On Saturday night, I was the understudy for Tim Williams, taking his spot in the Bradenton press box, and yes there is an actual spot and his chair is nicer than any I’ve been in at other stadiums. As a weekend fill-in, I’m getting a brief glimpse at this Bradenton team, though I saw many of these players last year with West Virginia. Who I got to see for the first time was first round draft pick Kevin Newman. Now, I did see him play on television last year and I watched every video I could find on him after he was drafted. We even posted a video of him in the draft coverage before the Pirates took him. I also saw video after he was drafted last year and a little bit of spring footage. Nothing beats seeing players in person though.
Newman went 1-for-4 on Saturday and it was definitely better than that line looks. He hit the ball well three times and went gap-to-gap with two line drives. His double was off Tyler Jay, who was also a first round pick last year. Newman looked good against him, while many of the other hitters looked bad against him. As I mentioned in the Prospect Watch, Connor Joe probably had the worst game I’ve ever seen and part of that was that Tyler Jay(another player with two first names) just over-matched him. Newman though, and Kevin Kramer for that matter, looked and did well against Jay.
I don’t like judging players on a small sample size, so watching these games, I’m basically just seeing that players match up to their scouting report. Newman fit the part well on offense, and showed good speed on the bases. I’ve heard that he had plus speed from some people(he’s got a 65 grade for speed in the past), but I got to see him run a lot between a ground out, a double, scoring on a single from second, and he busted it out of the box on his line drive out. I like the speed, I think it can be a tool, but I wouldn’t call it plus speed. would definitely give him credit for hustle, which could help him get some extra hits and take extra bases.
Newman was also busy in the field and I could see why some people have questions about his defense at shortstop and whether he can play there full-time. He made a couple easy plays look difficult and threw away a ball on a play at second base. He wasn’t that far from the bag on the misplay and missed Kramer wide right by a good five feet. I obviously want to see him play the position a lot more before I pass judgement, but it wasn’t a good first impression. Hopefully Sunday’s game won’t be the “Sunday lineup”, and I can get another chance to see Newman play before Tim takes back his spot.
On Thursday, we posted the top ten prospects list for each of the four full-season affiliates. You can find links to those previews down in the schedule section of this article. We will leave them linked there all season, so you can reference them at any point.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-1 to the Reds on Saturday, their first loss this season. Jeff Locke makes his season debut this afternoon, going up against Tim Melville, who is making his season debut as well.
In the minors, Indianapolis was snowed out on Saturday. They have a doubleheader today(weather permitting) and two games to make up later in the season. Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams are the scheduled starters. The Indianapolis rotation after Sunday hasn’t been set, but they have off on Monday.
In Altoona, Tyler Eppler was supposed to make his season debut on Saturday, but snow postponed that game for a later date. Eppler will try again today to make his first start. He pitched briefly with Altoona last year, making one regular season start and one playoff start.
For Bradenton, Yeudy Garcia will make his debut, coming off a breakout season in West Virginia. He led the South Atlantic League with a 2.10 ERA, while picking up 112 strikeouts and posting a .204 BAA, 1.07 WHIP and a 1.50 GO/AO ratio.
Dario Agrazal gets the start for West Virginia. He had a 2.72 ERA in 14 starts for Morgantown last year. Agrazal posted an impressive 2.08 GO/AO ratio and a 1.08 WHIP in 76 innings.
MLB: Pittsburgh (4-1) @ Reds (4-1) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (NR)
AAA: Indianapolis (0-0) @ Columbus (0-0) 1:05 PM (season preview) DH
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams (NR)
AA: Altoona (0-2) vs Harrisburg (2-0) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (NR)
High-A: Bradenton (1-2) vs Ft Myers (1-1) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (NR)
Low-A: West Virginia (2-1) @ Greensboro (1-2) 4:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (NR)
Francisco Cervelli scores the only run for the Pirates on Saturday. Sorry, still no minor league videos posted yet. Blame Mother Nature.
4/6: Tampa Bay Rays claim Jake Goebbert off waivers from Pirates.
4/2: Pirates designate Pedro Florimon, John Holdzkom and Jake Goebbert for assignment.
4/2: Pirates place Jung-ho Kang, Jared Hughes and Elias Diaz on the disabled list retroactive to March 25.
4/2: Pirates release Jose Batista and Jandy Vasquez.
4/1: Pirates release Gerardo Navarro, Christopher De Leon and Enyel Vallejo.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
There have been six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two players who won World Series rings with the team. Outfielder Lee Lacy signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January 1979 and was used mainly off the bench that first season, where he hit .247/.327/.412 in 84 games. Lacy lasted with the Pirates until 1984 and played a total of 1523 games during his 16-year career.
Joe Gibbon was a rookie pitcher for the 1960 Pirates. He made nine starts and 18 relief appearances that season, posting a 4.03 ERA over 80.1 innings. He pitched twice during the World Series against the New York Yankees and allowed three runs over three innings. Gibbon pitched with the Pirates until he was dealt in a 1965 trade with the San Francisco Giants that brought Matty Alou back to Pittsburgh. Gibbon returned to the Pirates in another trade with the Giants in 1969. He pitched two more seasons in Pittsburgh and made two appearances during the 1970 playoffs.
Also born on this date, Howard “Howdy” Groskloss, infielder for the 1930-32 Pirates. He went right from college at Amherst to the big leagues, though the Pirates weren’t quick to use him that first season. He was far at the end of the bench, playing just two games that first year. He saw a decent amount of playing time in 1931, but was used strictly as a pinch-hitter for the first 153 games of the 1932 season, and even then only batted 16 times. Finally, in the last game of the year, the Pirates gave him the start and he went 0-for-4 with an error. That ended up being his last Major League game. Groskloss is one of just a few former Pirates to live to 100 years old. Prior to his passing in 2006, he was the oldest living former baseball player.
On this date in 1962, the Pirates opened up their season with a 6-0 win over the Phillies. Bob Friend started and went the distance for the complete game shutout. Roberto Clemente drove in four runs. This was the 81st season in franchise history and the first time they opened the season on April 10th. You can view the boxscore here.