Going with some quick thoughts on three subjects this morning. First, a comparison between Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. After that, Ke’Bryan Hayes has been doing well early and that could raise expectations. Finally, Pablo Reyes adds a new position to his resume, which should get him that at-bats he deserves.
**After I talked to Ryan Palencer last night following Jameson Taillon’s debut, I realized he brought up a great point. When you watch Tyler Glasnow pitch, the impressive part is the plus stuff, with his mid-90’s fastball that gets on top of hitters quick, to go along with a big breaking curve that freezes batters. He doesn’t work quick though, especially not when he gives up one or two walks. Glasnow can get easily flustered at times, slowing down the pace of his game. Taillon didn’t walk anyone Wednesday night, so maybe we need to see how he handles some adversity on the mound first before really comparing the two players. That being said, there were some bad calls against him on great pitches and it didn’t seem to affect him. Taillon was in attack mode and focused in on the catcher the entire game. You wouldn’t know the count or game situation by looking at him.
Glasnow has the better stuff, but his command and mental toughness on the mound aren’t at the same point as Taillon, which makes me think that Taillon is currently in the lead for first one up to the majors between these two top prospects. I should point out that Glasnow is two years younger than Taillon, so it’s not a huge surprise that a 22-year-old in AAA isn’t a polished pitcher yet. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out during the season and who looks like they’re ready for the jump to the majors when early June rolls around. Maybe having two pitchers this good in the same rotation, pushes them both to be even better.
**With Greenville being the rare team in the South Atlantic League that shows games live, I got a chance to see the West Virginia Power play three times this week. Ke’Bryan Hayes has looked good the last two games, collecting three doubles. He had some issues in Monday’s game, but so did everyone else. Based on past players his age, as well as his approach at the plate, I don’t expect him to continue piling up extra-base hits. That being said, if he did start to show power, it would definitely help his prospect case. He was labeled by a few people as a prospect just outside the top 100. A strong season will definitely get him on those lists next year.
Hayes uses the whole field and he has a line drive swing made for high contact. That means he won’t strikeout much, but he also isn’t going to hit many homers. Most scouts think he will hit for a high average and end up hitting 10-15 homers a season in the majors. This level is advanced for a 19-year-old. Many of the players in the league are college draft picks from last year, with the average age around 22 years old. So my expectations going into the season were that Hayes would hit about .280 with a decent walk total (maybe 50?) and he would finish with about 25 extra-base hits. If he surpasses those numbers, then he will climb up the prospect rankings for the Pirates. We had him tenth in our Prospect Guide, and with anywhere from 3-5 of the players ahead of him graduating to the majors this season, Hayes could end up in the top five when the 2017 guide comes out in December.
**I mentioned the other day about Pablo Reyes not getting any playing time despite having a bat that shouldn’t be on the bench at this point in his career. Reyes got a start the other day at second base while Kevin Kramer got a little rest as the DH. Last night, Reyes showed up in center field for the first time in his career. In fact, in four seasons of pro ball, he only played shortstop or second base. He was taking grounders at third base this spring, so I expected his time to come from backing up all three infield spots (other than first base) and getting some at-bats at DH. Reyes has good speed, so if he can play center field as well, that makes him a nice potential utility player, who could possibly hit and run his way to an MLB bench job down the line. In his first two games after sitting for four days, he picked up two hits in each game.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 7-3 to the Tigers on Wednesday night. Gerrit Cole gets the ball in the final game of the series this afternoon. He went 4.2 innings in his debut last week, giving up three runs in a loss to the Reds. Jordan Zimmermann goes for Detroit, coming off seven shutout innings in his season debut.
In Altoona, Clay Holmes makes his second start. He had a tough time in his first start, but he was able show an improved change-up, which he has been working on since coming back from his Tommy John surgery in 2014. Holmes is the only top 50 prospect in the system going tonight.
Indianapolis goes with Wilfredo Boscan in their home opener. It’s his first start of the season. Colten Brewer looked dominating at times in his only start this season, but he still had some command issues, which has hurt him in the past. He gets the start for Bradenton. Bret Helton goes for West Virginia in their home opener. He threw five shutout innings in his season debut last week.
MLB: Pittsburgh (5-4) vs Tigers (5-2) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (5.79 ERA, 3:4 BB/SO, 4.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (2-2) vs Columbus (2-3) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (NR)
AA: Altoona (2-4) @ Richmond (2-5) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (13.50 ERA, 5:1 BB/SO, 4.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (3-4) @ Tampa (5-2) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (1.80 ERA, 2:6 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (5-2) vs Lexington (5-2) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (0.00 ERA, 2:3 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)
Here we have the second double of Tuesday’s game from Ke’Bryan Hayes. He drove home Tito Polo with the game-winning run.
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, including an outfielder/pitcher for three straight NL pennant winners. George Merritt is one of the more obscure Pirates players, but he played for the team during the best three-year run in franchise history. Merritt started three games on the mound in 1901 and all three were complete game victories. The next two years, he was an outfielder, pitching just once. Over those three seasons, he played a total of 15 games, which represents his entire big league career. His minor league career consisted of 15 seasons, where he also split his time between pitching and playing outfield.
John Van Benschoten was born on this date in 1980. He was the first round draft pick of the Pirates in 2001, known as one of the better two-way players in college. He hit 31 homers during his junior season, but the Pirates drafted him as a pitcher. Three shoulder surgeries derailed his career and he ended up winning just two games in the majors, while posting a 9.20 ERA in 90 innings.
Other players born on this date are Chris Leroux, Kyle Farnsworth and Bill Luhrsen, all pitchers. Luhrsen had the nickname “Wild Bill” and he walked 16 batters in his 29 Major League innings.
On this date in 1925, the Pirates opened up their second World Series winning season by losing 8-2 to Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Alexander. The Pirates lineup that day included three future Hall of Famers, Pie Traynor, Max Carey and Kiki Cuyler. That season, Pittsburgh began the year with a 3-8 record. You can see the boxscore here.