**On Monday afternoon, Mitch Keller was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. As we outlined in the weekly Top Performers article, the award was well-deserved. He threw five shutout innings in each game and three of the five base runners he allowed were from bunt base hits. More importantly, this was a potential top prospect looking the part.

Keller was hitting 96 MPH with his fastball and throwing his curve for strikes. While a five inning limit/75 pitch count won’t give you a good idea of real stamina, he looked as strong at the end of each outing as he did at the start. Keller was piling up strikeouts in the first game, while picking up quick outs by pitching to contact in the second game. It was the best of both worlds. You want a pitcher to be able to last as many innings as possible by keeping the pitch count low, but it’s also nice to have someone who can pick up a strikeout in a big spot.

**Jameson Taillon’s second start wasn’t as good as his first in the boxscore, but it was probably better from a prospect standpoint. His fastball touched 96 and sat 93-95 MPH, holding that velocity through 90 pitches. That was a little better than his first start, when there was some 92 MPH fastballs in there and he was mostly in the 92-94 range. His curve looked good in both games, so that was a wash. On Monday, he used his change-up more often than the first game. At one point, he had a right-handed batter bailing out on a change-up that ended up over the plate. He also got weak swings on it and it was consistently in the zone. The results weren’t as good, but you have to like him throwing three pitches that looked like plus pitches at times.

**Jung-ho Kang started his rehab assignment on Monday night and he will be going on the road with Indianapolis after Wednesday’s game. I mentioned yesterday in the Morning Report that Major League players usually don’t go on the road while in the minors. That’s why you sometimes see players start in the lower levels with their comeback, then move up a level or two as those teams come home. They could have started Kang at West Virginia, then moved him to Altoona for their long home-stand that begins on Thursday, but they wanted to get him up against the upper level pitching. He did look a little over-matched/rusty at the plate, but there is a big difference between Extended Spring Training pitching and Triple-A.

**I’m glad to see Pablo Reyes playing regularly and doing well after writing the article last week about it being odd that he wasn’t getting any playing time. He played one game in center field last week and it will be interesting to see how much time he sees out there, since he has never played outfield before. If Reyes could play second base regularly, while also adding in premium positions at shortstop and center field, that gives him a good chance to make it to the majors. He’s a very good hitter, with some pop in his speed and above average speed, so he brings a lot of tools to the table.

**It’s going to be hard to remember that Ke’Bryan Hayes is only 19 years old if he keeps playing like he has through ten games, so I may need to keep reminding myself. Obviously he isn’t going to hit .415 this year, and the extra-base hits won’t continue to stack up at this rate, but he can fall off a lot from this point and still have a great season. Listening to West Virginia games, his defense is getting just as much praise as his hitting. I’ll mention again that my expectations for him this year were .280 average, draw 45-50 walks and hit 25 extra-base hits. I think those would be strong stats for a player who got an aggressive push to this level. He’s only 19 years old…

PIRATES GAME GRAPH

Pirates were off on Monday.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates were off on Monday. They now play San Diego for three games, as Francisco Liriano will return to the mound tonight. He last started on April 8th, allowing three runs over five innings against the Reds. The Padres will counter with Colin Rea, who has a 5.56 ERA over 11.1 innings this season.

In Indianapolis, Jared Hughes joins the team to begin his rehab assignment. Wilfredo Boscan will be on the mound and the game has a morning start time.

Clay Holmes gets his third start for Altoona. He had a tough time in his debut, then turned things around quickly with one run over six innings in his second start.

Bret Helton starts for West Virginia tonight. In his first two games, he has thrown ten shutout innings, giving up a total of just four hits. The Power played a 16-inning game last night and have a morning game Wednesday, so you may see a bullpen reinforcement added.

MLB: Pittsburgh (7-6) @ Padres (4-9) 10:10 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (2.45 ERA, 9:13 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (5-4) vs Toledo (5-3) 11:05 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (0.00 ERA, 1:3 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (5-6) @ Harrisburg (4-6) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (6.30 ERA, 6:6 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (5-7) @ Palm Beach (8-4) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (2.70 ERA, 4:9 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (10-2) vs Kannapolis (4-8) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (0.00 ERA, 3:8 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is a bases clearing triple from Erich Weiss on Sunday. He was up with two outs and the Curve trailing 3-2 in the ninth when he brought home those three runs for the eventual win.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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, all of them have played within the last 30 years. There is also a trade of note from the last World Series team in franchise history.

On this date in 1979, the Pirates traded shortstop Frank Taveras to the New York Mets in exchange for shortstop Tim Foli and minor league pitcher Greg Field. Foli was a big part of the 1979 squad and stuck around until the 1981 season, though he did come back briefly during the 1985 season. He hit .291 while setting career highs with 70 runs scored and 65 RBIs. In 587 plate appearances that year, he struck out just 14 times. Foli hit .333 in both the NLCS and the World Series.

The players born on this date are: Pitcher Zach Duke (2005-10), pitcher Joe Beimel (2001-03, 2011), pitcher Dennys Reyes (2003) and outfielder R.J. Reynolds (1985-90). Reynolds was acquired from the Dodgers in the 1985 Bill Madlock trade. He would hit .308 with 12 stolen bases and 17 RBIs in his first month with the Pirates. Reynolds played 616 games with the Pirates before being released. He then went to Japan for three seasons, before finishing his playing career in Mexico.

Two Opening Days from long ago of note. On this date in 1900, Sam Leever made his first Opening Day start, losing 3-0 to the St Louis Cardinals. Leever’s 194 wins with the Pirates ties him with Babe Adams for the second most in franchise history.

Ten years earlier, Pittsburgh defeated the Cleveland Spiders by a 3-2 score. They would win just 22 more games the entire season. The 1890 Pirates (then known as the Alleghenys) finished the season with a 23-113 record, the second worst record in Major League history.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. so guys- I’ve been wearing baseball jerseys to work for the past three weeks, part of our new “no dresscode policy” at my Fiancial firm. I decided on a whim today to wear my Zach Duke jersey that I hadn’t put on since 2009. I just read John’s blog and realized today is Duke’s birthday. What are the chances that I would randomly wear his jersey on his birthday having no prior knowledge of it????? Weird Coincidence!

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