Morning Report: Garcia and Tarpley Give West Virginia a Pair of Aces

Yeudy Garcia is starting tonight for West Virginia and he’s coming into the game with a 2.03 ERA, which is the best in the South Atlantic League. His teammate Stephen Tarpley lowered his ERA to 2.06 last night with 6.2 shutout innings, but his 65.2 innings pitched, is not enough to qualify for the league leaders, otherwise he would be second in the SAL. They have both made 12 starts, with the difference being that Tarpley has only started, while Garcia had pitched nine times in relief. For those that don’t remember because he’s been pitching so well, Tarpley had shoulder soreness near the end of Spring Training and that’s why he has limited innings this season.

Tarpley had two bad games back on June 10th and June 15th, though he only allowed one earned run in the first game. He gave up eight hits and three walks in just 2.2 innings. The following start, he gave up five earned runs. That’s a significant total because it really stands out. In each of his other 11 starts, he has given up two of fewer earned runs, with ten total. It was later reported that Tarpley was pitching through an illness during that time, which wasn’t used as an excuse, as it only came out weeks later during an interview with the pitching coach. The way he pitched before and since makes it highly believable that something was out of the ordinary.

Garcia has pitched slightly better as a starter this season, posting a 1.88 ERA in 52.2 innings, compared to 2.30 in relief. He’s basically been great in either role, but the other stats make it closer than the ERA suggests. His K rate is slightly higher as a reliever, his BAA is lower, as is his WHIP, while his GO/AO ratio is also better(1.48 vs 1.26) out of the bullpen.

Speaking of his ground ball rate, he has a large difference between what he does against left-handed and right-handed batters. Against righty batters, he actually gets more fly balls than grounders by the slimmest of margins, posting an 0.99 GO/AO ratio. Put a lefty in the batter’s box and he becomes a ground ball machines, with a 2.58 GO/AO ratio. He has faced a significant amount of batters from each side, so it isn’t a small sample size causing the difference, plus last year he had the same split(3.90 LH vs 1.52 RH).

These two 22-year-old pitchers both can hit mid-90’s on the radar gun, so there are similarities between them besides results. They definitely took different paths to get where they are now though, with Tarpley getting drafted in the third round by the Orioles in 2013 and Garcia signing his first contract after he was 20 years old, when most kids are signing between 16-18 in the Dominican. We started focusing in on him last year when the first report I got on him raved about his fastball and command. While he dominated down there and had above average stuff, there was still some skepticism due to his age. I figured he would skip over the GCL to Bristol because he was advanced and older, but I definitely didn’t see him going to West Virginia. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he pitched great this year, I’m just surprised where he is doing it.

For Tarpley, he was highly rated out of the draft and really made his mark during the second half of his season last year in the NYPL. He finished with a tremendous effort that saw him throw eight shutout innings and strikeout ten batters. The inevitable question from most of you reading right now is when are they going to get promoted. That is of course up to the Pirates, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them stay at West Virginia all season. Tarpley missed time, so he is really focusing in on getting in as many innings as he can this year, while Garcia will likely be limited somewhat the rest of the way, since he only pitched 59.2 innings during the DSL season last year. He’s a big strong kid, but there are limits in place for younger pitchers on how far they can go over their previous season total.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by six games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 4.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 5-5 in their last ten games. They have a two game lead in their division.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are now tied for second place with Richmond, both one game back of Bowie.

Bradenton is 8-2 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by two games in the standings.

West Virginia is 6-4 in their last ten games and they have a two game lead in the division.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Nationals by a 7-5 score on Friday night. A.J. Burnett will take the mound for the Pirates tonight, making his 20th start off the season. He faced Washington on June 19th and allowed 14 hits in 6.2 innings, though it only resulted in three earned runs. His mound opponent will be Gio Gonzalez, who has a 3.93 ERA in 100.2 innings. He threw seven shutout innings against the Pirates on June 21st.

In the minors, Gage Hinsz will make his fourth start of the season. As one of the late signings last year, he threw just eight innings in the GCL, but also saw time in the Fall Instructional League. This year he has pitched 6.2 innings for Bristol, but had a minor setback just prior to the season. He was pitching during Extended Spring Training, so he has actually has a lot more time in games that don’t count, than he does in games that do. Bradenton was suspended with the score tied 1-1 in the sixth inning on Friday night. They will finish that game today, then play the regularly scheduled game, which will now be seven innings. The GCL Pirates were rained out yesterday. They will play a doubleheader today consisting of two 7 inning games. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (56-40) vs Nationals (51-44) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (2.44 ERA, 34:102 BB/SO, 125.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (57-43) vs Louisville (49-52) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.82 ERA, 34:52 BB/SO, 77.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (54-46) @ Akron (51-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (3.93 ERA, 35:43 BB/SO, 100.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (50-48, 18-10 second half) vs Dunedin (43-55) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (4.05 ERA, 39:67 BB/SO, 97.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (56-41, 19-9 second half) @ Hagerstown (48-48) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (2.03 ERA, 24:74 BB/SO, 80.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (18-16) vs Staten Island (19-14) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Bret Helton (4.84, 10:18 BB/SO, 22.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (12-16) @ Pulaski (18-13) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter:  Gage Hinsz (8.10 ERA, 5:5 BB/SO, 6.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (14-11) vs Blue Jays (17-10) 10:00 AM DH (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (18-29) vs Tigers (23-24) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is Josh Bell trying out a new batting stance because it’s Friday. Apparently it worked well, so I’m not sure why he will change it next week. For those that have followed Bell closely over the year, you’ll know that I’m only exaggerating slightly and I only mentioned it because I’ve never seen him with a leg kick that big. It’s his fifth homer of the season, with all five coming from the left side.

Recent Transactions

7/25: Adam Miller assigned to GCL on rehab

7/24: Robert Stock activated from disabled list.

7/23: Pirates traded Yhonathan Barrios to Milwaukee Brewers for Aramis Ramirez and cash.

7/23: Steve Lombardozzi designated for assignment.

7/23: John Holdzkom assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/23: Hunter Morris activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/23: Wes Freeman released. Andy Otamendi assigned to Bradenton.

7/23: Mervin Del Rosario assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/22: Pirates purchase contract of Pedro Florimon. Wilfredo Boscan optioned to Indianapolis. Jayson Aquino designated for assignment.

7/22: Barrett Barnes promoted to Altoona. Andy Vasquez promoted to Indianapolis.

7/22:  Gorkys Hernandez assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

7/21: Jonathan Schwind and Andrew Lambo assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/21: Harold Ramirez activated from temporary inactive list. Robert Stock placed on disabled list.

7/20: Jordy Mercer placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Brent Morel. Corey Hart transferred to 60-day DL.

7/20: Tito Polo activated from temporary inactive list. Jeff Roy promoted to Bradenton.

7/20: Kelson Brown activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/19: Junior Lopez assigned to Bradenton. Oderman Rocha assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/19: Pirates place Gorkys Hernandez on DL. Wilfredo Boscan recalled.

7/19: Jose Tabata activated from temporary inactive list.

7/17: Pirates sign Jake Thompson. Assigned to Indianapolis.

7/17: Pirates recall Jaff Decker.

7/17: Oderman Rocha assigned to Bradenton. Junior Lopez assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/16: Hunter Morris placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Jose Tabata placed on temporary inactive list.

7/15:  Pirates sign Ryan Nagle. Assigned to Morgantown.

7/15: Pirates sign Brandon Waddell and James Marvel. Waddell assigned to Morgantown.

7/15: Luis Paula sent to Morgantown.

7/13: Wilfredo Boscan sent to Indianapolis.

7/13: Seth McGarry assigned to Morgantown.

7/13: Omar Basulto assigned to GCL. Mike Wallace transferred from GCL to Bristol.

7/12: Wilfredo Boscan recalled. Steve Lombardozzi optioned to Indianapolis.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. We start with one of the best pitchers in the last 30 years for the franchise, possibly the best. Doug Drabek pitched six seasons in Pittsburgh and his 1990 Cy Young award is the last one won by a Pirates’ pitcher. He helped the Pirates to three straight playoffs during their 1990-92 run. Drabek went 92-62, 3.02 in 1362.2 innings over 196 starts in Pittsburgh. You can read a full bio on Drabek here.

Other players born on this date include 2010-13 outfielder Alex Presley. Ed Sprague, who was the third baseman during the 1999 season. Jack McMahan, a pitcher in 1956 that the Pirates picked up in the November 1955 Rule 5 draft. Also outfielder Marv Rackley, who spent the 1949 season with the Pirates. He turns 94 today and he’s the fourth oldest living Pittsburgh Pirates player.

On this date in 1896, the Pirates traded first baseman Jake Beckley to the New York Giants for first baseman Harry Davis and cash. The deal was unpopular at the time and did not work out well. Beckley is a Hall of Famer, who was the Pirates career home run leader until being passed by Honus Wagner in 1908. He also had a strong career after the deal, while Davis lasted with Pittsburgh until 1898 when he was sold to Louisville. You can read more on this deal, the players above and a 1956 game recap in the link at the top of this section.

  • John…Why are scouts rating Bell so highly when to me it seems like his ceiling is a platoon hitter who hopefully will grow into an average fielding its baseman with power from the left side?

  • Yeudy Garcia and Tarpley both have been awesome this year both are likely to have some good trade value as well.

  • I mentioned on the Tarpley lead that I expected he and Bell to remain where they are at to try to help their teams to the playoffs. Same same with Yeudy Garcia.

    Whether a batter triggers with both feet on the ground, or the front foot up in the air is of no consequence – as long as they can transfer weight properly, stay back and stay balanced. He may be emulating Kang.

    • We only care about results…

    • Darkstone42
      July 25, 2015 2:18 pm

      I wonder if he’s got the big leg kick right now to remind himself of the weight transfer and embed that into his muscle memory permanently. Perhaps he felt he wasn’t getting enough out of his legs, and that was holding his power back, so he’s doing something about it. Once he feels it’s set, in his swing, he’ll cut back the leg kick. Maybe.

      • I think it has to be something like that and I applaud the hitting coach at AA for the year his hitters are having and for the willingness to allow advanced hitters like Bell to experiment – as long as it does not hurt the team.

  • Here’s hoping Bell really has a power breakout in the second half. I believe if the late great Stuart Scott were calling that highlight he would’ve said “like buttah”.

  • Great article about those A ball aces, John!

    Loved Doug Drabek!!!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂