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.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
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