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
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.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
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.