Morning Report: Ke’Bryan Hayes Proves He’s Not Out of His League in the NYPL

Three months ago, Ke’Bryan Hayes was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 32nd overall pick in the amateur draft. Last night, he was fielding a grounder with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and rocketing a throw over to first base for the final out of the New York-Penn League season. Hayes capped off an impressive rookie season with a celebration on the field, proving that he could handle playing in a league that was filled with college players, who were 3-4 years older than him in most cases.

The Gulf Coast League was where Hayes started this year, and that’s the appropriate level for someone his age. He showed that he was advanced for the league as a player, despite being younger than the average player in the league. He finished second in the batting title race and put up an .809 OPS, which was the fifth best mark in the league. Some of the younger players in the league were up from the Dominican Summer League, which is a bit tougher than the average competition Hayes saw in high school. Plus those players were playing a lot more baseball before the GCL season began, seeing action in Extended Spring Training. Hayes played 29 games in high school this year.

Late in the season, Hayes was sent to Morgantown to finish the season. He got into 44 games in the GCL and was able to play another 12 regular season games in the NYPL, plus five playoff games. It wasn’t just the difference in competition that was good for his future, it was getting used to minor league life. When you play in the GCL, it’s noon games in front of a handful of fans and scouts. When you play on the road in the GCL, you’re back at Pirate City within an hour or so of the game. You don’t get the feel of long bus rides and staying in hotels, packing for road trips. You don’t get night games, you don’t get big crowds and walk-up music, with mid-inning gimmicks serving as distractions. The GCL isn’t that different from high school, so moving him up for the last two weeks gave him a real feel of minor league life to help prep him for next season.

The late season call-up from the GCL to a higher affiliate is usually a precursor to playing full-season ball the next year. Not always, as some players are legitimately there to help fill out rosters, but for a player like Hayes, it’s almost a guarantee. He of course needs to come into camp with the mindset that he has to earn a spot in West Virginia next year, because we have seen good players left behind due to conditioning.

When he got called up to Morgantown, I basically said that his results there don’t really matter. It’s a league well above what he is used to, and just the experience alone is good for him. If he did well, even better. Thanks to showing the game last night, I got to see Hayes play for the first time. I’ve seen all the video on him for the draft, he was after all someone we talked about often in our draft coverage, so I read all the reports and watched all the videos. That’s not the same as seeing how he reacts during games though.

I have to say, for an 18-year-old playing in a title game, he played outstanding. He handled everything smoothly at third base, he showed patience at the plate. Hayes even went the other way on a single and dropped down a terrific sacrifice bunt. There were college players in this brief series that had a lot of trouble just putting down a bunt, with numerous failed attempts, but his bunt would have made Dots Miller proud(29 sacrifice bunts as a rookie in 1909!).

Hayes didn’t hit for any power as a rookie, collecting six doubles and a triple in 199 at-bats including playoffs. He only hit .220 with Morgantown and went 2-for-14 in the playoffs, but he showed that he wasn’t out of his league, when he literally was out of his league playing in the NYPL at his age. He should have no trouble handling the jump to West Virginia next year and watching him at the plate and in the field should give you hope that the Pirates will have a solid third baseman for awhile, someone who can win Gold Gloves and get on base at a high clip.

With Morgantown taking home the NYPL title on Tuesday night, all that is left is for Indianapolis to try to make a comeback in their series, as they dropped the opener to Columbus. The NYPL title for Morgantown is the first for a Pirates’ affiliate in the league since Williamsport won the title during the 2003 season. That team had seven future Major League players, including Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny and Nyjer Morgan.

Indianapolis has set their rotation for games 2-4, starting with Wilfredo Boscan tonight. They will go with Tyler Glasnow on Thursday night and if it gets to game four, Chad Kuhl will be on the mound, making his AAA debut. Kuhl was called up from Altoona after Vance Worley was promoted. That’s going to be a tough assignment for Kuhl, who last pitched in the AA playoffs last Wednesday and only lasted 1.2 innings due to his poor performance. Now he is scheduled to go nine days later, while also moving up a level? He had a great season and was the best choice from Altoona to fill this spot, but this will be quite a challenge. First things first though, as Indianapolis needs to win at least one game to make sure it gets to him on Friday.

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. Indianapolis trails series 1-0

9/15: Columbus 6, Indianapolis 5

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 wins 2-0

9/14: Morgantown 4, Staten Island 3

9/15: Morgantown 3, Staten Island 1

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by three 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 won game one of the doubleheader on Tuesday by a 5-4 score, then dropped game two to the Cubs by a 2-1 score. A.J. Burnett will make his second start since returning from injury tonight. He went five innings in his first game back against the Brewers, allowing three earned runs. The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the mound. He has a 1.99 ERA and he’s looking for his 20th win. He has faced the Pirates three times this season, going seven innings in each game. He’s allowed a total of two earned runs in those 21 innings.

MLB: Pittsburgh (87-57) vs Cubs (83-61) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (3.14 ERA, 38:117 BB/SO, 140.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) @ Columbus (83-61) 6:35 PM
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.07 ERA, 45:86 BB/SO, 126.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-68)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34)  NYPL Champs

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

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

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


Here we have two videos of Max Moroff from earlier in the season. He was just named the Player of the Year for the Pirates minor league system.


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

This Date in Pirates History

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a couple recent ones we can skip over quickly. Michael Martinez (2014 roster filler) and Brandon Moss (2008-10 disappointment, who had some success elsewhere) both celebrate birthdays today. The others born on this date include:

John Ericks, first round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1988, his entire big league career was spent in Pittsburgh from 1995 until 1997. He had a 4.78 ERA in 162 innings, making 22 starts and 35 relief appearances.

Scott Medvin, 1988-89 reliever. In 23 appearances with Pirates, he had a 5.03 ERA in 34 innings.

Mark Parent, hit .232 with 15 homers in 69 games for the 1995 Pirates. He was a waiver pickup from the Cubs after the 1994 season and was returned to them during the 1995 season. Played 13 years in the majors.

Chuck Brinkman, 1974 catcher. Was purchased from White Sox in July and went 1-for-7 in four games, his last games in the big leagues. His brother Ed Brinkman played 15 years in the majors.

Con Dempsey, 1951 pitcher. The Pirates purchased the 28-year-old from the San Francisco Seals(PCL) following the 1950 season and returned him in early May after he posted a 9.00 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance.

Sam Moran. His only Major League season was 1895, as a late-season addition with the Pirates. Made six starts and four relief appearances, posting a 7.47 ERA in 62.2 innings. Moran began his career in 1893 in Altoona and by 1897, he was sick due to kidney failure, passing away at age twenty-six. You can read a bio of him here, which is a link FILLED with early player bios and a recap of the 1887-96 seasons.

  • Dots Miller reference, ftw.

  • I am guessing Hayes is similar to a prince fielder where he’s seen a lot of the nuisances of MLB baseball so the minors other than the travel shouldn’t phase him much. To me there are some similarities as a hitter to Wyatt Matthiessen: good plate discipline and power potential at 3B. He is well ahead of Wyatt at same age though, especially in the field.

    • Thank you for getting this back on topic -this article was hijacked and it is time to leave last nights game behind. As I was reading Tim’s piece, I was wondering if the Pirates would try playing Hayes in Lo A with the Power until the Short-Season Games begin in Morgantown?

      • Thought discussing the Pirates on the most current thread was a good idea… My mistake… Must need more Dew.

        That Hayes though, man he’s good

  • Well hell, I don’t use Facebook (dislike it for many reason, but I digress) , but want to see the history page continued. I have said before I wish it had its own storyline anyway 🙂

  • This whole conversation fascinates me. Guess my caffeine addicted, nonsensical mind just can’t understand how starting a guy in a pennant race who’s best abilities lie in the late innings is a good thing when actual major leaguers are available to man the position.

    Gotta go chug some Mountain Dew and write derp on a chalkboard 100 times.

    • I think it’s awful telling how some folks have bought this whole Golden State narrative hook, line, and sinker when it’s *never been tried, let alone proven to work*.

      • Agreed. It’s easy to rest players when you win your division by 11 games like Golden State did.

      • To me, the point is (and I think you may have been the one to point this out), Golden State methodology is fine April-August. But the point of it should be to rest guys for RIGHT NOW.

        • Three great comments in a row…………..we sent out weak lineups against the Cards last week and the Cubs last night and lost them both. We are in a race to avoid a one game playoff……not resting up for a long playoff season like Golden State.

  • I got to meet Mark Parent. That was one BIG dude!!!

    • it is odd that he hit 15 HRs and we returned him to the Cubs.

    • John Ericks. That’s one I hadn’t heard in awhile. Could have swore he had a good year or at least part of a good year but I didn’t look.

  • Tim,

    In the comments from the Lester story of last night, you brought up the fact that Florimon had started in an 8-1 game against the Mets after I said you can’t start Florimon down the stretch. You also asked if I felt he was responsible for winning that game since you, I assume, think he’s the reason they lost last night…

    That game was August 16th. To me, their is a clear difference in a guy starting in the middle of august as opposed to the middle of September… ESPECIALLY when you’re playing a team you’re in DIRECT battle with for playoff positioning. You play your best 9. I don’t care that it was a double header, you have at least two shortstops on the club and Harrison has played there if memory serves plus the team had Monday off… I don’t think anyone was driven into the ground by being over used if they’d have had to play in game 2 last night. Florimon is fine in his role – late inning glove man/ pinch runner… I find it ridiculous that he’d be starting against the Cubs in a mid September game.. Much the same as I found starting Rodriguez at short several games ago. Its a ridiculous move.

    I don’t blame Florimon for the loss last night, he was overmatched from the beginning… I blame Hurdle or whoever thought it was a good idea to start Florimon.

    GO BUCS.

    • * I don’t think you assume Florimon is the reason they lost the game… I think you think that I believe he’s the reason they lost the game and it’s more “hurdle lost the game” than anything. He sent out an inferior lineup in a borderline playoff game.

      • Time to lay off the Caffeine, Dale? 🙂

        • I tend to agree with Dale in principal even though I think he’s going way overboard with his passion for this. CH did put out a silly lineup. I think he’s worrying too much about resting players. Kang and Polanco should’ve played in both games.

          • No offense to you, but thats pretty absurd. Its common for players to rest 1 game of a double header. Arguing “these games matter” doesnt really help since the team clearly values being fresh over trotting out the same 9 guys every day.

            We were never going to see 3-5 guys playing both games of the double header, followed by a night game and then a day game. This week is tough schedule wise with the double header and travel, so one game was going to have a good number of bench guys playing. S Rod has been better with the bat, and gives Polanco a rest rather than 18 innings in a row. Id have gone with Mercer, but i dont think Mercer over Florimon alters that game. Offense overall just didnt do the job.

            • Yeah, it’s tough choice. I know why CH did it and both lineups still look better than a lot of teams. The Pirates are so deep right now that their JV lineup looks halfway decent.

            • “Its common for players to rest 1 game of a double header.”

              It’s common for *some* players to rest 1 game of a double header, Luke.

              It most certainly is *not* common to rest seven of eight position players.

              I also have to laugh at your last two sentences considering it was a one-run game and the difference between Mercer against left handed pitching and Florimon could absolutely alter that outcome. Starting JM in Game 1 against RHP knowing you were going to rest him in Game 2 against LHP is inexcusable.

              • Agree to disagree. No, i dont think Mercer makes the difference in that game. No more so than Cutch playing did.

    • On August 16th, the Mets were absolutely in direct battle with us for playoff positioning. I know you meant something else, which was largely non sensical, but still. Florimon didnt win or lose that game, our entire offense putting up 1 run did. Mercer isnt likely to have altered that drastically, and expecting a manger to play most guys 18 innings in 1 day is insane.

      Lester was good, we had to rest some guys at some point this week, and 18 innings in a row makes today’s game against an ace painful as well.