Junior Lopez, who was an All-Star reliever for West Virginia.

West Virginia hasn’t had anyone with a great month, but the performances by Stephen Tarpley in his last two starts has to be encouraging. He had two poor outings earlier this month, which followed three strong games to start his season. In his last two games combined, he has allowed three runs over 11.2 innings, with 11 strikeouts. Hopefully those previous two outings were just bumps in the road and he has got back on track.

On the bad side for Indianapolis, it has to be the injury to Casey Sadler, which was announced after his worst career start. His forearm strain has erased more depth for the Pirates’ rotation, which looked to be a strong point coming into the season. Sadler’s 6.58 ERA is the second worst for any qualified pitcher in the system this month.

For Altoona, Zack Dodson has had a rough go of it recently, which is too bad because he was the top pitcher for Altoona last time we did one of these articles. He has a 5.58 ERA in five starts this month. A lot of his trouble has come against left-handed batters, who are batting .330 this season off the southpaw. Honorable mention goes to Brett McKinney, who has an 18.56 ERA and 3.00 WHIP since being promoted to Altoona two weeks ago.

Bradenton’s bad could easily be Frank Duncan with his 5.82 ERA, but he isn’t a prospect like Cody Dickson, who has a 5.46 ERA and 16 walks in five starts. Dickson has the stuff to be good and he flashes it at times, which keeps him among players to follow, but he is going to have to start showing more on the mound. He had a great second half last year with West Virginia, so possibly he can repeat that feat.

West Virginia has the pitcher with the highest ERA in June and it might surprise some people. Lefty John Sever had incredible stats last year with Bristol after being taken in the 20th round of the draft. This year he has looked great at times and other times, he has struggled. One of those “other times” was last Sunday when he allowed seven runs on nine hits in 1.1 innings. He followed that with three no-hit innings, but he also gave up seven earned runs in another outing earlier this month, so there have been peaks and valleys to his season.


Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by nine games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a one game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 4-6 in their last ten games, with four straight wins after losing six straight games. They have a five game lead in their division.

Altoona is 3-7 in their last ten games and they are now trailing by one game in their division. They had a four game lead  last week.

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 Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 2-1 to the Braves on Sunday. They now travel to Detroit, where they will begin a three-game series on Tuesday. Gerrit Cole will be on the mound, looking to rebound from his worst outing of the season. On Wednesday, he gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks in 4.2 innings against the Reds. His mound opponent will be Justin Verlander, who is making his third start of the season. He pitched well in his debut, then gave up six runs on ten hits and one walk in 6.2 innings last time out.

In the minors, many of the TBD’s from this morning have been filled in, just waiting on the Altoona starter. Adrian Sampson will go for Indianapolis, Bret Helton for Morgantown and earlier we added Trey Supak(notes below). Luis Heredia will go for Bradenton and he is coming off his best start of the season. He lasted five innings for the first time and allowed just one run on three hits and a walk. Trey Supak has been named the starter for Bristol. The 2nd round pick from last year allowed two runs over five innings in his debut, with no walks and seven strikeouts. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (42-33) @ Tigers (39-36) 7:08 PM 6/30
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.16 ERA, 25:102 BB/SO, 95.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (46-31) vs Columbus (41-36) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adrian Sampson

AA: Altoona (42-33) @ Harrisburg (35-41) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter:  TBD

High-A: Bradenton (35-39, 3-1 second half) vs Brevard County (30-42) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (5.88 ERA, 12:17 BB/SO, 30.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (41-32, 4-0 second half) vs Greensboro (29-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (2.57 ERA, 21:52 BB/SO, 56.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (4-5) vs Hudson Valley (5-4) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter:  Bret Helton

Rookie: Bristol (3-3) @ Elizabethton (3-3) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter:  Trey Supak

GCL: Pirates (3-2) vs Yankees2 (3-3) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (12-13) vs Rangers2 (14-11) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here we have various game highlights from Sunday’s Indianapolis game.

Recent Transactions

6/28: Jose Tabata designated for assignment. Gorkys Hernandez added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Chris Volstad designated for assignment. Steve Lombardozzi added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Clario Perez promoted to Altoona. Wes Freeman activated from disabled list.

6/28: Kawika Emsley-Pai retired.

6/28: Hunter Morris activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/27: Junior Lopez promoted to Bradenton. Dovydas Neverauskas activated from West Virginia disabled list.

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.

6/18: 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


This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one trade of note involving the single-game strikeout king. The players born on this date include pitcher Tony McKnight(2001), second baseman Burgess Whitehead(1946), second baseman Heinie Reitz and pitcher Patsy Flaherty, who pitched for the Pirates in 1900 and then again during the 1904-05 season. You can read a bio of Reitz and his time with the Pirates, here. Whitehead has a very interesting career stat. He played nine season in the majors, seeing time with three different teams(also Giants and Cardinals). Whitehead hit 17 homers and all of them were hit at the Polo Grounds.

Also born on this date, third baseman and current broadcaster John Wehner. He played for the Pirates from 1991 until 1996 and then again during the 1999-2001 seasons. He has been a broadcaster with the Pirates since 2005. Wehner set a record with 99 consecutive errorless games at third base. In 1997, he won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins. While in Pittsburgh, he hit .250 over 364 games.

The one trade of note happened on this date in 1961 and the Pirates gave up young pitcher Tom Cheney in exchange for veteran Tom Sturdivant. The two players put up similar stats while with their new teams, but Cheney had a very memorable game. On September 12,1962, he threw 16 innings and struck out 21 batters, which is a Major League record. It was a complete game win and one of the best pitching performances of all-time.

  • Wonder what the Luis Heredia’s bashers are going to say now???? He gave up 3 unearned runs in the 6th. inning aided by 2 errors and took the loss 4-2. A grand total of 4 hits, 4 Ks, 0 walks and 3 unearned runs in 6 innings. Not to shabby and I still have high hopes for him ever since I saw a clip on him as a 16 YO.

  • Kelson brown is an interesting guy. Never plays much but always plays decent ball. Reminds me of don Kelly or Wehner. Shame jim leyland isn’t around to facilitate a MLB job for him as the 25th man.

    • John Dreker
      June 29, 2015 2:59 pm

      Usually guys kept around like him are great candidates for future coaches. It’s tough to find someone willing to be the 26th man for the top two minor league teams. It means a lot of not playing and the ability to play multiple positions. He is basically the other Andy Vasquez

  • I am guessing DuRapau will soon be going to Altoona. He is 23 and so dominant against younger guys…might as well see what he can do. With that being said I don’t know a lot about the guy.

  • 2nd best record in the NL and we’re 9 games behind the Cards. Come one Cards, start losing some games. I can’t believe how streaky the Bucs have been this year. They need at one or 2 guys that consistently hit around .300 and don’t just go from hot to cold to hot to cold.

  • Thanks john.

  • This seems to be a year of injuries and/or underwhelming performance for top prospects, except for Josh Bell. Really hoping Hanson, Taillon and Glasnow can get healthy and stay that way. And hope Meadows can regain his stroke from earlier this season, too.

    • There has been a recent rash of injuries but before that I thought the system was unusually healthy. Pitcher attrition and especially tjs are common…although the pirates for 15 or so years seem to have a higher tjs rate…maybe I’m wrong. The good news is most of the injuries to their players have been minor compared to last year.

      • As much as the depth in the high minors pitching has been hit, it has been nicely calm elsewhere. Not a ton of hitters going down longterm, and the major league team has (knock on wood) stayed relatively healthy.

  • This seems to be a year of injuries and/or underwhelming performance for top prospects, except for Josh Bell. Really hoping Hanson, Taillon and Glasnow can get healthy and stay that way. And hope Meadows can regain his stroke from earlier this season, too.

  • John – why hasn’t Keller pitched for Bristol yet?

  • Cheney’s strikeouts were awesome, but him pitching 16 innings is something to marvel at with today’s standards. Wonder what his pitch count was.

  • I went to the Altoona DH yesterday. Almost all of the big hits were by LH batters.

    Very weird.

  • piraterican21
    June 29, 2015 9:36 am

    Rough month for our milb pitchers, hopefully wit Keller, Hinz, Holmes and especially glasnow they’ll have a better July