Every week, we post almost three dozen articles on the Pirates and their minor league system. We have a daily Prospect Watch, which breaks down the games and prospect performances each night, including live reports. We have the Morning Report each day, looking at what to expect for that day’s games, while also tackling a new subject each day. First Pitch provides additional analysis on the system.
Then we’ve got analysis on individual prospects, which are the most in-depth articles we have on the site. These combine years of interviews, live reports, conversations with players, coaches, scouts, and front office officials. They’ve got information you can’t find anywhere else, and information that other sites simply can’t get, just because no one covers the minors to the extent and for the length of time as we do.
One of the downsides to having so much content is that it’s really easy to miss an article. If you don’t check the site for one day, you might miss half a dozen articles, with another half-dozen coming your way when you return to the site the following day. You could even check the site every day, but check early one day and later the following day, and totally miss a few featured articles.
Because of this problem, I’m going to run an article every Sunday night, counting down the ten biggest prospect features that you may have missed. Occasionally I will include an MLB article in there, but for the most part, I want to highlight the bread and butter of the site. Here are the big featured articles you may have missed this week:
10. We had Brandon Waddell ranked relatively high for a guy who came out of college in the fifth round last year, and who hadn’t pitched above short-season ball. He was ranked 21st overall, which is really good in this strong system. By mid-season, that ranking might look low. Waddell is off to a great start in his first five outings, putting up an 0.93 ERA in 29 innings, with a 26:2 K/BB ratio. I wrote about how he compares to fellow left-hander Steven Brault, and how he could be on the same path this year. Then, shortly after that article, he got promoted to Altoona.
9. Clay Holmes is returning from Tommy John surgery, and the results have been mixed so far. He had a rough outing last night, but a good outing earlier in the week. In the first outing, Sean McCool noticed that he was throwing a new pitch, a two-seam fastball. Here is a breakdown of that new pitch and why Holmes added it this year.
8. Steven Brault was one of the best stories last year in the minors, going from being a player to be named later in the Travis Snider deal, to making the Triple-A rotation this year and knocking on the door to the majors. Brault is one of the most athletic pitchers in the system, being a former two-way player in college. Ryan Palencer looked at how that athleticism helps him on the mound.
7. The early pick for breakout prospect of the year is Mitch Keller. He’s got an 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, with a 28:1 K/BB ratio in his first four outings in West Virginia. Keller has a fastball that sits 92-95, touching 96. He also has a curveball that is a plus offering when it’s on. I wrote about what led to his improved command this year, along with his improved changeup. I will say that the Keller article was one of my favorite articles to write this week, and is an example of how years of conversations with one player can lead to information that other sites just can’t get by reading a stat line or doing one interview for a pre-planned generic article on the player. Other sites are going to “introduce” you to Mitch Keller this year. We’re walking you through the details of the mechanical change which led to improved control, along with the evolution on the different grips he has used with his changeup, until he finally found one he was comfortable with.
6. Kevin Newman has been hitting everything in Bradenton this year, but hasn’t been hitting for a lot of power. That’s actually by design, as Newman ignores hitting for power in order to get more hits, focusing on low line drives to the gaps. I wrote about how this approach fits in with the Pirates’ focus on hitting in the minors. In the article, Neal Huntington said that if Newman hits a home run, it’s a mistake. Sure enough, Newman made his first “mistake” last night.
5. It’s not a prospect article, but I really liked this feature from Sean McCool, looking at how John Jaso’s defense has been going this year at first base. Jaso is now to the point where he’s letting instincts take over, and the overall results so far have been better than anyone expected back in Spring Training.
4. Related to the Jaso article, Josh Bell is also doing a good job in Triple-A, but is completely blocked by Jaso. I talked with Neal Huntington about how Jaso’s success impacts Bell’s arrival. There was some good discussion about how much time a prospect should spend in Triple-A, along with the revelation that the Pirates could still use Bell in the outfield (although first base is the main focus and the priority).
3. Austin Meadows returned this week to Altoona, after missing the start of the season with surgery to repair an orbital bone fracture. Sean McCool caught up to Meadows after his first game, and broke down what to expect for his season. He also found out that Meadows will be getting time at the corner outfield spots this year, preparing him for the possibility of breaking into the majors at a spot other than center field.
2/1. Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow both had good outings this week, which we broke down in detail in the Prospect Watch (Glasnow here and Taillon here, plus look for Glasnow’s next start this afternoon). Of course, this started the Super Two talk, which I dove into here. More important to their development, I talked with Neal Huntington about Taillon’s innings this year, along with Glasnow’s changeup, after he threw the pitch 15 times in his last outing.
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