Morning Report: Above Average Hitters for the League

Sometimes when looking at numbers for hitters, the thing that gets lost is the difference in league production. An example would be comparing stats from the South Atlantic League with the Florida State League. The SAL is usually a neutral environment, favoring neither hitters nor pitchers. That’s unless you play in Asheville, where anything goes on offense.

The FSL is considered a league where pitchers usually dominate. It also tends to favor pitchers even more as it gets deeper into the season. If you’ve been to Spring Training games, you know that the wind can cause havoc for the fielders and turn fly balls into home runs. In the summer, fly balls die in the humid air, which also affects Gulf Coast League games, where scoring is usually at a premium.

With that in mind, I wanted to point out the hitters who are above average in OPS for their league, using the combined league average. I used 75 plate appearances for the minimum, which is about two per game.

The league average mark in the International League is a .685 OPS. Josh Bell has an .840 OPS, followed by Jason Rogers at .794, Adam Frazier at .760, Danny Ortiz at .697 and Alen Hanson is a percentage point under average, falling below with his last at-bat last night.

For Altoona, a .691 OPS puts you right in the middle of the Eastern League. Erich Weiss leads with an .830 OPS. That is followed by Anderson Feliz (.766), Harold Ramirez (.756), Eric Wood (.753), Jose Osuna (.715), Reese McGuire (.697), and Barrett Barnes has a .695 OPS. Only four players fall below the league average, led by Stetson Allie, Edwin Espinal, Chris Diaz and Austin Meadows.

For Bradenton, the league average is a .658 OPS.  Kevin Newman is at .881, and he is followed by Chase Simpson at .875, Kevin Kramer at .716 and Logan Hill just misses qualifying by three plate appearances, otherwise he would be the last one over at .674 OPS.

For West Virginia, the middle numbers is a .694 OPS. Daniel Arribas leads the team with an .827 OPS. He is followed by Ke’Bryan Hayes at .809 and Tito Polo at a .773 OPS. Everyone else on the team is below league average.

** Just a reminder with the amateur draft starting in 19 days. We will have coverage of each pick made by the Pirates, 41 in all over the three days. Each player gets their own player page, complete with whatever information we can find on them. That will be followed by our draft signing tracker, with updates whenever a new player signs. Before the draft, we will post mock drafts from numerous sources and we will have our tiered draft rankings, which is a very popular article each year. We will also post recaps each day for the picks, usually highlighting a few players who really stand out. We posted a new mock draft from Jim Callis yesterday, and there will be another one today, along with some news and notes.

** Remember everything I said yesterday about the big pitching match-up in West Virginia between Mitch Keller and Hickory’s Dillon Tate? Well it still applies today because they were rained out yesterday. The only difference is that today there is a doubleheader, so it’s up to the managers to use both of them in the same game. Unlike the plan for yesterday, I will be cutting away from the game early to watch Brandon Waddell, then cutting away from him after 65 minutes to watch Chad Kuhl…weather permitting for both now. Apparently all I have to do in the Morning Report is focus in on something special with the pitchers and that makes it rain. Happened both times I mentioned that all four affiliates had a top 30 prospect scheduled to be on the mound on the same day.


Bradenton is 7-3 in their last ten games. They are in second place in their division, trailing first place by 1.5 games. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd.

West Virginia is 4-6 in their last ten games. They are in fourth place in their division, trailing first place by six games. The first half of the SAL season ends on June 19th.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 2-1 over the Rockies on Friday night. Jon Niese will be on the mound today, making his ninth start of the season. In his last start against Atlanta, he allowed two runs over six innings. Niese faced the Rockies in Colorado on April 27th and gave up five runs on ten hits in five innings. The Rockies will counter with Tyler Chatwood, who has a 3.20 ERA in 50.2 innings this season. In his last start, he allowed three runs over seven innings against the Mets.

In the minors, West Virginia has a doubleheader today and in one of those games, Mitch Keller will make his eighth start of the season. He leads the South Atlantic League in WHIP at 0.61, and he ranks second with 48 strikeouts and third with a 1.10 ERA. No starter has been announced yet for the second game.

Chad Kuhl starts for Indianapolis. He leads the International League with an 0.91 ERA and an 0.78 WHIP. He has combined for 13 shutout innings over his last two starts. Brandon Waddell will make his fourth start for Altoona. Between High-A and Double-A, he has a 1.51 ERA in 47.2 innings, with 38 strikeouts, a .169 BAA, an 0.67 WHIP and a 1.40 GO/AO ratio.

MLB: Pittsburgh (23-18) vs Rockies (20-21) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Jon Niese (5.28 ERA, 17:35 BB/SO, 46.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (21-19) vs Scranton/WB (24-19) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (0.91 ERA, 9:30 BB/SO, 39.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (23-18) vs Portland (15-27) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (2.41 ERA, 2:12 BB/SO, 18.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (21-19) vs Dunedin (17-25) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (4.24 ERA, 15:32 BB/SO, 34.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (20-19) vs Hickory (26-14) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (1.10 ERA, 3:48 BB/SO, 41.0 IP) and TBD


Here is the last strikeout of the day for Jameson Taillon on Thursday.


5/19: Starling Marte activated from paternity list. Alen Hanson optioned to Indianapolis

5/19: Elias Diaz placed on 60-day disabled list.

5/19: Wilfredo Boscan added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Cory Luebke optioned to Indianapolis.

5/16: Starling Marte placed on paternity list. Alen Hanson recalled.

5/16: Juan Diaz added to Indianapolis roster.

5/15: Pirates activate Cory Luebke from disabled list. A.J. Schugel optioned to Indianapolis.

5/13: Pirates release Daniel Bard.

5/13: Kyle Lobstein optioned to Indianapolis. Pittsburgh Pirates recall Cole Figueroa.

5/12: Cesilio Pimentel activated from West Virginia disabled list. Julio Vivas assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/9: Mel Rojas Jr. traded to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.

5/8: Cole Tucker added to West Virginia Power roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/7: Billy Roth added to West Virginia Power roster.



Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the best relievers in team history. Mace Brown played for the Pirates from 1935 until 1941. During that time, he was used as a long man out of the pen, occasionally started and also closed out games before closers came in for three outs at a time. He pitched 778.2 innings from 1936 until 1940 and posted a 3.67 ERA during his time with the Pirates. Brown was an All-Star in 1938 and he finished ninth in the MVP voting that year.

Others born on this date include:

Fred Dunlap, second baseman from 1888-90. He was a star player before he was acquired by Pittsburgh. He had his career cut short by two broken legs (at different times), but he played long enough to put together a solid 12-year career. During the only year of the Union Association (1884), Dunlap was the best player by far, hitting .412/.448/.621, leading the league in all three categories, as well as runs scored, hits and homers.

Steve Pegues, outfielder for the 1994-95 Pirates. He hit .264 in 89 games for the Pirates.

Catcher Ed Fitz Gerald, who played for the Pirates from 1948 until 1953, turns 92 today. He is the ninth oldest living former Pirates player.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Fangraphs’ wRC+ numbers are even more favorable towards the system.


Just wanted to point out that the rainout means Kuhl is now on the same rotation as Niese.

So if Niese bombs today and Kuhl does well again, six days from now…?

Harry S

You’ll have to wait another 6 days for Niese to bomb out. He pitched a very good game and was a split second in the 1st inning from a shutout.


Check out Kevin Newman’s splits if you want to see some crazy numbers: .409 at McKechnie, .537 when ahead in count! 1.134 OPS with risp. Ridiculous.


We have a commenter on the PBC Asylum who goes by the monikor “Steve Pegues”.


He related to me how he came up with the name. Apparently, Steve did a really nice thing for him and his son in the short time he was a Bucco, so he adopted that name for his avatar.

I forget his real name, but he told me what it was in an email. Also, I think he is a lawyer, so I am really nice to him. :0


WTM posted this stuff on BD regarding K rates of our Indy hitters. Is this anything to be worried about?

Since the end of April, Josh Bell has stopped hitting. Overall, he’s down to 274/377/415, which are not the AAA numbers of a future starting first baseman. Even worse, his strikeout rate has increased sharply. Last year, Bell struck out in only 11% of his plate appearances between AA and AAA, with a slightly lower rate in AAA. This year he’s whiffing in 21%.

Max Moroff’s problems have been even more alarming, as he’s fanned in 31% of his plate appearances, 38% of his at-bats. Willy Garcia has struck out in 30% of his plate appearances. That’s nothing new for him, but on top of that his power has disappeared. Gift Ngoepe has fanned in an astronomical 41% of his plate appearances, making Pedro Florimon suddenly look like the better candidate to serve as shortstop depth. Jacob Stallings is striking out 24% of the time. Even Jason Rogers has seen an increase, from 16% at the AAA level previously in his career to 22% this year.

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