Morning Report: Pirates Still Have Six Affiliates With Playoff Hopes

The minor league regular season has just 11 days left and the top six affiliates still all have a chance at the playoffs, though Bristol and Bradenton might not be alive for long unless they can go on a run to finish off their season. Barring a few epic collapses, we will have some minor league playoffs to cover here. The Prospect Watch and the Morning Report will continue as long as at least one team is still in the playoffs. Here’s an expanded look at what’s left for each team.

The GCL Pirates are the only team playing still without a playoff spot and two weeks ago, it looked like they had a good chance. They were 25-14, tied for first place. Since that point, they have gone 2-16, getting eliminated from the playoffs last week. That’s what you call an epic collapse, and the other teams will try to keep that from happening.

Bradenton has nine games left and they trail first place by five games. They have three games against first place Palm Beach and they’re home games, so all hope isn’t lost, but it’s not looking good. If they get in the playoffs, that would make quite the story.

Bristol is basically eliminated, but not technically. They have five games left, two at home against the best team in the league, then three on the road against a team they trail. Bristol can’t win the division(they trail by seven), but each division has a wild card team. The problem is that they trail two teams by 2.5 games in the wild card, so it would be pretty tough to pass both of them with only five games left. They do play one of them, so a three-game sweep could make things interesting.

On to the teams with better playoff shots and I’ll start with the easiest one first. West Virginia has a nine-game lead for the second half title. They have an 11 game lead. As long as they don’t turn into the GCL Pirates, they have things wrapped up.

Morgantown has made a huge run lately to take the one wild card spot in their league. They have a 1.5 game lead for that spot(with no chance at first place), but even with just 11 games left, none of the teams in the league have been eliminated from the playoffs yet. Playoffs are far from a sure thing at this point, but it’s always better to be that lead team.

Altoona has a one game lead over Akron for their division’s wild card spot, but they are in a tough spot with 11 games left. They have their last eight games on the road, while Akron has seven games left at home. The two clubs don’t meet each other again.

Indianapolis has been out in front of their league forever, but they are down to just a one-game lead. The good part is that they have a 5.5 game lead for the wild card spot, so if they do continue to drop, they have a fallback plan. They have 11 games left, with four against second place Columbus, two on the road, two at home.

The hard part to believe about all of this is that there are only 60 regular season games left in the minors between all the affiliates. This season seems like it has flown by, so it would be nice if there are some playoffs to extend it and a few championships would be good for the Pirates’ organization.

A quick update on the GCL batting title which was mentioned in yesterday’s Morning Report. Ke’Bryan Hayes is still tied for the lead with a .333 average because nothing changed yesterday. The Yankees1 game got canceled due to rain and the Cardinals game did as well. That means Trey Amburgey(Yankees1) still has exactly enough plate appearances to qualify for the league lead, despite being promoted weeks ago. It also means that Allen Cordoba(Cardinals)is hitting .332, now with two games left on his schedule.

The Yankees1 are scheduled to play two games against the Pirates between today and tomorrow to wrap up the season, so as long as they get one game in, then Hayes will be alone at the top. He can still get passed by Cordoba, or possibly someone a little further down that has a huge weekend. More on this tomorrow.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

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

Indianapolis is 4-6 in their last ten games. They have a one 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 lead the wild card by one game.

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

West Virginia is 7-3 in their last ten games and they have a nine game lead in the division. Their magic number is three.

Morgantown is 9-1 in their last ten games. They are 1.5 games 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 five games to go and two teams tied 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 2-1 over the Marlins on Thursday night. They now head home for three games against the Colorado Rockies. Francisco Liriano will be on the mound tonight. He went 5.2 innings in his last start against the Giants, giving up two unearned runs. Jon Gray will start for the Rockies, his fifth pro start. He has a 5.94 ERA in 16.2 innings

In the minors, Tyler Eppler has thrown 19.2 shutout innings over his last three starts. Chad Kuhl had thrown 13 shutout innings over his last two starts. Dario Agrazal Jr. was pushed back a day and JT Brubaker started in his place. Agrazal allowed one run over six innings in his last start. In 12 starts this season, he has given up three earned runs or less in every game, including ten games with two or less. There was originally a doubleheader scheduled today in the GCL, but the game that was postponed back in July, has been canceled and they will just play one game today and finish the season 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 (77-48) vs Rockies (51-74) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.23 ERA, 54:159 BB/SO, 147.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (77-56) @ Louisville (63-70) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.36 ERA, 40:81 BB/SO, 134.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (69-62) vs Trenton (68-62) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (2.50 ERA, 38:95 BB/SO, 140.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (67-62, 35-24 second half) @ Ft Myers (71-59) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (2.88 ERA, 14:42 BB/SO, 59.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (78-50, 41-18 second half) @ Augusta (62-65) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter:  Alex McRae (4.97 ERA, 30:82 BB/SO, 121.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (35-30) vs Mahoning Valley (28-35) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Dario Agrazal Jr. (2.77 ERA, 10:39 BB/SO, 65.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (27-32) vs Pulaski (41-22) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (27-30) vs Yankees1 (25-31) 10:00 AM (season preview)

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


Here is a video of an RBI triple from Erich Weiss. He is hitting .301/.333/.370 in 21 games with Altoona.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades of note. Starting with the transactions, we have the 1996 deal that brought Jason Schmidt to the Pirates in exchange for Denny Neagle. The two pitchers both had their moments for their new club, but the Pirates got nothing from the two minor league players that were thrown into the deal. The Pirates added Ron Wright and Corey Pointer, adding a lot of power to the farm system, though neither made the majors with the Pirates. Wright actually did get called up, but injured his wrist and never played.

On this date in 1988, the Pirates traded for Ken Oberkfell. They sent Tommy Gregg to the Braves four days later and received cash in return. Oberkfell was known as a decent hitter with a strong glove, but he hit just .181 in 34 games for the Pirates.

Former players born on this date include:

T.J. Beam, 2008 relief pitcher. Had a 4.14 ERA in 45.2 innings over 32 appearances.

Mark Ryal, 1990 outfielder. He went 1-for-12 in nine late-season games.

Wally Roettger, 1934 outfielder. The Pirates acquired him in a four-player trade with the Reds. He hit .245 in 47 games with Pirates.

Charlie Grimm, first baseman from 1919 until 1924. He hit .286 in 770 games with the Pirates, driving in 369 runs. He was sent to the Cubs in a six-player deal after the 1924 season, which was covered here. The deal included the Pirates’ all-time win leader Wilbur Cooper and Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville.

Bill Stuart, 1895 shortstop. Hit .247 in 19 late-season games for the Pirates.