Morning Report: Ke’Bryan Hayes is Having a Strong First Season

Ke’Bryan Hayes went 1-for-3 during Friday’s doubleheader in the Gulf Coast League, reaching base four times in six plate appearances. He drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. The Pittsburgh Pirates 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft is putting up some impressive numbers so far, with eight games left on the schedule. With that in mind, I wanted to compare the young third baseman’s performance to three other high profile draft picks from the last two years.

Hayes has a narrow one point lead in the GCL batting race, hitting .343 going into Saturday’s action. He has played 42 games and has basically been a singles hitter, though he’s hitting a lot of them, plus drawing his share of walks(and five HBP). That has led to .442 OBP, which is four points higher than anyone else in the league. Unfortunately, he has just four doubles and a triple in 137 at-bats, so his .387 slugging percentage ranks 22nd in the league. When you add everything up, he has an .829 OPS, which is still very good at sixth best in the league. Considering that three of the five players ahead of him are more than three years older and another is 2.5 years older, then that makes his season ever more impressive.

The three obvious recent comparisons for Hayes are Cole Tucker, Reese McGuire and Austin Meadows. All three were first round picks out of high school, so you’re comparing highly rated players, who were the same age in the same league, making their pro debuts. One of the best stats for Hayes, is his 21:22 BB/SO ratio. It shows a good eye at the plate and someone that makes consistent contact. When you add that into his stats, plus his defense, which is advanced for his age, it makes it likely that he will also make the same jump to Low-A ball that the other three made in their second season.

Tucker hit .267/.368/.356 in the GCL last year in 48 games. Hayes is going to finish with about the same amount of games as Tucker played, which is basically the same range for McGuire and Meadows too. Tucker showed a little more power when he got hits, but he also had 38 strikeouts and hit 76 points lower, so you have to give the advantage to Hayes. That could prove good for Hayes next year, as Tucker hit .293/.322/.377 this season in 77 games. A .699 OPS is nothing great of course, but Tucker was 18 for half the season, plus he stole bases at a nice clip and only made 13 errors. So overall it was a solid season that looks better when factoring in age, which we will have to do with Hayes next year too, assuming he makes the same jump.

A good season in the GCL doesn’t mean it will carry over the next year though, as Reese McGuire proved. Catching is obviously different than playing infield. Catchers tend to develop slower as hitters, and they take more time off due to the strenuous demands behind the plate. McGuire hit .330/.388/.392 in his first season and was difficult to strikeout. That didn’t carry over to West Virginia last year when he put up a .642 OPS in 98 games. That OPS number is meaningless without knowing his age, position and defensive value, which all made him a top prospect. Hayes is going to end up with a slightly better first season(assuming he doesn’t go 0-for the last eight games) and he has strong defense, just not at a key position like catcher, so they basically had equal value years.

Austin Meadows put up a .918 OPS due to some big power numbers in the GCL. He hit .294, though it came with 24 walks, so he got on base a lot. Meadows plays outfield, so you expect the bat to develop a little quicker. He hit well last year and has been one of the best hitters in the FSL this year. Meadows should eventually hit for more power, which isn’t really expected from Hayes. His(Hayes) extra-base hits are lower than you would expect from him, but he isn’t going to be hitting 20+ homers every year in the majors either, which Meadows shouldn’t have much trouble doing.

Some people are disappointed with the lack of power from Hayes, but that ignores his age, his other stats and the projections from the start. Some people call it a lazy comparison, but his dad is actually a decent comp. Joe Randa would probably be a little bit better because he got on base more, but we will stick with the dad comparison. Charlie Hayes was strong defensively at third base and he had a little pop in his bat, but nothing special if you ignore the big year in the thin air of Colorado. The younger Hayes would be a pretty good player if he ends up having the career his dad had. If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a little better, especially in the batting average/on base department, but the power, defense and lack of speed should remind you of Charlie Hayes and that’s not a bad thing.

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 5-5 in their last ten games. They are in second place, 5.5 games back of Bowie and they are tied in the wild card.

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

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

Morgantown is 5-5 in their last ten games. They are 1.5 games back in the wild card chase.

The Bristol Pirates are 5-5 in their last ten games. They are four games back in the division and three in the wild card.

GCL Pirates are 1-9 in their last ten games. They are 6.5 games back in the standings, with eight games left on the schedule.

The DSL Pirates have been eliminated from the postseason.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-4 to the Giants on Friday night. Gerrit Cole gets the ball today, trying to get back on track after a few down starts. He has a 5.00 ERA in his last three starts combined. Mike Leake will start for the Giants, his second game since joining the team. He threw 6.1 innings last time out, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks against the Rangers. Leake has faced the Pirates three times this year, allowing five runs over 20.2 innings.

In the minors, Tyler Glasnow was pushed back to this afternoon’s game to keep the rotation in order, with Vance Worley pitching game one of the doubleheader. Indianapolis went with A.J. Morris in game two to make a spot start in a seven inning game, as opposed to using him down the line in a nine inning game. This will be the fifth AAA start for Glasnow, who has 113 strikeouts on the season. Tyler Eppler threw seven shutout innings in his last start. The GCL Pirates had a doubleheader scheduled today, but game two has been moved to next Friday. The DSL Pirates play their final game today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (72-48) vs Giants (66-56) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.61 ERA, 35:154 BB/SO, 155.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (74-53) @ Charlotte (66-61) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.29 ERA, 13:25 BB/SO, 21.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (66-59) @ Bowie (71-53) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (4.55 ERA, 45:56 BB/SO, 126.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (65-59, 33-21 second half) vs Ft Myers (70-56) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.27 ERA, 13:37 BB/SO, 52.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (74-49, 37-17 second half) vs Lakewood (63-59) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.20 ERA, 30:78 BB/SO, 114.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (30-29) @ Mahoning Valley (26-31) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (25-27) @ Princeton (33-24) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (27-25) vs  Yankees1 (21-28) 10:00 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (29-42) vs Marlins (24-47) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is a video of Barrett Barnes hitting his third homer for Altoona. He hit six homers with Bradenton earlier this season.

Recent Transactions

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

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one of the longest games in Major League history.

Doug Bair, 1976 and 1989-90 pitcher. Bair has the longest period between appearances with the Pirates. He was a 2nd round pick of the Pirates in 1971 and he pitched 584 games in the majors.

Wally Hebert, 1943 pitcher. Before the Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1942 season, the last time Hebert played Major League ball was in 1933 for the St Louis Browns. After throwing 184 innings in his only season in Pittsburgh, he retired from baseball.

Lyle Bigbee, 1921 pitcher. His brother Carson played 11 season for the Pirates, while the older Bigbee got in five relief appearances during his time in Pittsburgh.

Harry Swacina, 1907-08 first baseman. Pirates paid $3,000 to purchase his contract from the minors. He .200 in 26 September games in 1907 and .216 in 53 games in 1908 before he was released.

Ned Hanlon, Hall of Fame manager, who played outfielder and managed for Pittsburgh in 1889 and 1891. You can read a bio for Hanlon here, covering his time in Pittsburgh.

Howie Camnitz. Pitched nine seasons in Pittsburgh, winning 116 games. In 1909 when the Pirates won their first World Series, he won 25 games, which hasn’t been topped by a Pirates’ pitcher since. Camnitz had a 1.56 ERA in 1908 and 1.62 in 1909, giving him the second and third best season ERA’s in franchise history. He threw a five inning no-hitter during the 1907 season. His brother Harry pitched for the 1909 team. A full bio for Camnitz can be found here.

On this date in 1917, the Pirates and the Brooklyn Robins played 22 innings at Ebbets Field. Reliever Elmer Jacobs took the loss despite allowing one run in 16.2 innings. Carson Bigbee had six hits. You can view the boxscore here. The Pirates had already played extra innings in three straight games before this one.