Morning Report: Draft Picks, Struggling Catchers and How Age Affects Prospect Status

Going with a notes article this morning because they are good for topics that aren’t big enough for their own articles at this time.

I had someone ask in the comments for an article yesterday where Brandon Waddell is, since he hasn’t pitched. Waddell took three weeks off before signing, which was 20 days ago. That layoff would mean that he wouldn’t be ready to pitch when he reported to Morgantown, so assuming there are no issues(if there are, we will find out shortly), then Waddell would probably begin to throw a couple days after reporting, then throw a bullpen and build up from there. He pitched a lot this season in college, so there really isn’t a big need to get him innings this year. He won’t run into any innings limit next season.

As for the other three draft picks we haven’t seen yet, not that anyone asked, but here they are. James Marvel was out due to Tommy John surgery when they signed him, so it’s not surprise that he hasn’t pitched. Nathan Trevillian had a muscle flexor injury, which he called tightness in his right forearm. Isaac Schlabach didn’t have any injury, but wasn’t pitching at the time he signed. All three are scheduled to see mound time in the Fall Instructional League. All the other draft picks have played/pitched at least once.

Tim Williams is on his way to Morgantown to get a first look at some of the new draft picks and get some updates on the team. He started in Bristol and then went to West Virginia and if you check the minor league schedule below, you’ll see that Gage Hinsz and Yeudy Garcia are starting for those two clubs. Those are two of the top pitching prospects in the system, so I figured it was bad timing on his part. Then as I was entering the stats for Jonathan Brubaker, I noticed that he hasn’t allowed an earned run in any of his last three starts, totaling 16 innings. He’s given up just seven hits and two walks over those starts, so now is a pretty good time for Tim to check out the 2015 sixth round pick and see what has led to his current success.

Speaking of success, this stat would qualify as the exact opposite. The GCL Pirates have four catchers on their roster, with Yoel Gonzalez seeing about half the time and Paul Brands, Garrett Russini and Reggie Cerda splitting the rest. Combined, the four of them are 14-for-119, with one extra-base hit this year. That comes out to a .118 average. Gonzalez signed for a $350,000 bonus in 2012 and he just turned 19 a few days ago, so he has time to develop. He has a strong arm and solid defense for his age, but he’s not going anywhere with a .111 batting average in his second year in the GCL. He is currently on an 0-for-28 streak.

Staying on the GCL, age was another question that came up yesterday a couple times for this league. I mentioned that Chris Plitt, who pitched great yesterday, was a 20-year-old college pitcher with a high ERA. That was more to avoid two questions that would come up if I didn’t mention those two facts. It avoids the “Is he a prospect?” question based on one start, which happens from time to time. The high ERA tells you why he is still in the GCL, especially since it is high after his impressive start. It wasn’t a knock against Plitt, more just me covering all the bases.

For the GCL, it’s mostly high school players and international players over from the DSL. It’s perfectly fine for a college player to go there if it’s a playing time based reason. Plitt is getting innings in there, and so is Nicholas Economos. The thing is that you can’t really take much from their stats in the league, as long as they are good, because they are supposed to do good. That is why there is usually an asterisk next to their name in the write-ups. It’s just so people know not to take too much from these starts.

You’ll see the same in the Bristol recaps because they are right up there as the second oldest team in the league. If you’re on the wrong side of the 20.7 average age for the Appalachian League, then you’re too old for the league in most cases(injuries are a legit excuse), so it will negatively affect a player’s prospect value. Plitt should be in the Appalachian League and so should Economos, but there would then be an issue with enough innings for everyone, so for now, the GCL is fine for them. The only difference is that if they were with Bristol, then their stats would mean more.

Enjoy your Wednesday and you might want to skip over the section below about Jeff Locke’s stats against the Cubs this year.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 5.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a three game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 7-3 in their last ten games. They have a 2.5 game lead in the division.

Altoona is 4-6 in their last ten games and they are in second place, four games back of Bowie.

Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by two games in the standings.

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

Morgantown is 5-5 in their last ten games. They trail by five games in the division.

GCL Pirates are 7-3 in their last ten games. They are tied for second place, a half game back in the standings.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-0 to the Cubs on Tuesday night. Jeff Locke will be on the mound tonight, making his 21st start of the season. He has faced the Cubs three times this year and lasted just 12.1 innings total, giving up 15 runs on 21 hits and nine walks. Locke will face Dan Haren making his Cubs debut. He has a 3.42 ERA in 129 innings this year.

In the minors, Yeudy Garcia goes for West Virginia tonight. He leads the South Atlantic League with a 2.00 ERA. His 1.07 WHIP is third best in the league. He is tenth in strikeouts, just 13 behind the leader. Gage Hinsz will start one of the games for Bristol today during a doubleheader. He is coming off an outing in which he allowed one run over five innings. Tyler Eppler gets his eighth start. He has pitched twice in relief and his last start was limited to two innings due to a long rain delay. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (61-44) vs Cubs (58-47) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (4.21 ERA, 44:88 BB/SO, 113.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (64-47) @ Durham (53-57) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.15 ERA, 34:71 BB/SO, 111.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (58-52) @ New Britain (52-56) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (4.43 ERA, 40:48 BB/SO, 109.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (55-52, 23-14 second half) vs Jupiter (50-59) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (4.15 ERA, 8:26 BB/SO, 34.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (63-43, 26-11 second half) vs Greenville (55-52) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (2.00 ERA, 27:81 BB/SO, 90.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (23-20) vs Auburn (20-22) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Jonathan Brubaker (3.72 ERA, 4:24 BB/SO, 36.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (18-20) @ Kingsport (19-21) 6:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable Starter: Gage Hinsz (6.14 ERA, 10:9 BB/SO, 14.2 IP) and TBD

GCL: Pirates (21-12) vs Braves (15-20) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (21-35) vs Mets2 (33-23) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is a homer from Willy Garcia on Monday, making it three straight games with a home run for him.

Recent Transactions

8/5: Isaac Sanchez assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab. Stephan Meyer assigned to GCL from Morgantown.

8/4: Dovydas Neverauskas promoted to Bradenton. Robert Stock sent to GCL.

8/4: Jake Burnette activated from disabled list.

8/4: Jonathan Schwind activated from Altoona disabled list. Adam Miller assigned to Altoona.

8/3: Michael Morse added to active roster. Jaff Decker optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Shane Kemp sent from Bristol to GCL.

8/2: Josh Smith activated from Altoona disabled list.

8/1: J.A. Happ added to active roster. Bobby LaFromboise sent to Indianapolis.

8/1: Josh Bell and Jeremy Bleich promoted to Indianapolis.

8/1: John Holdzkom placed on disabled list. Hunter Morris sent to Altoona.

7/31: Pirates trade Adrian Sampson to Mariners for J.A. Happ.

7/31: Pirates trade Jose Tabata to Dodgers for Michael Morse and cash.

7/31: A.J. Burnett placed on disabled list. Bobby LaFromboise recalled from Indianapolis.

7/31: Deolis Guerra designated for assignment.

7/31: Dan Gamache promoted to Indianapolis. Erich Weiss promoted to Altoona. Trace Tam Sing promoted to Bradenton.

7/30: Pirates trade JaCoby Jones to Detroit Tigers for Joakim Soria

7/30: Vance Worley designated for assignment.

7/30: Justin Seller traded to Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later, or cash.

7/30: Pirates sent Gorkys Hernandez outright to Indianapolis

7/30: Logan Ratledge promoted to Morgantown. Erik Forgione promoted to West Virginia

7/30: Pirates acquire Joe Blanton for cash considerations.

7/29: Pirates trade Jayson Aquino to Indians for cash considerations.

7/28: Gift Ngoepe placed on disabled list.

7/28: Pirates release Ulises Montilla.

7/28: Brent Morel refuses outright assignment to Indianapolis.

7/28: Miguel Ferreras retires. Mervin Del Rosario promoted to Bristol.

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.

7/27: John Holdzkom activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note and a first in baseball history that involved the Pirates. First the trade and on this date in 1980, the Pirates sent two minor leaguers to the San Diego Padres for infielder Kurt Bevacqua and pitcher Mark Lee. The Pirates got 25.1 innings out of Lee and 51 games from Bevacqua, but they gave up Luis Salazar, who ended up spending 13 years and 1302 games in the majors.

The players born on this date include 2009 outfielder Eric Hinske, 2007 pitcher John Wasdin, 1980 pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo and 1971-73 pitcher Nelson Briles, who threw a complete game shutout over the Orioles in game five of the 1971 World Series. He won 36 games in his three years with the Pirates and had a 2.98 ERA. After the 1973 season, Briles was traded to the Royals in a deal that included Kurt Bevacqua making his first trip to Pittsburgh.

On this date in 1921, Harold Arlin announced the first radio broadcast of a baseball game over the radio. On KDKA, he called the 8-5 win by the Pirates over the Phillies at Forbes Field. The game lasted 1:57 and the Pirates went down 4-2 early, before reliever Jimmy Zinn came in and allowed one unearned run over six innings for the win. Philadelphia’s Cy Williams hit the only home run that day and Pirates’ right fielder Possum Whitted scored three runs.

  • Possum…what a nickname. Baseball doesn’t have many nicknames in this day and age. Country crooner George Jones famously wore the Possum moniker till his death.
    These little tidbits from you are something I read with interest, to say nothing of your main articles.

  • Haren’s 2015 BABIP is 40 points below his career norms. Tonight is a fine time to regress that mofo back to where it should be 🙂

  • Not that I actually want to see him, but how come there’s never been mention of Volstad as a depth option – he is now quietly putting up a solid season in AAA and has MLB experience with some brief success

    • ANYONE is better than Liz.

      • Glad to see I’m not the only one that doesn’t have confidence in him. It really is a shame that Taillon, Cumpton, and Kingham aren’t depth options right now. I think that’s the worst thing that happened to the Bucs this year.

        • And Sadler too. Cumpton and Sadler are pretty much the same guy to me. Happ definitely wouldn’t be around and if all those guys were healthy they may have used some combo of them to get someone way better than happ. I wish we were happless for sure. Overall, I didn’t mind the deals but this one and they Aram one bothered me. So far those two deals are horrific. I hope the next 4 weeks make me wrong about them. Locke/happ back to back looks like a bullpen taxer waiting to happen.

          • Cumpton has something extra though. He has an inate ability to play over his talent.

            • Maybe Kozy. He definitely seemed like he was mentally tough and just kept doing what he does and stuck with his plan.

            • Cumpton is a bulldog out there, and I think we may have found another in that same mold with Chad Kuhl. I know he has not pitched at AAA, but the pitches he throws with great efficiency are the pitches that are the most successful in the majors. Sort of a Jared Hughes type with more basic velocity.

              • I’m rooting for Kuhl too. He’s from my home state and graduated high school with my cousin. I went on a rant a week or 2 ago about certain players being successful because they have bigger balls. I believe Cumpton is one of those players.

      • Negative much Lee?

        • Lee hates Liz. To me, if Liz can dominate as a starter in aaa, no reason he should t help as at least a long man in sept. He has been incredible and definitely not the same guy that was in the pen early in the season. He’s showing the reason he got a lot of money compared to his status.

      • Happ begs to differ!

    • He isn’t far off in the stats now, but that’s because his last two outings have been great. He doesn’t have the stuff Liz has, or the results of Sanchez, and Simpson, while he was around, obviously had the much higher upside. Volstad has been real good lately though

    • I asked the same question yesterday. He leads Indy in ERA and WHIP, tied for the lead in wins, and second in strikeouts. He was called up earlier this year and pitched 2 innings, gave up 2 hits and 0 ER. Yet he seems to be ignored for pitching depth. Not sure what I am missing.

      • His last two starts were great, before that no one mentioned him at all. Sanchez has the better stats, Liz has better stuff, he would fall behind them. When Sampson was here and doing well, Volstad wasn’t, so he was behind him. He has a 1.30 WHIP. Sanchez is 1.04 and Liz is 0.97

        • Disagree John. Volstad innings pitched 111. Liz 50. Sanchez 56. HR’s allowed: Liz 0, Volstad 2, Sanchez 6. I think those are pretty telling stats that Volstad hasn’t just been hot lately, and I disagree that Liz and Sanchez are better options based on numbers alone. It does appear that everyone is in love with how fast someone throws, and at 91 MPH I’m sure no one is impressed with Volstad.

          • Because they have pitched less doesn’t mean they haven’t pitched better. If Volstad was considered the better option then we would be saying he was the better option, but like I said, he’s allowed one ER over 14 innings in his two starts before today, so that really helped his stats. Dropped his ERA 36 points and knocked his WHIP down to a number that is high-end respectable, though it’s still much higher than the other two. It could just end up that if they need a spot start, it goes to whoever’s turn it is to pitch that day, so it wouldn’t matter who is considered better.