Morning Report: Notes on Brubaker, Ramirez, Hayes, Frazier

Just going to cover some miscellaneous topics today, going over a few things we have been watching lately. I wanted to start with something I missed in Thursday’s Prospect Watch while writing up the start from Jonathan “JT” Brubaker. He is the New York-Penn League leader with an 0.95 WHIP. That’s from a player that really had a tough start to his pro career in June, posting a 9.45 ERA and 1.80 WHIP in his two starts. He has pitched really well since then, lowering his ERA to 2.93, which ranks seventh in the league.

Brubaker definitely fits the mold of a pitcher that will skip over low-A to Bradenton. He is getting results, keeping runners off base, showing excellent command with only 11 walks and he has a 1.62 GO/AO ratio. Morgantown also has Brandon Waddell, who should be able to skip low-A, so if they both skipped then that would already take up two spots at Bradenton, with Yeudy Garcia, Stephen Tarpley and Austin Coley looking like sure bets to be there next year. That would be an interesting rotation to follow if it happens, but it’s obviously far from being decided.

Ke’Bryan Hayes likely lost his batting title on Friday. Allen Cordoba from the Cardinals went 3-for-3, giving him a .342 average. He would need to go 0-for-5 today to tie Hayes and 0-for-6 to lose the title. So it looks like there won’t be a GCL batting title, but Hayes is going to finish somewhere in the top four, with his spot decided by what a couple players right below him end up doing on Saturday.

Speaking of batting titles, I mentioned in the Prospect Watch on Thursday night that Harold Ramirez could still win the FSL batting title if he finished strong, despite being short of having enough plate appearances to qualify. Unfortunately for him, he went 0-for-5 last night, which dropped his average six points. His average is only nine points higher than the leader now and he’s 58 plate appearances short of qualifying with eight games left, so Friday night really hurt his slim chances. Ramirez would need to hit great the rest of the way now and average about five plate appearances a game to win. Regardless of how he finishes, this is still a very good season for the 20-year-old prospect.

At least the organization still has Adam Frazier leading the Eastern League with a .328 average. He needs to only hold on to an 11 point lead over the last ten games to win. Frazier is hitting .359 over his last ten games.

Just because he never gets mentioned, I thought I’d point out that West Virginia catcher Francisco Diaz has an 11-game hit streak. I didn’t even put him in the title because I didn’t want him to be confused with Elias Diaz. His hit streak is intact despite the fact it’s 40 days long because he’s the backup, who rarely plays behind Taylor Gushue. He has reached base in 20 of his 23 games this season, with one of those three games being a game he only played defense(left with a concussion). One of the others was part of a doubleheader and not only did he bat just three times, he was asked to put down a sacrifice bunt in one those trips to the plate. He’s hitting .342, which is well above his .257 career average, plus he has thrown out 42% of base runners this year.

Diaz is actually quite valuable to the Pirates because he is a good mentor to have around for the young catchers coming through the system. He’s strong on defense and works well with the other backstops. I saw him last year putting in extra work a few times with Reese McGuire, giving him pointers during defensive drills. Diaz is a minor league free agent as the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him re-sign, or become a coach at some point. It seems like he can still play pretty well in a part-time role, so you might see him fill that third catcher role wherever he is needed next year. I also like Diaz because he’s an article-filler for the winter league coverage, showing up occasionally in Venezuelan League games. With the way he is playing this year, he might see more playing time in his native country.

Yesterday I went in depth into the minor league playoff situations. Not a whole lot has changed in one day, so it’s still fairly relevant and gives you a great idea of which teams should make the playoffs. I’ve added the games left to the playoff push below, except for the Pirates because they have a lot longer to go than the other teams. Just 53 more regular season minor league games left on the schedule.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 3.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a five 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 with ten games left.

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 two games, with ten games left.

Bradenton is 5-5 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by five games in the standings with eight games left, including three against Palm Beach.

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

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

The Bristol Pirates are 3-7 in their last ten games. They are 2.5 back in the wild card with four games to go and two teams ahead of them.

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 5-3 on Friday night over the Rockies. J.A. Happ will be on the mound tonight, making his fifth start for the Pirates. In his last three games combined, he has allowed one earned run in 17.1 innings. The Rockies will go with Chris Rusin, who has a 4.97 ERA in 92.1 innings. He gave up 11 earned runs over two innings in his last start.

In the minors, it’s been awhile since there hasn’t been any prospects on the schedule, although the three lower levels could produce something interesting. Wilfredo Boscan has had a crazy season, yet it hasn’t affected him lately. This is his ninth year of minor league ball and he has never played a Major League game, yet the Pirates called him up three different times this year. He was recently dropped from the 40-man roster, so he doesn’t even have that going for him anymore. At least he got some Major League pay for the time he was up. In his last ten outings, he has a 1.53 ERA in 53 innings. The GCL season ends today. The DSL Pirates’ season is done. You can view the season recap here. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (78-49) vs Rockies (51-75) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: J.A. Happ (2.08 ERA, 6:22 BB/SO, 21.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (78-56) @ Toledo (54-80) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.00 ERA, 44:79 BB/SO, 114.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (70-62) vs Trenton (68-63) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (6.15 ERA, 20:43 BB/SO, 90.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (68-62, 36-24 second half) @ Ft Myers (71-61) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (5.70 ERA, 35:50 BB/SO, 79.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (79-50, 42-18 second half) vs Lexington (54-74) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (5.03 ERA, 34:91 BB/SO, 105.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (35-31) vs Mahoning Valley (29-35) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (28-32) vs Pulaski (41-23) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (28-30) vs Yankees1 (25-32) 10:00 AM (season preview)

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


Here is a video of Tyler Glasnow picking up his fifth strikeout on Thursday.

Recent Transactions

8/28: Carlos Munoz promoted to Morgantown.

8/28: Edwin Espinal activated from Bradenton disabled list. Clay Holmes placed on disabled list.

8/28: Kelson Brown placed on disabled list.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded away long-time second baseman Johnny Ray, to the California Angels for two minor league players. Ray was acquired near the end of the 1981 season for Phil Garner and he had no Major League experience at the time, but the Pirates put him right in the starting job and he stayed there until this second deal. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1982, and he hit .286 over 931 games with the Pirates.

Former Players born on this date include:

Billy Cox, shortstop in 1941, then again during the 1946-47 seasons. Missed four full years due to military service during WWII. He hit .290 over 121 games in his first year back.

Joe Schultz Jr., catcher from 1939 until 1941. His dad was the farm director for the Pirates and also played for the team during the 1916 season. He also had a cousin named Hans Lobert, who played for the 1903 Pirates and another cousin named Frank Lobert, who spent a season in the big leagues.

Pep Young, infielder from 1933 until 1940. His .264 in 697 games with Pittsburgh. Spent most of his time at second base, but also saw time at shortstop and third base.

Roy Wood, 1913 left fielder. Joined the team in mid-June, playing just 14 games the rest of the season.

Ensign Cottrell, pitcher on June 21,1911. Played just one game for Pirates, coming in late during a blowout loss. He played for five teams in the majors, yet he only played 12 games as a pro. He is the first player to play for a World Series winning team in both leagues, 1913 A’s and 1914 Braves.