BRADENTON, Fl. – Tomorrow is going to be the equivalent of the Super Bowl of prospects coverage in the Pirates’ system.
On Friday, Clint Hurdle announced the pitching staff for the annual Black and Gold game, and I don’t think I could have made a better list if he gave me the lineup card. The starters are Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, who are the top two pitching prospects in the organization. They will each go two innings. From there, Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, and Trevor Williams will all go two innings. They represent three of the top 25 prospects in the system, and the top three starting pitching prospects in the upper levels behind the top two guys. And to finish it all off, John Holdzkom — the top relief prospect in the system — will throw an inning.
Today the lineups for the game was posted, and the prospect theme continued.
Team Black has the following lineup:
1. Cole Figueroa, 2B
2. Adam Frazier, CF
3. Matt Joyce, LF
4. Willy Garcia, RF
5. Josh Bell, 1B
6. Elias Diaz, C
7. Dan Gamache, 3B
8. Gift Ngoepe, SS
9. Juan Diaz, DH
Backup Catcher: Jacob Stallings
Not everyone here is a prospect, but you’ve got some good ones. Willy Garcia is the top outfield prospect in Indianapolis. Josh Bell is the second best hitting prospect in the system, and the top first base prospect. Elias Diaz is the second best catching prospect in the system, and one of the best defenders in all of minor league baseball. Dan Gamache and Gift Ngoepe both profile as guys who could make the majors as bench players. The Pirates also listed an extra catcher, Jacob Stallings, who will probably see action in the second half of the game, and profiles as a future MLB backup, with a very similar build and skills to Chris Stewart.
Now let’s take a look at Team Gold:
1. Alen Hanson, 2B
2. Danny Ortiz, CF
3. Jake Goebbert, LF
4. Jason Rogers, 1B
5. Ed Easley, C
6. Max Moroff, 3B
7. Pedro Florimon, SS
8. Harold Ramirez, RF
9. Juan Diaz, DH
Backup Catcher: Reese McGuire
Once again, not all prospects, but some good ones. Alen Hanson is the top second base prospect in the system, and it’s interesting that the Pirates are fitting Max Moroff in at third here. This could possibly indicate what they will do in Indianapolis, since Hanson has been sticking to second, while Moroff has been moving around throughout practice. Beyond those two, Harold Ramirez is the biggest guy I’m looking forward to seeing again, as I’d like to see him in this setting, going up against top pitchers. Reese McGuire is also the backup catcher for this team, and the top catching prospect in the system.
I’m not the only one looking forward to all of the young talent on display. Clint Hurdle is also looking forward to seeing these guys, many of whom he hasn’t seen much of, and some who he hasn’t seen at all.
“Selfishly, there’s a lot of things I’m looking forward to seeing this Spring,” Hurdle said of watching the prospects. “I watch video tape, I talk to managers, I talk to coaches, I talk to our traveling personnel. It’s one thing to talk about players and watch videos. It’s another thing to post up with them, to talk to them live, and then watch them go play. So absolutely. Many men in [that game] I’m looking forward to watching. For Moroff to Gamache. Chad Kuhl. Every single one of them, I’m looking forward to seeing them get out there and play. Anybody who is going up the organization, there is a twinkle in their eye, and there’s a twinkle in mine to watch them.”
We will have full coverage of the game tomorrow, with photos, videos, analysis, and post-game quotes.
**Left-handed pitcher Robert Zarate reported left lateral elbow discomfort while playing catch yesterday. He didn’t throw live batting practice today, and will be re-evaluated. I’d expect an update on this on Wednesday at the latest. That said, the left-handed relief options seem to be dropping like flies. Cory Luebke went down with a hamstring strain, and Zarate looked to be the best of the rest of the non-roster invitees, beyond Luebke and Eric O’Flaherty.
The Pirates seem set on stretching out Kyle Lobstein and using him as early season rotation depth, so he doesn’t seem to be a candidate for the bullpen. That means Eric O’Flaherty would be the current favorite to win the job as the second lefty. However, Clint Hurdle said today that there’s no guarantee they take two lefties, and that they’ll only take the best seven relievers.
**Hurdle on Kang: “There’s preparation for Kang being in the lineup Opening Day, and for Kang not being in the lineup Opening Day.”