Morning Report: Early Progress of the 2015 Draft Picks

The draft coverage on this site will start to increase soon, as we have less than seven weeks now until the draft begins. There will be a draft article here tomorrow, talking about a new mock draft, and you can expect the frequency of mock drafts to increase soon. With that in mind, I want to give updates over the next few days on the recent drafts and how the players are doing. We start with the most recent draft. The Pirates signed 33 players during the 2015 draft and spent over $7,500,000 in bonuses on those players. Here is a brief update on all of those player listed in the order in which they were drafted.

Kevin Newman – Has been one of the better hitters in the minors early on, leading the Florida State League with a .407 average. Has struck out just four times in 54 at-bats.

Ke’Bryan Hayes – Has been one of the better hitter in the South Atlantic League early on, ranking second with a .400 average, and seventh with a 1.027 OPS

Kevin Kramer – Hitting .236/.300/.291, but has looked better than those stats indicate. Fielding has been a positive as well

Casey Hughston – Had a couple big games recently, otherwise he is striking out too much and not drawing walks or hitting for average. He has looked good in center field and on the bases

Jacob Taylor – Recovering from Tommy John surgery

Brandon Waddell – Skipped over Low-A and has pitched very well, allowing two runs over 16 innings

JT Brubaker – Has looked real good in two of his three starts with West Virginia. Picking up where he left off last year

Mitchell Tolman – Hitting .240/.309/.340 after a strong season with Morgantown last year. Has five strikeouts in 50 at-bats

Seth McGarry – Reliever who usually goes two innings each outing. Has had good results, with a high ground ball rate

Bret Helton – Had two great starts for West Virginia, then one very bad outing

Logan Sendelbach – Threw five perfect innings in his first start. Two pretty good starts since then has him at a 1.80 ERA

Christian Kelley – Didn’t hit much last year with Morgantown, and he’s hitting even less this year

Ty Moore – He was one of the best hitters after the draft last year, fading near the end of a long season between college and pros. Hasn’t started to hit yet this year.

Logan Ratledge – Has more wins than hits and he’s a shortstop. Current role is 26th man with West Virginia

Chris Plitt – Extended Spring Training

Scooter Hightower – Extended Spring Training

Nick Hibbing – Retired over the off-season

Stephan Meyer – Extended Spring Training

Ike Schlabach – Extended Spring Training

Tanner Anderson – Reliever for WV, has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings, though his 4:3 BB/SO ratio isn’t good

Nicholas Economos – Extended Spring Training

Nathan Trevillian – Extended Spring Training

John Bormann – Backup to Christian Kelley at WV, 5-for-16 at the plate in limited time

Logan Hill – Skipped over Low-A, but has been buried on Bradenton’s bench. Just 2-for-14 in four games

Shane Kemp – Extended Spring Training

Ryan Nagle – Has a .690 OPS in 14 games. Playing everyday, 11 games in RF, three as a DH

Albert Baur – Extended Spring Training

Mike Wallace – Extended Spring Training

Sean Keselica – Extended Spring Training

Jordan George – Extended Spring Training

James Marvel – Extended Spring Training, healthy, but being brought along slow after having Tommy John surgery prior to the draft

Tate Scioneaux – Seeing multiple innings every appearance out of WV bullpen. Has a 1.50 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings

Daniel Zamora – No runs and nine strikeouts over 7.1 innings and three appearances out of WV bullpen.

I’ve included the link to our 2015 draft tracker to answer any questions about rounds, positions, or just generally, “who are these late round guys?”.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 11-1 over the Padres on Thursday night. Pittsburgh now heads to Arizona for a three-game set, starting tonight with Jon Niese on the mound making his fourth start. He threw seven shutout innings against the Brewers in his last start. The Diamondbacks will counter with Patrick Corbin making his fourth start. He has a 2.75 ERA in 19.2 innings and he’s allowed one run in each of his last two games.

In Indianapolis, Steven Brault gets the start, his third of the season. Due to high pitch counts, he has been unable to get through five innings in either of his starts. He hasn’t allowed many runners though, giving up nine hits and three walks in 8.2 innings. He also hasn’t struck out many batters (five), so the high pitch count has been due to a lot of foul balls and the inability to put away batters with two strikes.

For West Virginia, they will play a doubleheader today due to a rain out last night. Mitch Keller will make his third start. He has thrown five shutout innings in both starts this year, giving up five hits total (three on bunts) and no walks, with 13 strikeouts. He was named the Pitcher of the Week in the South Atlantic League last week. JT Brubaker is listed as the probable for right now for the second game of the doubleheader, but he may not start just to keep the rotation in order next time around. Because of that, I listed it as TBD below. Brubaker has a 2.25 ERA in three starts.

MLB: Pittsburgh (8-8) @ Diamondbacks (9-8) 9:40 PM
Probable starter: Jon Niese (3.50 ERA, 5:15 BB/SO, 18.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (6-6) @ Louisville (6-6) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (4.15 ERA, 3:5 BB/SO, 8.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (5-9) vs Richmond (6-9) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: David Whitehead (5.00 ERA, 7:10 BB/SO, 9.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (7-8) @ St Lucie (8-6) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (2.40 ERA, 6:7 BB/SO, 15.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (11-3) @ Lexington (7-6) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:13 BB/SO, 10.0 IP) and TBD


Here is a “remember him?” moment from Mel Rojas Jr. He tripled on Tuesday, which is his only hit through the first 12 games. He’s 1-for-15 with a walk.


4/21: Pirates release Michael Morse.

4/21: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

4/21: Cory Luebke assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

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.


Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and one Opening Day of note. The two former players both have longevity attached to their career. Mickey Vernon played in four different decades, starting in 1939 and ending in 1960 as a September pinch-hitter for the Pirates. He was actually the first base coach during that World Series winning season, but the Pirates activated him in September and he was used nine times. Vernon had a career that should get him Hall of Fame consideration, especially since he 2495 hits and over 1300 RBIs, yet missed two years of his career while serving in WWII. The year after he returned from service, he won the AL batting title, so there is a good chance he would have added significantly to those numbers that already look good.

The other player born on this date is Jake Pitler, an infielder for the 1917-18 Pirates. Those two seasons were his entire big league career, but he played in the minors until 1936 and managed for 17 seasons as well. Pitler was a regular for the Pirates in 1917, playing 109 games. The next season, he played just two games before the Pirates assigned him to the Jersey City Skeeters of the International League in early June. He left that team shortly after to join the war effort.

On this date in 1891, the Pittsburgh Pirates opened up their season with their new revamped lineup, but lost to Chicago in front of 5,500 fans by a 7-6 score. The Pirates had four Hall of Famers in their lineup, and another player that could still make it someday. First baseman Jake Beckley and pitcher Pud Galvin are in the HOF as players, while catcher Connie Mack and center fielder Ned Hanlon are in as managers. Left fielder Pete Browning was one of the top hitters of his day and he is the original Louisville Slugger. He has received some HOF support in the past and could get another push in the future.

  • I would bet money that Mickey Vernon was already in the HOF

  • Tim in addition to the iPhone app still showing weird stuff instead of stats in the top thirty section the box scores also aren’t working

  • Agree Hill has “it”. Hopefully just coaching him up.

  • Great article on Jake Arrieta by Tom Verducci. I hate the Cubs but it’s hard not to like the guy. Great pitcher, good taste in facial hair and music.

    • What happened to the link I attached?

      • It must not have shown up. I saw the comment earlier and there was no link to click. Feel free to post it again

    • You cant make me like anyone on the Cubs.

      lalalalalalalalala not listening.

      but yeah, Arrieta makes it hard to hate him.

      • Dude tries too hard. I prefer my stars in the John Daly / David Wells mold.

        “I don’t think I’ve ever stepped into a gym…they won’t let me smoke in there.”

        • Thats a fair point, but I think I largely associate the stories about his yoga and all that to the media just slobbing on the nob of anything CHC related.

          Its possible he loves throwing that crap in my face, but i assume its the media just asking him and him being like “yeah, i do this to be in shape.”

          But im always open to dislike the Cubs. Its fun, and for over 100 years never fails.

  • piraterican21
    April 22, 2016 10:25 am

    I’ve stubbornly believed that Newman was a bad pick, hoped of course that I was wrong in my believes, and so far this year he is doing what was advertised. My question, does his skill set compares to Trea Turner? In other words, hit, no power, speed, average fielder?

    • That describes Newman pretty well. His lack of power comes from his approach and a wide stance at the plate. He shows in batting practice he has power for 10-15 homers, but that’s not his approach and the wide stance doesn’t allow for that

      • piraterican21
        April 22, 2016 11:31 am

        But in theory it could, he could take a “power” stance for the beginning of the at bat and switch to the contact stance he uses now. Feel the same way about Polanco’s new plate discipline, go all out on the first strike you see, etc

      • If Newman keeps hitting for this sort of average, do you think he get’s promoted to AA sooner rather than later, John?

        • Still sticking with June 16-19 range, with Tucker taking his spot. If he goes sooner, then they would be going against past practices. Not saying it won’t happen, but I’ll stick with the educated guess.

  • Nice roundup John, thanks. By the way, as a long time Curve season ticket holder, I have been asked more than a few times if they have used the shift over the past few years at the AA level.. Which they never did. However, they are now employing shifting, and Manager Joey Cora has said it is because there is now enough information available for MiLB players to do that.

    • Indy has more pronounced shifts than last year too. I mentioned numerous times where Alen Hanson had the range to make plays on the left side of second base and get outs and you don’t see that type of ability often. Now, they have him set up, so those plays that were outstanding in the past, are now routine plays right at him.

  • Not excited that Logan Hill is buried on the bench…I saw him twic last year and thought he looked like a ballplayer-good power potential…

    • That makes zero sense to me, too.

    • There has to be a plan to rectify that situation…why bury him at his age and with all that college experience?

    • I saw one of the rare Logan Hill games this year and he crushed a foul ball the other way, that looked like it went about 500 feet. The problem was that he was so late on it that it probably ended up landing horizontal to the left of the right fielder, just 300 feet away from the stadium. Picture someone on a bowling alley hitting a throwing a gutter ball five lanes over by mistake. He swung through a lot of pitches that game, but lined out to center field and hit another foul about 400 feet, so there is real power in his bat.

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