Morning Report: The Pitching Prospects Have Dominated the Headlines Early On

If you have been checking the Prospect Watch articles daily, you have probably noticed some extended recaps for pitchers in the organization. That even goes for games that don’t have anyone covering them live. This week I was already able to watch Steven Brault, Mitch Keller, Jameson Taillon and Clay Holmes on MiLB.tv, which followed me seeing Colten Brewer and Yeudy Garcia live over the weekend in Bradenton. The plan today is to watch the first start from Chad Kuhl, adding some analysis to the game recap provided by Ryan Palencer, who will be covering the game live. On Saturday, we will do the same thing for Tyler Glasnow.

There seems to be a lot of pitchers worth covering this year. I noticed by looking at the Prospect Watch titles over the first full week that they have almost all been about the pitchers. Part of that is due to the fact that there have been some strong outings over the first week, and having all those top prospects in the rotations doesn’t hurt. The other part is that there haven’t been many big games on offense.

West Virginia is seeing early hitting from Tito Polo and Ke’Bryan Hayes, but they have been consistently good. They didn’t pad their stats with one big game. That’s not a bad thing, it just doesn’t make the title of the Prospect Watch usually, unless it’s an extended hit streak. Bradenton has been awful at the plate so far, with a .189/.275/.291 slash line through eight games. So their offense has been easy to ignore this season.

Altoona had a couple big games on offense, but they have been mostly led by Anderson Feliz. He didn’t seem like an interesting player when the Pirates signed him this off-season. In fact, when he signed, I predicted he could be this year’s Andy Vasquez, filling multiple positions for Altoona. Feliz has already started games at four spots, so it looks like that is his role. I also noted that he spent a lot of time on the disabled list and it turned out that there was more to it than that.

Feliz did have multiple injuries over the years, so despite the fact he is 23 years old, he really hasn’t played that much. When he got to camp this year, he immediately impressed Altoona manager Joey Cora and that has carried over into the season, where he has started off hot. So he is young enough to still end up as an interesting player due to all the missed time, but going back to the original point, players like him (aka minor league free agents in AA) usually don’t get headlines right away.

Reese McGuire is doing well early, but again, no big games, just consistency. Again, that’s not a problem, it just gets overshadowed day-to-day. It doesn’t help that Harold Ramirez has started off slow and Austin Meadows is out.

Indianapolis had three straight days of rain, plus pitchers named Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon going during two of the four days they played. Spoiler alert, they will get all or part of the headline every time they start. Josh Bell has started off slow (only five games) and Jason Rogers has the team’s only homer. Alen Hanson has been solid with a .455/.455/.636 slash line, so if he continues to hit well, he will grab some headlines.

Looking over the early stats, it’s clear that the big stories have all been on the pitching side. Glasnow is the big prospect, so people want to know how he does every time out. Taillon is going to be the same way, especially if he pitches like he did on Wednesday. Mitch Keller will be one to watch as a breakout prospect and from all the reports we have got on Chad Kuhl, you’re going to want to follow him closely as well. In fact, that’s why we will have two people following tonight’s game instead of me watching Tyler Eppler’s start and letting Ryan handle the Indianapolis game. Not that Eppler isn’t interesting, but we had two people covering his first game this year. Tonight in Bradenton, Tim Williams will be the second person to see Yeudy Garcia, so expect a detailed report of his outing as well.

It’s always good to have multiple looks at pitchers, which was actually done in Spring Training for many of them already this season. With the rotation Indianapolis has this year, you can expect a lot of reports on their pitchers, but don’t worry, we aren’t ignoring the hitters, we are just waiting for them to do something worth talking about.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 7-4 to the Tigers on Thursday afternoon, dropping them to .500 through ten games. They now take on the Brewers, with Jeff Locke going to the mound for his second start. He allowed one run over six innings in his debut. Milwaukee will go with Jimmy Nelson, who has a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings this season.

Big day for prospects on the mound today. Chad Kuhl makes his season debut for Indianapolis. Tyler Eppler gets the start for Altoona. Yeudy Garcia starts for Bradenton and Dario Agrazal gets the nod for West Virginia. The first three players just mentioned rank between #12 and #22 in our 2016 Prospect Guide. Agrazal isn’t at the same level, but he has shown increased velocity over last season, and he threw five shutout innings in his debut this season. Kuhl was in Extended Spring Training working up his pitch count after a minor setback in March put him about a week behind schedule.

We had live reports on the starts from Garcia and Eppler from Sunday. You can find both in this link.

MLB: Pittsburgh (5-5) vs Brewers (4-5) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (1.50 ERA, 2:1 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (3-2) vs Columbus (2-4) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (NR)

AA: Altoona (2-5) @ Richmond (3-5) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.00 ERA, 2:3 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (3-5) vs Lakeland (2-5) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (3.86 ERA, 3:4 BB/SO, 4.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (6-2) vs Lexington (5-3) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (0.00 ERA, 1:1 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is a strikeout from Jameson Taillon’s first start in two seasons. He had six strikeouts in the game.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

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 five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one small trade of note. Among the players born on this date, Ed Abbaticchio, infielder for the 1907-10 Pirates. He was a favorite of Pirates’ owner Barney Dreyfuss while with the Boston Doves(Braves) and Dreyfuss was willing to pay a large price to acquire him. The Pirates gave up center fielder Ginger Beaumont and second baseman Claude Ritchey, stars from the 1901-03 teams that won three straight NL pennants. They also included pitcher Patsy Flaherty in the December, 1906 trade.

Abbaticchio didn’t put up great stats for the Pirates and he was a seldom-used bench player for the 1909 World Series champs, but he is well-known for one reason. He was the first Italian star in baseball, and possibly the first Italian player in the league, making his debut 26 years after the first MLB game. We say possibly, because there is one player from the 1880’s named Lewis “Buttercup” Dickerson, who has very questionable Italian heritage, though he is in the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame.

In four years with the Pirates, Abbaticchio hit .253/.348/.318 and spent most of his time at second base, losing the job in 1909 to rookie Dots Miller.

Other players born on this date include Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Diaz, Bill Pierro and King Cole. Pierro is an interesting player to read about because he was a strong minor league pitcher, who had his career cut short by a near-tragedy. He had just one year in the majors and was on his way to make the 1951 Pirates when a mystery illness shut him down. It turned out to be brain inflammation and he never played again. Pierro lived until 2006, so he had a long life, but the illness ended his baseball career at age 24.

On this date in 2009, the Pirates traded two minor league pitchers, Eric Krebs and Harvey Garcia, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Delwyn Young.

  • John … Any thoughts on Hanson’s unusual hot start? Was he more focused or did he change anything over the winter?

  • I cannot wait until Hanson takes over for Jay-Hay at 2B.

    • Jared it makes you wonder why they did not keep Walker one more year and have Hanson replace him next year. Now they have Harrison’s contract for 4 more years with some big numbers. Mr. Lee Footon put the kibosh on Hanson. FREE ALEX HANSON!!!!!

    • I like Hanson’s game, but before we get giddy dont we want to worry about how not all that different he might be from J Hay overall?

      Hanson doesnt get on base a ton. Doesnt have a ton of power. He’ll hit for average enough to keep him in a starting role conversation, but isnt profiling as an above average hitter and could end up a bench player.

      So he plays good defense, has speed, and is average on offense. I forget, am I discussing Harrison or Hanson?

      He’s going to walk a taaaad more, but strikeout a taaaad more.

      • Hansen beats him in two areas; HR, where he has noticeably more power, and base stealing/speed. So, don’t underrate that. I’m just skeptical about what Hansen would be able to do immediately. I don’t think he’d necessarily take off right away, but could be a very decent player.

        • You’re talking about roughly 5 more HRs on average.

          So thats noticeable, but far from enough to really alter things in a large way. He’ll hit 6-10 HRs as opposed to J Hay sitting around 4-5 most years.

          And really, “very decent” is my point. Thats what Harrison tends to be over a 150 game sample size. Not bad, not great.

        • Yes, but can he dance like JHay?

      • Analytically speaking, this is probably fair. But can we just react emotionally for a minute and say that Harrison is frustrating as hell to watch and we want to see the more athletically gifted prospect get a shot? 🙂

      • I think this a very accurate breakdown. The one thing I question is walk rate, walks in the majors are a product of pitchers fearing a hitter power, the minor league numbers don’t translate much at all, then again it would be hard to walk less than Harrison.

        • I think walk rate is a fair question for Hanson, and really thats my biggest area where i fear he goes from “starter” to bench player.

          If Hanson is walking as often as Harrison and the K rate stays higher than Harrison, the speed+defense come off as more a good bench option that assured starter.

  • Strada da percorrere Ed Abbaticchio!!! Also tell these mooks that Francisco Cervelli is one half Italian and he played on the Italian National Baseball Team.

    • piraterican21
      April 15, 2016 11:18 am

      So did Rizzo and Grilli! Larkin coaches the Brazilian team because his wife is Brazilian, Ian Snell pitched for Puerto Rico because his wife is Puertorican ……

  • Cannot wait to see Hansen take over for Jay-Hay.

    • piraterican21
      April 15, 2016 11:21 am

      The infield is average at best right now hopefully Kang will help, but Harrison is not looking great. Two years ago when he was on fire he was punishing inside pitches, even off the plate inside. He no longer is handling that pitch.

      • I feel like Kang would’ve helped the Bucs get an extra win or 2. I can’t help but think he would’ve driven in some base runners.

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