I was talking with Tim Williams about how bad the Bristol Pirates could be this season, as far as prospects go. There is a good chance they won’t have a top 50 prospect in the system, and they usually don’t get any of the good draft picks either. The top college picks go to Morgantown, while the high school players go to the GCL. Trying not to think about it too much because I know I will have to write up 50+ game recaps for the Prospect Watch trying to make them sound interesting, I immediately switched to my favorite team to cover. That was the 2012 West Virginia Power, who I saw seven times that season.
When you look at the list of players on that team, you read off a long list of names that were interesting at the time, and many of them still are now. I didn’t get a chance to see Josh Bell that year because he was already out for the season. I did get to see Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, Willy Garcia and Jose Osuna play at least six games each. I also had a chance to watch Elias Diaz show off a cannon for an arm. That group of four players I got to see every game made it an exciting team to cover. At 20 years old, Polanco was the oldest one.
On the pitching side, I got to see Nick Kingham twice, Zack Dodson and one of the craziest games from Zack Von Rosenberg.
I saw Von Rosenberg the year before allow one run over six innings and didn’t look bad doing it. He wasn’t throwing hard, which was a disappointment back then when you hear he was hitting 91 regularly in high school two years earlier and had plenty of projection. When he comes in and sits 88-90, it took the shine off the performance, but he was still young and doing well, so that was good enough for me.
Fast forward a year to 2012 and he was still there, though this time he was sitting 87-89 MPH and a year older. Automatic red flags for his prospect status. That velocity only got worse as time went along until they released him last spring. Getting back to the 2012 game, where he allowed just one run over six innings. What made it crazy was how bad it was. I have never seen a game look so different on paper than it did in person. His life was in jeopardy that game because the opposition was crushing line drives all over the field, with three of them just missing him. Many of them ended up being right at fielders. There were foul balls that were getting rocketed into the crowd at scary speeds. Yet he left with one run on seven hits over six innings. It was one of those games where you had to be there to truly appreciate how bad it looked.
Besides those names above, which should have been good enough for any team back then, they also had notable players in Dan Gamache, Eric Avila, Jodani Carvajal, Carlos Mesa, Zac Fuesser, Robby Rowland, Orlando Castro, Ryan Hafner, Rinku Singh, Trent Stevenson and for a short time, Stetson Allie. If you have an idea of why I mentioned each of those players, then you did a fine job following prospects back then. If you put all of those names back in 2012 mode, you realize what an impressive team that was for potential.
Not many teams are deep with legit prospects in the lower levels, but the lower levels also have more players who are too young to write them off. Bristol this year will likely have a lot of players with reasons to follow them. It means that while they don’t look interesting now, those players could give us a reason to consider them for the top 50 list for the prospect guide.
** Yesterday I mentioned that it could be the first time that four top 30 pitching prospects all start on the same night. I said “could” because it looked like Indianapolis might run into weather issues, which they didn’t. I also mentioned that four top 30 pitching prospects have been scheduled before on the same day, but Tyler Eppler and Altoona were rained out that day. Well last night, Bradenton was the uncooperative ones, getting rained out. So we will have to try this again some other day.
Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are in third place in their division, trailing first place by two games. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd.
West Virginia is 3-7 in their last ten games. They are in fourth place in their division, trailing first place by 6.5 games. The first half of the SAL season ends on June 19th.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 12-9 over the Braves on Tuesday night. Francisco Liriano gets the start tonight, his eighth of the season. He gave up eight runs to the Cubs over 4.2 innings in his last start. In the two starts prior, he allowed three earned runs over 13.2 innings. His mound opponent will be Julio Teheran, who has a 3.17 ERA in 48.1 innings, with 44 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP.
In the minors, Frank Duncan makes his second start for Indianapolis, trying to follow up on a six inning performance in which he allowed one hit, no walks or runs, while striking out five batters. In 26.2 total innings this season, he has a 1.01 ERA, with 25 strikeouts, a .179 BAA, an 0.86 WHIP and a 2.96 GO/AO ratio.
Bradenton has a doubleheader today. Yeudy Garcia will try to continue a recent stretch that has him pitching better, even if he isn’t where he was last year when he dominated at West Virginia. In his last three starts combined, he has allowed two earned runs over 14 innings, with two walks and 18 strikeouts. The problem in each of the last two outings has been high pitch counts that have limited him to four innings each game. No starter has been named yet for the second game.
Cody Dickson goes for Altoona. His season stats don’t look like much, but he has allowed two runs over 10.2 innings in his last two starts combined.
MLB: Pittsburgh (21-17) vs Braves (9-29) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (4.99 ERA, 23:46 BB/SO, 39.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (19-18) vs Columbus (23-15) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (0.00 ERA, 0:5 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (21-17) @ Binghamton (16-20) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (4.91 ERA, 24:22 BB/SO, 33.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (19-18) @ Brevard County (13-25) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (3.29 ERA, 12:34 BB/SO, 27.1 IP) and TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (19-18) @ Delmarva (21-16) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (5.40 ERA, 14:22 BB/SO, 30.0 IP)
Here is the last strikeout of Chad Kuhl’s masterful performance on Monday night.
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.
5/6: Jung-ho Kang activated from disabled list.
5/6: Mel Rojas Jr. assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/5: Jason Rogers optioned to Indianapolis.
5/2: Jason Creasy placed on disabled list. Brandon Waddell promoted to Altoona
5/2: Tate Scioneaux promoted to Bradenton.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including Pirates great Babe Adams, who won 194 games over his 18 season in Pittsburgh. During the 1909 season as a rookie, he went 12-3, 1.11 in 130 innings during the regular season and then won three games during the World Series. Adams won a career-high 22 games during the 1911 season and was the only player from the 1909 team who was still around during the 1925 season when the Pirates won their second WS title. You can read his full bio here.
Other former Pirates players born on this date:
Nelson Figueroa, 2003-04 pitcher. He had a 4.38 ERA in 63.2 innings with the Pirates, making six starts and 16 relief appearances.
Ken Hamlin, shortstop in 1957 and 1959. Played just four games over his two seasons with the Pirates, going 1-for-9 at the plate.
Bill Batsch, pinch-hitter on September 9,1916. Walked in his only career plate appearance.
On this date in 1909, Honus Wagner hit a tenth inning two-run triple to help give the Pirates an 8-5 victory over Brooklyn. Hall of Famer Vic Willis started the game for the Pirates and reliever Sam Leever picked up the victory. That gave the Pirates a 1.5 game lead in the standings over the Cubs, the team that won the NL pennant each of the previous three seasons.