Morning Report: Age is Important For Prospect Status

When we talk about prospect status for players, one of the big factors is their age compared to their level. If a player is too old for a level, it makes it hard to take what they are doing serious unless there is a good reason they are old for the level. The good reason is usually injury-related and something long-term that causes them to miss significant time. On the flip side, if someone is young for the level, then you tend to give them some leeway with their stats.

If you follow prospects long enough, you get a good sense of where they should be at what age. If not, you can just find the average age of a league and if a player is below average and doing good, you realize their is probably some upside. It means he is facing older competition while doing good, and the further under the average age, the better.

You can take Austin Meadows as an example. He turned 20 during the season this year. There are many players in the GCL that are older than him, yet there are three levels of pro ball between the GCL and the Florida State League. Meadows is not only young for the league, but he is doing well. That tells you without looking at anything else, that he probably has a lot of upside.

Of course age/level isn’t the only factor, but it’s one of the first things you have to notice. From there, you can figure out why a player is at a certain level if he is older than the average age. An example of that could be a pitcher that did real well on Saturday night, tenth round pick Logan Sendelbach. The Pirates want to use him as a starter. He isn’t as advanced as the pitchers on Morgantown, so they send him to Bristol to get innings. What the Pirates don’t want to see when that happens, is a 21-year-old, who got a six-figure bonus, put up a 5.68 ERA through ten games. That isn’t going to help Sendelbach’s prospect ranking since it’s not a good sign that someone old for the league is struggling.

If you go up a couple levels for another pitcher that did well on Saturday, Alex McRae gave up one run over seven innings. That great performance just barely got his season ERA under 5.00, one year after putting up a 6.21 ERA at Jamestown in 15 starts. He has two seasons of stats to look at and they don’t look good. He just happens to be the tenth round pick from 2014, so he’s a good comparison for Sendelbach. McRae was average age for the NYPL last year and top end what you want to see in the SAL this year. He’s the same age as Stephen Tarpley, but there is clearly  a huge talent difference between the two pitchers.

Tarpley is top end for the age you want to see in the SAL, which means he will be top end for Bradenton next year too, but the Pirates have shown that they will move pitchers up to Altoona at the mid-season point if they are ready. If Tarpley is in AA by June, then his age isn’t a factor anymore because it’s fine for the level. That is what happened with Steven Brault this season. He went from being top end age for the level in April, to someone who looks like he could be a depth option for the Pirates by mid-season next year if he stays on the same path.

It’s a subject that comes up a lot when asking about players because it applies to every player in the system. Probably later today(maybe Monday), I will have the DSL season recap up along with a list of the top players to watch. I spent a lot of time on Saturday getting final reports on every player and adding that to what I already had, but what the people I talked to aren’t doing, is giving me a prospect list.

If a 20-year-old in the DSL did good, they aren’t separating that from the 17-year-old that did just as good, but there will obviously be a big difference in ranking between the two players. A 17-year-old still has a lot of upside, while someone three years older is closer to their upside already, and top end what you want to see at the level. The tricky part is taking that 17-year-old that didn’t do good, but has a scouting report that sounds good, and fitting that player among older players that had strong seasons.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

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

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

Altoona is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are in second place, 4.5 games back of Bowie and they lead the wild card by one game.

Bradenton is 5-5 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by three games in the standings.

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

Morgantown is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are one game back in the wild card chase.

The Bristol Pirates are 6-4 in their last ten games. They are three games back in the division and two in the wild card.

The GCL Pirates have been eliminated from the postseason.

The DSL Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 3-2 over the Giants on Saturday afternoon. For Sunday’s game, they will send Francisco Liriano to the hill to face-off against Ryan Vogelsong. Liriano has given up 12 earned runs over 16 innings in his last three starts combined. He allowed one run over seven innings against the Giants earlier this season. Vogelsong has a 3.93 ERA in 116.2 innings this season. He has allowed just one earned run over his last 11 innings.

In the minors, Chad Kuhl will make his 24th start of the season today. He has had a strong season, but he’s been even better in the second half. In his last ten starts, Kuhl has a 1.85 ERA in 58.1 innings. He threw six shutout frames in his start on Tuesday. Luis Heredia hasn’t been able to get through five innings in his last four starts. He has a 1.68 WHIP and a .319 BAA. The GCL Pirates are off today. The DSL Pirates’ season is done. Bristol has a doubleheader. You can view the season recap here. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (73-48) vs Giants (66-57) 8:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.35 ERA, 51:154 BB/SO, 142.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (75-53) @ Charlotte (66-62) 5:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.35 ERA, 40:77 BB/SO, 129.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (67-59) @ Bowie (71-54) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (2.63 ERA, 38:91 BB/SO, 133.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (66-59, 34-21 second half) @ Palm Beach (69-56) 5:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (5.45 ERA, 30:48 BB/SO, 76.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (75-49, 38-17 second half) vs Lakewood (63-60) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (5.13 ERA, 32:87 BB/SO, 100.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (31-29) @ Mahoning Valley (26-32) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (26-27) vs Kingsport (31-26) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (27-26) vs  Blue Jays (34-18) 10:00 AM 8/24 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)


Here is a video of Tyler Glasnow’s ninth strikeout on Saturday. He threw 6.1 shutout innings.

Recent Transactions

8/22: Pirates release Jesus Ronco and Luis Brun

8/21: Josh Harrison activated from disabled list. Josh Wall designated for assignment.

8/20: Corey Hart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/20: Travis Snider signed to minor league deal.

8/19: Josh Wall added to Pirates. Pedro Florimon designated for assignment.

8/18: Edwin Espinal placed on disabled list. Junior Sosa activated from Bradenton disabled list.

8/18: Adam Miller placed on disabled list. Jeremy Bleich activated from temporary inactive list.

8/16: Jose Salazar retired.

8/16: Pirates sign Frank Herrmann. Jeremy Bleich placed on temporary inactive list.

8/16: Rob Scahill sent to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/14: Edward Salcedo traded to Royals. Robert Stock assigned to Altoona.

8/13: Angel Sanchez placed on disabled list. Andy Vasquez sent to Altoona.

8/11: Rob Scahill sent to Altoona on rehab.

8/11: Wilfredo Boscan sent outright to Indianapolis. Jeff Inman placed on disabled list.

8/11: Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/9: Adam Miller promoted to Indianapolis.

8/9: Cole Tucker placed on disabled list. Erik Forgione sent to Morgantown.

8/8: Kevin Newman and Edgar Santana promoted to West Virginia.

8/8: Junior Sosa placed on disabled list. Isaac Sanchez activated from Bradenton disabled list.

This Date in Pirates History

One former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date, plus the second no-hitter in team history. Guy Bush pitched for the 1935-36 Pirates. He was part of a five-player trade after the 1934 season that included Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom. Bush was part of  strong Pirates’ rotation that included HOF pitcher Waite Hoyt, as well as Cy Blanton, Red Lucas, Bill Swift and then Mace Brown getting long relief duty and some spot starts. Bush threw 204.1 innings in 1935, posting a 4.32 ERA. The next year, he was only used out of the bullpen, getting released in early July.

The first official no-hitter in Pirates’ history was thrown by Nick Maddox at the end of the 1907 season. That’s only true because MLB changed the definition of official no-hitters for some strange reason. Before Maddox threw his game, two Pirates’ pitchers threw complete games with no hits, yet for some reason, they took them out of the record book because they didn’t play nine innings. Regardless of what MLB says with their silly rule, Lefty Leifield threw the first no-hitter in Pirates’ history back on September 26, 1906 when he no-hit the Phillies for six innings. The game was called due to darkness, so Leifield gets punished because the ump decided it was a good idea to stop playing once the teams couldn’t see the ball.

The next year on August 23,1907, Howie Camnitz threw the second Pirates’ no-hitter during the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Giants. This game wasn’t even called due to weather or darkness. The two teams played extra innings in the first game, then decided the second game would be a five inning game, so Camnitz couldn’t have went any further unless the score was tied. He was far from perfect in the game, allowing four walks, but the Giants were unable to collect a hit and the Pirates won 1-0.