Morning Report: Thoughts on the Weekend Starts From Kuhl, Holmes, Eppler and Glasnow

I’ve been on the road the last few days, so I missed a couple big pitching prospects as they pitched live. On Sunday morning, I was able to watch the games from Chad Kuhl and Clay Holmes from Saturday. Then I got to see Tyler Glasnow’s game in the afternoon, though I watched his last three innings live, then saw the first two innings later. I finished up with Tyler Eppler’s outing on Sunday night. I managed to fit all four games in by only watching the pitching prospects and skipping the rest through the magic on MiLB TV. I thought I’d give quick analysis on each game.

Chad Kuhl – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO

I saw the boxscore before watching this game and expected it to be a dominating performance throughout. It wasn’t really until the last two innings. Kuhl had a 12:0 GO/AO ratio in this game, which was the main reason I was expecting a great pitched game. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have a feel of a great game because he worked hard in each of the first four innings. He was constantly in deep counts in the game, so despite walking only two batters, he had a lot of 3-1 or 3-2 counts. There also weren’t a lot of swing and misses from the opposition. The fastball/sinker looked good at 93-95, and he was using his change and slider often with some success. Kuhl retired the last ten batters he faced and after two long at-bats to end the fourth inning, the fifth and sixth were easy frames due to six straight grounders. He didn’t look his best, which is a little scary for the opposition with that pitching line. Jacob Stallings really helped him out with two caught stealing that weren’t great pitches to throw on, yet he got both runners easily.

Clay Holmes – 2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO

Just like with Kuhl, I went into this game with expectations due to the pitching line. Unlike Kuhl, Holmes looked better than the pitching line would suggest (it would suggest horrible). Holmes allowed four runs in the first inning on four hits. Two of the hits were just normal grounders, one found a hole and the other was played by shortstop Chris Diaz, who couldn’t get the runner. He also gave up a triple, which got by Barrett Barnes, who dove for the ball. It’s possible that if Barnes took a conservative approach on it, Holmes would have gotten out of the inning with three runs, but that assumes everything else would have happened the same afterwards.

The second inning was what really killed Holmes and it’s a fairly unique situation. He got a ground out for the second out, but the opposing manager argued that Jose Osuna’s foot was off the bag. Multiple replays didn’t show anything to suggest it happened, but the umpires got together and over-ruled the call. That brought out Altoona manager Joey Cora who argued for a long time before getting thrown out, then he continued to argue some more. Meanwhile, Holmes went close to ten minutes between pitches and had a guy on first base who probably shouldn’t have been there and one less out. He ended up throwing a lot more pitches that frame and his control got worse as the inning went along. Safe calls at first usually don’t get overturned like that, and replay has cut down on manager arguments.

Holmes hasn’t had his fastball, curve and change all working at the same time this season. Usually one is off. He threw some really nice curves in this game, and even some terrific fastballs that he buried down and in on right-handed hitters. In one of his last at-bats, he threw three consecutive fastballs down and in and got a strike and some weak fouls. Then he drilled the guy in the middle of the back. That was typical of this game with the fastball. It was on and then really off, switching between great and poor quickly. It looked like he had a game plan to work the inside to righties and he just wasn’t able to hit the corner. He flashed some nice pitches, but in the end his control and some solid timely hits did him in. The good part was the flashes of two strong pitches between all the bad parts.

Tyler Glasnow  5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO

This game was all about dominating despite poor command. Glasnow looked real bad in the first inning, with two walks and two solid hit outs. For the next three innings, the command was slightly better and he got through them without allowing a hit. In the fifth, Norfolk collected two hits and Glasnow walked a batter to load the bases. The walk could have easily been called a strikeout on the 2-2 and 3-2 pitches, so it’s hard to fault him for that one. He made two great pitches the umpire didn’t give him. The important part is that Glasnow really used his change-up a lot. It looked better and got better results in his last game, but the important part is that he used the pitch. Just like with his pick-off move, it’s an area he needs to work on and the only way you get better is using it in games. Speaking of pick-offs, while it isn’t fun for the crowd, it’s good to see him holding runners better than he used to do, throwing over to first base often.

So his outing was good and bad. The good was the frequent usage of his change-up and keeping runners close. His curve was also very strong this game throughout. The fastball hit 96 a couple times, but was mostly 93-95, with a lot of 93’s at the end. He didn’t have the best command of it and that led to the high pitch count. You obviously don’t want to see five walks and 91 pitches in five innings, but you’ll always take the five runs. As I said after his last game, if he repeated that performance a couple more times in a row, he would probably be ready to move up. This game showed that he still has some work to do.

Tyler Eppler 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO

Eppler went at least six innings in each of his first four starts. He also walked a total of three batters in those games, so Sunday’s performance was different in two ways. Eppler threw 89 pitches with 55 for strikes, which isn’t a bad split. He seems to give up runs on in odd ways, where the other team will hit the ball hard a couple times and nothing will happen, then two bloops fall in and a run scores. In this game, Eppler looked like he had strike three twice on the first batter of the third inning. That batter singled, then scored on a two-out homer. Eppler was trying to go in with a fastball and he missed over the middle of the plate. That ended up being the only runs he allowed. He worked down in the zone with his fastball all game, leaving a couple balls up that were hit to the warning track. Eppler gets good downhill plane coming out of his 6’6″ frame. He was hitting 93-94 MPH in this game and is usually in the 92-94 range, touching higher. His slurve looked very good at times, getting a couple chases for strikeouts. It wasn’t really a bad start, just some minor hiccups in control and one pitch sent a long way because he missed his target.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-5 to the Reds on Sunday. They now play the Chicago Cubs at home with Gerrit Cole taking the mound. He went six innings in his last start in Colorado, allowing two runs. Prior to that, he threw six shutout innings in San Diego. Jason Hammel will go for the Cubs, making his fifth start. He has an 0.75 ERA in 24 innings, with 22 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP. He shutout the Reds for six innings in his last start.

In the minors, Mitch Keller goes for West Virginia, while Steven Brault starts for Indianapolis. Brault struck out 11 batters in his last outing. That followed up a game in which he struck out nine batters. In Keller’s last outing, he allowed two runs and a walk over six innings. Prior to that game, he had three straight starts with no runs or walks. He has struck out ten batters twice in a game this season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (15-10) vs Cubs (17-6) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.78 ERA, 6:19 BB/SO, 22.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (12-10) vs Durham (11-14) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (1.93 ERA, 8:25 BB/SO, 19.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (9-14) @ Erie (10-12) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (6.23 ERA, 13:10 BB/SO, 17.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (10-14) vs St Lucie (14-10) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (5.40 ERA, 9:12 BB/SO, 18.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (15-9) vs Asheville (10-13) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.86 ERA, 1:28 BB/SO, 21.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is a strikeout from Chad Kuhl’s outing mentioned above.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

4/22: Pirates recall Jason Rogers. Cole Figueroa optioned to Indianapolis.

4/21: Pirates release Michael Morse.

4/21: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

4/21: Cory Luebke assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.

4/18: Jung-ho Kang assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/16: Trevor Williams placed on disabled list. Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, all of them pitchers and they lasted a total of 13 games between them. Jose Ascanio pitched ten games, split between 2009 and 2011. Clay Carroll pitched two games for the 1978 Pirates and Freddy Sale pitched for Pittsburgh on June 30,1924. With the Pirates losing 7-3 to the Cardinals that day, Sale came on for the eight inning and gave up two singles to the first two hitters. Two batters later, he got an out and a double play without allowing a run and his big league career was over.

The Pittsburgh Pirates played their first game in franchise history 134 years ago today. That day, the Alleghenys defeated the Cincinnati Red Stockings on the first day of baseball in the American Association. It was a league that lasted ten years total and for the first five, Pittsburgh was a member, before moving to the National League for the 1887 season. The first batter in team history was Ed Swartwood, who led the league in runs and doubles in 1882 and became the first Pirates/Alleghenys player to lead the league in average (.357) the next season.

  • peanutbutterguts
    May 2, 2016 4:42 pm

    First time seeing Kuhl, and I’m certainty no expert but it looks like there’s a lot of effort in that motion. Someone tell me I’m wrong.

  • I love all the talk about extending Cervelli. I get hammered all the time for being critical of the FO – but I understand why they do what they do and sometimes it makes sense – one thing they will NEVER do is pay a 30+ year old catcher $20M a year for one year let alone 3-5 years. Cervelli will get $60M+ from a contender – Red Sox?

    The Pirates business model just can’t fit him – or anyone else in at that level of spend.

  • There has been a lot of talk and scrutiny on glasnow…deservedly so being a top prospect. His changeup, mound presence and demeanor, and control has all gotten beat up at times…but one thing about him is he has always seemed to find a way to keep runs from scoring. A lot of this could be facing minor league hitters but not a lot has been said about him having the ability to focus, bear down, and get out of big innings and jams. Just interested to hear what others have to say about this. One thing that hasn’t changed wherever glasnow has pitched: his low 2.00 era.

    • Probably not the answer you were looking for, but I don’t think this is anything more than a product of the outlet we read every day.

      P2 has such a singular, thorough focus on Pirate prospects that I think inevitably the good, and bad, will look magnified. Before we had them as a resource, the only prospect news we had was surface-level stats updates from big league beat writers and more general looks from national prospect outlets. Those outlets have the benefit of better perspective – they see thousands of kids across all leagues – but they simply do not have their pulse on the day-to-day fluctuations and intricacies of a given prospect like the guys here do.

      Tyler Glasnow is really, really fucking good. I don’t think there’s any more or any less to his low ERA than that. The writers here do a fantastic job of adding more of a fine-grained analysis, but never forget that at the end of the day Tyler Glasnow is really, really fucking good.

      • I want to copy everything after “but never forget” and paste in anywhere Cubs fans reside.

        Tyler is coming to ruin your dreams Cubs fans.

      • freddylang
        May 2, 2016 1:59 pm

        Well it used to be we’d here what a guy was ranked as a prospect, See his minor league stats, maybe get a free update on BA if we were lucky…it was just the kids stats and that’s it…and what the front office said…littlefield’s spin on his most recent turd prospects. Then I found Wilbur millers profiles and he was doing a lot of what I was doing but better as far as digging up info. Yes, now because of tim and Twitter we know what these kids threw in each inning, and what stupid music they listen to…so instead of waiting months to know if a guys stock is rising or falling we sometimes know the day it happens.

      • freddylang
        May 2, 2016 2:04 pm

        My apologies for my grammar but between the app and the site on my mobile it’s just not worth the trouble to fix it.

        • Grammar only matters for assholes, and you’re certainly not one of them. 😉

      • freddylang
        May 2, 2016 2:06 pm

        I feel the same nmr. Look at guys like randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan and compare their control at glasnow ‘s age. He’s not in a bad place command wise comparably. He could be the next Brandon morrow but he is no Bobby Witt.

      • John Dreker
        May 2, 2016 2:56 pm

        The truth in your message is that we sometimes need to pick apart a guy so people don’t get too crazy with their upside. It usually starts when the hype machine starts rolling. An example would be Carlos Munoz and we talked about him often and how he draws walks and doesn’t strikeout, but no one really took notice until Bristol last year. Then the expectations took off like crazy and we need to corral them in by basically saying, “have you seen Carlos Munoz?” We used to just say he had conditioning issues, but then it had to go more in depth to mention how it’s been that way for five years and it’s not getting any better.

        So yes we tend to pick apart guys, but that’s only so people know why they are where they are at a given time, and why some guys might rate lower/higher than others. For Glasnow in particular, the people who read this site often know why he isn’t ready yet, while you might read other sites and they say “he has an average change-up” and that’s all you get.

        It’s tricky to keep expectations where they should be when a lot of people rely on stats over scouting. We sometimes get guys like Mel Rojas or Cody Dickson who never put up great stats, but we see it, the Pirates see it, scouts see it, but they just never put it together. Then you get the opposite from someone without any tools and the stats tell a different story than we do.

        Then of course we can’t do anything about someone seeing a player on their best day and that player then becomes their new favorite. I was at a game for Jordan Steranka, where he had four hits, just a week into his career. It’s not easy getting four hits in a game, but three of those hits he had were just well-placed between second base and first base, the other was a grounder between SS/3B, nothing special. If the team shifted on him, he would have been 1-for-5, but the boxscore spoke louder than me that day. My first thought after the fourth hit was that I had to downplay this game just so no one starts a Steranka bandwagon. I talked about the “hitting prospects” up top in the article and then threw his recap in the game notes section at the bottom.

        • John Dreker
          May 2, 2016 3:01 pm

          Another example of the hype machine would be Luis Escobar this year when Keith Law rated him 12th I believe. I talked about Escobar a lot, you can find a ton on him if you search this site, but he was still back-end of our top 50 for a reason. Then once he gets rated 12th in a deep system by someone with a lot of followers, then you have to switch gears and it becomes why that’s crazy at this point. It went from describing why he has high upside, to yes he has upside, but here is why it’s way too early to call him a top prospect.

  • John: Suggestion – I agree that throwing over to first, step offs, and varying the delivery by mixing in a slide step delivery are all positive ways to try to control runners, but could you start to include “release times” of pitchers. The RT would be the time it takes a pitcher to come from the stretch set position and the ball arriving at the Catcher’s mitt. A pitcher who can get it to the Catcher in 1.3 sec or less is excellent and gives the Catcher a fighting chance (an excellent slide step is 1.1 sec); pitchers who use a higher leg kick are usually 1.5 sec to 2.0 sec and for them, we might as well just give the runner 2B.

    Not allowing runners on base is the ultimate stopper, but recognition of release times would help fans to better understand the game, especially why using stats such as SB/SBA or CS/SBA for Catchers is not giving us the true story. We can identify fast runners and we know the pop time of Catchers, but the RT is the part of the equation missing. I can do it on the games I watch, but it is a missing link for the MiLB games.

    • John Dreker
      May 2, 2016 9:48 am

      I think with Glasnow and any tall pitcher, the only help they will get is being lefty, otherwise it takes longer for all the moving parts to get to home plate. During his first few years, holding runners was put on the back burner and we saw some crazy stolen base numbers because they basically wanted their pitchers worrying about the hitters first. That philosophy has changed and Glasnow went from a poor pick-off move to a good one. He would have got a runner yesterday if the 1b was a lefty, but the time to catch and swipe as as opposed to catch and drop down the tag cost him.

  • While it’s good news that he is using the change up more, it appears that it is nowhere close to being MLB-ready. Ryan Palencer reported the change was 89-91 MPH. The report above has his fastball in the 93-95 range (with some 92’s as well, according to Ryan). Thus the average difference between fastball and change is only 4 MPH on average. That is not nearly enough for MLB hitters. Would appreciate your opinion, John, on this very small separation.

    • John Dreker
      May 2, 2016 9:39 am

      The pitch definitely needs work, but the difference now is that he probably threw more change-ups in his last two starts than he did in his last 15 starts combined. At minimum, he has seven more starts before getting called up anyway, so might as well throw the pitch another 15-20 times each game. He isn’t going to use the pitch that often in the majors, but he won’t get better throwing 1-5 per game like he has been doing for awhile

      We have seen him back up a 95-96 MPH fastball with an 87-88 MPH change before, so it can be done. He even hit 98 in his last start, the shortly after had an 89 MPH change. That would be great if he can repeat it each time, because that separation works. But there have been more 93-95 FB followed by 90-91 change, which won’t work.

      • So John, does that make you feel its more about him working on throwing the change more alone….or also trying to stay consistent with his FB velocity?

        The change needs work for sure, but the separation in velocity seems to me to also point to the need for him to try to stay more consistent with his velocity in game and stick in the 94-95 area.

        I guess put shortly, is it him overthrowing his change or losing velocity on the FB?

        • John Dreker
          May 2, 2016 2:30 pm

          I think he overthrows the change-up at times, which is when you see the higher readings. The fastball tends to lose velocity early, but he’s proven he can dominate at 93-95 for most of the game, even if he isn’t touching 97-98 early on. If he’s going to sit 93-95, then the change-up can’t be hitting 90-91 at times, but it can work at 87-88, which I have seen on occasion. He has thrown good change-ups, they are in there somewhere.

          I want to see where the pitch is at seven starts from now, assuming he’s throwing it around 15 times each game. He has to get the results from the pitch out of his head and worry about getting better through practice. If teams are scoring runs off of him due to the change-up, the Pirates take that into consideration and a higher first number in his ERA won’t make them forget how great his FB/CV combo can be at times.

    • That seems to be a bit harsh – Glasnow might not be the next Cole – but he would not embarrass himself or the Pirates “as-is”. They have two months to get him a bit better. The focus on change ups is bit overdone IMHO. He can – and will throw 3-5 show me change ups when he comes up – to the right location and at the right time in the game – that should be enough.

      • Its enough if he is throwing his other two pitches for strikes on a consistent basis.

        He gets shelled if he has one of those “curve isnt on” games while only throwing a show me change up. Change doesnt have to be great, but without a near average change up I struggle to see how he survives the days where the control/command of the two plus pitches isnt there.

        I think the command can improve in 1-2 months, but it’d be nice to throw 10 change ups per game until then to help hedge the bets that he only needs a show me change.

        • “Change doesnt have to be great, but without a near average change up I struggle to see how he survives the days where the control/command of the two plus pitches isnt there.”

          He won’t.

          But guess what, it ain’t like Cole and Liriano don’t have days where they get lit up, too.

          And on the days where Glasnow’s curve *is* on, he absolutely won’t have trouble getting big league hitters out.

          • Right, for sure. I think its about getting him to a point where he’s “on” more often than he’s “off” with either of his curve and FB. Its getting there, and with another 5 starts it’ll be fine assuming no major regression.

  • What can be said about those Indy uniforms that can’t be said about a Toby Keith music video. I was half-expecting a soaring bald eagle screenprint on the front.

    Still a bit skeptical that Kuhl has the secondaries to put away big league hitters from the rotation enough to be more than a marginal back end guy, but I do love the extension and plane on fastball. Whether by coincidence or design, the organization seems to have put together a bunch of big righties all with big, loose arm actions. Taillon, first and foremost, but Glasnow, Kuhl, and Keller all use a fairly deep arm swing to get on top and drive the ball.

    To my untrained eye, Nick Kingham seems to be the only guy who hides the ball a bit with a shorter, stabbing arm swing like some of their lefties (Brault, Waddell, Tarpley).

    • When I see kuhl I think of Kevin brown. He just doesn’t have Brown’s breaking ball. Still, you have to feel really good about kuhl with his control, changeup, and how hard he throws with sink. I don’t think there’s a lot of risk left with kuhl. He’s gonna be able to be effective, even if only as a 4 or 5. You look at vogelsong’ stuff, then kuhl, and it’s not even close.

      • You’re doing this to jag me, right?

        • ….stirring up some conversation.

          • Here’s another one nmr. I don’t know what cervelli is asking for but after seeing him hit last year and now this year I really think they need to try to find a way to extend him. I like McGuire and Diaz but I feel like losing cervelli will be huge. I know they replaced Martin easily but to think they are just gonna do that again might be crazy. Cervelli has walked more than he’s k’d and seems to have developed into a great hitting catcher as he’s finally stayed healthy and gotten consistent at bats.

            • Ha, at this point, I’m just enjoying Francisco Cervelli.

              I’ll say that I think by dropping Niese and going with younger arms and a bounce-back guy or two, the Pirates look like they very well may finally be able to roster a very competitive rotation for a relatively small amount of money in the next few years, and that alone allows them to take some chances with contracts elsewhere. With Diaz’s injury and Kevin Newman’s ascent at SS, Catcher might be the the spot to take that chance.

              I still don’t think Cervelli’s bat is sustainable – there’s literally no precedent for a guy like him sustaining astronomical BABIP’s through his early 30s – but the guy *is* hitting the ball a bit harder early on while basically quitting swinging at balls, so it’s not all a fluke. Hey, go for it, why not.

              • I’d be really happy to drop Niese for a bounce back type. Bit more risk, but if you roll into ST with Cole-Liriano-Taillon-Glasnow, i can handle some risk at the 5 for about 3-5 million less in salary.

                • Dropping Niese is made even easier by having Jeff Locke replace him at half the cost as a seat-holder himself for Brault/Williams/Kuhl, assuming the new mechanics have not literally made him unable to throw the ball over the plate.

                  They simply aren’t distinguishable from a productive standpoint at this stage of their careers, and don’t project to be moving forward. Niese has benefited by having Cervelli steal a few more strikes, but he’s not generating many more swings and misses, and is actually giving up harder contact than last year.

                  • Only problem there is i would hope Locke is gone either mid year this season or in the offseason. Not for him being useless, but for us having Cole-Liriano-Taillon-Glasnow and being able to figure out the 5th spot as well or better than Locke either in the annual “which misfit toy do we like most” race or in a young arm.

                    I cant see a way Locke stays around this year unless its in the pen, and I question how much use he’d get with Nicasio in the pen already. Vogelsong would be gone, but with Melancon-Watson-Feliz-Hughes-Nicasio how much room do we have for Locke’s skill set.

                    • I’d have probably made the same argument in the past, but your comment assumes perfect, season-long rotation health in 2016, and moving forward I think this offseason has reset the wild *expectation* that Huntington can throw any shit against the wall and have Searage fix it. For $5m or so, I’d be more comfortable having Locke as an insurance policy in the rotation.

                      As for the pen, Locke at least fills the void of a second lefty, and that’s assuming nothing is wrong with Watson. Hurdle also simply *has* to start using more multi-inning relievers. This isn’t arguable. The math just plain doesn’t work out over 162 games with the way he’s been using his best bullpen arms.

                    • This is all predicated on Jeff Locke still more or less being Jeff Locke, and I’ve admittedly had a soft spot for him relative to most fans, but I do think he’s useful in a few roles for one more year of arb.

                    • I think he’s useful, im just skeptical they would use him as a pure bullpen arm. And that makes his role the second half of this year confusing for me.

                      Unless Tyler Glasnow does not come up mid year.

                    • Again, injuries.

                    • Right, but he wont be stretched out if someone goes down in late August after a month of bullpen work.

                      Or more simply, how do you roster both him and Nicasio if the bullpen goes back down to normal once Kang returns? Melancon-Watson-Feliz-Hughes-Nicasio and id assume Caminero. So room for Locke, but with other options.

                • I’d be willing to consider a trade of Liriano for the right prospects – and swap in a cheaper Locke – so far this year they are both pitching about replacement level – Locke will be a lot cheaper.

                  • Power to you if you think Liriano will sustain this low a level of play and that he’ll be Jeff Locke like for long.

                    I think he’ll be better, and the 2-3 game stretch of bad wont be a norm over a full season. Im fine with paying Liriano next year, particularly with many young arms being relied on. Too much risk in assuming Locke+Glasnow+Taillon are all where they need to be for me.

            • The two guys I’m most confident have genuinely improved are Polanco and Marte. Starling will never walk, just not gonna happen, but seems to have made genuine strides in reducing his Ks, and finally, is hitting the ball on the ground much less. The only way he’s going to improve over his first three years is in the power department, and the only way he’s going to hit for more power is to put the ball on the ground less. He’s doing that, and it’s working.

              Polanco, not enough can be said. Across the board improvements.

              Other guys – Mercer, Freese, Harrison – and to a smaller degree Jaso and Cervelli, I do believe are hitting a bit over their heads. Those BABIPs will come down, and none of them are doing anything else appreciably different to make up for it, but I do believe Marte and Polanco have skill-based improvements that can last.

              • I think the big testament to Polanco’s improvements was the fact that he was intentionally walked twice yesterday. I do like this new and improved fast starting Mercer. I hope it’s here to stay. I think Jay Hay is more in the middle of last year and 2014. He’s healthy and it shows. He may not hit 15 homers but I wouldn’t put it past him to hit .320 over a full season.

                • Harrison is walking a tick more, which helps a bit. But he’s going to be BABIP dependent in terms of where his ceiling is with the batting average.

                  I could see settling into a .290 area with good enough OBP stuff. So long as the defense stays decent thats fine value. Nice to get at least 1-2 really solid months from him at the plate regardless.

                • Harrison worries me the most, to be honest.

                  Exit velocity is far from the end-all of stats, but only 18 guys in all of baseball have hit the ball softer than he has (min 50 BIP). The power from 2014 was clearly a fluke, and when his current +30% line drive rate regresses I think the BABIP, which drives his production, could tank down to .300 levels.

                  Give Mercer credit for striking out a bit less and taking more advantage of hitting in front of the pitcher, but he too has actually been hitting the ball with less authority than last year, joining Harrison and Jaso as three of only 27 guys in the game to average less than 87 mph exit velo. Not as confident his production is sustainable with that kind of authority, unlike Polanco, Marte, Cervelli.

              • freddylang
                May 2, 2016 6:29 pm

                Marte has reduced his K rate every year of his career although this year he might not continue that trend. It will be close. I feel like if he could just walk 40-50 times he might be in an MVP race. Seeing a few more pitches might make him a 20 HR hitter consistently and add a few more SB. At least he gets hit a lot to offset the aggressiveness. He is leading the league again.

            • Every game I’ve watched this year, I keep thinking they gotta extend him. He just brings so much and he’s a proven commodity.

          • I prefer *peak* Kevin Brown comps for Kuhl, personally. 😉

            In all seriousness, I don’t think anyone is really “wrong” on Kuhl, save for the extremely exuberant. Yes, there’s been countless guys with his profile who’ve just quite never found enough to succeed as starters long term, and yes, there’s been guys who’ve managed to make it work as good starters. Anyone who can say definitively – hell, even with any sort of high percentage – whether or not Kuhl will be in the former or latter wouldn’t be writing on Pirates Prospects and so as a fan, I say hope for the best.

            • Any time I mention a mlb player and a prospect comp I am definitely thinking absolute best case scenario. Jose Deleon looked like Pedro Martinez for about 3 months his rookie year so I’m definitely aware of not anointing someone as more than what they are. I always like to mention a past mlb player or two to get people’s imagination going and see what other people think of the comparisons.

            • I think of how long it took vogelsong to become a decent starter. At least the pirates had him during all of these years. Oh boy…

    • Never underestimate anyone from Delaware.

  • Zack Nagel
    May 2, 2016 9:13 am

    Does anyone know what’s going on with Trevor Williams? He was only placed on the 7-day DL, correct? Has he still been throwing and any idea on timeline?

    • John Dreker
      May 2, 2016 9:16 am

      He has been throwing on the side and as of a few days ago, he was still with Indy just building up. He will likely eventually go out to Pirate City to get stretched out, as long as there are no setbacks.

      The minors only has a 7-day DL, so that could cover a season long injury too

  • I had foogotten that Clay Carroll pitched those two games for us. I always liked him as a pitcher and was happy we got him.

    Unfortunately, it was at the end of his career. Sigh.

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