Morning Report: The Two Sides of Lefty Vs Lefty Match-Ups in Bradenton

The Bradenton Marauders have seen two left-handed batters in their lineup show strong improvements against left-handed pitchers, while another has been having a tough time against southpaws the last two years. For the struggling player, the results have really gone downhill.

This season, Austin Meadows is hitting .299/.358/.381 in 97 at-bats against left-handed pitching. Those are solid numbers for a lefty batter versus southpaws and it’s more than a small sample size. It’s also a big improvement over what we saw last year while he was at West Virginia. Meadows hit .190/.244/.214 in 42 at-bats for the Power against lefties, which is a small sample due to the time missed with a hamstring injury, but there was a little more prior to that. If you throw in his GCL stats during his rehab time last year, when he went 0-for-8 against lefties, it makes it even worse.

Meadows didn’t have much trouble in 2013 versus LHP after being drafted. His average wasn’t anything great, batting .261 in 46 at-bats, but he hit three homers, so the OPS was just shy of the .800 mark. For an 18-year-old facing pro pitching for the first time, those are very good numbers. That one good, one bad, one good pattern doesn’t hold true for another lefty on Bradenton, but the results this year are encouraging.

Erich Weiss was also drafted in 2013, and he has faced lefties even more often than Meadows. He too had some issues last year, but they carried over from his first season. In 2013, Weiss went 4-for-20 against lefties, striking out six times. In 2014 with West Virginia, he was the everyday second baseman, so there were a lot of opportunities to face southpaws. Weiss hit .213/.319/.295 in 122 at-bats and struck out 42 times, just over once every three at-bats.

In 2015 with Bradenton, Weiss has turned things around. In 96 at-bats against left-handers, he is hitting .292/.367/.375 with 20 strikeouts. It’s almost the exact same line he has against right-handed batters, going .290/.367/.376 against them, though it works out to a .742 OPS against both. Weiss has cut down on the strikeouts against LHP and it’s helping him hit better.

Coming into this year, I didn’t think he had a chance to be a starter in the majors, partly because of those two seasons worth of splits. Weiss is old for the level and he hasn’t shown power, which you would like to see from an older player, so there are some flaws. His defense is acceptable and while he isn’t fast, he is a smart base runner, which allows him to steal some bases. He still projects as a bench player, but the chances of him making it as a starter have improved.

So that’s the good, but there is one other lefty going in the opposite direction. In 2013, Reese McGuire hit .330 in the GCL and along with his advanced defensive skills, that earned him an aggressive promotion to West Virginia the following season. McGuire hit .310/.375/.381 in 42 at-bats vs LHP that first year. Those wasn’t far off his numbers against right-handed pitchers. If you skip to 2014, the split between the two sides got bigger.

McGuire hit .225/.275/.245 in 102 at-bats against lefties in 2014, collecting one extra-base hit. He had 14 strikeouts, so he was making consistent contact, but it wasn’t hard contact. Against righty pitchers, his OPS was 164 points higher. That difference has become even wider this season, as lefties own the 20-year-old backstop. He is hitting .165/.221/.165 in 79 at-bats. What that tells you is that in his 181 at-bats against left-handed pitchers(197 plate appearances) over the last two seasons, he has one extra-base hit. He isn’t getting a lot of extra-base hits in general, but he still has 26 against right-handed pitchers over the last two seasons.

Those numbers have to improve for McGuire and I don’t see any reason why they won’t eventually. He has 24 strikeouts in those 197 plate appearances, so he doesn’t have trouble putting the ball in play. When he fills out more, that consistent contact should turn into consistent hard contact. He hits a lot of line drives off right-handed pitchers, but those same lefties that Weiss and Meadows are showing their improvements against, are the ones shutting down McGuire.

DSL Star Take Center Stage

The DSL All-Star game took place on Sunday with three Pittsburgh Pirates on the National League squad. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Felix Vinicio went into right field in the top of the seventh and managed to collect two singles in two trips to the plate. Melvin Jimenez batted third and started at shortstop. He played the entire game and went 1-for-4 with a single. Ramon Garcia faced one batter and picked up a strikeout in the middle of an impressive run by his teammates. Five National League pitchers ended up getting nine outs in a row by strikeout, and that was after the AL struck out just twice in the first 5 2/3 innings. The DSL Pirates resume play today.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 4.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 3.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 4-6 in their last ten games. They have a three game lead in their division.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are 1.5 games behind first place with Bowie.

Bradenton and West Virginia did not win their first half title. Their second half records are included below in the schedule. We will begin to update their playoff pushes on Wednesday morning.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-1 to the Brewers on Sunday afternoon. They now travel to Kansas City, where A.J. Burnett will get the ball for the 19th time this season. In his last start, he allowed three runs over 6.1 innings to the Cardinals. His opponent will be Yordano Ventura, who has a 4.73 ERA in 13 starts. In his last three outings combined, he has given up nine earned runs over 11 innings.

In the minors, A.J. Morris will get the start for Indianapolis, his first of the season. He has gone four innings once this year and three innings twice, which represent his longest outings. Jason Creasy has pitched twice this month, allowing 12 earned runs over seven innings. He also pitched in the All-Star game, where he allowed three runs in his only inning. Cody Dickson has allowed one earned run over five innings in each of his last two starts. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (53-38) @ Royals (55-35) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (2.11 ERA, 33:100 BB/SO, 119.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (55-40) vs Scranton/WB (50-45) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: A.J. Morris (2.96 ERA, 15:45 BB/SO, 48.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (50-44) vs Erie (36-56) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (3.91 ERA, 32:41 BB/SO, 94.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (47-47, 15-9 second half) @ Palm Beach (49-45) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.98 ERA, 37:63 BB/SO, 92.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (54-39, 17-7 second half) vs Lexington (41-50) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.11 ERA, 18:58 BB/SO, 85.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (13-16) @ Auburn (12-16) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: JT Brubaker (6.64 ERA, 2:11 BB/SO, 20.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (9-14) @ Danville (12-13) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (14-9) vs Braves (6-16) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (16-26) vs Rangers2 (21-20) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is a video of Brent Morel hitting a home run. With Jordy Mercer getting injured on Sunday, Morel was scratched from the Indianapolis lineup right before first pitch.

Recent Transactions

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.

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

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

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.

7/10: Pirates sign Ike Schlabach and assign him to GCL.

7/10: Pirates sign Tate Scioneaux and assign him to Morgantown.

7/10: Jesus Paredes promoted to Morgantown. Oderman Rocha sent to GCL.

7/9: Pirates sign Sherton Apostel.

7/9: Mike Wallace sent from Bristol to GCL.

7/7: Clay Holmes added to Bradenton roster. Harold Ramirez placed on temporary inactive list.

7/7: Trace Tam Sing added to West Virginia roster. Tito Polo placed on temporary inactive list.

7/6: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Travis Ishikawa added to active roster.

7/6: Justin Seller assigned to GCL on rehab.

7/5: Pirates claim Travis Ishikawa on waivers.


This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Fame outfielder. We also have a game recap from the 2002 season. Starting with the two lesser known players born on this date, we have pitcher John Lamb and outfielder Harry Cassady. Lamb was a member of the 1971 World Series champs. He also played for the team in 1970 and 1973. He signed with the Pirates out of high school in 1964 and spent all 11 seasons of pro ball in the Pirates’ system. Cassady joined the Pirates in August of 1904 and hit .205 in 12 games before he was loaned to a minor league team, which ended his time in Pittsburgh. He played one more season in the majors, seeing time with the 1905 Washington Senators.

The Hall of Fame outfielder born on this date is Heinie Manush, who played briefly for the Pirates in 1938-39. He was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, making one appearance in the outfield during his 25 games in Pittsburgh. He went 4-for-28 for the Pirates and when they released him, it was to make room for Chuck Klein, who is also a Hall of Fame outfielder. Manush was at the end of his big league career when the Pirates got him, but he was a much better player in his prime. He hit .330 during his 17-year career.

On this date in 2002, the Pirates got a big day from Adam Hyzdu during a 15-6 win over the Cardinals. He homered twice and drove in seven runs. He hit three-run homers in the first and fifth innings. This big game came one day after he hit a grand slam in a 12-9 win over St Louis. You can find the boxscore for the 15-6 game here. The link above has a full game recap.

  • If Morel does come up he’s on an 8 game hit streak so hopefully Clint doesn’t play games with him and just puts him in the lineup. Keep the streak going.

    • Morel has a .900 OPS since May 25th and has arguably been the best hitter in the system since then. It hasn’t carried over into Major League success in the past, but he’s doing something correct right now, so who knows. The plan I’m sure is that he is a short-term player and either Mercer returns or they make a trade.

  • piraterican21
    July 20, 2015 11:06 am

    I don’t get why the Pirates will promoted Morel, he’s a corner infielder and the big league club has plenty of those, I rather see a glove only SS come up like Florimon than him.

    Kozy, on you thought about the Cardinals way, I will rather see Hanson come up and play 2b with Walker moving to 3b

    • They have no idea how long Mercer will be out. Without knowing that, they aren’t going to just drop someone from the 40-man for a shortstop only to find out he won’t be needed, or even worse, just make a trade. Morel might get added and dropped in five days for all we know right now.

      People are automatically assuming the worst, but the Pirates aren’t going to do that. When they find out how much time he will miss, if it’s significant, they will make a different move, Morel has been the best hitter in Indianapolis over the last two months, plus he has Major League experience and if all goes well, he might not even play

      • John, what is wrong with the idea of moving Walker to 3B and promoting Hanson? Morel will have to be added to the 40 man, which I would guess mean that Corey Hart gets transferred to the 60 day DL or cut? Why not use someone, Alen Hanson, who is already on the 40 man roster and move Walker to 3B where he played plenty in the minors and does have some major league experience.

        • They have no idea of a timetable yet for Mercer, so how do you make moves based on an unknown? If it’s long-term, maybe they would consider that an option, but I highly doubt it.

          Hanson is doing well, but in my opinion, he isn’t Major League ready yet and I think they want to bring him up when they think he is ready to stick. Just because Hanson has a much higher upside than Morel, doesn’t automatically make him a better option today, he’s still 22 years old with zero MLB experience.

          So here is what is wrong with your scenario. You’re putting Walker at a position he hasn’t played in five years and replacing him with a lesser defensive player with no Major League experience, as opposed to using a third baseman(Morel) at his regular postion, Walker at his regular position and Morel with a .900 OPS in the last two months. That’s literally two defensive downgrades and a lesser hitter at this point. I’m not sure how hurting the lineup, experience and defense could be better.

          Plus Morel is expendable. Maybe he is there for five days and never plays, getting replaced by Lombardozzi, or a traded player. If he gets DFA’d, either no one picks him up or no one cares if he does.

  • I might be reaching here, but with Mercer injured, I feel like if the Cardinals were in a similar situation, they’d put Kang at short, move Pedro back to third, and call up Bell to play first. That’s one thing I like about the Cards is they rely on their prospects to be depth. Another thing I find interesting is the amount of pitchers they have in the bullpen for a year or 2 before moving into the rotation. Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez both worked out great. I guess it’s just a little demoralizing to see Brent Morel coming up. I’d much rather see Gift come up.

    • You mean like when the Cardinals filled their hole in RF by trading Shelby Miller for Jason Heyward instead of promoting Major League-ready prospect Stephen Piscotty?

      Or when the signed Mark Ellis for $5m last year to be their starting 2B instead of giving the position to Wong out of ST?

      • Touche. Maybe I just notice the outliers. I really hope the next collective bargaining agreement changes.

        • Nah, I was being purposely cheeky. I think you’re half correct; the Cardinals do very often pull from their prospect ranks for depth, but they also never make what I’ll call desperate promotions. When was the last time they promoted a guy straight from AA?

          • That is true. I don’t recall them doing that. I love what Huntington has done and feel he’s earned the benefit of a doubt at this point but I still think that even in a playoff run, Gift Gnoepe and Alen Hanson should be in Pittsburgh right now. I would have absolutely no problem seeing the Bucs trade NW this offseason and put Hanson at 2B. I guess the biggest thing hurting Hansen is his position. He’s pretty much limited to 2B which cause I think his bat could help the Pirates right now. They should bring him up for the Royals series and put him at 2B and let NW DH for the series.

  • Our two AJ’s going today. Hopefully, BOTH win.

  • John Lamb, a member that famous Butcher shop, Lamb, Moose and Veale.

    Lamb had one hellacious curve ball, but not much else.

    I hear that he is also Steve Blass’ brother in law

    • John Dreker
      July 20, 2015 9:50 am

      What were the expectations when Manush signed? Obviously he was on the downside of his career and the Pirates made it clear that he was a bench option, but that had to be an exciting pickup for the playoff run, correct?

  • The lefty vs lefty sounds promising, but, as we’ve seen with Polanco, I’ll get excited when they can do it in the majors?

    That was one thing about Pedro…he sucked vs lefties even in the minors…lol.