Morning Report: A Good Day to Follow Pitching Prospects

Today looks like it will be a fun day for me, and I’m basing that on a baseball fan’s definition of “fun”. With the way the early games are set up, I plan to listen to the West Virginia Power game from 10:30 AM until noon. Then I switch over to MiLB tv for the Altoona game with Tyler Eppler on the mound. At 1:35 PM, I’ll switch over to the Indianapolis broadcast to watch Chad Kuhl, Jung-ho Kang and Jared Hughes, plus a lineup full of prospects. So basically, you can expect a long Prospect Watch today, especially if I listen to the Bradenton broadcast at night to hear Yeudy Garcia’s start. Here are some quick thoughts and a link for you.

**On Tuesday, Jonathan Mayo broke down the best prospect duos on the same team in the minors. Indianapolis placed fifth on that list, with Tyler Glasnow ranked eighth and Josh Bell ranked 47th. MLB Pipeline was one of the groups that didn’t leave Jameson Taillon off their top 100. They only did the best duo though, leaving off the 52nd ranked Taillon, which means Indianapolis would probably rank right near the top for best prospect trios.

**West Virginia leads the South Atlantic League with an 11-2 record. While Ke’Bryan Hayes and Tito Polo are putting up big numbers on offense, the pitching staff has been the real group of heroes. They lead the league with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. The team defense has helped out too, with just four unearned runs. Thanks to a couple extra inning games, they have pitched 5.1 innings more than anyone other team in the league, while allowing four less runs than the closest team.

**A few good games from Bradenton’s bats has them out of last place for offense. The team still isn’t hitting well as a group, but they are slowly putting it together. We will remind people throughout the year that the FSL isn’t a hitters league. The early proof of that is Bradenton’s .643 team OPS has them right in the middle of the team leaders, ranked sixth out of 12 teams. That OPS in the SAL would rank them 12th in the 14 team league. In the Eastern League, it would rank them 11th in the league of 12 teams, and in the International League, they would rank ninth, with two teams just .003 behind them.

**These notes are always related to the Pirates, but I had to stray after I saw something while looking up the team OPS numbers. It’s well-know that the Marlins have a poor farm system (ranked 29th by everyone), but their Low-A team in Greensboro is shockingly bad on offense. They have a .176/.249/.227 slash line this season through 13 games. They haven’t hit a home run yet. Nine of their players have an OPS under .500…yes, nine.

**The amateur draft starts 50 days from now. I’ve read a couple places that this draft isn’t strong at the top, but the players I’m hearing as possibilities for the 22nd and 41st overall picks, which are owned by the Pirates, seem like pretty good players. We won’t have a good idea of the specific player they are targeting, but we can look at the group of players in their range and see what kind of talent you can expect.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-4 to the Padres on Tuesday night. Jeff Locke gets the start for the Pirates tonight, making his third start of the season. He pitched well in his first game, then walked seven batters over 4.2 innings in his second game. The Padres counter with Drew Pomeranz, who has a 3.27 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings this season.

In Indianapolis, Jared Hughes joins the team to begin his rehab assignment. I know you read that yesterday, but he was setback a day due to sickness and will make his debut today instead. Chad Kuhl will be on the mound for Indy, making his second start. He missed a week in Spring Training due to unspecified soreness, which caused him to have a slightly delayed start to his season. Kuhl went 4.2 innings in his debut, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk.

Tyler Eppler has pitched well in both of his starts, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks over 12 innings. Yeudy Garcia has pitched poorly in both of his starts, giving up 14 hits and five walks in 7.2 innings. Dario Agrazal had one great start and one game in which he allowed five earned runs over five innings. Take note of the early start time for three of today’s games.

MLB: Pittsburgh (7-7) @ Padres (5-9) 10:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (2.53 ERA, 9:5 BB/SO, 10.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (5-5) vs Toledo (6-3) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (3.86 ERA, 1:3 BB/SO, 4.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (5-7) @ Harrisburg (5-6) 12:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (2.25 ERA, 2:9 BB/SO, 12.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (6-7) @ Palm Beach (8-5) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (5.87 ERA, 5:10 BB/SO, 7.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (11-2) vs Kannapolis (4-9) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (4.50 ERA, 1:4 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is Josh Bell showing some power from the right side, hitting a double that one-hopped the outfield wall right by the 418 foot sign.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.

4/18: Jung-ho Kang assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/16: Trevor Williams placed on disabled list. Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.

4/15: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan added to Altoona roster.

4/14: Cory Luebke placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Rob Scahill.

4/14: Pirates sign Justin Masterson.

4/14: Chad Kuhl assigned to Indianapolis.

4/13: Michael Morse designated for assignment. Pirates select contract of A.J. Schugel.

4/13: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.

4/13: West Virginia places Cesilio Pimentel on disabled list. Eric Karch added to roster.

4/11: Pirates release John Holdzkom.

4/6: Tampa Bay Rays claim Jake Goebbert off waivers from Pirates.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one significant trade of note. On this date in 1985, the Pirates traded away long-time closer Kent Tekulve to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Al Holland and a minor league pitcher.  Tekulve still ranks second on the Pirates all-time list for games pitched (722) and saves (158), plus he added 70 victories, and he saved three games during the 1979 World Series. Holland only lasted until August before he was sent to the California Angels in a six-player deal.

Former players born on this date are: Outfielder Chris Duffy (2005-07),  third baseman Mike Mowrey (1914), outfielder Steamer Flanagan (1905) and outfielder Sam Nicholl (1888). As an 18-year-old in the Ohio State League, Nicholl batted .331 in 92 games. At the very end of the next season, he was with the Pirates/Alleghenys, seeing regular playing time as five of their 16 players were injured. Nicholl hit .045 that October, then had a job with the 1889 Alleghenys out of Spring Training. Unfortunately, he injured his hand and was released a week into the season when he still couldn’t grip the bat tightly to swing.

On this date in 1901, the Pirates opened up the season with a 4-2 win at Cincinnati. This was the 20th season in franchise history and ended up as the first time they finished in first place. That was before the modern-day World Series started, so the 1901 Pirates were declared the champions that season. It was also the first year of a three-year run in which they took the National League crown each season.

  • Don’t forget Al Holland originally came up with the Bucs in ’77 — I caught a foul ball on Prize Day and Holland, Tekulve & Goose Gossage autographed after the game 🙂

  • Random things…

    *So, Starling Marte decided to stop striking out? Since May 1 of 2015, after striking out 33% of the time over the first month of the season, Marte has logged 611 PA while posting a K-rate of just 17.5%. That’s roughly 9% less than over his first ~1400 PA.

    *Obligatory sample size caveat standing, but Josh Bell has only hit about a quarter of his balls in play on the ground so far in 2016. That’s extreme, but an excellent sign of a power breakout this season.

    • K rate is actually one of the quickest stats to stabilize so that is indeed a very promising note. SSS disclaimer doesn’t even need to be included in that.

  • John Dreker, you are a mad man
    I want to party with you, cowboy

    • Dreker’s schedule today, probably. Except baseball. 😉

      • You would think with all the time I’m on the computer, I would play video games to pass time, but I haven’t for many moons. Tim is the gamer, I just read about baseball when I’m not writing about baseball. I have to vacuum sometime between now and 10:30, so that involves me thinking I’m not going to do it for about the next hour and ten minutes, then vacuuming the whole house in less than 15 minutes

      • piraterican21
        April 20, 2016 10:00 am

        From now on, I will picture JD looking just like that, until he post a glamour shot ala Tim.

        • I was literally thinking the same thing! Blackmail Dreker campaign has been initiated.

        • I agree, Dreker needs a glamour shot. Something sporty.

          • Who doesn’t love Leaping Lanny Poffo…his brother played minor league ball for 4-5 years before he went on with his life’s work

            • Dreker with the WWE prospect info as well. Just remember, I called Cena’s strong rookie year.

              • I’m extremely glad that no one came into my office with that picture on my computer screen. I’m not sure I could explain it.
                I’m not sure which of the porn ‘stache or the orange frisbee is the highlight.

          • piraterican21
            April 20, 2016 11:06 am

            3 votes, that should equal 10 delegates

    • I am available for parties, par-tays, shindigs, keggers, hootenannies, mixers, raves and box socials.

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