First Pitch: Not Enough Words to Describe the Indianapolis Prospects

BRADENTON, Fl. – I had probably my toughest assignment of Spring Training this week. Every year I write a short prospects preview for the Indianapolis Indians pre-game program. The preview isn’t huge, just touching on the basics of the guys to watch in the system. They were going to print soon, so that article was due today.

You’d think an article on the Indianapolis team would be easy for me. They’re a team loaded with prospects, who will provide a ton of depth for the Pirates in the majors this year. That’s an easy topic to write about. The challenge? It had to be around 300 words.

If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, you’d know brevity isn’t a strength of mine. I go into detail. A lot of detail. There are no word restrictions online, so I can include as much information as is necessary. And some people don’t like reading longer articles, but I’ve never felt the desire to dumb the articles down and cut out information in order to provide a quicker read. Typically we’re around 800-1,000 words. Longer articles go to 1,500 to 2,000. My Josh Bell article from a few weeks ago was around 2,200 words.

300 words? On this team? That was going to be difficult. I cheated a bit and went around 350, since I don’t know if it was a hard cap. I don’t know how those newspaper guys do it. Anyway, here is the write up, followed by a few additional thoughts below.

Indianapolis Indians fans have gotten a chance to see some of the best Pirates prospects in recent years, but the amount of young talent in the 2016 group is hard to match. The Indians will have young talent at every position group, with nine of the Pirates Prospects 2016 top 20 prospects on the team this season.

The highlight is the rotation, which features two of the top prospects in the system. Tyler Glasnow (#1 prospect) and Jameson Taillon (4) have top of the rotation stuff, with fastballs that sit in the mid-90s, touching 99-100 MPH, and devastating curveballs that will get plenty of strikeouts. Both will join Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh this year, and that trio could lead to one of the best MLB rotations in the future. The rest of the rotation is highlighted by top prospects like Chad Kuhl (16), who features a great mid-90s sinker, and Steven Brault (13) and Trevor Williams (24), who both have good movement, control, and deception. The bullpen will also have strong arms, with a few who can hit 100 MPH. That includes our top relief prospect, John Holdzkom (42).

The offense is also loaded. Josh Bell (3) will return to Indianapolis this year, and is the Pirates’ first baseman of the future. He is one of the best pure hitters in all of minor league baseball. He could show more power this year with his added leg kick, which started seeing results with Indianapolis in 2015. Alen Hanson (5) will return to the team, looking for more consistency with his offense. That’s the final step before he takes over at second base in Pittsburgh. Elias Diaz (8), Max Moroff (17), Willy Garcia (20), Adam Frazier (28), Gift Ngoepe (44), and Dan Gamache (51) are other top prospects who will help Indianapolis this year, while also providing depth for the majors. A few of these guys could be starters in Pittsburgh in the future, with Diaz having the best shot, potentially replacing Francisco Cervelli in 2017.

Prospects don’t always lead to wins in the minors, but the combination that Indianapolis has with pitching, impact bats, and strong defense should give them a shot at the playoffs this year, even after seeing a lot of their best performers end the season in Pittsburgh.

There’s so much more I wanted to say. I “expanded” a bit on the top guys like Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, and Hanson. You could add Diaz to that list. But there was no room to put that Glasnow needs to work on his curveball or changeup, or that he has nerve issues which throw him off early in games (and that happened again today in the B-game). I didn’t get a chance to go into Taillon’s time off vs upper level hitting, or Bell’s move to first base, or Hanson’s consistency issues, outside of a mention of the last two.

Then there’s all of the other top 50 prospects who just got their name mentioned, and not much else about them. In a normal year, I might have room for a sentence for those guys, and maybe two sentences for guys like Moroff and Frazier.

Ultimately, this is for a casual audience that wants to know which players on the field are future MLB players. It’s not an audience that needs a full breakdown. And the people who want more usually find their way to this site for that breakdown.

The thing is, I write this every year, and this group was by far the most difficult to write up in terms of meeting the word count. That’s largely because of what I’ve been writing all spring, how this is the most talented group of prospects the Pirates have had in some time in Triple-A. I’m looking forward to seeing them when I visit Indianapolis in May, and then again throughout the year when the group starts making their way up to the majors.

And writing a lot of words about them along the way.

**Since this is a free article, this is where I add the daily plug to subscribe. This time around I’m going to say that if you want to get live coverage of these prospects throughout the year, then you should definitely sign up for our low-cost subscriptions. You could also buy the 2016 Prospect Guide, which has a lot of them featured in a big way:


**An Update and Further Information on Austin Meadows. I caught up with Meadows today, who said his vision returned, and that he leaves for Pittsburgh on Monday. More info in the article.

**Ke’Bryan Hayes Prepares For Full Season Ball With a Familiar Workout. This is going to be a prospect to watch this year. For all that the new draft system has taken away, the Pirates actually have stocked up on some interesting prep position players. Max Moroff was the backup plan to Mark Appel in 2012. Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire were taken in 2013. Cole Tucker in 2014. And then Hayes in 2015. They’re not getting as many of the upside pitching prospects, but certainly are getting enough of the hitters.

**Juan Nicasio Is a Good Reliever, But Can the Pirates Make Him a Good Starter? He will most likely start a game for the Pirates this year. See what they like about him.

**Clint Hurdle Calls Himself a Crock Pot and Harold Ramirez a Bone Collector. From Wednesday, a look at Harold Ramirez and a few funny quotes from Hurdle.

**Connor Joe Moving to Third Base, Jordan Luplow Recovering From Surgery. More third base prospects. Hayes is the top guy, but Joe and Luplow might be able to move at a quicker pace through the system, and have an advantage that they’re one level ahead of the 2015 pick.

**David Todd Podcast: Final Roster Spots, Nicasio, Indianapolis Rotation. Podcast from my interview this week with David Todd.

  • Bridgevillebuck
    March 11, 2016 5:43 pm

    Saw a lot of references to getting promoted to Pittsburgh. It’s got to be tough to root for a minor league team and get excited about the playoffs.

  • I’m curious, what does a guy like Elias Diaz make at the triple A level?

  • Here are the results of my survey.

    You can’t see the “Others” (not sure why), but on the first pitcher called up, 7 respondents have Lobstein and one had Luebke/Boscan.

    I want to thank everyone who participated. I had 167 respondents, but it only counted the first 100, much to my dismay.

  • The Charleston Charlie’s of the 70’s would be a comparable talent pool.

  • weltytowngang
    March 11, 2016 6:40 am

    If you want to see a really nice stadium, visit the Gwinnett Braves when the Indians visit them. That’s the only real chanceI have to see them – a 2 hour trip for me but worth it.

  • Glasnow’s “nerve issues” have me thinking he’s not likely to help this year or possibly ever.

    • Well that’s a clear overreaction. When normally his transitional issues seem to last only a few starts into a new level.

      I know this may be hard to grasp, but this is a guy who’s what? 22 or 23, and 3 years ago was a nobody.

      • Yeah, didn’t Zack Greinke have a similar issue… I think Glasnow will be fine.

        • I always have concerns with any player if they have any type of mental issues.

          • This *is not* a mental issue.

            Tim is blowing this way out of proportion.

            • Correct. Grienke was diagnosed with mental issues and I believe is medicated to help deal with his issues….being nervous does not equate to having mental heath issues.

              • Greinke suffered from social anxiety disorder and depression. Though he did say the depression was basically due to the anxiety disorder.

                Nearly quit the game and needed a sports shrink and some medication to overcome his issues. Credit to him for getting the help needed, but yeah thats a far different scenario than Glasnow currently getting a bit nervous in a few big games.

                I will say that a player going to a sports shrink aint a bad idea, any negative connotation that comes with that is archaic logic.

                • Very, very well said guys.

                  If Glasnow actually had the ability to consistently control the ball yet was wildly inconsistent in just the first inning then maybe we could start talking. But that’s simply not the case here.

                  Glasnow’s a 22 yo kid with long levers attached to a 6’8″ body. You should *expect* inconsistency from him right now, and that’s what you’re getting. The massive pressure of the tens and tens of fans there to see a Spring Training B game is not what’s causing these issues.

                  • Let me also say that Tim isn’t the one going off the deep end here, but in my opinion this is what you should expect to see when pushing a narrative about a kid’s “nerves”. Internet psychologists out in full force.

                    • NMR…i ‘get’ the Internet Psychologist’ crack, but somebody getting continually ‘nervous’ can be a mental disorder. Anxiety disorders can fall into this category.

                      A onetime ‘case of nerves’ is one thing. Having a continual ‘case of nerves’ is something else entirely.

                      Time will tell which category TG’s falls into. The fact that he has had this “case of nerves” more than once concerns me.

                    • See, this is *exactly* what I’m talking about.

                      Can’t believe this needs clarified, but “nerves” isn’t actually a thing. It’s a vague layman’s term for circumstances they don’t actually understand or can clearly articulate. You’ll never go to any sort of professional and get diagnosed with “nerves”.

                      If Tim wrote that Glasnow had a sore back, nobody would be saying “Boy I hope it’s not cancer”. Because we’re generally smart enough to know that’s nowhere even close to a reasonable conclusion. We get physical issues, but we’re generally clueless about mental diseases, as you’ve demonstrated above.

                      There is absolutely zero reason to worry about Tyler Glasnow having an anxiety disorder or any other WebMD diagnosis, and you sure as hell shouldn’t be tagging him with another mean-nothing term, “mentally weak”.

                      Just stop.

                    • That’s not what anxiety is. Anxiety is not getting “nervous” in high-pressure situations. Anxiety is losing control of the pace of your brain and the physiological effects associated with that, triggered by everyday situations. I have anxiety, and I’ve been nervous. I can tell you definitively that they’re very functionally different.

                      “Nerves” is the natural mental and physiological response humans have to situations which demand focus and for which there are consequences for failure. “Nerves” are important, because without them, the heart wouldn’t pump extra blood and get more oxygen to the brain and muscles.

                      Glasnow is young, and, as NMR pointed out, also has to battle his lankiness for consistency. Getting those limbs under control to lead to more consistent mechanics will solve most of the problem, because those “nerves” will be directed away from thinking about what he’s supposed to be doing and into transferring energy from his body to the ball. The rest will come with maturity, learning how to focus that energy in productive directions. And that’s why he’s still in the minors.

        • And I think contrary to how many people have responded, Tim’s articles and observations are not intended as a recommendation to hit the panic button. It’s not about how you react initially, it’s about the adjustments you can make. People freaking out are basically saying a grown child has no right to feel nervous the first few times in a high stress environment. I think he’s handled everything quite well so far.

    • It’s certainly a concern. But way too early to be throwing his career onto the scrap heap.

  • Yahoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even from here in “upside-downville” in Australia, it is easy to see from Tim’s great articles that the Pirates have a “pipeline” of talent that should support the team’s being strong, interesting and hopefully winning and contending well into the future. I guess what you can say is that there is plenty of “upside” potential. And Tim didn’t even mention players at the “lower” levels of the minors who could be excellent, starting with Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire, Harold Ramirez, Yeudy Garcia & Stephen Tarpley!!! Who knows what the future may hold but the picture sure looks promising. And let us not forget the great talent that we already have in Pittsburgh, starting with Cutch. How refeshing after 20 years in the wilderness – at least it wasn’t 40! Yahoooooo!!!!!!