Prospect Watch: Holmes Overcomes Slow Start, Shaky Outings for Hughes and Luebke

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’,’20160424′);
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4. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592791,’P’,’20160424′);
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5. Alen Hanson, 2B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(593700,’B’,’20160424′);
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6. Harold Ramirez, OF, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(623912,’B’,’20160424′);
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7. Reese McGuire, C, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(624512,’B’,’20160424′);
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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’,’20160424′);
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11. Kevin Newman, SS, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20160424′);
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12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20160424′);
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13. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20160424′);
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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’,’20160424′);
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17. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20160424′);
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18. Mitch Keller, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20160424′);
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19. Clay Holmes, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20160424′);
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20. Willy Garcia, OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(591994,’B’,’20160424′);
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21. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20160424′);
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22. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20160424′);
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23. Barrett Barnes, OF, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20160424′);
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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’,’20160424′);
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28. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20160424′);
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29. Jordan Luplow, OF/3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656669,’B’,’20160424′);
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30. JT Brubaker, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20160424′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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Jared Hughes made his third rehab appearance on Sunday, this time going two innings, after back-to-back one inning appearances a few days ago.

He walked the the first batter he faced on a 3-2 pitch. The next hitter tapped weakly back to Hughes for the first out. Richie Shaffer was up next and he hit a long homer to left field, followed one pitch later by a single through the infield. Hughes got another soft hit ball for a force out at second base.

The next batter was former Pirate Jake Goebbert and he struck out swinging on a ball that hit him on the back foot, which caused the ball to get away from the catcher, allowing Goebbert to reach to extend the inning. Hughes struck out the seventh batter he faced in the inning, ending the frame with 25 pitches, 17 for strikes. You like to see three ground balls and two strikeouts, but the walk and homer hurt him.

In his second inning, Hughes got a fly ball to center field for the first out. Jaff Decker swung through a 91 MPH sinker on a 3-2 count that was up in the zone. The next batter grounded out on one pitch to shortstop. Hughes finished his two innings with 38 pitches, 24 for strikes. He was throwing almost all sinkers, mixing in a few off-speed pitches just like his last outing. He wasn’t sharp in this one, but like to see the strikeouts and ground balls.

Cory Luebke came on to pitch after Hughes. He looked great against the first batter and two pitches into the second batter, but that changed in a hurry. He started with a strikeout on three pitches, then hit 94 MPH on the second pitch to the next batter up. That happened to be Richie Shaffer, who homered off Hughes. He added Luebke to his victim list, hitting a homer down the left field line. One pitch later, Kyle Roller also homered.

Luebke then allowed a hard single, followed by a strikeout of the lefty Jake Goebbert for the second out. The eighth place hitter drove a double down the left field line, then the last place hitter singled up the middle to bring home a run. Luebke got some help from Danny Ortiz on that play, as he threw the runner from second out at home to get out of the inning. Three runs on five hits sounds as bad as it looked. The first four hits were all hit hard. He threw 20 pitches, 14 for strikes, and was around the zone the whole time, getting too much of the zone you could say.

Luebke came out for another inning and struck out Jaff Decker on three pitches. He got the second batter down swinging on four pitches, mixing his pitches well. One pitch later, he got a grounder to third base for the third out. Very easy and efficient inning, nothing like the first frame. The fastball was basically 90-92 and he threw the slider with good results. Both lefties (Decker and Goebbert) has no shot against him. Luebke still has five days before he can be activated from the disabled list, so he will have some more rehab time to smooth things out.

Indianapolis lost 6-1 in this game, with the run difference coming from the two Major League pitchers allowing five runs over their four innings. On offense, Josh Bell was the story with his two hits. He now has his average up to .321 and he has reached base in all 15 games this season. The rest of the Indianapolis lineup didn’t do so well. They ended up with 16 strikeouts in the game, getting at least one from every starter.  Max Moroff collected his second double of the season, accounting for the only extra-base hit for the Indians.

Jung-ho Kang had the day off until the ninth inning when he came on as a pinch-hitter. He walked in his only plate appearance, taking a 3-2 pitch that looked like it caught a lot of the plate. Cole Figueroa also pinch-hit, grounding out to second base. It was his first appearance since being sent down. Kang is 1-for-15 with six strikeouts and four walks in five games.

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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Quick Analysis on Clay Holmes from John Dreker – Holmes threw 28 pitches in the first inning and walked two batters. He was working down in the zone, not getting any borderline low calls. Worked mostly fastballs hitting 94-95 MPH and pitched inside well. Got two easy grounders to first base, and picked-off a runner. Missed on his off-speed pitches, though he did throw a curve with a nice break. Was back out there right away after Curve made three quick outs in the bottom of the first. Richmond made good contact in the second inning, leading to a run. Holmes threw more strikes and was working almost all fastballs. In the third, he got three ground outs in an 11-pitch inning, finally getting his curve over for strikes.

The fourth was almost the same as the third, with two grounders and an infield pop out on 12 pitches, mainly fastballs. The fifth lasted just eight pitches and Holmes bumped it up to ten batters retired in a row. He hit a batter on an 0-2 curve to start the sixth, but retired the next three batters in order, which included a broken bat grounder and his first strikeout coming on a nice curve. Holmes threw 43 pitches in the first two innings and 42 in the next four. It was an impressive comeback after a tough start. He did well working both sides of the plate and keeping the ball down, getting 11 outs on the ground. He was mostly fastballs this game, and the curve wasn’t sharp. He didn’t have many swinging strikes in this game. The velocity was strong early on and once he got adjusted to the umpire’s strike zone, he cruised through the rest of the game.

ALTOONA – To add to John Dreker’s analysis, Clay Holmes really made an 180° from the first seven batters he faced and the last 16. In the first inning, Holmes almost got the hook with his pitch count reaching the upper-20s, and manager Joey Cora confirmed after the game that the limit on pitches thrown in an inning is 35. Holmes recovered by inducing an 3-U ground out on pitch number 28. Holmes acknowledged that someone was up in the bullpen, saying that he “just needed to make one good pitch to get out of it”.

The most essential part of Holmes day was that he was able to recover to last six innings. Throwing 43 pitches in the first two innings is not key to success, but throwing 42 pitches in his next four surely is. The major difference from Holmes’ perspective was the tried not to be so fine with all of his pitches. Early in the game, he would get two strikes and struggle getting the third as he tried to locate the pitch. After settling in, he said that he began to trust his pitches more and benefited.

The fastball tapped out at 95.6 MPH according to the gun I was watching, and it typically sat around 92-93 MPH for most of the outing. His curveball was in the low 80s for the majority of the game, but I did see it fall to 79 MPH on a few occasions. The changeup was between 83-87 MPH, and it was the key focus for him today – establishing changeup location off of the fastball.

Against his last batter of the day, Holmes struck out lefty Ryder Jones on three straight pitches – all swinging. All three were different pitches – 87 MPH changeup, 93 MPH fastball, and 82 MPH curveball. Pitching Coach Justin Meccage said it was his best sequence of the day. Holmes agreed that he got better as the outing progressed.

“I just got comfortable out there, and I started attacking batters and making good pitches,” Holmes said.

To add to the pitching, Brett McKinney tossed two scoreless innings in relief, and Josh Smith came in for the save. Both pitchers faced the minimum (McKinney induced a double play after a walk) and looked very effective.

Jose Osuna’s defensive play at first base has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season. He screams so loud that you can hear him in the press box when calling a fly ball. He has been scooping short hops from fielders in a stretch without coming off of the bag. He is fielding tough grounders cleanly with good instincts and form. Today, he made three unassisted plays at first base (all against Richmond’s lead-off hitter Rando Moreno) and made a nice stretch on a jump throw from second baseman Erich Weiss from the hole.

Speaking of that last play, Erich Weiss showed really good range on that play in the 4th inning, as Richmond’s Tyler Horan hit a hard grounder up the middle. Weiss made a hard move to his right to cleanly snag the ball and made a jump throw right to the bag. Osuna made a nice play on the receiving end, but the scoop and throw was exceptional. Weiss also made a heads-up play on a typical ground ball to his left – except with the barrel end of a broken bat coming his way. With a runner on first base, Richmond’s Ricky Oropesa splintered his bat into three different areas, with the barrel going towards second base (and almost hitting the base runner). Weiss never flinched and made the fielder’s choice play to second to record the out. It goes as a typical 4-6 FC in the books, but the element of the broken bat coming his way made it a more difficult out.

On the hitting side, Reese McGuire seems to be doing that smart hitting thing (see Stewart, Chris) these days for the Curve. He singled in both the 2nd and 4th innings, taking his approach to the opposite field in both at-bats. The 2nd inning hit was a hard line drive to the outfield and showed the gap-to-gap hitting that McGuire has been trying to accomplish. When he reached in the 4th, he smartly saw that he was not being held very well by the pitcher, and easily stole second base. He had an extremely good jump, and the catcher did not have a chance.

The Curve’s only runs came in the second inning from the bat of Chris Diaz. With runners on second and third and two outs, Richmond could have decided to walk Diaz to face the pitch Holmes. Instead, they pitched to Diaz and paid for it, as he slapped a two-run single into left field. Manager Joey Cora said it was an extremely impressive piece of hitting from Diaz.

“That was a tough pitch to hit,” said Cora. “Diaz hit a pitcher’s pitch and hit it with aim. You got to give credit to Diaz on that one.”

Lastly, of note for tomorrow, Austin Meadows will make his 2016 debut tomorrow for the Curve. – Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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One big inning did in Bradenton on Sunday, as they dropped a 5-1 contest to St Lucie. Colten Brewer allowed four runs in the fourth, getting hurt by an error from catcher Tomas Morales. St Lucie added another run in the fifth, when Brewer had control issues, leading to two walks and a hit batter. That was followed by an infield single, all with no outs. Brewer looked good through the first three innings, but his typical outing consists of him looking great in spurts, then struggling with command. He threw 82 pitches, 54 for strikes. Brewer also had a 6:1 GO/AO ratio and five strikeouts.

The bullpen of Sam Street, Luis Heredia and Miguel Rosario put in a scoreless inning each, with the only runner against them coming off a ninth inning error. Heredia has allowed one run over 9.2 innings, and he’s issued just one walk. In this game he threw eight of his 12 pitches for strikes.

The offense barely showed up on Sunday. Backup catcher Tomas Morales had two of the four hits. He had a double and scored the only Bradenton run two batters later on a Pablo Reyes sacrifice fly. Chase Simpson and Michael Suchy had the only other hits, both singles. Connor Joe drew the only walk of the game. They had just one at-bat with runners in scoring position all game. Kevin Newman had off Sunday. Bradenton has off on Monday.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia looked like they were cruising to an easy win on Sunday and ended up with a crushing defeat. In the first inning, Lexington outfielder Tanner Stanley crashed into the outfield wall and the game was delayed for a bit while he was taken from the stadium in an ambulance due to a neck injury. It looked like the Lexington players were thinking about their fallen teammate and not the game, going down 10-0 in the top of the fourth. Something began to click in the bottom of the fourth and by the sixth inning they were back in the game. Three innings later, Power reliever Eric Karch threw a wild pitch with a man on third and one out. That brought home the runner and ended the game with an 11-10 Lexington victory.

The Power had no trouble getting on base, reaching on 14 hits, six walks and a HBP. They also had six extra-base hits. Casey Hughston was the only player without a hit or walk, and he ended up reaching on an error and scoring a run. Lexington had four errors in the game. Ryan Nagle had the best game on offense for West Virginia, collecting three hits, driving in two runs and slugging two doubles. Coming into the game, he had two extra-base hits in his first 16 games.

Tyler Filliben had a strong game during a rare appearance. He hit his third homer as a pro, matching the one homer he hit in each of his first two seasons. He scored twice, drove in two runs, singled and walked. He was 4-for-28 coming into the game. Mitchell Tolman had three hits, including his sixth double. He also had a walk and an RBI. Carlos Munoz went 2-for-6, with a double and drove in two runs. Danny Arribas had two hits, including his first triple. He is hitting just .222 this season, but he has an .829 OPS, due to seven extra-base hits and ten walks. Both Tito Polo and Ke’Bryan Hayes had the day off.

On the pitching side, Bret Helton was having a solid outing until he came out for the sixth inning. He finished with 5.2 frames, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. Helton threw 91 pitches (highest I’ve noticed for a Pirate this year), 54 going for strikes. He was followed by three pitchers who all allowed two inherited runners to score. Jake Burnette couldn’t even record an out, surrendering four walks and a hit to the five batters he faced.

  • I was wondering why you guys don’t include the opposition’s box scores?

  • No k’s for Holmes, but he seems to be getting the job done.

    I agree with the caption under the photo. Good to see a MiLB starter for us throwing the change. Can it be that hard, Tyler? 🙂

    • Analysis is up, not a bad outing. It was more like you expect from sinkerball pitchers, not a power pitcher. Had to adjust to umps strike zone, who seemed to favor the top of the zone and not call the bottom. He also wouldn’t give the inside pitches vs lefties, but expanded to the outside corner. Lots of questionable ball/strikes, but it was pretty even between going for and against Holmes. I think once Holmes and McGuire got a feel for the zone, they took advantage of it, whereas it probably hurt him in the first with the pitch count.

      • piraterican21
        April 24, 2016 3:06 pm

        In his first outing his curve wasn’t there and he relied on the change. Haven’t read anything else about his change since, is he still using his change?

        I just read the Twitter feed, a change was thrown in the strike out!

        • I mentioned in the extensive write-ups for his 2nd & 3rd starts that “the change-up was very effective” in his second game, and “the few change-ups I saw looked good” in the third game

        • The change was the key pitch they were focusing on tonight. It looked really good.

      • An excellent game for Clayton Holmes, getting 11 GO and holding the opposition to only one run in 6 innings.

        Interesting to see that Bradenton had moved Connor Joe down to 7th in the order. It may give him an opportunity to gather himself in a less stressful location in the order.

        Saw the partial on WV and they are well on their way to another blowout victory and a record of 14 – 3? Ryan Nagle seems to be leading the way in this game, and Bret Helton is throwing well. Casey Hughston continues to struggle hitting around .175, and striking out in 34% of his PA’s going into this game. This is one helluva team – congrats to Brian Esposito who led the WV Power to an 87-52 record last year. Is Ryan Long the Hitting Coach? Congrats to him also.

        • I don’t know if Lexington is really into this game. In the top of the first, one of their players crashed into the outfield wall and was taken off in an ambulance. They seem to be going through the motions since then

          • Definitely hard to concentrate when your mind may be elsewhere, and I am sure it has hit home with players on the Power team as well.

            Is Brian Esposito the real deal? He seems like a younger version of Mike Matheny with a lot of the same values.

            • It’s hard to tell with minor league managers, I’ll be honest. They have a lot of decisions made for them. How often certain players play and where they play and where they hit in the lineup. How many pitches/innings starters can throw. Which relievers have to be used on certain days. They more have to be organizers and teachers rather than in-game managers

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