Morning Report: Where Did the Pirates Get Their 2016 Minor League Starters?

Last year on April 12th, I took a look at where the Pirates minor league starting pitchers came from. Out of the 20 starters for the four full-season teams, 13 of them were draft picks, three were free agent signings, one was a waiver pick up, one from a trade, one a minor league Rule 5 pick and one international signing. Just eight of those pitchers are starters in the system now. Of the 12 others, two of them are relievers now, four are injured, one retired, one was traded and four left via free agency.

I figured we could do the same thing with this year’s starting rotation, though I’m going to expand it a bit. Chad Kuhl and Stephen Tarpley were supposed to be in the starting rotations this year and each had a minor setback during Spring Training. In the case of Kuhl, we know that Wilfredo Boscan took his spot. With Tarpley though, both Alex McRae and Colten Brewer were starters last year and have some potential, so whoever wasn’t going to start, would still probably go 3-4 innings each outing. So I’m just going to add the injured players in to the total count.


Tyler Glasnow, 5th round, 2011

Jameson Taillon, 1st round, 2010

Chad Kuhl, 9th round, 2013

Steven Brault, trade

Trevor Williams, trade

Wilfredo Boscan, free agent


Tyler Eppler, 6th round, 2014

Clay Holmes, 9th round, 2011

Jason Creasy, 8th round, 2011

Cody Dickson, 4th round, 2013

David Whitehead, trade


Yeudy Garcia, international free agent

Colten Brewer, 4th round, 2011

Brandon Waddell, 5th round, 2015

Austin Coley, 8th round, 2014

Alex McRae, 10th round, 2014

Stephen Tarpley, trade

West Virginia

Mitch Keller, 2nd round, 2014

JT Brubaker, 6th round, 2015

Dario Agrazal, international free agent

Bret Helton, 9th round, 2015

Logan Sendelbach, 10th round, 2015

The rotations this year are obviously heavy with draft picks, as they account for 15 of the 22 players. One interesting thing is that they were all taken within the first ten rounds. Last year, three of them were late round picks, and one of them was injured during the last week of Spring Training (Justin Topa) and replaced by Matt Benedict, who was also a late round pick. The other seven starters this year are made up of four players the Pirates traded for, two they signed as international players, and Boscan is the only free agent signing.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Tigers on Monday by a 7-4 score. Juan Nicasio makes his second start today. In his debut against the Cardinals, he allowed one run over six innings, striking out seven batters. He will face Anibal Sanchez, who gave up two runs over five innings in his debut last week.

In the minors, Steven Brault gets the start for Indianapolis, as they play their third game of the season. He split last season between Altoona and Bradenton, ending up with a combined 2.43 ERA in 155.2 innings. He had a .229 BAA and 125 strikeouts. Brault has never allowed a home run to a left-handed batter in 345 pro innings.

In Altoona, David Whitehead gets his first start for the Pirates since being acquired in a deal for Charlie Morton this off-season. He pitched for High-A Clearwater last year, posting a 4.44 ERA in 135.2 innings, with a .291 BAA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.50 GO/AO ratio and 94 strikeouts. For Bradenton, Alex McRae makes his second start of the season. He threw five shutout innings in his debut last Thursday.

JT Brubaker gets the start for West Virginia. He threw five innings in his debut last Thursday, allowing one run one two hits and three walks, with six strikeouts. His run surrendered is the only run scored against Power starters in 25 innings this season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (5-2) @ Tigers (3-2) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Juan Nicasio ( 1.50 ERA, 0:7 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (1-1) @ Toledo (1-0) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (NR)

AA: Altoona (1-3) vs Akron (4-0) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: David Whitehead (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (2-3) @ Tampa (4-1) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (0.00 ERA, 3:4 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (3-2) @ Greenville (4-1) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (1.80 ERA, 3:6 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)


The first highlights from Indianapolis. Josh Bell comes through with a big hit on Sunday.


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.


There have been nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis, who spent just four seasons with the Pirates, but he put up some big stats during that time. When the Pirates acquired Willis, he was known as a workhorse starter, though it was with the Boston Doves (Braves) and they weren’t a good team. In the three seasons prior to his acquisition by the Pirates, Willis had a combined 42-72 record. That was back when a starting pitcher usually finished what they started.

The four-player deal that brought him to the Pirates in December of 1905 turned everything around for Willis and was the key to getting him inducted to the Hall of Fame 90 years later. In his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he won at least 21 games each year and threw at least 289.2 innings each year. He had a 2.08 ERA in 1209 innings with the Pirates and helped the team to the 1909 World Series.

Willis was sold to the Cardinals prior to the 1910 season and lasted just one more season in the Majors. He finished with 249 wins and 50 shutouts, which ranks 19th all-time. Willis completed 388 of his 471 starts. You can read much more on his career in the link above under his name.

One player of note from the “other eight players” born on this date. Reliever Jeff Wallace holds a Pirates’ record most people don’t know, possibly even Wallace for that matter. He holds the team record for most pitching appearances without a loss. Between 1997, and then 1999-2000, he pitched 90 times without ending up in the loss column. The next closest to him all-time is Joakim Soria with 29 games.

In other history, the Pirates opened the 1960 season in Milwaukee on April 12th that year. They lost 4-3 to the Braves after Roy Face gave up two runs in the eighth inning. Warren Spahn was the opposing starter and he homered off Pirates’ starter Bob Friend. Dick Stuart had three hits, while Roberto Clemente had two hits and drove in a run. You can view the boxscore here. It wasn’t the best start to the season, but things obviously turned out well in Pittsburgh in 1960.

  • One Starling Marte home run away from losing four of five after sweeping the Cardinals. It’s only April.

  • Nicasio is looking terrible today.

    • I suppose this is what it looks like when a club holds on all those balls St Louis chased.

      Freese managing a sub-.600 OPS while also sporting a >.400 BABIP. April stats are fun!

  • Wallace came to us in the infamous “Jeff” deal with KC. We got 3 Jeff’s in that trade and sent one to KC. Every player’s name in that trade began with a “J.

    From BRef:
    Traded by the Kansas City Royals with Jeff Martin (minors), Jeff Granger and Joe Randa to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jay Bell and Jeff King.

  • Good stuff on 1960. That was the season I started following baseball. I was 8.

    • Me too.

    • My dad was 8. So there’s that.

      • It’s settled then. The best people were born in the 50s.

      • My dad was 12. My grandfather was at game 7, and according to my dad the program from the game floated around the house for years afterward. But by the time I came around it was nowhere to be found. That reeeeeeallly gets me down when I think about it.

        • That’s funny. My grandpa used to claim that he had a program from the 1940’s signed by Honus Wagner. Unfortunately that was never found.

  • Gage Hinsz and Luis Escobar…I’m sure you’ve talked about them but must not have tagged them in the articles. Where will they both start out this spring?

    • I’m guessing Morgantown for both. Right now in Extended ST, they have the players split into two squads, Black & Gold. The Gold squad last time I checked was only DSL players who either just came over for this year, or ones who debuted in the States last year. I’d say almost every one of those players will end up in the GCL. The Black squad has Bristol and Morgantown players together, so you really can’t say for sure who is going where in two months.

      Tim will likely have an article on Escobar and Hinsz at some point during EST, he wanted to concentrate on the players going to full-season teams and once he found out both of those players were staying back, he pushed back articles on them. There was some video of both of them posted from March. Hinsz throwing live BP and Escobar in a Pirates vs Pirates game.

  • I think it will be interesting to see what happens this year with Bell. IF Jaso continues how he has started and is even a .270 hitter with that high OBP and, thus, a big solution for us at the leadoff spot…I wonder if Bell even has a chance to come up. Again, this is a team that should be contending…how do you remove Jaso if he’s producing and replace him with a prospect, even if he is a mega-prospect. Should be interesting stuff.

    • Jared….I’ve wondered about that since they signed Jaso for TWO years.

      Will he become a bench player if they think Bell is ready?

    • I believe Bell gets the full year in Indy and comes up in September.
      Splits with jaso early next year, then gets full-time if he adjusts and handles easily. I could see Jaso being an attractive trade piece in June 2017- but an even better/fantastic bench option.

      • That’s pretty much the best case scenario I’ve been hoping for since the Jaso signing

    • You can always give Bell the entire year in AAA to work on his defense, which could use that time to get to more than just “good enough”.

      Then you’d be able to either use Bell off the bench early next year or wait until Super 2 passes and bring him up as a bench bat. You’d save service time, give him plenty of time to be adequate on defense, and really only be “losing” 2-3 months of him starting but you lose it to make the team overall better.

      If they are really gearing up for a big 2017, throwing Bell on the bench for even just half the year makes the bench really well balanced.

  • Roy Face was coming off that incredible 18-1 season in 1959. Also, no Bill Virdon? Without a doubt, my favorite all-time Pirates team.

    • That Warren Spahn guy was ok, huh? On a side note I’ve got a baseball signed by (at least close to) the entire 59 Braves team. I’ve always wondered what it would be worth.

  • John … Have you guys ever thought about maintaining a page that shows each draft class and their status – MLB, AAA, out of baseball, etc?

    • The prospect guide has a recap of the last five years and usually right before the draft, we go back and look at how the drafts are doing. I’d say a few Morning Reports will be dedicated to recaps of the past drafts

  • In that 1960 opener I noticed Burrdett got the save. In his career he was mostly a starter so I guess in this game they used him in the bullpen. How the game has changed over the years.

    • Frank…he had 32 GS and four saves in 1960! Wow!

    • Everyone on the Braves appeared in games that they did not start – LB started 32 – appeared in 45 – Spahn started 33 and appeared in 40 total – and had 2 saves..
      154 Game season with 4 man rotations.

      The Pirates did not use the starters this way – though Friend did have one non start appearance and got a save – he started 37 times and totaled 275 innings – he AVERAGED over 7 innings an appearance with 16 complete games…