BRADENTON, Fla. – Yeudy Garcia made his second start of the spring and worked three strong innings in the Double-A game on Sunday at Pirates City. Garcia’s velocity was only 90-93 MPH on the day which was down from last year’s 93-96 MPH range, which hit 97 at times. Today he was 90-91 in the first inning, then gradually increased, sitting 92-93 in his final inning, and touching 94. The uptick in velocity in the final inning was a good sign for early in the Spring for the right-hander, with the chances that his velocity could increase as he gets more work.
Garcia picked up a double play in each of the first two frames, and got a ground out to second to end the final frame. While he worked up in the zone at times, and was not afraid to get inside, ground balls still followed.
Tyler Eppler started the Triple-A game had some highlights in the second inning, picking up a pair of strikeouts. The first was on a change and the second on a slider. However, there were also some lowlights, as he ran into trouble in the frame as well. A strong Phillies lineup, featuring two of the top three hitting prospects in the organization, started catching up to his 92-93 MPH fastball. He allowed runs on both a sharp hit to second and had a 90 MPH fastball ripped to right for an RBI single.
The changeup for Eppler was between 84-86 MPH, with the slider at 78-80. The fastball reached as high as 95 in the third, but was sitting in the low 90s consistently.
In his first game back in Minor League camp, Josh Bell got the task of top Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel in the Triple-A game. In his first at bat, Bell struck out on an 88 MPH change after struggling with the 94 MPH fastball from the righty. In his second at bat, Bell was able to make more contact but grounded out to second.
However, his final two at bats were much stronger. In his third at bat, Bell ripped a first pitch fastball back up the middle for a sharp single off a reliever. His fourth at bat was from the right side of the plate, where he fouled off several tough pitches before reaching on a single on a high chopper to third.
**Kelvin Marte relieved Eppler in the Triple-A game and was impressive with both his fastball and his 81-82 MPH slider. In his first of two scoreless innings of work, Marte picked up a strikeout on a 92 MPH fastball with life and then a second on the slider.
**Also in his first day in Minor League camp, Gift Ngoepe played shortstop for the Triple-A squad and picked up a single.
**Adam Frazier picked up a sharply struck single to center off Appel, but a baserunner was thrown out at home costing him an RBI.
The Pirates’ Triple-A and Double-A teams took on the Phillies at Pirate City on Sunday. They’re still not really the Triple-A and Double-A teams, though, as a lot of players are still in major league camp. The “rosters” and lineups with the minor league teams now don’t mean a great deal.
In the Triple-A game, Tyler Eppler started against former Pirates’ first round pick and former number one overall pick Mark Appel. The Pirates could do little with Appel and, in fact, got only one run in the game, which they ultimately lost. The lineup is starting to take shape, thanks to recent cuts. Josh Bell, Max Moroff, Gift Ngoepe and Dan Gamache started around the infield. Barrett Barnes, Adam Frazier and Mel Rojas, Jr., were in the outfield, from left to right. Reese McGuire, who will end up in Double-A, was behind the plate. Stetson Allie was the DH. Eppler was followed by Kelvin Marte, Jacob Thompson (a former Rays’ prospect who signed with the Pirates in the middle of last year but never appeared in a game), Junior Lopez, Matt Benedict and Miguel Rosario. None were especially effective apart from Marte and Lopez.
The starters in the Double-A game were Jerrick Suiter, Kevin Kramer, Chris Diaz, and Connor Joe around the infield, and Justin Maffei (who left after getting hit on the hand by a pitch), Elvis Escobar and Michael Suchy around the outfield. Danny Arribas caught and Edwin Espinal was the DH. Kevin Newman replaced Diaz at short after five innings. Colten Brewer, Edgar Santana, Jake Burnette and Jared Lakind followed Garcia on the mound. The Phillies weren’t able to do much damage against anybody but Brewer, although Lakind wild-pitched in a run.
Tyler Eppler — Eppler threw in the mid-90s, which is more velocity than he reportedly had when drafted. He got strikes with his curve and change. Eppler breezed through first two innings but had trouble in the 3rd due to control problems, a balk and a couple well hit balls. The inning ended before he’d recorded three outs due to his pitch count.
Yeudy Garcia — He didn’t dominate today the way he did last year in low A. His fastball was in the low-90s and he walked a couple of batters, but he was effective that he wasn’t scored upon. He got help from two double plays. His velocity a year ago didn’t get up into the mid-90s until after the season started, so it may not mean much that it’s down a little now.
Edgar Santana — The Pirates had several lower level pitchers appear for an inning each in the two games today. Santana pitched late in the Double-A game. His fastball was 92-95 mph, but the hitters were catching up with it some. He didn’t throw much else in his one inning.
Colten Brewer — He threw three innings in the Double-A game and, despite some laboring, managed to get through while allowing only three runs. He was throwing in the mid-90s, but was fairly wild.
Kevin Kramer — Playing second in the Double-A game, he made two nice plays on the pivot to complete double plays with runners bearing down on him. Tim Williams wrote recently that Kramer is having a very good camp so far, on both sides of the ball, and he showed a strong glove today, as did Chris Diaz, who may open the season as the shortstop for Altoona. Kramer was part of two double plays, including the featured image above.
Anderson Feliz — The Pirates signed Feliz as a minor league free agent, probably to play for Altoona. He’s been known strictly as a glove guy, but today he replaced Ngoepe at short in the Triple-A game and made about all the offensive noise the Pirates had in that game. In two times up, Feliz homered and hit a drive into the gap on which the Phillies’ center fielder made a diving catch.
Cole Tucker — Tucker played short in the morning scrimmage and made a diving stop on a smash to his backhand side. He’s still just flipping the ball to the second baseman and not throwing it to first, with his outs at first being simulated based on whether he gets the ball in time to throw out a runner.