Some All-Star notes from last night and an addition to the South Atlantic League All-Star game, plus quick thoughts on the lack of top prospects for Morgantown.
**The Florida State League All-Star game took place on Saturday night and three Bradenton players saw action. Kevin Newman was selected for the team. At first it looked like he wouldn’t play due to his late May eye injury. Then he returned quicker than expected and it looked like he would play, but he was instead promoted to Altoona, where he made his Double-A debut on Saturday. Connor Joe, Taylor Gushue and Luis Heredia all saw action in the 1-0 loss for the South squad.
Heredia pitched the eighth inning for the South team. He walked the first batter he faced, then quickly erased that runner with a double play, which was started by Connor Joe. Heredia finished his inning with a strikeout, throwing nine of his 14 pitches for strikes.
Joe came on during the fourth inning as a defensive replacement at third base and remained in the game the rest of the way. He struck out in his first at-bat and flew out to left field in his last at-bat. He also committed the only error of the game, a fifth inning throwing error.
Taylor Gushue also came into the game as a fourth inning defensive replacement. He flew out to left field in the sixth inning during his only at-bat of the game, then left for another catcher in the top of the seventh.
** Speaking of All-Stars, Danny Arribas was added to the South Atlantic League All-Star game, which will take place Tuesday night in Lexington. He joins Ke’Bryan Hayes, Tito Polo and Mitch Keller on the squad. Arribas was hitting .264/.381/.409 going into action on Saturday night. He put up an .824 OPS in April, then bumped that up to .915 in May. He has struggled so far in June with a .582 mark through 15 games, but his .790 season OPS is second only to Tito Polo on the Power.
**The Morgantown season preview was put up yesterday and if you checked out my Morning Report beforehand, you were warned that it could look ugly as far as prospects go. It is very possible that just two of those players could end up in the top 50 in our 2017 Prospect Guide. Will Craig is a certainty for the top 50, while Luis Escobar would really have to falter to not make the back-end of the list. It’s way too early to assume no one else will make it because a lot of things can still affect the list.
The Pirates have three unsigned prep pitchers from this draft who would all make the list. They could have more players graduate from the list besides Jameson Taillon, who is about six starts away from that happening. They may also deal players at the deadline, or if they keep losing, they might be picking up prospects at the end of July. Then performance will factor in for the current players and maybe Stephen Alemais looks like he can hit enough to be a legit top 50 prospect, or Sandy Santos puts all of his tools together and makes it, or James Marvel keeps pitching half as good as he did in his debut on Saturday night. A lot is possible by the end of the season, that’s why we follow the games.
** One final note on a rare promotion in the system. Rarely do we see in-season promotions from the DSL to the States. They are almost always done during the Fall Instructional League, and occasionally during Spring Training. The in-season promotions happen about once every other year and the Pirates were forced to do one this week when infielder Luis Perez injured his shoulder, which sounds like it will put him out for the season. They brought up infielder Johan De Jesus, who was once a highly-regarded prospect, but two poor seasons to start his career, followed by a PED suspension all of last year, took away that prospect status. As a fourth-year player in the DSL, the Pirates would have had to decide to bring him to the U.S. or release him after this year. He leaves the DSL with a .219/.297/.219 line in ten games, and he has played all four infield spots in his career.
Bradenton is 5-5 in their last ten games. They are in first place in their division, two games ahead. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd. Their magic number is one.
West Virginia has been eliminated from the first half pennant race. The second half begins on June 23rd.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 4-3 to the Cubs on Saturday night. Jameson Taillon gets the ball tonight for his third Major League start. He allowed three runs over six innings in his debut against the Mets, then followed that up with eight shutout innings on Tuesday night in New York. The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks, who has a 3.05 ERA in 73.2 innings, with 61 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP. In his last start, he allowed four runs over 5.1 innings against the Nationals. He went five innings in his prior outing, giving up two runs to the Phillies.
In the minors, Gage Hinsz will make his fourth start of the season, as West Virginia wraps up the first half of their season. He struck out nine batters in his last outing, setting a career high. In his prior game, he allowed five runs over 5.1 innings, but he retired 14 batters in a row at one point in the game. Hinsz opened his season with five shutout innings.
Frank Duncan makes his seventh start for Indianapolis. Between Altoona and Indianapolis this season, he has a 2.59 ERA in 59 innings, with 52 strikeouts, a 1.02 WHIP, a .220 BAA and a 2.08 GO/AO ratio.
Tyler Eppler makes his 14th start of the season. He allowed one run over 4.2 innings in his last start, which was cut short due to a high pitch count in the fifth inning. Eppler ranks 12th in the Eastern League in innings pitched, though he could top the leader with seven innings tonight.
Bradenton is on their All-Star break until Monday. The DSL Pirates have off today.
MLB: Pittsburgh (33-35) @ Cubs (45-20) 8:08 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (1.93 ERA, 3:8 BB/SO, 14.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (37-31) @ Charlotte (35-35) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (2.78 ERA, 5:28 BB/SO, 32.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (36-31) vs Hartford (37-29) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (4.01 ERA, 15:49 BB/SO, 76.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (36-29) vs Jupiter (30-35) 6:30 PM 6/20 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (35-33) vs Charleston (41-27) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (4.41 ERA, 3:17 BB/SO, 16.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (2-0) vs Batavia (0-2) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Cam Vieaux (NR)
DSL: Pirates (4-9) vs Yankees1 (7-6) 10:30 AM 6/20 (season preview)
Here is Tyler Glasnow wrapping up his six no-hit inning performance on Friday night.
6/18: Pirates option Rob Scahill to Indianapolis. Recall Jason Rogers, Jorge Rondon and Curtis Partch.
6/18: Cory Luebke designated for assignment.
6/18: Juan Nicasio placed on restricted list.
6/17: Pirates released Garrett Russini and Guido Knudson.
6/17: Pirates sign Matt Frawley, Stephen Owen and Arden Pabst.
6/16: Pirates sign 13 draft picks.
6/16: Casey Hughston and Logan Sendelbach assigned to West Virginia. Julio Vivas and Billy Roth assigned to Morgantown.
6/15: Pirates sign Will Craig, Matt Anderson and nine other draft picks.
6/15: Pirates release Nick Buckner.
6/15: Trey Haley sent outright to Indianapolis.
6/15: Dovydas Neverauskas promoted to Indianapolis. John Kuchno placed on disabled list.
6/14: Pirates place Gerrit Cole on the disabled list. Recall Jameson Taillon.
6/14: Kevin Newman and Wyatt Mathisen activated from disabled list. Trace Tam Sing assigned to GCL Pirates.
6/14: Miguel Rosario promoted to Altoona.
6/14: Pirates release Robert Zarate.
6/13: Sam Street activated from Temporary Inactive List. JT Brubaker assigned to GCL Pirates.
6/11: Pirates acquire Erik Kratz from Angels for cash considerations. Trey Haley designated for assignment.
6/11: Clay Holmes added to Altoona roster. David Whitehead placed on disabled list.
6/11: Pirates place Francisco Cervelli on disabled list.
6/11: Pirates option Kyle Lobstein and Cole Figueroa to Indianapolis. recall Rob Scahill and Arquimedes Caminero.
6/10: Mitch Keller added to West Virginia roster. Logan Sendelbach assigned to GCL Pirates.
6/10: Alex McRae promoted to Altoona.
6/9: Pirates option Jameson Taillon to Indianapolis. Kyle Lobstein recalled from Indianapolis.
6/9: Frank Duncan promoted to Indianapolis.
6/8: Pirates recall Jameson Taillon. Curtis Partch optioned to Indianapolis.
6/8: JT Brubaker promoted to Bradenton. Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster.
6/6: Clay Holmes assigned to Extended Spring Training. David Whitehead added to Altoona roster.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two very good pitchers. Here is a quick list of the first eight, starting with the most recent. Catcher Dusty Brown (2011), first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz (2008), pitcher Willis Roberts (2004), outfielder Butch Davis (1987), shortstop Johnnie LeMaster (1985), third baseman Fernando Gonzalez (1972-73, 1977-78), pinch-hitter Don Gutteridge (1948) and pitch-hitter Harry Daubert (1915). You can read about all of these players in the link above.
Jerry Reuss pitched for the Pirates from 1974-78, then returned during the 1990 season. He went 61–46, 3.52 in 158 games for Pittsburgh. The Pirates traded him to the Dodgers right before the start of the 1979 season. He pitched 22 seasons in the majors and won 220 games. You can read much more on Reuss here.
Bill Swift pitched for the Pirates from 1932 until 1939 and he won at least 11 games in each of his first five seasons with the club. He finished with a 91-79, 3.57 record in 164 starts and 141 relief appearances with Pittsburgh. As a rookie in 1932, he walked 1.09 batters per nine innings, which is the lowest total for a Pirates pitcher since that season. You can read a full bio on Swift here.
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.
Guido’s gone. Snuck right past me.