Morning Report: Glasnow Starts Tonight, Hayes Close to Batting Title

Tyler Glasnow makes his sixth start for Indianapolis tonight. I plan to watch the game online, which I’ve done for his other five starts, missing only a few innings total. His stats look outstanding, prompting many people to call for him to be in the Pirates’ rotation in September. As I’ve said in the past, that isn’t something the Pirates do. They didn’t call up Gerrit Cole in 2012, they didn’t promote Jameson Taillon in 2013. There were calls for both of them to come up to either start or pitch out of the bullpen. That doesn’t mean that they Pirates won’t call up Glasnow, they can call up whoever they want, but we have very good reason to believe it won’t happen.

The other point is that he has really only looked dominating over the second half of his fourth start and in his last game. In his first game, he allowed a career-high nine hits. In his second game, he issued six walks. He was erratic in his third game and his fourth game went bad for three innings until a light switched on and he became the Glasnow we know. The ERA of 0.99 and high strikeout rate hide the fact that he has a 1.46 WHIP and he is giving up a lot of fly balls. He has never been a big ground ball pitcher, but an 0.47 GO/AO ratio is really bad.

The tricky part to this for most people is the fact that there are such things as September call-ups. If he had the same results in five AAA starts in June, you wouldn’t even think about calling him up. His control has been bad, he has work to do on his change-up and he’s not good at holding on runners. Glasnow is far from polished right now and Major League hitters would do a better job of exploiting his flaws. The Pirates are in a pennant race and no matter how you look at it, he would be an upgrade over someone. So people want him up and that might make sense short-term, but he is obviously a long-term piece.

As it stands now, I expect him to start today and still be in Indianapolis for his next start on September 1st. Then start on the 6th(assuming no rain outs) and then Indianapolis will be in the playoffs if they don’t collapse and that will give him another AAA start. The real fun part should be next year when he isn’t up until June and Twitter is littered with #FreeGlasnow for two months, possibly three if it starts during Spring Training.

It’s possible we see more #FreeBell tweets next year with the way Josh Bell is tearing up AAA pitching(see video below). You still want to see more power from him, but he looks like he could be close to ready with the bat. The thing with Bell is that I finally got to see the potential problems with his defense at first base on Wednesday. He didn’t make any errors, but he didn’t look good over there on some fairly easy plays. Just like with Glasnow, Bell has something to work on before he is ready for full-time, but he is someone you could see being a valuable player on the bench in September as well. I’d be shocked if he is up this year, or even before next June. Don’t forget, Jameson Taillon could also be in that same hashtag group, since he will need time in AAA next year.

Batting Race Watch

I mentioned Tuesday in the Prospect Watch that Ke’Bryan Hayes was second in the GCL in batting average when he was promoted to Morgantown. The one player ahead of him was Trey Amburgey, from the Yankees1(they have two affiliates), who was promoted a couple weeks ago. I say “was” because the Yankees1 completed a game from earlier in the season on Wednesday and he was 0-for-1 when the game was suspended. Since stats don’t count until the game is complete, they weren’t in his season stats until yesterday.

Amburgey is now tied in hitting with Hayes, but that one extra plate appearance is the only reason he is still on the leader board. Amburgey has 151 plate appearances and the Yankees have played 56 games, so he needs at least 151 plate appearances to qualify for league leaders. So as long as the Yankees1 play one game over these last three days of the season(not a given with Florida rain), then Hayes will have sole possession of the top spot. That brings me to the player hitting .332, who is still in the league. Shortstop Allen Cordoba could obviously pass Hayes with a good game or two and win the title, but you have extra incentive to root against him. He’s a shortstop for the Cardinals. After Cordoba, there are two players tied for fourth with a .323 average, so there is a little room between them and Hayes.

A GCL batting title obviously isn’t a huge deal, though it’s definitely a good sign for your 18-year-old third baseman to win the title. It will be fun to track it over the next three days  and something to reference in the future when talking about him if he does win. Plus it’s also much better if he wins it, rather than a Cardinals’ player.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

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

Indianapolis is 5-5 in their last ten games. They have a two game lead in the division.

Altoona is 7-3 in their last ten games. They are in second place, five games back of Bowie and they lead the wild card by 2.5 games.

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

West Virginia is 8-2 in their last ten games and they have a nine game lead in the division. Their magic number is four.

Morgantown is 8-2 in their last ten games. They are a 1/2 game ahead in the wild card chase.

The Bristol Pirates are 4-6 in their last ten games. They are 2.5 back 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 7-2 over the Marlins on Wednesday night. Gerrit Cole will be on the mound tonight, making his 26th start of the season. In his last start, he allowed one unearned run over seven innings against the Giants. Cole gave up two runs over seven innings against the Marlins back on May 27th. Justin Nicolino will start for Miami. He has a 3.77 ERA in five starts. In his last start against the Phillies, he allowed two earned runs over 7.2 innings.

In the minors, Yeudy Garcia comes into tonight’s start with a 2.13 ERA, the lowest in the South Atlantic League. He has a 1.05 WHIP, third lowest in the league. He is eighth with 96 strikeouts. In his last two starts combined, Garcia has thrown 11 shutout innings. Sixth round pick JT Brubaker is now listed as the Morgantown starter, with Dario Agrazal Jr. listed for tomorrow. The DSL Pirates’ season is done. You can view the season recap here. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (76-48) @ Marlins (50-76) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.49 ERA, 38:162 BB/SO, 162.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (77-55) @ Louisville (62-70) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (0.99 ERA, 15:34 BB/SO, 27.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (69-61) vs Trenton (67-62) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (4.44 ERA, 47:59 BB/SO, 131.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (67-61, 35-23 second half) @ Ft Myers (70-59) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (78-49, 41-17 second half) @ Augusta (61-65) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (2.13 ERA, 33:96 BB/SO, 109.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (34-30) vs Mahoning Valley (28-34) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: JT Brubaker (3.25 ERA, 11:35 BB/SO, 55.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (27-31) vs Pulaski (40-22) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (27-29) vs Phillies (34-23) 12:00 PM (season preview)

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

Highlights

Here is a video of Josh Bell driving in a run on Tuesday. He is hitting .333/.412/.524 in 23 games.

Recent Transactions

8/26: Stephan Meyer and Tanner Anderson promoted to Morgantown.

8/26: Cristian Mota promoted to Bristol.

8/25: Ke’Bryan Hayes promoted to Morgantown. Raul Siri promoted to Bristol.

8/25: Kevin Kramer promoted to West Virginia. Jordan Luplow placed on disabled list.

8/25: John Bowker placed on disabled list. Kelson Brown activated from disabled list.

8/25: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/25: Alen Hanson placed on temporary inactive list.

8/22: Jordy Mercer activated from disabled list. Travis Ishikawa placed on disabled list.

8/22: Josh Wall sent outright to Indianapolis.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus current Pirates’ shortstop Jordy Mercer turns 29 today. Starting with the most recent former players first:

Mike Maddux, 1995 Pirates. He gets lost in the shadow of his HOF brother, but he actually played 15 seasons in the majors, throwing a total of 472 games. His Pirates career was short with eight relief appearances and a 9.00 ERA. He was signed in April and released in May.

Mike Edwards, 1977 second baseman. He went 0-for-6 in seven games as a September call-up, then he got traded prior to the 1978 season. He has a twin brother named Marshall that played in the majors for three seasons. The strange part about them is that his brother batted and threw lefty, while Mike hit and threw right-handed. The Pirates also had a player named Mike Edwards during the 2006 season.

Charlie Engle, 1930 infielder. The Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He hit .264 in 67 games. Only other Major League experience was 20 games for the 1925-26 Athletics.

Eddie Mulligan, 1928 infielder. Had a 25-year pro career. His .233 in 27 games, seeing very little time despite spending the entire year with the Pirates

Dave Wright, pitcher on July 22,1895. His first two appearances in a Pirates’ uniform were actually mid-season exhibition games that he started. He only non-exhibition game appearance with the Pirates came as a reliever, throwing the last two innings of a game on July 22nd. He gave up six runs in his first inning, then threw a scoreless ninth. His only other Major League game came in 1897 and he defeated the Pirates, throwing a 15-14 complete game.

  • Eric Marshall
    August 27, 2015 1:34 pm

    any word on Tallion? Thought he might be throwing or getting ready to throw by mid to late August.

    • Dreker promised us a 1500 word update in the comments of yesterday’s Morning Report…how’s that comin’ along, JD?

  • 2016 Hashtag Brigade

    Glasnow
    Taillon
    Bell
    Hanson
    Diaz

  • Speaking of batting titles…will Harold Ramirez get enough plate appearances to win the FSL title?

    • And has Frazier’s slump eliminated his chances?

    • No, he will be well short. He would need to get 67 plate appearances in his last ten games to qualify. His average is 15 points higher than first place, so he could actually win the batting title with less than enough to qualify. For calculation purposes, they would add the difference in at-bats to his total and if he still had the higher average, then he would win. So assume he gets 50 more plate appearances. If you added an 0-for-17 to his total and he still had a better average than the leader, then Ramirez wins.

      • Do they do that in the majors too? I only say that cause Miguel Cabrera is hitting .370 right now.

        • Yes, players can win when they fall short in the majors. I thought it ws just for the batting title, but found out last year it goes for slugging and OBP too after Josh Bell won the FSL slugging title despite being short a few plate appearances.

    • “One guy who isn’t getting talked about enough is Harold Ramirez. The Pirates outfielder, who is playing right field due more to status (as compared to Meadows) than lack of ability, is well-built and already strong for his age. His swing is geared towards using the whole field, but he looks to drive the ball with every hack. His aggressiveness, however, doesn’t hinder his ability to barrel up the baseball. He’s a guy who has been overlooked on the national landscape, but won’t be for long. -Jeff Moore”

      • Another ? Jose Osuna.

      • I read that yesterday and all I could think is how much we talk about Ramirez here, but that’s just because we have followed him since day one and he plays winter ball, so he’s getting mentioned year round

  • If Bell ever actually settles into a good swing he’ll be terrifying. That thing in the video above, frankly, was ugly.

    • Yeah. He actually stutter steps as the pitcher goes into his delivery. Looks like it messes up his timing, getting his body too far in front of his arms. And then his hand/eye co-ordination (and some luck) saves the day.

    • He has never had a good swing and I’m sure it will keep changing over the years, but he gets results. It’s almost like he’s showing how good he is by performing well with bad swings. Sort of like a game of HORSE: batting stance edition

      • Exactly. A kid with anything less than elite bat-to-ball skills would be eaten up by now.

        Thing is, nobody should *expect* the power just to all the sudden show up at the highest level. Watch the swing plane, which is rather easy with those old school white gloves. You won’t find any big league power hitters with that little loft.

        With the chances of being a positive value defender, at least early on, being zero and legitimate questions about his ability from the right side, I’m not nearly as excited about a 23 yo with a >.900 OPS and as many walks as strikeouts in his first taste of AAA as I should be. Maybe that’s my fault, but I don’t see this profile working out to anything more than an average Big Leaguer.

        • I am in agreement with you, even though it isn’t a popular stance to take.

        • An avg player at 1st would be a major upgrade on the last couple years…

          • To me, this is the Jordy Mercer argument.

            I’ll understand if I lose you here, but in my opinion, a big reason why fans fell for Jordy was that they’ve only seen two shortstops have average or better years in the last three decades(!). Relative to those standards, sure, Jordy looked just fine.

        • It would be really interesting to see an extended video of a series of at bats from both sides of the plate, to take a look at the perceived flaws. By all reports this prospect has talent, intelligence, a good attitude and work habits. His maturity when interviewed is impressive. There have been more than a few great players with visually flawed swings. I remember how people pointed out that Clemente “lunged at the ball” for example. His swing was far from the model. It still bothers me that the Pirates are trying to create a first baseman out of this kid. It seems obvious that the organization is stacked with OF and pitching prospects. Why not balance up by finding one or more first base prospects this winter in the trade market?

          • First base is like 2B though. Most first basemen are former 3B, Catchers, or OFers. Whereas, most 2B are former SS who couldn’t throw. I think what they are doing is fine. I don’t think you’re just gonna find a 1B prospect on the trade market.

          • My point isn’t about having a perfect swing. An extremely small number of guys have what could be considered an optimum swing. But there are “checkpoints” in the swing that good hitters consistently meet, regardless of how they get there.

            With Bell, it’s not so much the quality but the type of hitter that worries me with his swing. I thing he’ll make a lot of contact, and even hit the ball hard when he does, but he simply does not currently have the type of swing geared to hit enough fly balls for the power to show up in games as much as you’d like from a 1B.

            If you’ve followed Tim’s great work on the maturation of Jameson Taillon, I’ll use that as an example (and if you haven’t, go read all of it now!). Taillon, like Bell, is a smart and extremely physically gifted baseball player. When JT was drafted, he had a classic drop and drive delivery. Great for velocity, awful for commanding the ball low in the zone. No matter how much he could’ve tried, the delivery simply would not have allowed his body to put the pitchers where he wanted at any sort of a consistent rate.

            Bell’s swing plane, as it currently stands, simply won’t allow him to tap into the in-game power he’s physically capable of displaying.

            • The Pirates were critical of what happened with Tabata’s swing plane and how it forced ground balls. From at least the left side Bell is showing some power. As I understand your point Bell has a swing plane that does not optimize his ability to hit for power.
              Can PP come up with any video on Bell at the plate?

              • Tabata was the extreme example, yes. Much more so than Bell.

                And you’re right on your other two points; Bell *does* show moderate power from the left side, and I *don’t* think his swing is geared for optimal performance. Not saying it makes him a “bad” hitter by any means, but a guy with his natural strength, bat speed, and lack of foot speed should absolutely, without question, be hitting more fly balls than ground balls, and I’d be very much surprised if that’s currently the case.

                You can find a bunch of clips here: http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=605137#/career/R/hitting/2015/ALL

                As for what to watch for, try tracing the path of his hands as the barrel is making contact. Power hitters, to a man, move their hands through the zone on a slightly upward trajectory (see Paul Goldschmidt), whereas ground ball hitters are flat or declining through the zone (see Chris Stewart).

                • Thanks for the clips. What I see in these clips(basically a left handed highlight reel) is a firm lead right hand. That is such a key to a good swing….if you break down and get cuppy with the wrist and back of the hand you are hitting ground balls. Picture Pedro on low outside breaking balls. I would love to see extended slow motion of good and bad swings from this kid from both sides of the plate. You can bet the Pirates have them. When Bell centers it up it looks like he hits screamers.

        • Tru dat. The closest major league comp I can come up with – bat control, plate discipline, lack of power, iffy defensively – is Sean Casey, a lifetime 1.6 WAR/600PA.

          The good news is, there’s still time to (and reason to believe he can) improve the defensive profile.

          And from the team perspective, a 2-win 1B on the open market is a $10M – $12M guy, so he’s certainly useful as is. Just not profiling to be a savior.

          • Ah, Casey’s a good one for all-around comp.

            The guy I keep going back to is James Loney minus the defense. High contact, low power line drive hitter who isn’t worthless against LHP, but also isn’t what you want out of your first baseman against them. I think Bell will get to a bit more power than Loney and will probably walk more often as well, but not enough of either to be significantly better overall unless the swing changes.

            • I recall (but alas cannot find) an article on either FG or BP noting that Loney underperforms his batted ball types largely because his line drives are > 1 SD slower than average. From what I have seen of Bell, he seems to sting the ball at higher velocity, leading me to believe (wishcast?) that he’ll profile a bit better. Anything could happen, but Lord I hope Loney is the floor, and not the expectation.

              • Interesting. Can’t say I noticed that article, but I’d buy into that theory.

                I wouldn’t say that’s wishful thinking with Bell, either. He’s a monster of a physical specimen with good bat speed and that seemingly innate ability to find the barrel. One thing I *don’t* think he’ll do is spray soft liners all over the field.

                I’d be pretty comfortable saying Loney is the offensive floor, but I also don’t see how the ceiling is *much* higher with this current profile. Only so much value you can squeeze out of a few more doubles and a few more walks. Probably something close to average Neil Walker(110-120 wRC+).

                Good hitter, but only a marginally good baseball player taking the other two parts of the game into consideration.

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