A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season (Nick Kingham, Jacob Taylor), he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 30 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the mid-season update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.
1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Indianapolis – Disabled List
3. Austin Meadows, CF, Bradenton -[insert_php]
4. Josh Bell, 1B, Altoona -[insert_php]
5. Alen Hanson, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
6. Reese McGuire, C, Bradenton -[insert_php]
7. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
8. Harold Ramirez, OF, Bradenton -[insert_php]
9. Cole Tucker, SS, West Virginia -[insert_php]
10. Kevin Newman, SS, Morgantown -[insert_php]
11. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, GCL -[insert_php]
12. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bristol -[insert_php]
13. Clay Holmes, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php]
14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP, West Virginia -[insert_php]
15. Adrian Sampson, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
16. Max Moroff, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php]
17. Barrett Barnes, OF, Altoona -[insert_php]
18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php]
19. Trey Supak, RHP, Bristol -[insert_php]
20. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bristol -[insert_php]
21. Adam Frazier, SS, Altoona -[insert_php]
22. Willy Garcia, OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
23. Steven Brault, LHP, Altoona -[insert_php]
24. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Morgantown -[insert_php]
25. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php]
26. Adrian Valerio, SS, GCL -[insert_php]
27. Connor Joe, 1B, West Virginia -[insert_php]
28. John Holdzkom, RHP, Indianapolis – Disabled List
29. Jordan Luplow, 3B, West Virginia -[insert_php]
30. Casey Hughston, OF, Morgantown -[insert_php]
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Keon Broxton had three hits for the second straight day and has now has a 23-game on base streak, dating back to July 3rd. He had two doubles and a triple, which gives him a pretty interesting stat line when you figure in his Altoona stats. Broxton now has 23 doubles, nine triples, six homers and 25 stolen bases this year. His stats look poor due to that .240 batting average, which was at .216 just two days ago, but he now has a .740 OPS for Indianapolis. His upside coming into this year was fourth outfielder, and while a return to Altoona seemed like a setback for the 25-year-old(he was 24 on Opening Day), he earned a promotion to Indianapolis and now seems to be adjusting well to AAA pitching.
Alen Hanson has been in a slump recently, going 7-for-40 over his last ten games. He hit a two-run homer in this contest, had a double yesterday and a triple the day before, so there are signs of life, but he’s not getting on base like a lead-off hitter should. People have called for him to join the Pirates during various times this year, but he looks like he still needs time, which isn’t a bad thing when you’re talking about a 22-year-old.
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Fifteen minutes before the first pitch in Altoona, JaCoby Jones was pulled from the starting lineup because of the trade with Detroit. It made for an interesting start to the game, as the lineup got shuffled, and players found out that the deal occurred.
Jason Creasy threw six innings for the Curve tonight and allowed three earned runs, ending a stretch of three straight games where Curve starters did not allow an earned run over 19 innings (Kuhl, Brault, and Dodson). Including tonight’s outing, Creasy has a July ERA of 10.07. It was the long ball that hurt Creasy tonight, as he allowed a leadoff home run in the 5th and the 6th. Otherwise, Creasy only allowed four hits tonight, and he looked much better than he has over his past few outings. He has had command struggles on all of his pitches recently; however, he was much better at controlling his fastball tonight.
Jhondaniel Medina came in relief for Creasy in the 7th, and he allowed one earned run in two innings. John Dreker did some research and discovered that Medina has made 85 straight appearances totaling 121.2 innings without allowing a home run.
Josh Bell was the only Curve batter to record multiple hits on the night, most notably a deep double to the right field wall in the 9th inning. The biggest hit of the night came off of Jose Osuna’s bat, with a deep moon shot over the left field bleachers in the 2nd inning. Moroff, Gamache, and Allie all struck out twice tonight. After a 1-for-4 night tonight, Adam Frazier’s batting average dropped to .345 from .364 four days ago. – Sean McCool
Bradenton had off on Thursday. They play a doubleheader on Friday.
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It’s not often you see Stephen Tarpley give up more than two earned runs in a game this year, it happened just once before tonight in 12 starts. From that standpoint, he didn’t have his best stuff, but no walks and seven strikeouts, while putting up a 5:3 GO/AO ratio sure look good in the stat column. This was Tarpley’s second straight start with zero walks and seven strikeouts, and it now gives him a 17:68 BB/SO ratio in 71.2 innings.
John Sever followed Tarpley with three shutout innings to finish the game. That’s something he has been doing a lot of lately, shutting out the opposition over extended relief outings. In his last eight appearances combined, he has allowed one earned run over 20.2 innings. In 75 innings this year, he has a 3.12 ERA and 76 strikeouts.
Tito Polo is 13-for-30 in his last nine games after collecting two hits in this contest. He has been terrific since the All-Star break, coming into this game with a 1.021 OPS in 15 games, drawing more walks than strikeouts. He stole his 28th base of the year, which is tops among all Pirates’ minor league players. Jordan Luplow hit his eighth homer, giving him 38 extra-base hits this season. He has all drawn 42 walks, so he is being productive despite the low batting average.
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Pirates’ 8th round draft pick Seth McGarry was sent to the GCL this year, despite pitching at a major college, which is something you rarely see from a top ten pick. He was there to get stretched out as a starter, since he was used in relief in college. After a little trouble in his first outing, he breezed through the next two, getting up to five innings. After reaching his inning limit(per game), he was transferred to Morgantown, where he started off great, throwing five shutout frames his first start. McGarry got roughed up the next time out, then bounced back with a solid four inning performance. This game was his fourth start for Morgantown and it was easily his worst. He couldn’t make it out of the third inning, giving up a single, followed by three straight walks and another single, with a sacrifice fly ending his night.
Logan Hill has driven in 32 runs in 34 games. He hit a solo homer in this contest, his fifth of the year. He has 15 extra-base hits. The 22-year-old from Troy University has a .991 OPS, which is almost 200 points above the next highest regular on the team. In fact, he has two more homers than all of his teammates combined.
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Gage Hinsz had his longest outing of his career, going five innings tonight. His previous high was four innings in his final GCL start last year. He had only gone three innings this year while with Bristol, although the Pirates had been building him up. Hinsz had a shoulder flare up at the start of the year, which led to him taking a week off and getting a late start. He had some issues in his first four outings, combining for an 8.38 ERA and walking 9 batters in 9.2 innings. Tonight he had his best command of the season.
“He was efficient today,” Bristol manager Edgar Varela said. “He was in the zone. He attacked with the fastball, made them swing the bats. He did a nice job. He earned five innings today.”
Varela noted that Hinsz was under 50 pitches, which allowed him to go back out for the fifth inning. He finished the outing with just 56 pitches. He was mostly working off the fastball, which sat 90-92 MPH, touching 93. The lone problem he had came in the first inning when he gave up a leadoff walk, followed by a one out RBI double. He settled down, and gave up just one hit the rest of the start, which came in the fifth inning with two outs.
Hinsz was successful because he was pitching off the fastball and commanding the pitch well. He admitted that he entered the start thinking he should trick guys, rather than attacking with the fastball. Once he trusted the pitch, the results came. He also credited the command to the work he’s been putting in on repeating his delivery.
“I was on time,” Hinsz said of his success tonight. “Something I’ve been working on a lot since we came to Bristol. I think it’s finally starting to come around a lot more consistently.”
The fastball had good movement and a downward plane, plus the good velocity. I’ve seen good flashes from Hinsz in the past, and his projectable frame gives hope that he could improve on the already good velocity. The problem in the past, including several times in extended Spring Training when I saw him, was an inconsistent delivery that threw off his command.
It’s hard to say what led to the struggles early this year. It could be the minor injury, or it could be the command. And I don’t want to say that Hinsz is done with the problems after this start. But he showed why he’s a top prospect with his stuff tonight.
He was working mostly off the fastball and curveball, with the latter being a nice offering that could lead to strikeouts in the future. He didn’t throw the changeup much, but said after the game that he’s getting more comfortable with it after finding the right grip (circle change) and realizing that he doesn’t have to try to power through the offering.
“When he solidifies the fastball command and that changeup, that could be a pretty gnarly arsenal for him,” Varela said.
Hinsz piggybacked with Scooter Hightower, who didn’t have great velocity, sitting 86-88 MPH, touching 89. Hightower ran into some issues in the eighth inning, giving up two runs and putting the 4-3 lead at risk. He ended up getting out of the jam, and quickly finished off the game in the ninth. Julio De La Cruz led the offense with two doubles. He looks like he has trimmed down a bit from where he was at last year, which should help him some at third base. However, I don’t think his reaction times are good enough to stick there for the long-term. – Tim Williams
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The Pirates won on Thursday despite some defensive issues, with four errors and four unearned runs allowed. Gerardo Navarro lowered his ERA to 1.98 through 27.1 innings, but he is a 21-year-old, soft-tossing lefty in the GCL. Not only is he too old for the league and repeating the level, but lefties with good control usually succeed in the lower levels, so he shouldn’t be seen as anymore than someone filling innings at this point.
The pitcher after Navarro is more interesting, Richard Mitchell, who threw four shutout innings. He follows the Pirates “pitch inside, keep the ball low, pitch to contact” teachings better than anyone else in the system. Mitchell got nine ground ball outs in this game, which is what you should expect from him when he is on. The Pirates tweaked his mechanics late in Spring Training this year, so he hasn’t pitched much as he gets comfortable with the new delivery. This was his first outing over 2.1 innings this season. It was expected(by me) that he would go to Bristol, because he is a little older for the GCL and has an advanced feel for pitching, but the change in delivery seems to have changed his course for now. This outing was a step in the right direction.
Michael de la Cruz had a single, two walks and a stolen base, scoring three runs. That is reminiscent of the player that was called one of the top prospects in the entire DSL after the 2013 season. He is still 19 years old, just turning that age earlier this month, so he has time to regain his form. When he is at his peak, he is an on base machine, who provides speed on the bases and above average defense in center field. Adrian Valerio had two walks in this game, breaking a streak of 12 straight games without a walk. – John Dreker
Live Reports From Wilbur Miller:
Michael De La Cruz — Very patient at the plate, very good speed.
Adrian Valerio — Like De La Cruz, didn’t swing at pitches outside the zone (the Astros’ pitchers had some control issues). Drew two walks, doubled into the gap in right center and laid down a perfect sac bunt. Also showed very good speed, scoring on a short passed ball. Had several slowly hit grounders to play and showed very good agility, quickness and hands in fielding them, and also a strong arm, but throws were all off-target.
Ke’Bryan Hayes — like the hitters in front of him, worked the count well, but got caught in an 0-2 count against a new pitcher. Went 1-2 with a walk as the DH.
Jhoan Herrera — Made hard contact, lining a double and a sac fly, but doesn’t take many pitches. Had a base running blunder, getting doubled off second on a line drive that wasn’t hit that hard.
Edison Lantigua — Had no hits, but two drives deep to the opposite field were caught. Seems to have a good approach at the plate, although he got fooled on one change.
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In his 11th career start, 17-year-old lefty Domingo Robles had his best pro outing, allowing two hits over five shutout innings. He came into the game with a 4.80 ERA and had thrown five shutout innings once before, but this game was much better. He hasn’t been much for ground balls early on, with a 1.02 GO/AO ratio prior to the game. That’s an acceptable (not great) rate for the higher levels, but the DSL tends to be more of a ground ball league, so 1.02 is below average. He helped improve that number with a 9:2 GO/AO ratio on Thursday. The only strange part about this game, with him being so dominant, is that both hits he allowed were doubles.
Julian Villamar pitched two innings and struck out five batters. He is one to remember it now appears, as long as he can continue to improve his command issues. When Villamar is on, he has a lethal three-pitch mix, and you get outings like this one. When he isn’t on, he can’t find the plate and tends to overthrow the ball.
On offense, the Pirates scored all their runs on homers, with Ramy Perez hitting a two-run shot and Huascar Fuentes hitting a solo shot, his fifth of the season. For Perez, the homer was his first in nearly two years (8/13/2013) and just the second of his three-year career. One little off-the-field tidbit, it appears William Calderon, now goes by Williams Calderon, which I noticed the other day elsewhere, but wasn’t sure if it was a mistake.