One of the things we get questions about all the time is when a certain player will be promoted. Usually we base our answers on patterns that have been established in the past and trends over the years. When we got word that Jeff Roy was being sent to Bradenton last week, we guessed that Barrett Barnes would be going to Altoona before he even knew(he was still in the lineup the next day) and it happened to work out that way. Most people would have guessed Harold Ramirez was going due to his terrific half season at the plate, but those trends we follow didn’t point that way due to his age and lack of playing time. Barnes seemed like the more likely player to get promoted since he is older and behind where he should be due to injuries. Ramirez still might see some time at Altoona this year, but that could depend on whether Bradenton looks like a playoff team as the season nears the end.

JaCoby Jones was promoted on Monday to Altoona and at the beginning of the year, he seemed like a player that would be promoted around now. As the season went along, his numbers never really took off, unless you count the strikeouts, and there were a lot of those to count. He is well off the pace he set last year, when his walks/strikeouts were still an issue, but he was hitting despite them. Tim Williams pointed out in First Pitch that Jones has improved defensively, so that helped in the decision I’m sure.

Jones is 23 already, older than many players that were already in AA, so it’s not a surprise that he got promoted this year, just the timing is a bit odd. He hasn’t been hitting recently, though that .750 average for Altoona sure looks nice. You don’t really expect a player in a down year, in the middle of a slump, to be promoted. It’s something that will be saved in the memory bank for future reference, which could be next year with Jordan Luplow or Connor Joe, with the latter looking like he needs to repeat Low-A at this point, but that isn’t going to happen.

One of the other things we get a lot is promotions from short-season teams. With Carlos Munoz on a hot streak of very recent, his name has come up a lot. The thing to remember with these players is that they have been in camp since March. They played games during Spring Training, they played games during Extended Spring Training, they have been watched every single day for the 3 1/2 months leading up to Opening Day in their league, but that doesn’t stop questions of promotions less than a month into their season. To call for a promotion for these players, you’re basing more importance on one month of stats versus 3 1/2 months of training and games, and there were more games played before the season than they have played so far.

When the Pirates placed Munoz or Trae Arbet, they knew what they were doing and being in Bristol instead of Morgantown won’t prevent either of them, or anyone else from being at West Virginia next year. What will prevent them is their overall skills and whether or not the Pirates think they can handle the jump. Most people forget it because recent stats stand out more, but West Virginia didn’t have Connor Joe or Jordan Luplow to start the year. If Carlos Munoz was ready to face tougher competition, there was an opening at his position for a month and with five years in the system, plus winter ball experience in Mexico, he wouldn’t have been considered rushed to the level. There is a reason he is at Bristol, so trust the system and the people placing these players at certain levels based on much more than we see on paper.

Weather Issues

The GCL Pirates have had a lot of trouble getting in their games lately. Starting with last Wednesday, they played four innings before the game was suspended. The next day they continued and got one inning in before the rains suspended the game again. On Friday and Saturday, they were rained out. Then after an off-day on Sunday, they got in a half inning yesterday before rain halted play. That gives them a total of 5 1/2 innings over a six day stretch. It also gives them six doubleheaders coming up in a 15-day stretch.

Bradenton has almost been as bad recently, which makes sense since they are in the same town as the GCL, although they usually play night games and there has been road games, so it’s basically been raining a lot in that area. The Marauders have had a game called a tie, another canceled and last night’s game was postponed due to rain. For both teams it throws off their starting rotation, but then again, last time Luis Heredia pitched on eight days rest he had his best career game, so he might be due for another gem next time up.

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 6.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a three game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 4-6 in their last ten games. They are tied for first in their division with today’s opponent, Columbus.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are in second place, two games back of Bowie.

Bradenton is 8-2 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by 1.5 games in the standings.

West Virginia is 7-3 in their last ten games and they have a two game lead in the division.

Morgantown is 9-1 in their last ten games. They trail by four games in the division.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates go on the road to take on the Minnesota Twins in a quick two-game set starting tonight. Charlie Morton will be on the mound against Mike Pelfrey in the opener. Morton allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings his last time out, which was a road start in Kansas City. Pelfrey has a 3.94 ERA this season in 105 innings and he gave up two runs over six innings against the Angels in his last start.

In the minors, Angel Sanchez makes his eighth start for Indianapolis, as he looks to continue his strong season that has seen him post a 2.74 ERA over 124.1 innings. Steven Brault has allowed one run on five hits in each of his last two outings. Clay Holmes is making his fourth start for Bradenton, after three rehab starts with the GCL Pirates. He has a .196 BAA with Bradenton and a 2.00 GO/AO ratio. Bradenton was rained out and will play a doubleheader today. The GCL Pirates played just a half inning before their game was suspended due to rain. They will attempt to finish that game today, followed by the regularly scheduled game, which will now be seven innings. West Virginia has an early morning start time. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (57-41) vs Twins (52-46) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (4.59 ERA, 20:36 BB/SO, 64.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (58-45) @ Columbus (58-45) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (2.64 ERA, 9:35 BB/SO, 44.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (55-48) vs Richmond (53-48) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (3.79 ERA, 7:37 BB/SO, 35.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (51-48, 19-10 second half) @ Clearwater (57-44) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (2.70 ERA, 5:11 BB/SO, 13.1 IP) and TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (58-42, 21-10 second half) @ Hagerstown (49-50) 11:05 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.93 ERA, 16:84 BB/SO, 100.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (20-16) @ Tri-City (19-17) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Dario Agrazal Jr (2.43 ERA, 5:26 BB/SO, 37.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (13-18) vs Greenville (18-15) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (14-11) vs Phillies (20-8) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (19-30) vs Brewers (21-28) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is a video of Tyler Glasnow’s 12th strikeout from Sunday.

Recent Transactions

7/27: JaCoby Jones promoted to Altoona. Josh Smith placed on disabled list.

7/27: Steve Lombardozzi sent outright to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez placed on disabled list.

7/27: Jordan Steranka activated from Bradenton disabled list. Isaac Sanchez placed on disabled list.

7/27: Junior Sosa added to Bradenton roster.

7/26: Jonathan Schwind assigned to Bristol on rehab.

7/25: Pirates designate Brent Morel for assignment.

7/25: Justin Sellers sent outright to Indianapolis

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades of note. We start with the players and two of them were born on this date in 1867 and they both pitched for the 1890 team, which was the worst in franchise history. Duke Esper and Bill Day couldn’t help a team that went 23-113, as they combined to go 0-8 in their eight starts. Esper also pitched for the Pirates in 1892 and went 2-0 in three starts for a much better team. The other player born on this date is Carmelo Martinez, who joined the Pirates 100 years after the other two players. He was with two pennant winners during the 1990-91 seasons He didn’t last long with the Pirates, who acquired him at the end of August 1990 and traded him away the following May.

The trades on this date include first baseman Gus Suhr for pitcher Max Butcher, which was a one-sided deal as far as career stats, with Suhr being one of the best first baseman in team history. In 1939, he was near the end of his career and the Pirates shipped him to the Phillies for Butcher. The Pirates got 67 wins out of Butcher during his time in Pittsburgh, while Suhr played just 70 games before he was released.

The other trade on this date was in 2000, when the Pirates dealt outfielder Wil Cordero to the Indians for infielder Enrique Wilson and outfielder Alex Ramirez. Wilson didn’t stay long, as he was dealt to the Yankees the following season for Damaso Marte. Ramirez struggled in his time in Pittsburgh and was sold to Japan that off-season. Between the majors, minors and Japan, he hit 505 career homers.

One game of note and it’s from the 2001 season, when the Pirates trailed 8-2 to the Astros in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on base. They managed to score seven runs, capping it off with a walk-off grand slam from Brian Giles. The Pirates had five hits, a walk and a hit by pitch. Here is the boxscore from that game and a description can be found in the link above.

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  1. Anyone else impressed with with moves the Pens made this morning? (I’m assuming most of us are Pittsburgh fans across the board). Tim, you should set up a message board or chatroom so we can discuss non-article related stuff like ridiculous trade ideas.

  2. …or I should add, at least deserves (ed) a promotion. It looks like full season ball will not happen for him until next year though….hardly a crime, but still leads to a question if the Appy league was the best place for him….

  3. Tim I am hardly cynical about how the Pirates asign people to levels because I like this front office and I think they have a good track record, nevertheless no one is infallible. Carlos Munoz had better stats in the GCL than Cole Tucker and made the all-Star team, yet Cole got the aggressive promotion to WV. Cole is a #1 pick as is Connor Joe who is hardly lighting the world on fire at WV. People make mistakes and there is an understandable bias because of perception and money that a #1 pick is a better prospect when that is not always the case. I understand that Munoz has conditioning issues but could those not be worked at A ball. If he continues crushing the ball at Bristol at the level he has established it will be a clear indication that he was a level too low. I love the Pirates front office and how they develop players BUT there are not infallible…

    • And WOW did the Royals pay for Ben Zobrist as a rental…Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea going back to the A’s. Their #1 or #2 prospect (Manaea) and their 22nd ranked prospect for 2 months of Zobrist.

      They’re going “All-In”

      • Essentially a healthy Jameson Taillon and Adrian Sampson.

        Who owes me a beer on that Top 100 prospect bet? 😉

        • I think it is more like Nick Kingham and Adrian Sampson, but, yeah, they gave up a TON for Ben Zobrist.

      • I dont understand that move at that price for KC. Its an upgrade in the OF, and they needed the ace, but both likely to walk in FA. Can you imagine if somehow the rotation breaks down and they lose in the ALDS?

          • I actually think its not even that unlikely. You look at that rotation and go “man, if Cueto loses a game in a series how do they win that series?”. The offense +Cueto has to carry that team.

        • FWIW, if you’re going to push your chips in ya may as well push ’em all.

          Silly concept overall, obviously, but I’d rather put the farm system out of it’s misery than just cripple it.

          • Thats a fair point, no reason to “kinda” go all in. Do it, see what happens, and recoup for a few years if it goes bad. Silly, but hey you might win something.

  4. To get a starting pitcher like Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner, what do you think it would cost in prospects? Would either of these two be rentals?

    • I was just wondering something similar – it seems that the Padres are desperate to dump Shields and his contract – but he’s pitching well. He also has an opt out after 2016 – what would it cost really to get big game James?
      Assuming they want out and all the risk and money is on you – then the cost should be relatively low I would think. So something like Harold Ramirez and a C pitcher?

      • Please, do not trade Ramirez – I’d rather trade McGuire than Ramirez. I also would prefer Ross or Cashner over Shields, assuming neither of them are rentals either. I assume their contracts are much lower than Shields, plus they are younger.

    • Ross is arb eligible in 16 and 17, Cashner in 16…I would love to buy in low on either of those guys. Ross has pitched well lately though and may have driven his price up.

  5. So, who now plays SS at Bradenton since Jones is now in Altoona? Is there any possibility that the Pirates do an aggressive promotion of Tucker to Bradenton soon? Ideally, given their ages, Newman would get that promotion to Bradenton, but he’s struggling in the NYPA league.

  6. This might not be a good idea, but is there any chance that you could add the probable starter for the opposing team in the “Today’s Games” section? I don’t need it for the minor league teams, but documenting the opposing pitcher in the Majors would be nice

  7. Got another thought about the Tulo Trade. The Jays gave up their 3rd, 5th, and 29th best prospects along with their starting Shortstop.
    Would you give up Meadows, Hanson, Jacob Taylor, and Jordy Mercer for Tulo?
    Or if you made it all pitchers a relative would be Taillon, Keller, and Yuedy Garcia and Mercer.

    • If it wasn’t for his current contract and salary, I would consider it….but, not when you add $108 million owed on top of the prospects you would give up.

  8. Something about the Munoz thing too, it’s not just the recent homers which brings up questions. He’s hitting .385, has more walks than K’s and an OPS of 1139.
    Regardless of what the team thinks about him, you can’t really expect more from any player than that can you?? I mean who cares what your belly looks like if you’re raking ie: John Kruk. Give the kid a promotion already.

    • I didn’t expect a comment like this until tomorrow….I have no answer for you that isn’t already in the article

    • I think the answer to this is that he’s only had 1 month of ABs….109 ABs to be exact. Then again he does have a career .885 OPS and a career 140 BBs vs. 74 Ks.

  9. Tim,
    It seems like the pitching prospects, particularly the starter prospects in the Pirates system are very hittable – H/9. Other than Glasnow that is. Some are putting up some decent K #’s but the hits are piling up… seems like players may be overrated a bit by that statistic?

    • Taillon-Kingham-Cumpton-Sadler all hurt. Tough to paint a broad picture of any system when 4 of its closest arms are all not pitching. Basically saying some guys in AA and A ball are giving up hits, which isnt all that worrisome in itself.

    • They teach their pitchers from day one to pitch to contact and gets at-bats over in three pitches or less. When you’re trying to get players to put the ball in play against minor league defense, then hits will happen. Their belief is that as the defense gets better and they utilize shifts in the majors, then those soft hits go away. Glasnow is so good, that he picks up strikeouts DESPITE following their pitch to contact method

  10. I remember an interesting lineup for a post trade deadline game in 2000. The Pirates actually fielded: Wilson, Wilson, Wilson, Brown, Brown and two A. Ramirezes.

  11. So… Tulo to the Blue Jays. I have an insane outside of the box trade idea that will never happen. Polanco, Pedro, NW, and a 11-20 pitching prospect for Jose Reyes and Cargo. That still doesn’t address 1B but they can get creative.

    • I think the A’s are the team to target.

      Zobrist and Josh Reddick for Gregory Polanco and one of the ’14 HS arms.

                  • Not me. Meadows has a better more confident head on his shoulders. Polanco just seems to me like he could very well me Pedro 2.0. He does see the ball alot better than Pedro but seems like he struggles with confidence. That’s why Kang is successful. He’s a badass and he knows it. I read an article earlier in the season saying Kang has an alpha male mentality and wouldn’t be intimidated by MLB. Look at MadBum, Trout, Harper… They are all insanely confident and headstrong. Cutch and Marte, same way. If anything, I could say that Harper and Marte can be too cocky but they lack fear. That’s what separates the talented failures from the greats. That’s why David Ortiz always comes up big in big games. He’s a beast and he knows he’s a beast. That’s why Gerrit Cole is an ace and Kris Benson faded away. Have you seen Josh Bell in an interview? He’s headstrong. He’s gonna be good. One more stupid analogy before I end my lunch break. It’s the same reason why Toews and Kane have 3 cups and Crosby and Malkin have 1. Toews and Kane have bigger balls.

                    • This post started by generalizing and dang near went into full on troll mode with shots at PGH hockey names. Im a blackhawks fan and the end of that sounded dumb. CHI has more cups because they had a more well rounded team and some luck.

                    • I don’t disagree but Toews and Kane are come up big at crunch time and carry the team when they need to. It may sound dumb but I definitely think there is some truth to it and I’m a big Pens fan. Their biggest problems along with depth is that they have been too soft.

          • The A’s are said to be very interested in lower level prospects, even according to Billy Beane. Maybe you trade lower level prospects.

            • Polanco and a ’14 HS drafted pitcher is way too light for Josh Reddick and Ben Zobrist. Reddick is around until the end of 2016 which could blend well with Meadows entry in 2017. But, he is a 2.2 WAR guy already and Zobrist has been a perennial 4.5 to 5.0 WAR. He is struggling this first year away from TB, but he and Reddick are both winners and solid clubhouse guys.

      • I could roll with that too. I think if NH does anything else, it’s gonna be completely out of left field. I like that Reyes and CarGo package. Walker and Pedro both move salary that they need for Reyes and CarGo. Reyes is a little fragile but a huge upgrade from Mercer and CarGo has been on fire lately. They are both signed through 2017 which would bridge the gap to Meadows and Tucker/another SS prospect perfectly and give them a very formidable offense for the next few years. That 2016 lineup:
        1. Reyes SS
        2. Hanson 2B
        3. Cutch CF
        4. CarGo RF
        5. Marte LF
        6. Bell 1B
        7. Kang 3B
        8. Cervelli C

        That’s a lineup that can handle 2 rookies.

          • That depends on who they give up. My scenario is a total pipe dream that the Rockies would most likely never do but that doesn’t sabotage the future at all.

            • Reyes and Cargo. Cargo hitting great now but was awful earlier in year and hasn’t hit lefties well either last couple years. I just want no part of Reyes with that contract. I don’t see how he really upgrades this team that much. Super expensive and what are we giving away? Pedro/Walker and who else?

        • Reyes would actually be a downgrade defensively, and if there was 1 position beyond catcher the team will put defense before offense its SS.

          Its also an incredibly expensive trade contract wise. Both signed through 2017….at market value. Even if you somehow get COL to eat half of both contracts, thats over 20 million in 2 players.

          • Yeah, I checked fangraphs. You’re right. At least statically, Mercer is way better. Offensively, I always thought of him as one of the better shortstops in baseball and think he’s superior to Mercer in that area. Who knows what’s gonna happen… I should stop speculating.

      • Where do we play all those guys this year? Not that i totally hate the trade (i wouldnt trade Polanco but thats good value) but come September thats Kang-Harrison-Mercer-Zobrist-Walker-Pedro-Ramirez-3 OFers.

        Almost makes Kang or Harrison a sure part time player and even Zobrist (or i guess Mercer) more part time than full time.

        • Aramis Ramirez is no longer a good baseball player, especially relative to the others you listed. Neither is Pedro Alvarez. Both could most certainly be useful if deployed correctly, but aren’t the kind of guys you give spots when improvements are available.

          I also don’t think you can rely on a plus version of Josh Harrison given his history and how streaky his present season has been. Same goes for Kang. Jordy Mercer gets relegated to the role he should be playing, backup SS and RH platoon bat.

          A healthy Harrison and addition of Zobrist allows you to avoid awful at every position on any given day regardless of matchup and reasonable injury protection.

          • Wow, i just disagree.

            Idk why Kang is suddenly non reliable, since starting he’s had 1 poor month and 3 starting quality.

            You are down on those players more than I. Even if you get rid of Ramirez (clearly not happening from the team perspective) thats still pretty aggressive for me. I dont see the logic in that if it says Kang gets benched, while playing well for 2 months, because his June was poor.

            I also dont see a 1Bmen other than Pedro on that roster. I agree Pedro isnt optimal, but no one has played 1B on that roster since 2010.

            • Wait a minute, who benched Kang? He’s my starting shortstop in that scenario.

              I also didn’t “get rid” of anyone mentioned. I got rid of Pedro Florimon.

              Ben Zobrist is your 1B against all LHP and plenty of righties if he isn’t needed elsewhere on the field.

              Depth protects against injury and also allows the hot bat to play.

              • I must have misunderstood, the “Same with Kang” had me thinking Kang was the same as Harrison to you, and thus inconsistent meaning Zobrist is SS. I assumed the inconsistency for Harrison and Kang meant they dont start.

                But it seems like Zobrist goes to 1B, Kang to SS, Harrison at 3B. If thats what you are going for, i dont see the depth.

                • Wait wait first you don’t know where to play all those guys now you can’t see the depth? Which one is it?

                  Depth is created when you have those starters you listed moving ARam, Mercer, and Alvarez to the bench. I’m assuming I don’t have to explain how that’s an improvement over the current bunch.

          • Kang has about same WRC+ as Kris Bryant. He is looking like one of best players in MLB. What am I missing?

            • Nothing at all. Guy is a good baseball player.

              But he’s also in his rookie season playing longer than he ever has in his life and has already shown to be a passable but flawed defender at SS. Not a stretch to envision a scenario where Kang at 3B and Mercer at SS wouldn’t be preferable depending on matchup.

      • Love that trade…except that I think Polanco 2 years from now will be better (and controlled still) than Reddick is now.

        • Very, very possible.

          The *only* reason I’d entertain the idea is because I believe the club will have plenty of options to plug into the outfield when that time comes.

          • Ramirez and Meadows you mean? Yes, that is possibly true. I see what you’re thinking…I think that if Pedro comes into his own down the stretch he might be just as valuable as Reddick.

            • Barrett Barnes and Meadows, not Ramirez. I think Ramirez is arguably the better prospect, but Barnes’ skills are more likely to translate sooner.

    • I actually had this article done before Tim posted first pitch and we had the same photo for Jones, which is amazing since we have about 15 pictures for him. So I just changed the photo last second and added his link, but didn’t think about changing the caption part. Until recently, the caption was next to the picture(when we edited), so that couldn’t happen, but now it’s in a different section. I updated it

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