Morning Report: Playoffs Provided Some Excitement on the First Day

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ affiliates started the minor league playoffs strong with three wins on Wednesday. Indianapolis won their game by blowing the game open early, scoring six runs off Kyle Haynes. The name is probably familiar to many of you because he was the player sent to the New York Yankees in the Chris Stewart trade. Haynes has made it up to AAA from Low-A in two seasons, getting a late-season call-up to Scranton/WB this year. Even before getting knocked out after one inning on Wednesday, he wasn’t having much success with his new team. In seven AAA starts, he had a 4.54 ERA, though he did have four strong outings, so his AAA debut was a mixed bag.

In Altoona, they did the opposite of Indianapolis and went down 7-0 in the second inning. It was a disappointing outing from Chad Kuhl, who didn’t adjust well to the change in his schedule. He was originally slated to go on Monday, but when Altoona clinched their playoff spot on Sunday, he was pushed back two days so the Curve could have one of their top two starters for game one of the series. This game featured a grand slam from Barrett Barnes, who ended up getting two more at-bats this season(360), than he had in his first three seasons combined. So it’s not only good to see him hitting a big homer in a AA playoff game, he’s also healthy and still getting more at-bats.

From a prospect standpoint, Austin Meadows was the big story from Wednesday. Except for when Tyler Glasnow takes the mound on Friday, Meadows will be the biggest prospect to follow these playoffs. He didn’t disappoint in his first game, making an excellent play in the outfield, then in the bottom of the ninth, he hit a two-run homer. He also had a single and scored a run earlier in the game. With the way he has hit during his brief time in Altoona, it might be easy to forget that he turned 20 back in May.

West Virginia won their game and set themselves up to take the series, even with the final two games on the road. Austin Coley has been a strong starter all season, but he didn’t quite have a season like Stephen Tarpley or Yeudy Garcia. So the Power took game one with Coley on the mound and now they have their top two starters available for the last two games, if it even gets to game three the way Tarpley has pitched this year. Speaking of Garcia, he was one of five Pirates’ minor league players taken in the Dominican Winter League draft. With the season he had, you would think he would get drafted high, but he actually went 23 spots behind teammate Pablo Reyes.

Reyes was mentioned as a sleeper prospect this year for West Virginia. That is due to his pure hitting ability, which comes from incredible hand-eye coordination. His biggest issue during his first three seasons was his fielding. He has the ability to be a solid second baseman, but he is a hitter first in his mind. I heard from multiple people down in the Dominican that he took bad at-bats into the field and we had first-hand reports of that in the GCL last year. The Pirates liked him enough to move him to Low-A this year and the move paid off. He hit .268/.345/.438 in 108 games, with 12 homers and 27 steals. Reyes also committed just 12 errors all season. He went from a sleep to a legit prospect this year. It will be interesting to see what the Pirates do with Reyes and Kevin Kramer both looking like they should start at second base for Bradenton next year.

For more on each game, including quotes from Barrett Barnes, Austin Meadows and Altoona manager Tom Prince, check out the Prospect Watch from last night. We will have live coverage tonight for two games and I’ll be listening to the Morgantown game and giving a full game recap. Ryan Palencer will cover the start from Vance Worley for Indianapolis, and Sean McCool is covering the start from Tyler Eppler in Altoona. The West Virginia Power series has an off-day for travel today.

Morgantown had their opening game postponed due to rain. Game one will be played tonight and they will still be in Morgantown despite the fact the series was supposed to shift to Williamsport today. Game two and three in Williamsport are now scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played.

Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis lead 1-0

9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3

9/10: @Indianapolis 7:05

9/11: @Scranton 6:35

9/12: @Scranton TBA if necessary

9/13: @Scranton TBA if necessary

Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Altoona leads 1-0

9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7

9/10: @Altoona 6:00

9/11: @Bowie 7:05

9/12: @Bowie 6:05 if necessary

9/13: @Bowie 1:05 if necessary

West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. West Virginia leads 1-0

9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2

9/11: @ Hickory 7:00

9/12: @Hickory 7:00 if necessary

Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series.

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

9/10: @Morgantown 7:05

9/11: @Williamsport 7:05

9/12: @Williamsport 7:05 if necessary

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

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

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-4 on Wednesday night over the Reds. They now return home to take on Milwaukee for four games. A.J. Burnett takes the mound tonight for the first time since July 30th. He gave up one run over seven innings in his only start against the Brewers this year. Wily Peralta will be on the mound for Milwaukee. He has a 4.21 ERA in 94 innings. In his last start, he left after two scoreless innings due to a long rain delay. He has not faced the Pirates yet this season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (83-55) vs Brewers (61-78) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (3.06 ERA, 36:114 BB/SO, 135.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) vs Scranton W/B (81-63) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (2.38 ERA, 5:21 BB/SO, 34.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-68) vs Bowie (79-63) 6:00 PM
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (10.13 ERA, 3:3 BB/SO, 5.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52, 50-20 second half) vs Hickory (81-57) 7:05 PM 9/11
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (2.48 ERA, 25:105 BB/SO, 116.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34) vs Williamsport (46-30) 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)


Here is a three-run double by Dan Gamache from game one of the International League playoffs.

Recent Transactions

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.

9/1: Luis Escobar promoted to Morgantown

9/1: Casey Sadler placed on 60-day DL. Elias Diaz, Bobby LaFromboise, Jaff Decker recalled

9/1: Rob Scahill activated from DL. Travis Snider and Radhames Liz added to 40-man roster

8/31: Wilkin Castillo added to Indianapolis roster. John Bowker and Adam Miller activated from disabled list.

8/29: Alen Hanson activated from Temporary Inactive List. Wilkin Castillo assigned to GCL.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one Hall of Famer. We start with a disappointing player for the Pirates, 1958-59 first baseman, Ted Kluszewski. He was once a feared slugger, but the Pirates got him on the downside of his career. From 1953-56, he hit at least 35 homers and drove in at least 100 runs each season. With the Pirates, hit hit .284 and drove in 54 runs in 160 games.

Others players born on this date include:

Chad Hermansen, 1999-2002 outfielder. Sigh.

Bob Garber, 1956 pitcher. Signed with Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1948 and missed time serving in the Korean War. Gave up one run over four innings in his only two Major League games.

Brandy Davis, 1952-53 outfielder. Hit .187 over 67 games in his only two years in the majors.

Kid Durbin, pinch-runner on June 30, 1909. His only game with the Pirates was also the first game ever in Forbes Field. The Pirates traded for him a month earlier and he ended up playing just that one game, which was his last Major League game. He played just 32 games in the majors, yet still played for three teams that won the World Series.

The Pirates had a young first baseman named George Kelly for a brief time during the 1917 season. He started the year with the New York Giants and when Honus Wagner got hurt, the Pirates got Kelly to replace him. Wagner was in his last season and playing first base. When Wagner returned, Kelly went back to the Giants. It didn’t look like a big deal at the time, but it could have changed Pirates’ history if they kept him.

Kelly was one of the leading run producers in the NL from 1920-25, averaging more than 100 RBIs a season. During that time, the Giants went to four straight World Series. That eventually led him to get elected to the Hall of Fame. During the Giants four World Series seasons, the Pirates finished second once and third three times, so having Kelly and keeping him away from the Giants could have made a difference those years.