Morning Report: Opening Day Across the Minors

Today is Opening Day for the minor league season and it marks the return of the Morning Report for a third season. This feature will be up daily around 8-9 AM each morning of the minor league season, taking you all the way through the end of the playoffs for every affiliate of the Pirates. Later today, we will post the season previews for all four full-season affiliates of the Pirates. Before we get to those though, we will just go over what you can expect from the Morning Report each day as a quick refresher for our long-time readers and an intro for new readers.

Starting with the introduction (the section you’re reading now), usually it will briefly cover a minor league topic. Sometimes it will focus on a certain player, while other times we will mention trends, or just go over the statistical leaders for each team. Whenever I can’t think of a specific topic, I’ll just go with some quick notes from around the organization.

You’ll also notice six sections below that will be featured daily. The Pirates Game Graph is from FanGraphs and shows how the previous day’s game played out, covering all the important plays. If there wasn’t a game the previous day, then that section will be missing.

Another section that won’t always be there is the Playoff Push. It’s there today just so you can see how the article is set up. As a Pirates fan, you’re hopeful that the Playoff Push is an important part of this article as the season wears on. It will also cover the minor league affiliates and their playoff pushes throughout the year.

After that is the schedule section. You get a brief rundown of who is starting that day, followed by the MLB and minor league schedule. When short-season affiliates start their seasons, they will be added to the schedule. By the end of June, you’ll have the schedule for all eight affiliates daily, along with the starting pitchers, whenever available.

Next up is the Highlights section, which will occasionally include video highlights for the Pirates, but we try to get video from the minor league teams first. Usually, Indianapolis is pretty good with adding highlights and Altoona posts them almost as often. The lower minor leagues have not been reliable for highlights in the past, with Bradenton never posting them and West Virginia occasionally adding videos. Whatever they post, we will be sure to add it. We will also occasionally have our own videos from writers covering the games. Also, we will briefly talk about the player featured in the highlights so you get a good sense of who you’re watching and how they are progressing in the minors.

Transactions are up next and that will cover any and all minor league and major league moves over the previous week or so. As you can see below, almost all of the moves have a link for an article from the site so you can get more information.

Finally, we will have some daily Pirates History for you at the bottom. Usually we will link our “This Date in Pirates History” article that coincides with each date, as you can see below. That link will include more information that the Pirates History section below, so you can check that out each day, but we will also add some new information not found in the old links.


Source: FanGraphs


This feature is just here for today, since it is way too early to be thinking about the playoffs. Later in the season, we will keep you informed of the playoff push with the Pirates and all of their affiliates. Expect it to return near the end of May for both Bradenton and West Virginia, who play split-seasons and could be looking to earn a playoff spot in September by winning their first half title.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-1 over the Cardinals on Wednesday night, completing a three-game sweep to begin the season. The Pirates are off today and now travel to Cincinnati, where they will play a three-game set against the Reds.

In the minors, Trevor Williams will be making his debut in the Pirates’ system. He made three starts in Triple-A for the Marlins last year, then made seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League. Williams allowed two runs over seven innings for the Pirates this spring. Jason Creasy returns for a second season at Altoona, while Alex McRae rounds out the probable starters listed for tonight. McRae moves up to Bradenton from West Virginia last year, where he had a 4.98 ERA in 137.1 innings. JT Brubaker will start for West Virginia. He was a sixth round pick last year, and put up a 2.82 ERA in 73.1 innings in Morgantown.

Team previews for all four of the full-season affiliates will be posted later today. Tomorrow, I’ll link those articles down below next to each team so you can find them easily throughout the season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (3-0) @ Reds (2-0) 7:10 PM 4/8
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (1-0, 0.00)

AAA: Indianapolis (0-0) @ Columbus (0-0) 6:35 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (NR)

AA: Altoona (0-0) vs Harrisburg (0-0) 6:00 PM
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-0) @ Ft Myers (0-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Alex McRae (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (0-0) @ Greensboro (0-0) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (NR)


From last night, John Jaso triples, then scores on the throw for the little league homer. Once the minor league teams start posting highlights, we will usually have 1-2 videos from the minors each day, based on availability.


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.


On this date in 1979, the Pirates made a trade that could have hurt them that season, giving up starter Jerry Reuss for Dodgers’ pitcher Rick Rhoden. Reuss was unhappy about his role in Pittsburgh, while Rhoden was just entering his prime. The trade ended up one-sided to begin with, because Rhoden injured his shoulder during his first start and would miss the rest of the year following surgery on that shoulder. Reuss ended  up staying in Los Angeles until 1987, winning as many as 18 games(twice) in a season. Even while getting nothing from the deal from Rhoden in 1979 and losing Reuss, the Pirates still went on to win their fifth World Series title. Rhoden would end up winning 79 games for the Pirates, while Reuss helped the Dodgers to the 1981 title, so the deal ended up working out well for both teams.

Former Pirates players born on this date include(more on them in the link above):

Bobby Del Greco – 1952, 1956 outfielder

Jack Ferry – 1910-13 pitcher

Art Weaver – 1903 catcher

John Ganzel – 1898 first baseman

  • terrygordon30
    April 7, 2016 11:12 am

    Rhoden was later traded traded by the Pirates in a deal for Doug Drabek. Good deal!

  • John, where did the three big pitchers from Bristol last year end up? Gage and company.

    • Mitch Keller is at WV, Gage Hinsz is in Extended Spring Training and Trey Supak was traded for Jason Rogers

  • Thanks John! Any idea what the Indy rotation looks like for this first series? I live in Columbus and am actually thinking about braving the cold this weekend to see either Glasnow or Taillion pitch.

    • Williams, Glasnow(Friday), Brault, Taillon and Boscan fifth until Kuhl returns in about 10-15 days. So basically 1-3 starts for Boscan, then Kuhl will take his spot

  • Ever consider doing a very occasional update (a couple times a season) on the kids that were traded away?
    After a while I forget who they are but it would be interesting to see how they’re doing and mentally evaluate the trade.
    Just a suggestion.

  • Alan Bellomo
    April 7, 2016 9:07 am

    Looking forward to the Altoona Curve season.

  • Looking forward to this!
    Does anyone know where these players ended up? I don’t see them on any roster yet.
    RP Jim Fuller
    RP Henry Hirsch
    RP Daniel Bard
    SS Juan Diaz
    2B Kelson Brown

    • John Dreker
      April 7, 2016 9:05 am

      According to the travel rosters, Fuller and Diaz went to Indianapolis, Hirsch is with Bradenton and Bard is staying in Extended Spring Training. Brown was dropped from the roster, which could mean he has been released, but we don’t have confirmation of that yet. He may have been a late drop from Indy and not on the extended spring roster yet.

      Not everyone who travels with a team makes the Opening Day roster. Teams tend to carry 1-2 extra players in case they need someone to fill in for a short time, they don’t need to send players there from other teams, creating a hole on that team as well. Diaz and Fuller might be playing that role. The only team they don’t do that with is Bradenton because Pirate City is right there if they need a player.

      • Thanks for the quick replay. Thats pretty interesting. I always wondered where/how they stashed players to be used later.

        • John Dreker
          April 7, 2016 9:56 am

          Last year, Kelson Brown and Wilkin Castillo were those stashed players for Indy. Andy Vasquez for Altoona, and Francisco Diaz/Erik Forgione for WV. The short-season teams don’t do that because they have 35-man rosters

    • bard is in bristol

      • John Dreker
        April 7, 2016 9:22 am

        That’s not a real move, just a paper move because he needs to be on a roster. Bristol doesn’t start until June. Bard is in Extended Spring Training