Some quick notes for Sunday morning around the farm system.
** The Pirates are giving Alen Hanson some time in the outfield but the Indianapolis pitchers and the opposing batters aren’t cooperating. In three starts and 27 innings out in left field, he has made two catches. Now he has had to return some singles back to the infield, but fly balls to left field seem to be very uncommon during his games. I’ll note that the original idea was to get him one start out there per week and early on, something changed with that plan because he played out there once in four weeks. Now he has started out there twice in a row, so that is something to watch. I’ll also note that things are barely any better when he plays third base. In two starts there, he has had four chances.
** Josh Bell could very well be up around June 10th if the Pirates decide to add him. If they do add him that date, which is an estimated safe date for super 2 status, it could be an odd anniversary for him. The last time Josh Bell hit a home run as a right-handed batter was on June 10, 2014. That’s right, he has gone almost two full years without a homer off a lefty. That is surprising if you have seen him this season, but not in the past. His right-handed swing has always been more contact-oriented, which is good for getting on base, but not for getting extra-base hits. In the last few times he has been up righty, he lined out to the right field corner and smoked a line drive just foul down the left field line. So he is hitting the ball with more authority from that side, but it still hasn’t gone over the fence.
As for his overall power, on Friday night he hit a ball over 405 feet that went for a long out to the middle of the warning track in the left-center corner in Indianapolis, which is 415 feet from home plate. He hasn’t homered since his cycle game, but he definitely hit a ball long enough to be a home run in most other parks. Bell has reached base safely in all 25 games this season. As for my thoughts on his call-up, he is 50/50 for early June. I think they would like to see the better hitting continue from the right side, especially since Jaso is a lefty, so you would assume Bell isn’t sitting against lefty pitchers. The defense could also improve and that isn’t a quick fix, as I went over a few days ago.
** Billy Roth joined the West Virginia Power last night and was thrown right into action, pitching two innings of relief. He gave up three runs and took the loss, which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a lot easier to pick up losses than wins for young starting pitchers with the Pirates, because very limited pitch counts early in their career means they are maxing out at five innings and sometimes not reaching that total. If you’re only going 3-4 innings, you’re not getting the win no matter how good you pitched. Roth was a victim of that and now in his fourth season, he is still looking for that first win. Yes, he knows about the streak and yes he wants a win on his record because that 0-13 in his career totals looks bad no matter what you think about the win stat. When you’re the person with that 0-13, you can bet it means more to you than to others.
Roth has a lot of potential, something that was recognized by Baseball America when they called him one of the best late round picks in 2013. The Pirates went slightly over slot to sign him and at 6’3″, with a fastball that was touching 96 MPH as a starter last year, he still seems like someone with a lot of potential. Despite being around now for four seasons, he’s still a month shy of his 21st birthday, so there is time with him. He does lose some luster in a relief role now, but if he’s going multiple innings each time, then he should put some decent amount of work in this season.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-4 to the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. Gerrit Cole will get the start this afternoon, his sixth of the season. He lasted just 4.2 innings in his last start, allowing five runs. His longest outing this season is six innings. The Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha, who has a 2.65 ERA in 37.1 innings. He allowed one run over eight innings in his last start. Wacha gave up five runs on ten hits over 4.1 innings in his season debut against the Pirates back on April 5th.
In the minors, Steven Brault gets the start for Indianapolis. He gave up four runs over four innings in his last start, matching the amount of runs he allowed in his first four starts combined. He had nine strikeouts over five shutout innings when he faced Louisville late last month. For Altoona, Frank Duncan will make his first start of the season after dominating in five relief appearances. He has 18 strikeouts in 15 innings, with a 2.25 GO/AO ratio.
Dario Agrazal goes for West Virginia, coming off his worst career outing. He allowed four runs on seven hits and reached his single inning pitch limit in the first inning. Bradenton has off today.
MLB: Pittsburgh (16-14) @ Cardinals (16-15) 2:15 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (3.95 ERA, 10:25 BB/SO, 27.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (15-12) vs Louisville (16-11) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (3.04 ERA, 9:30 BB/SO, 23.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (13-16) vs Richmond (10-18) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (1.20 ERA, 5:18 BB/SO, 15.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (14-15) vs Ft Myers (17-13) 6:30 PM 5/9 (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (2.61 ERA, 12:11 BB/SO, 31.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (16-12) vs Hagerstown (19-9) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (4.05 ERA, 2:12 BB/SO, 20.0 IP)
Here is the third home run of the season from Ke’Bryan Hayes. He is hitting .337/.362/.500 in 23 games this season.
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.
4/30: Jared Hughes activated from the disabled list. Rob Scahill sent to Indianapolis.
4/27: Sam Street placed on the temporary inactive list. Jose Regalado added to Bradenton.
4/25: Pedro Florimon added to Indianapolis roster. Antoan Richardson released.
4/25: Austin Meadows added to Altoona roster. Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.
4/25: Jake Burnette placed on disabled list. Logan Ratledge assigned to West Virginia.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and one trade of note. On this date in 1940, the Pirates sent left fielder Johnny Rizzo to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for center fielder Vince DiMaggio. The trade didn’t go over well the next day in the local papers, with one headline saying “Straight swap of players brings strikeout king of majors here.” The trade worked out well for the Pirates despite the fact they dealt away their single-season home run leader. As a rookie in 1938, Rizzo hit 23 homers. His record bridged a gap between Hall of Famers, as Arky Vaughan broke the team record with 19 in 1935 and Ralph Kiner broke Rizzo’s record in 1946.
After the trade, DiMaggio played five years for the Pirates and made two All-Star teams. Rizzo lasted a month with the Reds and was out of the Majors by 1942.
Players born on this date include:
Jason Davis, pitcher for the 2008 Pirates. Finished his seven-year big league career with the Pirates, posting a 5.29 ERA over four starts and ten relief appearances.
Orestes Destrade, first baseman in 1988. His .149 over 36 games with Pirates, then spent four seasons playing in Japan, where he hit 30+ homers each year.
Bill Powell, a member of the 1909 World Series champs. Powell pitched for the team in 1909-10, throwing 15 games total.
Eddie Boyle, catcher for the 1896 Pirates, who went 0-for-14 in five games, which were his only Major League games.