Some of you may have noticed recently that a lot of players have been assigned to Extended Spring Training. Early on Monday in the Top Performers article, we mentioned that Logan Sendelbach was having a lot of success this season in the West Virginia rotation. Shortly after that article went up, we got an email stating that Sendelbach was assigned to Extended Spring Training (EST) and that the Power added relief pitcher Jess Amedee from EST. That second part is true, Amedee was down at Pirates City until a couple days ago. The first part of it isn’t technically true.
In the case of Sendelbach, he is still with the team and is scheduled to make his next start when his normal spot comes up in the rotation. In the case of Casey Hughston and Ty Moore being assigned to EST a few days ago, they actually did go there to get more work. So it can be tricky to figure out, but there are some things that giveaway those EST assignments as nothing more than paper moves.
Each affiliate usually has an extra player around, sometimes two players. Indianapolis added Juan Diaz last week from EST when Alen Hanson was called up. Diaz has been with the team all year as the 26th man. Recently, John Kuchno and Guido Knudson changed roster spots and EST assignments, and neither actually left the team. The paper moves allow a team to add a bullpen arm in most cases, just to help an overworked pitching staff. Many times those extra position players are catchers, and they are able to fill in at multiple levels.
The players who usually fill those roles of the 26th man on the rosters aren’t in an enviable role. It clearly means you aren’t getting playing time, which makes it hard to advance your playing career. An example would be infielder Logan Ratledge at West Virginia, who has been “sent” to EST three times already. After last night, he has two relief appearances, which is the same amount of times his name has been in the starting lineup this month.
Bradenton had two extra players up until recently when Trace Tam Sing was added to the roster. Erik Lunde was also with the team early in the year going through the pre-game workouts with the players, though he has yet to be added to the roster. Lunde fits that role of a third catcher, who could play at multiple levels.
It’s an interesting question to ponder, because I’m not sure if there is a right answer. Is it better to be that 26th man, or get regular playing time against lesser competition down at Pirate City? Some players actually stay back in EST and play all the time. Some stay with the team and just go through the workouts.
I’m sure at least one person has wondered about the whereabouts of Michael Fransoso, or Erik Forgione, or Justin Maffei or Kelson Brown. The latter is a good example of where the 26th man role can lead. For Brown, he went through Spring Training this year as a player, and now he has moved on to coaching within the organization. Everyone I talked to who knows Brown, said he would make a good coach someday.
So when you see EST assignments in the transaction section below, realize that many of them are just paper moves. If you see a regular starting pitcher assigned to EST, like Sendelbach yesterday and Colten Brewer a few days ago, realize that they are sitting up in the stands tracking pitches until their spot in the rotation is about to come up. Later in the year when all of the affiliates are playing, those EST assignments turn into 7-day disabled list assignments (because there is no more EST) and whenever the team needs that player, it just happens to coincide with the day he’s able to come back from his injury.
** Some rain outs and rotation resets have played havoc with the schedule section below recently. Brandon Waddell was scheduled for Saturday, then Sunday, then skipped Monday to go today. That was so Clay Holmes could stay on schedule. We were told on Sunday that Yeudy Garcia would start Monday. Then they decided to give him an extra day rest and he goes today. Indianapolis will have three players on five days (or more) rest on Friday, with Trevor Williams scheduled to rejoin the team, Tyler Glasnow on five days rest and Jameson Taillon pushed back just for a planned breather. Of course, we don’t know how Ryan Vogelsong’s injury will now affect the Indianapolis rotation plans they had.
** I had to comment on this because you probably would have thought it was a mistake. In the playoff section below, you’ll notice the first half of the Florida State League season ends in less than a month. You’ll also notice that Bradenton is in fourth place and just a game out of first place. Should be an interesting playoff race, especially if they need to finished their suspended game from last week to find out who clinches the first half title. I’m sure Alex McRae and Kevin Newman wouldn’t mind if they had to complete that game. Without it, McRae stands to lose six shutout innings, while Newman would lose his second homer of the season.
Bradenton is 7-3 in their last ten games. They are in fourth place in their division, trailing first place by one game. 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 5.5 games. The first half of the SAL season ends on June 19th.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 6-3 over the Rockies on Monday afternoon. They now take on the Diamondbacks for a three game series with Francisco Liriano on the mound tonight. In his last start, he allowed two runs over seven innings to the Braves. Prior to that start, Liriano gave up eight earned runs over 4.2 innings to the Cubs. Arizona will counter with Shelby Miller, who has a 6.64 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP over 40.2 innings. He allowed three runs on ten hits in 5.2 innings against the Yankees in his last start.
In the minors, 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. He was originally scheduled to go on Saturday, but two days worth of rain pushed him back to today.
Bradenton goes with Yeudy Garcia, making his ninth start. He was pushed back a day in favor of Austin Coley on Monday. Garcia has pitched six innings just once this year due to issues with high pitch counts, though he has managed to allow three earned runs or less in every start.
Frank Duncan will make his third start for Indianapolis. Between Triple-A and Altoona, he has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings, with 32 strikeouts and a 2.71 GO/AO ratio.
MLB: Pittsburgh (24-19) vs Diamondbacks (21-25) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (4.63 ERA, 25:50 BB/SO, 46.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (21-20) @ Rochester (25-19) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (2.38 ERA, 0:12 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (24-18) vs Akron (31-12) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (2.41 ERA, 2:12 BB/SO, 18.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (22-21) @ Jupiter (24-21) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (3.64 ERA, 14:37 BB/SO, 32.1 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (22-21) @ Charleston (28-15) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (5.29 ERA, 17:24 BB/SO, 34.0 IP)
Here is the ninth strikeout of the day for Tyler Glasnow from Sunday. The video includes the entire at-bat.
5/23: Logan Sendelbach assigned to Extended Spring Training. Jess Amedee added to West Virginia.
5/22: Trevor Williams assigned to Bradenton. Colten Brewer sent to Extended Spring Training.
5/22: Trace Tam Sing added to Bradenton roster.
5/21: West Virginia assigns Ty Moore and Casey Hughston to Extended Spring Training. Logan Ratledge and Sean Keselica added to West Virginia roster.
5/21: Logan Hill demoted from Bradenton to West Virginia.
5/21: Pirates release Eric Karch.
5/21: Juan Diaz assigned to Extended Spring Training
5/20: John Kuchno assigned to Indianapolis. Guido Knudson assigned to Extended Spring Training.
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.
5/17: John Kuchno assigned to Extended Spring Training.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus three games of note, one against one of the best pitchers ever. First with the players and both of them played over 100 years ago. Pitcher Jack Pfiester, who played for the 1903 NL champs, but was an unfortunate player for the Pirates. Pfiester also played for the Pirates in 1904, but didn’t show much either season and was sent to a minor league team in Omaha. After a couple years of seasoning, he returned with the Chicago Cubs and was a dominate pitcher until health and arm issues ended his career early. Pfiester finished with a 2.02 ERA, which is the fourth lowest all-time for any pitcher with over 1,000 innings.
Also born on this date, infielder Sam Barkley, who played second base for the first Pittsburgh team in National League history. When the Pirates (then called the Alleghenys) moved to the NL in 1887 from the American Association, Barkley was the Opening Day second baseman. He only played two seasons in Pittsburgh (also 1886) but got to play in both leagues for the team.
On this date in 1894, the Pirates completed an improbable comeback against Cy Young. Down 3-0 before the top of the first was over, and 4-0 before they got on the board, pitcher Red Erhet pitched 8+ innings in relief and the Pirates scored two in the seventh and two in the eighth for the win. The Pirates lineup that day included HOF manager Connie Mack behind the plate, HOF first baseman Jake Beckley, the franchise’s all-time batting average leader in Jake Stenzel and the man many claim is responsible for the Pirates team name, Louis Bierbauer.
On this date in 1959, the Pirates swept the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader, with both games ending in pinch-hit walk-off doubles. Both were hit by catchers, with Danny Kravitz collecting the first one and Smoky Burgess hitting the second one in the tenth inning. You can view those boxscores here: Game one Game Two