About three weeks ago, I did a DSL recap of the first half and it was mostly focused on a young team having a lot of issues with injuries. Since then, the team has been relatively healthy, at least compared to the first half. The problem with the three injuries that have occurred since then, is that they are all big name players.
Catcher Gabriel Brito and pitchers Brian Sousa and Adonis Pichardo have all missed time recently. Brito has returned after a left hand injury cost him two weeks, but the two pitchers are still out. Sousa is having shoulder issues for the second time, while Pichardo has arm fatigue and hasn’t pitched since July 15th. Those three players all received six-figure bonuses shortly after the July 2nd signing period began last year.
Pichardo is the truly disappointing one because the other two are still very young for the league. He is 19 years old, which is league average. Pichardo signed two years later than normal after he showed an uptick in velocity and he continued to improve in that area coming into the season, touching 96 MPH. When he has pitched this season, the results haven’t been there, with a 6.97 ERA and 1.87 WHIP.
Pichardo isn’t the only pitcher struggling, as the Pirates rank 37th among the 38 teams in ERA, just two points ahead of the worst. Their 1.58 WHIP is the worst in the league, and they are 33rd in strikeouts. It’s not surprising that they aren’t among the best, since all but two of their 54 starts have come from first-year players. The two that didn’t were by Raymond Rodriguez, who is only 18 and was a reliever pushed into two spot starts, so they have one of the youngest rotations in the league. The problem isn’t that they aren’t among the best though, it’s just how bad they have been.
The best pitcher on the staff has easily been closer Ramon Garcia. He made the All-Star team and he’s having a strong season, but you don’t hear about too many 23-year-old closers in the DSL going on to have future success. Unfortunately, the best hitter has also been a 23-year-old, Huascar Fuentes. Just like with relievers, you don’t see too many success stories coming from players his age in the DSL, especially when the players position is first base.
So with that in mind, just who has looked the best among prospects so far? On offense, Mikell Granberry has an .836 OPS and he’s still 19, but he had defensive issues behind the plate, mostly from rushing throws. That’s partly due to pitchers having trouble holding runners on, but the other catchers have definitely had better success. Gabriel Brito has an .807 OPS, but he has missed a lot of time.
From the pitching side, you really can’t pick anyone that has done well and is considered a prospect. I will point out Julian Villamar, who has the arm to be a talented reliever. He throws mid-90’s and has a curve that breaks hard. Unfortunately, control has been an issue, so while he has upside, he could also never leave the DSL. His control has looked good in his last four outings, which totaled 9.2 innings, so it’s an encouraging small sample size.
The season recap won’t be anything like last year’s, when it was tough picking just ten prospects for the top ten. I ended up adding another three “names to watch” and 11 of those 13 players came to the United States, leaving this team with little experience. That wasn’t helped by all of the injuries, which left a young team looking like a very bad team.
I would assume that next year’s team will be better because I don’t see a lot of players being promoted, and if there ends up being a lot, it’s going to include a bunch of players that struggled this year. They are bringing in some strong international signings from this year, plus two pitchers that were signed back in June before the July 2nd signing period. Both of those pitchers have high upside and they have been in the academy with the team for two months already. So next year’s team has a lot of top signings coming in and should be a much more experienced group, which should equal a better team. The 2015 season has definitely been a down year for the DSL Pirates.
Pirates Game Graph
The Pirates trail by 5.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 3.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.
Indianapolis is 6-4 in their last ten games. They have a three 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 7-3 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by one game 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 6-4 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 first place, though their winning percentage is nine points higher than the other team.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Reds by a 3-0 score on Sunday to split the four-game series. Pittsburgh now heads home for three games against the Cubs. Francisco Liriano will be on the mound tonight, making his 21st start of the season. He faced the Cubs back on April 21st, allowing three runs over five innings. Chicago will go with Jon Lester, who has a 3.26 ERA in 132.2 innings. He allowed one run over seven innings versus the Pirates on May 16th.
In the minors, it’s a light day on the schedule tonight, as three teams have off. Radhames Liz gets his eight start. He has thrown shutout ball in five of his seven starts and allowed one run in another. He has a .176 BAA and a 0.97 WHIP. Liz has thrown 19 shutout innings over his last three starts. Austin Coley has 85 strikeouts this season, seventh most in the South Atlantic League. Altoona, Bradenton and Bristol all have off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (61-43) vs Cubs (57-47) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (2.92 ERA, 42:140 BB/SO, 126.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (63-46) @ Durham (52-56) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Radhames Liz (1.02 ERA, 15:51 BB/SO, 44.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (58-51) @ New Britain (51-56) 7:05 PM 8/4 (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (3.93 ERA, 26:53 BB/SO, 121.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (55-51, 23-13 second half) vs Jupiter (49-59) 6:30 PM 8/4 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (62-43, 25-11 second half) vs Greenville (55-51) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (4.00 ERA, 17:85 BB/SO, 105.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (22-20) vs Auburn (20-21) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (17-20) @ Kingsport (19-20) 7:00 PM 8/4 (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
GCL: Pirates (20-11) vs Tigers (17-13) 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (21-33) vs Yankees2 (30-24) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is Josh Bell’s first AAA hit, which happened to be a walk-off winner in the 13th inning.
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.
7/22: Gorkys Hernandez assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
7/21: Jonathan Schwind and Andrew Lambo assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
7/21: Harold Ramirez activated from temporary inactive list. Robert Stock placed on disabled list.
7/20: Jordy Mercer placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Brent Morel. Corey Hart transferred to 60-day DL.
7/20: Tito Polo activated from temporary inactive list. Jeff Roy promoted to Bradenton.
7/20: Kelson Brown activated from Indianapolis disabled list.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a managerial change of note. The players start with shortstop Kevin Elster, who signed as a free agent in 1997, but broke his wrist in mid-May and missed the rest of the season. Mackey Sasser, catcher for Pirates in 1987 and in 1995. The Pirates acquired him at the 1987 trading deadline for Don Robinson, then flipped him to the Mets the next spring for Randy Milligan. He didn’t last long as a free agent signing in 1995, getting released in May.
Sid Bream, played first base for the Pirates from 1985 until 1990 and then I’m not sure what happened to him, probably something I’m just trying to forget.
Jim Gott, relief pitcher from 1987-89 and then again in 1995. Teammates with Sasser during both stops with the team. He had 34 saves for the 1988 team.
Gus Getz, third baseman for the 1918 Pirates. Had a forgettable time in Pittsburgh, but his career had two things that were noteworthy. He had 1172 in the majors and walked just 24 times. He also hit two homers as a pro and connected on them just eight days apart during a seven-year career.
On an off-day in 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a 36-67 record and decided to make a change, firing manager Bobby Bragan and hiring Danny Murtaugh to be the interim manager. Murtaugh led the team to a winning record(26-25) the rest of the way and three seasons later, he skippered them to their third championship in franchise history. He would win 1115 games as the manager of the Pirates and brought home another title in 1971, while also making the playoffs three other times.