Prospect Watch: Keller Dominates Again, Brault Strikes Out Nine, Bell Hits Cycle

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 30 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2016 prospect guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Altoona – Disabled List

3. Josh Bell, 1B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605137,’B’,’20160422′);
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4. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592791,’P’,’20160422′);
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5. Alen Hanson, 2B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(593700,’B’,’20160422′);
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6. Harold Ramirez, OF, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(623912,’B’,’20160422′);
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7. Reese McGuire, C, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(624512,’B’,’20160422′);
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8. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – Disabled List.

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – Disabled List

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20160422′);
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11. Kevin Newman, SS, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20160422′);
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12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20160422′);
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13. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20160422′);
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 14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP, Bradenton – Extended Spring Training

15.Cole Tucker, SS, West Virginia – Disabled List

16. Chad Kuhl, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(641771,’P’,’20160422′);
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17. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20160422′);
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18. Mitch Keller, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20160422′);
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19. Clay Holmes, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20160422′);
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20. Willy Garcia, OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(591994,’B’,’20160422′);
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21. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20160422′);
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22. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20160422′);
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23. Barrett Barnes, OF, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20160422′);
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25. Gage Hinsz, RHP,  – Extended Spring Training

26. Adrian Valerio, SS, – Extended Spring Training

27. Adam Frazier, INF/OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(624428,’B’,’20160422′);
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28. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20160422′);
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29. Jordan Luplow, OF/3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656669,’B’,’20160422′);
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30. JT Brubaker, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20160422′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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Steven Brault made his third start of the season on Friday, attempting to get through five innings for the first time. He walked the first batter on five pitches. He then battled Reds prospect Jesse Winker, a lefty hitter. Brault got him to ground out, moving the runner (who stole second) to third base. Then next batter hit a bloop over first base that Josh Bell dropped for an error, though it wasn’t an easy play. The run scored on the play. Brault came back with a strikeout for the second out, by burying one in on a right-handed batter’s hands. Brault repeated that same pitch to the next hitter for another strikeout to end the inning. He threw 25 pitches in the frame, 15 for strikes.

In the second inning, Brault picked up his third straight strikeout. The next batter went the other way with a liner to right field for a single. Brault walked the next batter on a 3-2 count. That brought up the pitcher, who sacrificed the runners up a base. Brault struck out the lead-off hitter for his fourth strikeout, ending the inning. He still worked hard, though it was better than the first inning. Twenty pitches total, 13 for strikes. He was getting a good amount of swing and misses.

Brault got Jesse Winker to fly out to deep right field to start the third inning. He then got Jermaine Curtis to strikeout swinging. That is significant because Curtis had one strikeout in his first 26 at-bats. Brault couldn’t get out of the inning clean, walking the next batter on six pitches. One pitch later, he got another long fly ball to the warning track in right field, which ended the inning. Brault had a 10-1 lead at this point and needed a quick inning after 45 pitches in the first two frames. He threw 13 pitches in the third.

In the fourth, Brault struck out the first batter on three pitches. the next batter struck out on four pitches, giving Brault seven strikeouts. The third batter went down swinging on three pitches. This was basically as good as an inning you’ll see from any pitcher. Five swing and misses, one pitch away from a perfect inning (three strikeouts on nine pitches).

Brault came out for the fifth with 68 pitches, as he looked to get through five for the first time. He struck out the pitcher to start the inning. The next batter flew out to right field. Jesse Winker came up again and he drew a four-pitch walk. The next batter lined a single into left field, just the second hit for Louisville. Brault halted the line there, getting a long out to right field to end the inning. That gave him 86 pitches, 54 for strikes.

That was the end of the day for Brault. This game still had the had pitch count issues that shortened his first two games, although part of the problem this time was from him striking out nine batters. He also walked four batters and wasn’t really attacking hitters early, trying to get them to chase instead of pounding the strike zone. That improved as the game went along and he finished with just one run allowed on two hits. A lot more swing and misses from the batter than we usually see from Brault. He’s usually pitching to quick contact, but it’s hard to hold that against him when the other team keeps missing. A nice improvement over his first two games, getting him closer to where he needs to be.

The one good thing about Brault is that he is more than just a pitcher, he’s very athletic. In this game and the times I watched last year, he showed that he can play defense as good as almost any pitcher. He can also swing the bat better than an average pitcher, and better than some bottom of the order hitters too. If he pitches well, he’s going to add value to his game with his defense and hitting.

Indianapolis won this game 13-1 and the big story was Josh Bell hitting for the cycle. He was just a triple shy of the cycle in the third inning, after hitting a grand slam off former Pirates’ farmhand A.J. Morris. If was a towering shot the opposite way. In the ninth inning, Bell came up and put a ball in the gap and legged out a triple. He was thinking triple out of the box and likely running as hard as he ever has in his life. Not that Bell doesn’t hustle, he was just full bore for 270 feet. The hits were his third double, first triple and third homer. The impressive part is that the single and double came from the right side of the plate off the starter, then when the relievers came in, he added the triple and homer from the left side. Bell has driven in 14 runs in 13 games.

Jung-ho Kang made his third rehab start and played all nine innings at third base. His defense has been fine in each game, but the bat has looked very rusty. He has swung through a lot of pitches in these games, been late on others and nothing has really been stung. He is now 0-for-12, with five strikeouts and four walks.

Kang and Willy Garcia were the only Indians without a hit, but the rest of the team collected 18 hits between them. Alen Hanson had two hits and scored two runs, plus he drove in a run. Adam Frazier had the first four hit game for Indianapolis this year, though he was joined two innings later by Bell. Frazier singled four times, scored twice, and drove in a run. Ed Easley even joined in, collecting three hits and driving in three runs.

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA – David Whitehead gave the Curve five innings tonight in what was probably one of the strangest pitching lines you can have. Whitehead only allowed one hit – a long fly ball to the wall that hit Harold Ramirez’s glove, but he dropped it when hitting the wall – but he walked six batters and hit two more on a 41 ball/41 strike outing.

Whitehead really didn’t have any control tonight with any of his pitches, but Richmond wasn’t able to hit any holes or getting anything really going against him. After the first inning, where all four batters hit the ball hard or on a line, Richmond batters really didn’t threaten against Whitehead except where he allowed them on base. Whitehead had some help, too, with Reese McGuire accounting for two throwing outs – one a caught stealing in the second and another a pick off throw at first base.

Going back to McGuire’s pick off throw, he made an extremely accurate throw to first in pretty significant rainfall. There was also a runner on second, so if McGuire throws that ball away, a run will more than likely score. He made a very good throw to the bag with Edwin Espinal moving to cover first.

Stetson Allie has been one of the players to catch my eye so far in the young season, not as much with the bat, but with his – get ready for it – defense. The best way that I can assess Allie’s play in right field in the games I have seen so far this season would be “modest” or “unnoticeable”. Watching him since Day 1 playing the outfield in Altoona, he has almost done a complete 180°. He made three above average running plays from right field tonight – one right, one left, and one going back. Combined with the strong arm, Allie looks very much like a competent corner outfielder.

Allie also hit a rocket line drive right at the left fielder in the third inning, where the outfielder froze on the ball going right at him and wasn’t able to recover as the ball sailed over him. The swing still looks loopy at times, especially visible in the 4th and 6th innings on swinging strikeouts, but the power is definitely there.

Erich Weiss continues to impress at the plate and in the field. He added three hits tonight and leads all regular Curve position players in hits and average. He also smoked a ball to left for a running catch out by the left fielder. His big frame should allow him to continue to add power if he so chooses. He also has shown a good glove and decent range. In the first inning, he was able to gobble up a short hop that could’ve easily ate him up. Overall, I have been impressed with what I have seen from Weiss so far this season.

Harold Ramirez hit two triples tonight (three hits total) – the first one looked like a typical flyable out to the right fielder that just kept going to the track and the second a line drive over the right fielder to almost the same spot. He went opposite field for both hits and legged them out. On the other hand, his defense has looked spotty at best in center field. He struggled mightily to track balls going back towards the track on two occasions – both ending up being hits. There was also another occasion where he probably should have called off Erich Weiss from going backwards to make a catch. He didn’t show the greatest ability to be a center fielder tonight, and he won’t be playing there for much longer as Austin Meadows seems to be close to returning.

In the field, Anderson Feliz has a rocket of an arm. He went hard to his right and threw a bullet to first base from the outfield grass to record an out. Eric Wood also made a very nice over the shoulder catch running backwards far into left field.

In some game notes, Josh Smith allowed a home run in the 6th inning, the first earned run he has allowed in 22.2 innings pitched, dating back to last July. Jose Osuna came in as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning and got an RBI after reaching on an error. That would be five games in a row that Osuna has recorded an RBI, including home runs in back-to-back games. Barrett Barnes doubled his hit total for the season tonight with a triple and two singles – taking his season total from three hits to six. –Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton lost 4-1 on Friday night, as Kevin Newman’s nine-game hit streak was put on hold while he was out of the lineup for a rest day. The Marauders had two walks and nine hits in this game, including two doubles, but they couldn’t do anything when it mattered most. They combined to go 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Starter Alex McRae gave up four runs over four innings, his worst game of the season. He allowed four runs in his second start, but he was able to go five innings in that game. Amazingly, McRae threw five innings of shutout ball in each of his other two starts.

Edgar Santana continued to cruise out of the bullpen. He threw two scoreless innings, striking out three batters. In 13 scoreless innings, he has allowed six hits and no walks, with ten strikeouts. The amazing part is that he has only thrown 132 pitches, meaning he is getting out of innings on an average of ten pitches. He leads the FSL with an 0.46 WHIP.

Pablo Reyes took Newman’s spot at shortstop and at the top of the lineup. He hit his second double and scored the only Bradenton run. Taylor Gushue had three hits in this contest, giving him a .359 average through 11 games. He has five doubles on the season. Jerrick Suiter had two much needed hits, giving him a .184 average. Connor Joe drove in the only run for the Marauders on a first inning ground out. Kevin Kramer had a walk and a single in four trips to the plate.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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Mitch Keller made his third start of the season in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday. He came into the game with ten shutout innings, giving up five hits, no walks and he had 13 strikeouts. Keller retired the first batter on a broken bat grounder to third base. He battled the next hitter, before getting him to strike out swinging. He then got another swinging strikeout on four pitches. Keller worked quickly and needed 14 pitches to get out of the inning, with ten going for strikes.

He started the second inning with his third straight strikeout swinging. The next batter grounded out softly to third base. That was followed by a strikeout looking. Basically it was a repeat of the first inning, two strikeouts, grounder to third base, 14 pitches, ten strikes.

In the third inning, Keller really battled with the next hitter, finally striking him out looking. The next batter fouled off a few 1-2 pitches before he went down swinging. Keller gave up his first hit on the next pitch, a low liner just out of the shortstop’s reach for a single. The next batter lofted a fly ball to medium right field for the third out. He threw 19 pitches this inning, 12 for strikes.

The fourth inning started with another strikeout, his seventh of the game. The next batter grounded out to third base on a curve. That was followed by a strikeout looking. This was basically the first and second inning all over. Two strikeouts, grounder to third base, 14 pitches. Keller mixed it up by throwing 11 strikes instead of ten. He threw some nice change-ups that had the hitters out in front for swinging strikes. He was at 61 pitches at this point, 43 for strikes.

The fifth started with a strikeout on three pitches, all swing & misses. The second hitter flew out to medium right field. Lexington picked up their second hit, a well placed grounder to the left of the shortstop. The last out of his outing was a swinging strikeout on a curve, matching the ten he had in his first game. That put him at 71 pitches, 51 for strikes. He has a limit of five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first.

If you read about his first start when I couldn’t come up with enough words to say how good he did, this start was basically a mirror image. The only difference was that he didn’t go to the curve as much, but the last one he threw was real nice. The couple change-ups I saw got great results and the fastball hits 96 with great downward action. His delivery is so easy as well, no effort and very clean, almost like he’s just playing catch. Keller works very quickly as well and pounds the strike zone. There had to be at least 25 swing and misses, which is about 15-20 more than you see from an average starter. The thing that makes this outing even more impressive: He faced Lexington six days ago, so they just got a good look at him. Most back-to-back starts like this don’t go as well the second time for pitchers.

The Power won this game by a 5-1 score. Daniel Zamora followed Keller and allowed a run on a homer in the seventh inning. He pitched the last two innings of the seven inning game. On offense, Tito Polo had a walk, reached on an error, stole two bases and scored two runs. He didn’t pick up any hits, but had an at-bat where he just missed a homer on a foul ball, then crushed a line drive to center field for an out. He has five stolen bases this season.

Ke’Bryan Hayes had an RBI single. He went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, which was the only strikeout of the game for the Power. Casey Hughston and Carlos Munoz each drove in a run. Hughston had two walks and a stole his sixth base. Danny Arribas had two walks and scored a run. Christian Kelley had two hits and an RBI.

Game two recap

West Virginia took the second game as well, with JT Brubaker putting on a nice show with seven strikeouts over five innings. He got the win in the 3-1 victory by allowing just one run on a solo homer, which was the only hit he allowed. He didn’t have great control in this game, issuing four walks, with only 43 of his 79 pitches going for strikes. Brubaker has a 2.14 ERA and 25 strikeouts over four starts and 21 innings. He has struck out at least six batters in each start. Tate Scioneaux threw two no-hit innings following Brubaker to pick up his third save. He had four strikeouts.

On offense, Carlos Munoz hit his first homer of the season. He has started off slow this year, which is odd for him, though his season didn’t start until June during his first five years in the organization. Munoz went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Ke’Bryan Hayes had two hits in this game, giving him a .404 average through 52 at-bats. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Tito Polo had a double, walk, and scored a run.

  • It’d be good to say if Bell’s opposite-field HR came off a righty or lefty for those of us who didn’t know whether Morris is a righty or lefty (I checked, he’s a righty). Has Bell hit his other homers as righty or lefty, I think he has one as a righty, but not sure. If he can hit for power righty, that’d be encouraging. How has his overall defense been at first, other than missing on a tough pop up last night. Thanks in advance.

    • Bell is a switch-hitter, so saying he hit a homer from the left side means the pitcher is right-handed. He has not homered from the right side since June 10, 2014

  • Josh Bell hits for cycle and we’re all talking about Mitch Keller. Well, I’m gonna talk about Bell. That’s 3 homers already. Is he finally coming in to his projected power? If he keeps raking like this, it’s gonna be difficult to keep him down even with the way Jaso is playing.

    • Right now, I won’t write him off for coming up around June 10th, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept him down longer to work on his defense. He looks better than last year, but there are still flaws. Last year, the flaws were just bigger. His bat could force them to call him up in seven weeks…

      • I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. He’s gonna win a batting championship in the majors… maybe multiple. Dude can flat out rake.

    • I would think that maybe he’d get the first shot if there were an injury to one of the starting outfielders (after june 10th).

      • Bell isn’t an outfielder anymore. He was an average outfielder 21 months ago when he took his last fly ball of any kind in the outfield. Since then he has bulked up a little. Since you don’t run around as much at first base and the throws are different arm angles, it allowed him to get stronger and not worry about range or making long throws. He’s a first baseman.

        • I know he’s a first baseman now. With his bat really coming on, he would seem to be a better option than Joyce if it came down to that, that’s all. I guess Harrison would probably move to the outfield if there were an injury and Hanson would take over at second if Bell isn’t considered an option in the outfield.

      • Could also just have him start at 1B against lefties and get him a good chunk of pinch hit chances.

        But he aint taking reps from Jaso and Id imagine his defense makes him at best a RF and likely in need of some serious reps before you just throw him out there.

    • Agree Kozy. Nice to see Bell’s power arriving. Jaso has gotten off to a good start, but Bell may force the issue.

      • Honestly, I’d like to see him stay in AAA the full year and be a candidate for arrival June 10, 2017.

    • I was thinking the same thing about his power. SSS caveats in place of course but it sure seems like it’s coming.

  • The Pirates consistently say promotions are based on checking boxes as well as results. The kid had three pitches he’s not afraid the use, he throws strikes and works efficiently. Move him up a level.

    • They like to leave young players at the same level for a full season. In his case, he missed some time due to forearm tightness last year and he was limited when he returned, so the big issue is building up his innings. By the end of the year, they will likely limit his outings, or skip a turn in the rotation, or a little of both just to keep him between 100-120 innings. Next season if he is pitching the same in Bradenton, then he will be promoted sometime during the second half. This year, he stays at WV

      • John, you, Tim and the rest of the staff have made my websites go in the tank. I don’t have time for them with all the time I spend on PP. Oh well, being 69, I guess it’s time to retire and read all about my beloved Bucco’s.

    • Yep. Sounds like his changeup is already a very good pitch.

  • Damn, the Keller Train is about to pull out of the station…I’m getting on.

    • Me too. Holy crap he’s been impressive.

      • No walks in 15 innings and only 20 years old. Awesome stuff!

        • Kathleen Clements
          April 24, 2016 12:54 am

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  • 3160 words and only half the affiliates are playing!

  • peanutbutterguts
    April 22, 2016 9:56 pm

    With the early success of some of the young prospects, it is fun to think about the organization adding 2 more top 30 or so prospects in June.

  • The Bucs have both king Kang and now king Keller.

  • Brault still struggling with location again? Did he copy Locke’s delivery or something? Those four K’s look nice tho.

  • domdidominic
    April 22, 2016 7:37 pm

    What a start for Keller. The guy (Kid) just turned 20 this month. BOSS

    • Suzanne Grady
      April 23, 2016 4:30 am

      “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!ce521ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !ce521n:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsPixelGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!ce521n….,….

  • Keith Law agrees with you John!

    keithlaw
    nothing like Glasnow but I’m so glad to see him healthy and pitching like this – loved him in the draft

    Mitch Keller 3 starts: 15 IP 7 H 0 R 0 BB 23 K. New Tyler Glasnow?

    • He’s not the new Glasnow….according to John’s writeup, Keller actually used his changeup. 🙂

      • They aren’t similar other than the Low-A results and velocity

        • Oh I know they’re not similar….I was just riffing on what Law said.

          He needs to get promoted to Altoona, so I can watch him pitch. 🙂

          • Next July if everything absolutely goes right, but still might not be anything more than a couple late season AA starts in 2017, followed by him there for 2018. Basically, don’t stand in line for tickets just yet

            • So you’re saying that he isn’t gonna ‘rocket’ through the system, then? Or I need to rent a house in WVa (or Bradenton)?

              Darn.

          • Not before I see him in bradenton!

    • footon: Suzanne Grady and her roommate are making money on the internet why can’t I ? Free Hanson!

  • Is Keller ready to take Locke’s place in the rotation yet? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Yes. And I don’t think either of us are overreacting to 15 innings in Low A. He’ll be fine.

  • Keller 4 k’s through 2 perfect.

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