BRADENTON, Fla. – The Pirates made seven more cuts from big league camp today, trimming their roster to 35 active players in camp. The roster also came into focus a bit, with Neal Huntington announcing that Matt Joyce will make the Opening Day roster.

The deadline for the Pirates to make a decision on Joyce is noon today. They don’t have to make a move today, but have to make a commitment to add him to their active roster. They made that commitment, and will make a corresponding 40-man roster move later this week, possibly on Sunday.

“We see him as a left-handed bat off the bench who can play left or right field when Clint chooses to rest one of our outfielders or in case of injury,” Huntington said. “Veteran, commands the strike zone, gives us quality, professional at-bats. He’s coming off a tough year, went to the Dominican Republic to work his way back, showed us some things over the course of camp. Two years ago and three years ago was a very good player. Left-handed bat who can fill in if needed in the outfield.”

Joyce has seen his power production drop in recent years, although his walk rate has stayed strong. That might be one of the things the Pirates find the most appealing, as they’ve put a big focus on getting on base this year. Joyce noted that his goal as a hitter is “just don’t get out”. As for today’s decision, Joyce was excited by the news.

“It’s pretty huge,” Joyce said. “It’s tough to ride the roller coaster sometimes, and especially this game, the ups and downs that come along with it. Definitely through my career, I’ve experienced both. … It’s very satisfying, knowing how much hard work that I put in, and going over to the Dominican for five weeks, and putting in the at-bats, and grinding out, putting in the time and effort to work outside the field and in the off-season. To come in Spring Training and show up every day just with that goal in mind. To work your butt off, and to have that satisfying statement that you’re a Buc and you made the team is such a great feeling.”

With Joyce making the team, the Pirates now have four of their five bench spots locked up. The final spot could go to either Jason Rogers or Cole Figueroa. Technically, Pedro Florimon is still in the mix, although I see him as a guy who is likely to be designated for assignment by the end of camp to make room on the 40-man roster for guys like Joyce.

Jeff Locke Makes the Rotation

Neal Huntington said last week that the final two spots in the rotation would be an open competition between Jeff Locke, Ryan Vogelsong, and Juan Nicasio. Today he said that Locke will definitely be in the rotation, and that he may have misspoke in his comments before.

“I probably misspoke when I talked about it being a competition,” Huntington said. “It’s not a competition based purely on Spring Training results. It’s what we see, how we see this group coming together, and Jeff’s done a lot of good things for us.”

Huntington said that the decision with Locke was made based on some of his past results, along with the adjustments he’s made this spring.

“I know he’s an easy punching bag in certain circles, but Jeff’s been a very solid Major League pitcher for us and we think there’s more to come, especially as he starts to use his arm side more,” Huntington said. “It’s going to open up the changeup better. It’s going to open up the inner half. He’s made some quality adjustments with that this spring and thrown some great pitches. The delivery adjustment is becoming more routine for him and he’s having to think about it less. When we get that delivery locked in, we get him using both halves, we get him using all three pitches, we’re going to have a very good pitcher on our hands.”

The most notable thing about Locke this year is that he changed his delivery, simplifying it to try and get better command of his pitches. That’s still a work in progress, although Locke will make his final start today to try and work some things out before the season starts.

“He’s still trying to figure out the exact timing,” Huntington said. “He is a very good athlete and he’s able to do some things. Our goal is to get him to a point where he’s competing and not trying to work on the delivery. He’ll get an outing in the Minor Leagues and get stretched out and ready to go.”

The biggest issue with Locke in the past has been his consistency. He’s been great in the first half, and has struggled in the second half each year. The Pirates made this decision because they felt they can get more consistency out of him this year.

“Jeff’s had his ups and downs, but we believe that this is a big year for him and we can help him take a step forward and have more ups and fewer downs,” Huntington said.

As for the rest of the rotation, Juan Nicasio is still without an exact role, and it appears that there will be a competition between him and Ryan Vogelsong for the final spot. However, as noted above, that competition might not be entirely based on spring results.

“We’re still working through that one, as far as the ultimate configuration that puts our strongest 12 out there,” Huntington said. “That’s a part of the bullpen question and the rotation question. How do they complement each other, how do they fit? We feel very comfortable with either Ryan or Juan in the rotation. We also feel comfortable with either one of them in the bullpen. It’s a matter of how do we put this puzzle together outside of just that one spot in that vacuum.”

As I’ve noted, I think Nicasio should be in the rotation, not because of his results this spring, but because of his stuff. I also haven’t been favorable on the Vogelsong signing, as I think a contending team could have gone with someone who had more upside. We’ll see how the decision plays out later this week with the final rotation spot.

Still No Word on Cory Luebke

Huntington said that Cory Luebke’s opt-out deadline isn’t today, and said that the Pirates still have time to make a decision.

“Cory has an out at some point this spring,” Huntington said. “There’s a sequence of events that happen based on what we inform him, whether he’s going to make the club or he’s not going to make the club. If he’s not going to make the club, there’s a sequence of events that take place. It’s a little bit convoluted, but we’ll have to make a decision here in the coming days.”

Previously, everyone was competing for one bullpen spot, and if Luebke made the team, it would mean he’d take the final spot. However, it’s now looking like Jared Hughes will start the season on the disabled list.

“Very likely, as we sit here today,” Huntington said on Hughes going to the DL. “You want to leave every opportunity in the world, but you look at the calendar and realize dates are clicking away. It’s been a while since he’s thrown. He’s feeling better. It’s a long season and Jared’s been an integral part of the bullpen for a number of years. We want to make sure we put him in a position to make sure he helps us win a lot of games this year, not just focused on April 3 or April 5. The reality is, it’s going to be very difficult for him to open the season on the active roster. We’ll take the time we need to take to get him 100 percent healthy.”

The other active relievers in camp, aside from Luebke, are Kyle Lobstein, Jim Fuller, A.J. Schugel, and Jorge Rondon. Of that group, only Lobstein is on the 40-man roster.

Other Notes

**Huntington indicated that the final roster decisions could come in Indianapolis on Saturday, as the team waits out all of their options.

“Clint reminds me that he’s been that guy that gets released on Opening Day, as a matter of fact. That’s real. It’s easy for me to sit in an office and become task oriented, and think about ‘Well, this is what we need to do.’ Clint reminds me of the human analytic, and the human element of it all the time. But unfortunately there are some decisions that we probably will — as we’ve done in the past in Philadelphia, as we’ve done in the past when we’ve broken camp — there will be some decisions that are awfully late, and maybe some in Indianapolis.”

**Rob Scahill was the most notable guy cut from the bullpen today, which is interesting since there could be two spots up for grabs in the final week, and Scahill is one of the few guys remaining who was on the 40-man roster.

“With Rob, he’s got quality major league stuff, it’s just the application and being aggressive and using both halves of the plate and maybe simplifying his approach a little bit. I think Rob will help us again at some point earlier than later this season.”

**Jung-ho Kang played five innings on the field yesterday, and Huntington said that the plan was adding one variable at a time with his rehab, making it as simplified as possible.

“Yesterday was defense. He felt good. Our guys are talking about, continued movements are better, the explosiveness is coming back, the strength is coming back, whether it’s in the batter’s box, whether it’s defensively, whether it’s running. So all very, very positive signs.”

The Pirates will be conservative with his return, and the line all along was that he could return in mid-to-late April. He’s still not to the point where he can run the bases in a game, which is one of the final things he needs to add before he’s ready.

**Gregory Polanco has been day-to-day lately, and Huntington confirmed that this is still his status. However, it doesn’t sound like he will be out for long, and they’re only being cautious with him at the end of camp.

“We’re going to look forward to getting him back out there when we’re in that point in camp where he’s had a lot of at-bats, and is it better to give him the rest and knock this out, or better to get him out there and give him a few more at-bats. At this point we’re still erring on the side of it’s probably better to just try to knock this thing out, and get whatever soreness he’s got in there out.”

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124 COMMENTS

  1. Starting Locke over Nicasio just stinks…just a brutal decision. I suspect Locke will have a very short leash this year though, theres alot of options and replacements on their way.

  2. JD is not going to like this thread. For the record I have been a Pirate fan for over 60+ years. The Pirates elected to go with donkeys named Jaso, Rodgers, Joyce, Goebbert, Figueroa, and Florimon. And pitchers named Niese, Locke, and Voglesong. These donkeys have 3rd place written all over them. Yes and Nicasco gets F ed to the pen. The Pirates should have started Bell, Diaz, and Hanson and scrapped most of these rejects. Maybe they would still have been in 3rd but you played for the following year when at least 2 pitchers arrive from AAA. The Chubs started 3 rookies in the playoff game and they will overtake the Cards and the Pirates will be home for the playoffs. No 100 mile one way trips to watch these sad sacks. This thread will soon be pushed to the bottom in 5-4-3 -2 -1 sec.

    • I actually appreciate this post.

      If you are going to go with the hot take, might as well lean in and go full on blow the lid off the damn thing. Go big or go home.

    • Amen – have been saying this for 2-3 years – the Pirates, for whatever reason, seem very hesitant in trusting and promoting their own prospects. I would much rather play guys like Gift, Bell, Diaz, Hanson, Glasnow, and Tailon this year – have them learn and grow and have the usual rookie growing pains – at least they would be investing in their future and would create more excitement by having a younger, faster, and more athletic team that will mature together. The Pirates system is very underutilized….how many of their own prospects made significant contributions to the team in the past two years? I bet there weren’t more than a couple – Polanco being one obviously. If Kris Bryant was with the Pirates, he would have spent all of 2015 in indy – working to cut down his strikeouts.
      The thought of watching the likes of Rogers, Niese, Vogelsong, Rodriguez, Figueroa, Morse, and Florimon does not excite me nor does it give me optimism that we can win what will be a very difficult division.
      The Pirates had a dreadful off-season because they were cheap and spent payroll on players who will provide little return. very frustrating.

      • Polanco was called up probably before he was ready. Mercer was given a chance to win the starting job away from Barmes when he came up. Alvarez went straight into the starting lineup. Cole slotted immediately into the rotation. Wilson and Watson assumed major bullpen roles.

        They use their prospects when their prospects are ready. Taillon would have been in the rotation in 2014 if not for the TJ and 2015 if not for the hernia surgery. Kingham would have been in the rotation in 2015 if not for the TJ. Hanson was only okay in AAA last year, and mostly that was due to inconsistency. Bell and Glasnow just started at AAA. Diaz may be blocked, but he’s the only one who might be ready for the Show right now.

        The Pirates aren’t resisting using their prospects. When they’ve had them, they’ve used them. They just didn’t have any both ready and healthy last year and only one the year before that.

    • I get you’re upset, but why do people keep insisting Jaso is a waste of a roster spot? He’s been a good to very good Major League hitter for his entire career, and he’ll only be asked to use his biggest offensive strength–getting on base against right-handed pitchers–this season. Jaso right now is a better hitter than Bell right now and gives the team a better chance to win right now, and that’s part of the point. And when Bell is ready to overtake him, Jaso will be an excellent bench piece.

      John Jaso was a great offseason move.

      • Bell right now would play the better defense of all the rest of these donkeys that Hurdle will run out there this year. He hit .347 in the last 35 games at AAA with only 3 errors. On top of that he played at the AFL hit solid and 0 complaints about errors. Jaso is learning 1st. base defense on the fly.

          • Why do you feel Bell isn’t ready? What is he lacking, when you compare him to the other options like Jaso, Morse, and Rogers?

      • I don’t get where this comes from – Tim keeps saying that Jaso is one of the best Right handed hitters vs LHP in the majors and you say he is a great offseason move…

        Zips and Steamer both project him as a poor defender and 0.8 WAR player…

        No power and poor defense – is that the best that this team could do for a real first baseman?

          • Jaso has *never* gotten double that many plate appearances.

            In his entire career.

            There’s a reason ZiPS has him at 269.

            • I won’t be surprised if he gets close to 500. He’s a first baseman now, plus the Pirates have a tendency to get guys on the field and keep them there. Look at what they did with Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martin, and those two guys were at catcher.

              • I mean, he was a DH last year and that didn’t help.

                As for the Pirates health narrative, Martin averaged less PA per season with the Pirates than he posted in all but two years of his career. Not sure that and one healthy season from Cervelli is instructive, at all.

                Jaso may very well, for the first time ever, be healthy but the fact that he hasn’t yet *and* he’ll only be playing against RHP in the first place make 500 PA a real long shot.

                • Are you including Martin’s early, younger years? His plate appearances went down leading up to his time with the Pirates. Both Martin and Cervelli have praised the methods the Pirates used to keep them on the field more.

                  As for Jaso and the DH, the Rays had a lot of guys rotating through that spot last year. The Pirates will only have Jaso as the LH guy at first base. And Pedro got 491 PA in 2015 in the same role.

                  • Which is why I called it the Pirates healthy narrative.

                    FWIW, Martin’s yearly PA’s actually were increasing in the two years prior to joining the Pirates, and then dropped back down to 460 in his second year with the club, due to injury. Also logged 507 last year with the Jays.

                    500 PA for Jaso, a platoon, means a full season of complete health; something he’s never done in six years as a big leaguer. Sure it can happen, but there’s no way you go into a season *expecting* that kind of health.

        • I agree….when I look at Jaso’s career numbers – you know, the ones that count – like HRs, RBIs, BB/SO, runs scored, etc. – I see an average to maybe slightly above average ML hitter.
          So, if given 500+ ABs, what would be considered good numbers for Jaso this year? Can he hit 20-25 HRs and drive in 75-90 runs, while hitting .270 or higher? I hope so, but I don’t see evidence from his career numbers that he will or can do that.

          • You know, there are a couple stats which rate a hitter relative to average. One of them, wRC+, has Jaso as 20% better than a league average hitter. OPS+ has him 16% better than league average. His wRC+ is tied for 59th among qualified batters during his career, the same offensive rate stats as guys like Derek Lee and Hunter Pence, ahead of Jason Heyward, J. D. Martinez, and Christian Yelich. So unless you think those guys don’t quite qualify as “good hitters,” Jaso’s a good hitter.

              • The fact that he is batting leadoff tells you two things – one, the Pirates don’t have any qualified leadoff hitters (unless they are going to put Polanco there again) and two, that Jaso is not a run producer. He is a guy who gets on base….allegedly…not bad if he was playing SS, CF, or 2B and was a plus glove, but he’s a first baseman. You are supposed to get run production from first base – not singles and walks.
                When the season starts, and the horrible moves made by the FO come into full reality, we will then see who mocks who…

                • What Jaso batting leadoff tells you is the Pirates value OBP at the top of the order above all else, and Jaso has been a top-50 OBP player over the course of his career. It tells you nothing else.

          • The commenters on here are very knowledgable. Why aren’t you? Until you actually know what you’re talking about please be quiet because you’re making me nauseous.

  3. The Rogers trade was an obvious bad trade the day it was made, but who would have thought it would be so bad that Rogers doesn’t even make the 25 man roster? I still doubt the Pirates release him, because they did grossly overpay for him, but maybe they will surprise us all?

        • No, it doesn’t really matter – but it is good that he does have an option, so a bad trade doesn’t get even worse. NH is not a good GM for making trades – I hold my breath every time one is announced.

          • Dude does suck. Imagine him pulling midseason deals that actually help us. Or that supplement a catcher leaving.

            • I will gladly line up all NH trades ever made, and we can then assess what his overall trade performance has been. I agree, the Cervelli trade was a VERY good one – and the Happ trade last year as a good one. Were there any others?

              • Travis Snider…coming and going
                Marlon Byrd was a big reason the Pirates finally made the playoffs.
                Blanton and Soria from last season.
                Worley for cash was great for the Pirates in ’14.
                Mazzaro came for minor league junk and went 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA.
                Morton, Locke, and Hernandez for McClouth? Solid.
                McDonald for Dotel? Can’t complain about that…
                How about Josh Harrison?
                Melancon?

      • zero reason to release him. He goes to AAA and hopefully hits well and is in position to help as needed.

  4. So the decision to keep Joyce seems to definitely be based on the desire for a left handed bat. After learning that there are three LH starting pitchers in the entire division that we will be facing I’d say that I’m on board with that idea.

  5. I find it difficult to be anything but extremely disappointed that the Pirates’ 4th OF is a 31 year old with a rapidly declining skill set both at the plate and in the field, and whose 2015 was awful. I was pretty excited to see Jason Rogers get some opportunities this year, seeing as though he’s hit at every level, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Instead, the Pirates signed Joyce, and 33 year old David Freese, and seem to be committed to 34 year old Morse. After signing Freese, they even felt it necessary to announce that once Kang returns, he will be the other half of the 1b platoon with Jaso. Still struggling to make sense of the Rogers trade and the Pirates lack of faith in his abilities. I’d much rather have Rogers or Broxton as the 4th OF going into this year, rather than the train wreck that will be Joyce’s 2016.

    • Well, we could plug Broxton into that 4th outfielder spot – very good defender, fast, can steal bases, etc. Oops, forgot we traded him and a second round pick pitching prospect for a 28 year old career minor leaguer who doesn’t have a position…..and has been made obsolete by the Jaso, Freese signings….

    • On a more serious note, I always liked Matt Joyce when he was with the Rays – underrated and solid major league player. Nothing flashy, but seemed like a solid and fundamentally sound player. I don’t know what happened to him last year in California, because he is a lot better than that. I much rather have Joyce than Rogers coming off the bench….

    • Glad to see Joyce on the team, way more balance with a 4th outfielder and left handed bat……now to release Vogelrodriguez

      • I would be very happy at this point if Nicasio is in the rotation and Vogelsong is in the pen or released. I just want to see the guys performing best be rewarded

        • I think “released” is a little premature. They’ve got him, they’re paying him, and, when it comes to the BP…it’s not as if they’ve got 7 guys there better than RV.

          The team definitely could’ve done better than RV in the off-season, but they’re not going to get anyone more talented in the next week. Play him, see what, if anything, he has in the tank. Personally, I think he’ll do just fine as a long/mop-up man.

      • I think Vogelsong and Nicasio will be tied to one another regardless of who makes the rotation.

        I think it should be Nicasio, if only due to lack of good options. Not convinced he has the ability to turn a lineup over more than twice, but those first few turns could be really good. Have a pseudo-piggyback reliever set up for him – like, say, Ryan Vogelsong – and I could buy that pair consistently getting the club to the 7th or 8th without giving up more than three runs.

        • Our team is better equipped to deal with a 2-1 lead after 5 innings than it is to be down 4-2 after 5. Therefore…..Nicasio.

      • He was a solid OBP and OPS+ for years with TB and then last year was a mess for him with the Angels. He can help the Pirates, and I think they can help him with an opportunity to re-establish himself. The second position player who was with the Angels last year (David Freese).

        • completely agree- unfortunately Joyce has been really streaky in his career, but that AB’s I saw were solid

    • Always my favorite time in camp, seeing the guys who won a roster spot. Even if they might be horrible additions, it’s always great seeing someone succeed in that moment.

      Example: I remember when Jonathan Sanchez won a roster spot. There was a lot of speculation leading up to that, and on decision day, he was in the manager’s office. After he came out, reporters (myself included) asked him what they told him about the decision. His response was a huge smile and “I made the team.”

      There are so many aspects of this game that are pure business, so a situation like that is always refreshing.

    • Probably right around Nick Ahmed’s production – .226/.624. Ahmed was 1.7 WAR with 460 PAs vs. Mercer’s 0.5 WAR with 425 PAs. But Jordy also hit .255/.692 in 2014 for a 2.0 WAR, so he could bounce back to that.

  6. Obviously the biggest news today is Jordy Mercer being scratched from the lineup, Florimon moving from RF to SS and Jose Osuna getting the start in RF. I expect him to go 4-for-4 with five home runs

    • John: We have seen all of these guys like Flo, Rodriguez, Ngoepe, etc., but why not take this isolated an unplanned opportunity to put Kevin Newman in at SS today?

      • I don’t think they have made a decision on Florimon yet, but he was going to play regardless today. Osuna was already going on the trip today, so it was just plugging in someone who was scheduled to be there. They tell them ahead of time, while Newman was scheduled for the early game at Pirate City

    • So because some disagree with you, you turn to ridicule those individuals and get those ever precious “ups” from your little band of followers??

      This is totally piss poor journalism on your part Mr. Drecker. You have lost any respect that I had for you.

      • How is it that, of all the Jose Osuna jokes on the site, this is the one that crossed the line? It didn’t even mention anyone specific, and wasn’t taking a stance. Just playing into the fact that Osuna seems to be a daily topic in the comments.

        • Joke? – that was not a joke Tim. If you think it was we have very different ideas on what is funny. I took it as a direct slam at those of us who have been rooting for Osuna to get a fair shot from the Pirates. He should have started last year at Altoona – should be playing in the OF in Indy to start this year.

          John did not make any new friends with this kind of comment – which would have been no problem coming from a member – but is not what some of us expect from objective analysts and writers.

          AGAIN – I am not as concerned with how PP has treated Osuna – you and John have both made the case – I do take issue with how the Pirates have treated him and others – preferring to dumpster dive for guys like Goebert and Ortiz.

          • John’s exact words: “and Jose Osuna getting the start in RF. I expect him to go 4-for-4 with five home runs”

            How is that a slam? How is that directed at anyone? John spent the entire off-season writing daily updates about Osuna crushing the ball. He dug for information that the Pirates media guys said they didn’t even know about. When I saw the comment, I didn’t take it as a slam toward anyone. I thought it was just him playing into the board meme where there’s a lot of hype when Osuna does stuff, and the fact that this is becoming a common occurrence.

            There are fan clubs on this site for a lot of different players. That has been pointed out already in this thread, talking about Connor Joe and Montana DuRapau, as two examples. Yet for some reason, only the Osuna fan club takes it personally when anyone doesn’t give him credit, or even when they do give him credit.

            My personal opinion? If you’re getting this upset about a harmless comment about one player, then you either are that player (and that’s not the case here), or you’re way too invested in that player.

            And as for the comment, I see comments on Osuna and other board memes every day. I don’t think anyone is taking personal shots here, and no one is saying anything over the line. It’s all in good fun. And I include the comments directed at the site, saying we’re ignoring Osuna every time he hits a single. So what’s the problem here? John can’t participate in the same joking around that exists in every thread from other posters?

    • Good way to encourage loyal readers to renew when the time comes – I never said Osuna was the next Mike Trout – there is a difference between funny and snarky

      • Well I laughed…

        Trust me, it grinds my gears when people knock my boy Connor Joe, I just try not to take it personally. 😉

      • Can we imagine a world where people were expected to put up with snark in a comment section? Rough life.

      • I never understood why anyone here thinks we don’t like Osuna. He has made our top 50 list four years in a row, with us calling him a future Major Leaguer who might have to go elsewhere to get his chance. I covered him all winter and even noted how he has made improvements and adjustments since we made the list. I just find it odd that people want more respect for a player who gets a lot already. The Osuna fans(which are a lot more than just you) seem to ignore all praise directed towards him from others.

        • I think some folks tend to believe you guys are implying more than you mean with some of the language you use. Only so many ways to talk about prospects, I get it and certainly don’t blame you. Hell, Chad Kuhl is a future ace to some because of a few snippets Tim has written about him over what has to be thousands of words at this point.

          • I mean I’ve been led to believe that his floor is peak Kevin Brown…are you implying that’s not true?

          • While I have absolutely no personal feelings good or bad towards Osuna, we NEVER take personal feelings into account when talking about any prospect in the system. There are a couple players I talk to a lot who have never made any top 50 list and they are some of the friendliest and most open players that are out there. I sometimes think people think we build up or put down certain players for whatever outside reason you can think of and we don’t. Everything is based on what we see and hear from others.

            When people say you should consider moving xxx higher/lower, there has already been a long discussion involving 3-5 people about why that player is where he is on our list. Nothing on this site is thrown together as far as rankings

            • Which is why I never quite understand when somebody argues about Player X being higher/lower based off a comment or two in a given article.

              • Our book even gives people the option of putting players higher numerically because we prefer to use tiers. Osuna is actually a great example because he was 37th in the book(36 now after the Supak trade), but he’s in the same tier as Gage Hinsz at #25. Using numbers among the players in those tiers just means you like one player a little bit more than another, but not enough to say he’s clearly better. We list the tiers first and point out there isn’t a big difference between the best(highest ranked) and worst(lowest) ranked in that same group. If there was a big difference, they would be in different tiers.

        • I would not have responded had your post come from a site member – would have taken it as a bit snarky – but in bounds..
          But you write for the site – why not say something like “Jose Osuna gets a start – his first this spring – it will be interesting to see how he does agains a pitcher like Sabathia”

          Your minions obviously approve so I guess I am wrong and/or over reacted.

          And it is not really PP that I take issue with on Osuna as much as the Pirates – they have not – IMHO handled him – and other minor leaguers well. An AAAA guy who should never set foot in PNC like Ortiz gets 38 at bats [OPS=.416] – Osuna came into today with 6 would love to hear the rational for that…

          I guess when you can go out a fill your roster with guys Jaso, Joyce, Freese, Rodriquez, Ortiz, Goebert, Richardson, etc you just don’t need a farm system.

          • I think with Osuna in particular, he got his second career push this past year when he made the adjustments they asked of him. They did push him to start his career, moving him very quickly up to high-A ball(made it as a 19-year-old), but he stalled out because he made no progress and wasn’t on a path to making that progress.

            It finally clicked last year when he started swinging at better pitches and not expanding his strike zone with runners on. That was a problem with him since day one, but they pushed him up to high-A in spite of that because he had power.

            When he started being more selective in key situations and not trying to do too much(proving it over a length of time first) then they moved him up to Altoona. Once he got there, they had him in the lineup everyday. He had the sixth most plate appearances in the system and four of the guys ahead of him batted in the 1-3 slots in the order all the time, so they just got more PA’s from being in the right spot in the order.

            • Ok – and thanks – I thought he started last year at High A because he was blocked at AA. Now explain Danny Ortiz getting at bats that could have gone to Osuna and/or Frazier.

              • The Pirates really liked Ortiz this off-season, so I figured he would see a lot of at-bats. He said the day he hit free agency and other teams could talk to him besides the Twins, the Pirates contacted him and they were very aggressive with him until he signed, and he was one of the first players to sign. That likely means he received a six-figure deal, which a handful of minor league free agents get.

                • Waste of money – but that seems to be the trend this offseason – overpay for S-Rod – does anyone really think he would have gotten a $1M offer from another team? Then overpay for this guy – when you have a ton of outfielders in the pipeline and could have spent the money on Matt Joyce instead months ago…

                  Just looked at Fangraphs – Sean Hurdle is projected to be a 0.1 WAR player by both Steamer and Zips – that means the Bucs paid $25M per WAR for this bum…

        • I’m an Osuna fan John ( Sean McCool will verify) but I don’t understand where the idea comes from he isn’t liked at P2 myself. It just looks to me like he probably is blocked in this organization, and there is certainly no shame in that.

        • I think it is because he way too far down on your Pirates Top 50 prospects list….based on his actual performance, vs. some guys who are on there because of where they got drafted. I do believe guys like Osuna, Garcia, and even Ramirez (until this year) are undervalued and underrated, because they were International signings as opposed to former first round or second round draft picks.

          • I’ll be honest, I think Garcia has been over-rated every year here and if anything, I drag him down in the rankings. He shows no ability to recognize an off-speed pitch and his tools have been slipping, except his arm of course, but even then he will make mistakes with that showing it off. I think Garcia will have a nice career overseas, where the power will play up more, but I don’t see him as anything more than an MLB bench piece with a low average and high strikeout rate.

            His winter this year was very disappointing, getting benched due to poor play, and then spring he struck out a lot. Both small sample sizes, but they were very bad and his winter wasn’t supposed to be a small sample size, he just played himself out of the lineup. I just hope he hasn’t peaked.

            Ramirez we have been cautious with because he’s had both injury and conditioning issues over the years. Always liked the upside, but like Barrett Barnes, it’s hard to reach it when you’re not on the field

          • That’s not true at all about the international guys, or the draft picks. Yeudy Garcia was rated 12th overall in the system. You mention that Ramirez was ranked low prior to this year, but he was ranked 11th last year. We’ve also been high on guys like Marte, Polanco, Hanson, Diaz, and others much earlier than everyone else.

            Osuna is properly rated. We don’t base everything off performance alone. It’s about a mix of performance and upside, with a heavy leaning toward the latter.

            If we were just going to rate people based off where they were drafted, and not based on our actual reports, then we wouldn’t even bother gathering reports. This job would be easy if we could discount every international guy and only focus on draft positions.

            • Tim – it is all relative to the others on the list….from a performance, age, skills, etc. – there is no reason why a guy like Newman should be ranked where he is, based on his performance last year. He is there because he was a first round pick (although very few people felt he was worthy of being a first round pick)….
              I did acknowledge that Ramirez is now appropriately ranked, as I don’t see a lot of difference between him and Meadows based on their total bodies or work to date. Because of his questionable bat, McGuire is rated too highly. He may be Johnny Bench with the glove, but if he is Mario Mendoza with the bat he is not worthy of being listed as a top 10 prospect. But he is, because he was a first round pick…

              • You’re putting way too much weight on performance in the lower levels, and ignoring tools and skills.

                The guys aren’t ranked where they are because they were first rounders. They’re ranked where they are because of their tools and skills, which is why they were first rounders. Nothing has really changed with Newman and McGuire to downgrade them. And they’re both way too young to suggest that they’re finished products, especially when it’s based on half a season in a first run through pro ball, like Newman.

                I know a lot of scouts who don’t even care about results in the short-season leagues. They only look at the skills.

                • I’m sorry Tim, but I don’t buy that….if Newman and Joe were not drafted where they were, you would likely have Newman in the lower half of the top 50 and Joe not even listed….the fact that Osuna is below guys like Joe and Tolman is really an insult to Osuna. And, I still have hope for Joe – he seems like a great kid and I want to see him succeed, regardless of the circumstances that brought him to the Pirates. If Osuna was a first round pick, he would be in your top 20 – easily – when you factor in his hitting to date…

                  • The fact is that Newman and Joe were drafted where they were because of their tools. You can create a scenario where they’re drafted much lower, but the only way for that to be realistic is if they don’t have their same tools. And then, yes, I’d have them lower in the rankings.

                    Likewise, Osuna would never be a first round pick, because he’s a 1B only guy who doesn’t have elite power. We’re talking about a .763 OPS in AA at the age of 22. By comparison, Pedro Alvarez had a 1.009 OPS in AA at the age of 22, and could actually play a premium position for a bit. That’s a first round pick.

                    You can’t just say “if he was this, he’d be rated higher.” We look at the player, the tools, and the upside. We don’t even consider the draft position. That’s why Connor Joe (1st round, 2014) is in the same talent tier as Mitchell Tolman (7th round, 2015).

                    Osuna is actually in the same talent tier as Joe.

      • You can actually see the improvements from Osuna in that at-bat. The pre-2015 Osuna would have tried to pull that ball over the left field fence and probably grounded out to third base. Instead, he served a liner into center field. The difference between trying to do too much and hitting the ball where it’s pitched and getting the job done

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