Morning Report: An Interesting Pitching Match-Up Tonight For Morgantown

Morgantown won the opener of the NYPL finals, and they went with JT Brubaker as the starter in game one, leaving an interesting pitching match-up in the second game. Dario Agrazal Jr. was one of the best pitchers this year in the NYPL due to his amazing consistency. He went at least five innings in every start and he never allowed more than three earned runs in any of those contests. In his playoff start last week, he allowed one run over 6.2 innings.

Staten Island is going with first round draft pick James Kaprielian, who was covered here extensively during our draft coverage this year. That’s because he was consistently mentioned in the Pirates range for their first pick, with multiple mock drafts picking him for the Pirates in the last month leading up to the draft. Kaprielian had a tough debut, giving up three runs while recording one out. Since then, he’s allowed three runs over 17 innings, with 18 strikeouts. He was a teammate of Pirates’ second round pick Kevin Kramer at UCLA, so the Pirates likely saw a lot of Kaprielian while scouting Kramer and vice versa.

Columbus won the other International League playoff series, so that means the two teams that finished tied for the best record in the league will play each other in the finals. Indianapolis and Columbus tied for first place in the West division. The Clippers won the division because they won the season series 11-10, which basically means these two teams were as close as you can get during the regular season.

One thing to watch for Indianapolis is their roster. The Pirates have said that it’s possible they add to their bullpen in advance of today’s doubleheader. That means at least one pitcher for Indianapolis could be coming up, which would leave them short-handed for the series. If they take Vance Worley, who started back on the 10th so he is available, then they will definitely hurt the Indians’ playoff chances. That obviously only matters to you if you’re a bigger fan of Indianapolis than you are of the Pirates. If they take a reliever instead, then it’s not such a big deal since Worley has gone eight innings in each of his last three starts, so he’s basically his own reliever. Just something to watch for later today, or if you wake up late, that move may have already been made.

Going back to Morgantown, I’ve been the one writing up all of their playoff games, as we split coverage up among everyone to get in depth reports for each game. I didn’t listen to many of their games during the regular season, because I usually base my decisions on starting pitchers and they didn’t have the best prospects. I listened during Brandon Waddell’s starts and Luis Escobar’s two games, plus a few random games throughout the year. So I haven’t really heard much about their players from the announcers perspectives. We had live coverage for many of their games, so I was able to get notes and ideas on players, but the more opinions the better for what we do here.

That leads me to two things that came up over these four playoff games, plus I listened to the last two games of the season. Casey Hughston is apparently a pretty good center fielder defensively. That is a little surprising because most reports say he profiles as a corner outfielder, but it sounds like he could be better. The Williamsport announcers really liked him and he was getting praise for his defense Monday night. The other thing isn’t a surprise and it’s all those strikeouts. Remember that the Pirates gave him $700,000 to sign, which was over slot. That was partially due to him being a draft-eligible sophomore, so that always adds to the price. For that much money, his propensity to swing and miss is a little disturbing.

Hughston had 13 walks and 71 strikeouts in 61 games for Morgantown. In college this year, he had 55 strikeouts in 235 at-bats. That’s not bad for a power hitter in the minors, but in college, that is bad. In the playoffs he has eight strikeouts in 15 at-bats. It sounds like the announcers have been on a broken record with the amount of times they have said “Hughston swings and misses” these last six games. It has to be a concern at this point, but you hope that this upcoming season in the West Virginia outfield, he shows some improvements. Then you can point to it being like his junior year of college and he was able to hold his own in full-season ball, which would be a good sign for the future. The fact that his .577 OPS among regulars was the ninth worst in the league though, makes it hard to have a lot of hope he can just turn it around in one season.

The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played. You can find last night’s Prospect Watch here.

Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis won the series 3-0

9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3

9/10: Indianapolis 6, Scranton/WB 1

9/11: Indianapolis 4, Scranton/WB 2

Indianapolis vs Columbus. Best-of-five series. International League finals

9/15: @Columbus 6:35

9/16: @Columbus 6:35

9/17: @Indianapolis 7:05

9/18: @Indianapolis 7:15 if necessary

9/19: @Indianapolis 7:05 if necessary

Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Altoona lost the series 3-1.

9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7

9/10: Bowie 7, Altoona 0

9/11: Bowie 11, Altoona 3

9/12: Bowie 3, Altoona 0

West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. The Power lost the series 2-1.

9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2

9/11: Hickory 6, West Virginia 3

9/12: Hickory 1, West Virginia 0

Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series. Morgantown won the series 2-1

9/9: @Morgantown 7:05 postponed until 9/10

9/10: Morgantown 2, Williamsport 1

9/11: Williamsport 3, Morgantown 1

9/12: @Williamsport 12:00 postponed until 9/13

9/13: Morgantown 4, Williamsport 0

Morgantown vs Staten Island. Best-of-three series. NYPL Finals. Morgantown leads 1-0

9/14: Morgantown 4, Staten Island 3

9/15: @Staten Island 7:00

9/16: @Staten Island 7:00 if necessary

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 2.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a four game lead for the top wild card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates were off on Monday. They play a day/night doubleheader today against the Chicago Cubs. Gerrit Cole will start game one, followed by J.A. Happ in the second game. The Cubs will go with Jason Hammel in game one, followed by Jon Lester in game two. Happ faced the Cubs in his first start with the Pirates and allowed four runs in 4.1 innings. He has allowed four runs in his six starts since then.

MLB: Pittsburgh (86-56) vs Cubs (82-60) 1:35/7:05 PM DH
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.54 ERA, 42:175 BB/SO, 180.2 IP) and J.A. Happ (1.79 ERA, 7:42 BB/SO, 40.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) @ Columbus (83-61) 6:35 PM
Probable starter:  Chris Volstad (3.18 ERA, 43:97 BB/SO, 155.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-68)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34) @ Staten Island (41-34) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Dario Agrazal Jr (2.72 ERA, 11:45 BB/SO, 76.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)

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


Since there was no video from Morgantown, there aren’t any new videos to post. So in honor of Elias Diaz, who came close to a homer in his first pro at-bat, we have this video.

Recent Transactions

9/15: Radhames Liz designated for assignment. Vance Worley added to Pirates.

9/15: Chad Kuhl promoted to Indianapolis. Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona. Brad Lincoln activated from DL.

9/10: A.J. Burnett activated from disabled list.

9/9: Zack Dodson promoted to Indianapolis.

9/9: Felipe Gonzalez and Hunter Morris promoted to Altoona. Robert Stock assigned to GCL Pirates.

9/7: Travis Ishikawa activated from disabled list.

9/5: Travis Ishikawa assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

9/3: Hunter Morris assigned to GCL Pirates

9/2: Austin Meadows, Tyler Eppler and Montana DuRapau sent to Altoona. Matt Benedict and Mel Rojas Jr sent to Indianapolis

9/2: Oderman Rocha assigned to Bradenton

9/2: Pedro Florimon added to 40-man roster. Deolis Guerra placed on 60-day DL.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one related to a President, who served while he was a player. We start with that player, who had a famous relative, 1888 third baseman Elmer Cleveland. He was the cousin of Grover Cleveland, who was near the end of his first term as U.S. President. Elmer wasn’t much of a Major League baseball player and his stay in Pittsburgh didn’t last long. He hit .222 in 30 games and committed 14 errors. Elmer played in three different Major Leagues during his 80 game career, spending 1884 in the Union Association, 1888 in the National League and 1891 in the American Association.

Other players born on this date include:

Rich Robertson, lefty reliever during the 1993-94 seasons. Drafted by the Pirates in ninth round in 1990, he had a 6.57 ERA in 17 games over his two seasons in Pittsburgh.

Dennis Moeller, 1993 lefty reliever. He was acquired in exchange for Jose Lind. Moeller had a 9.92 ERA in 16.1 innings with the Pirates.

Dave Pagan, pitcher on September 27, 1977. In a trade that doesn’t get enough credit for how bad it was, the Pirates acquired Pagan in exchange for Rick Honeycutt, who was in his first season of a 21-year career. Pagan pitched one game and didn’t do that bad, so it’s surprising he never got another shot. He threw three scoreless innings and struck out the first four batters he faced.

Fritz Ostermueller, lefty pitcher for the Pirates from 1944 until 1948. He played the last five years of his 15-year career with Pittsburgh. Ostermueller reached double digits in wins during three of his season with the Pirates. In his career, he went 114-115, 3.99 in 2066.2 innings.

On this date in 1981, Luis Tiant threw the final complete game in his outstanding career. He led the Pirates to an 8-2 win over the Chicago Cubs and came up with the big hit in the game, belting a bases loaded double in the sixth inning that scored three runs. Tiant would go on to win two more games in 1982 before retiring, finishing with 229 wins. Here’s the boxscore from September 15, 1981.

  • I forgot about the Pagan trade. That was made during July 1977 during which the Pirates played 8 doubleheaders! The Pirates used Grant Jackson and Terry Forster as starters during the month and Mario Mendoza tossed a game in long relief. I think they felt they needed spare ML ready arms. Pagan was never really needed.

  • I’ve never gotten over that Pagan for Honeycutt trade.

    • You never hear anyone mention it, but it looks pretty bad when you get one game from a pitcher and the player you give up still has 20 seasons left in his career. It’s possible that if the Pirates held on to him longer that they developed a better relationship with him. He turned out to be quite the coach after his career too.