Every week we have live reports from all over the system, along with additional views of the upper levels via MiLB.tv from John Dreker. This week we had live coverage of Indianapolis, Altoona, and West Virginia. All of these reports are combined, and used each week to highlight the top performers during that time span. Here are the top guys this week, and the rundown on their performances:

Hitters

Adam Frazier – Frazier has basically picked up where he left off in Altoona last year, doing a great job of getting on base. His .393 OBP ranks fourth in the International League. He also does a terrific job of turning singles into doubles with his hustle. He has 13 doubles and a triple this year, which is coming from someone who has no power. Most of those doubles are from his using the whole field and either hitting the ball down the lines or in the gap. Frazier has been mostly playing outfield this season, and while his arm is below average, he has become a lot better at reading the ball of the bat, improving his routes and using his speed to cut down hits in the gaps. While I’ve mentioned speed twice as a tool, he has yet to harness it on the bases, being caught stealing 11 times already this season, as well as some pick-offs. He is not good at reading pitchers, which leads to him either leaving really early or really late. That is his main problem area, as his speed should lead to better success on the bases. – John Dreker

Alen Hanson – Perhaps the worst thing for Alen Hanson was getting called up to the majors for three days and getting into three games. He knew ahead of time it was going to be a short stay, but once he got back to Indianapolis, he was doing everything to get back to Pittsburgh immediately. Hanson started over-swinging, trying to hit homers on every pitch. He’s at his best when he goes with the pitch, and occasionally runs into one. It took awhile to get back on track, but he did it this past week. The ironic part is that he cut down on his swing and hit two homers anyway, even adding a 400 foot foul in another game that just went to the side of the foul pole. It would be nice to see him maintain the current approach, getting on base and making things happen with his speed, while playing strong defense at second base. That’s what got him called up to begin with and it’s what will get him back to Pittsburgh. – JD

Ke’Bryan Hayes – Hayes just barely made the cutoff this week and he made up for a less than stellar week by going 4-for-4 on Saturday. He has run into a wall recently and that isn’t something to get worried about. As one of the youngest players in the league, he is not only facing older competition daily, he is playing a lot more games than he is used to playing. Hayes got people excited early in the year with a hot start, but he’s now settled into a .287/.337/.421 slash line through 46 games. He is showing some power that was absent from his game last year. Hayes already has 13 extra-base hits, twice as many as in 2015, doing it in 35 less plate appearances. Those are solid offensive numbers for someone his age, and they play well with the strong defense he adds at third base. – JD

Kevin Kramer – Kramer has been hitting the ball hard all season, even at the start of the year when his numbers were down. That has continued, and is leading to better results as the season has progressed. This past week saw him hit for a 1.173 OPS in 21 at-bats, with a home run and three doubles. He had a rough April, with a .637 OPS, but has an .868 OPS since the start of May, with the numbers improving throughout the month. Kramer is pretty much blocked from a promotion to Altoona this year, unless Erich Weiss moves up to Indianapolis. That seems unlikely, since Weiss is blocked by several infielders in Indianapolis. This means you can expect Kramer in Bradenton most of the year, which will allow his overall numbers to eventually reflect his actual performance this season. – Tim Williams

Austin Meadows – In the past week, Meadows hit .444 with a 1.504 OPS, and he was named the Eastern League Player of the Week. Going into play this week, he is currently on a 14-game hitting streak. Within those 14 games, Meadows had a span of four games in a row with a triple, and he hit two triples in a game during that span. Altogether last week, Meadows hit five triples, two homers, scored nine runs, drove in six runners, and stole two bases. His hits aren’t coming cheap either. He has been hitting the ball hard and to the gaps, allowing him the opportunity to get on the base paths and display his speed. His quickness out of the box has been evident, as well, as he has nearly beat a few ground balls to first base. On top of the hitting, his glove work has been exceptional, as it was in full display on Sunday night in Altoona when he robbed an opposing hitter of extra bases. He was shaded towards left field, and the ball was hit hard to the right-center gap. Meadows sprinted to the ball and completely laid out horizontally to make the catch. He led off the next inning by smashing a line drive home run over the right field wall. – Sean McCool

Carlos Munoz – He had five straight games with at least two hits before coming up empty on Saturday to end his week. Munoz is showing the hitting skill that got him attention early in his career, though not the power to go along with it that got everyone excited last year. After a slow start, he is hitting .273/.348/.386 through 49 games, with 22 walks and 21 strikeouts. If he can hit for power like last year with Bristol, then he becomes someone more interesting. His bat will have to carry him through the minors, as he is a slow-footed first baseman with an average glove. His conditioning will come into play as well since this is the first time he’s played full-season ball and he’s always faded during short-season ball. He has had some breaks, with 19 games at DH and eight games off, plus he is occasionally replaced for a pinch-runner late, so that should help. – JD

Danny Ortiz – Ortiz has had a solid season for Indianapolis, posting an .800 OPS and playing above average defense in center field. He seemed to be the Pirates main minor league free agent target this off-season, as he said they pursued him heavily the day he became available and they were non-stop until he signed, which wasn’t long after. Ortiz put up similar (slightly lower) numbers the last two years in Triple-A, so they knew what they were getting and he hasn’t disappointed. His seven homers leads the club and he’s coming off a season in which he hit 17 homers. His issues from the past are still there this season. He doesn’t walk enough, and despite covering a lot of ground in center, he isn’t a stolen base threat. He’s only 26, so despite being in his ninth minor league season, he isn’t old. We could see him possibly in Pittsburgh sometime in a minor role, especially if he maintains his current pace on offense. That would probably require either an injury or two, or him waiting until September, where his power and defense would help strengthen the end of the bench. – JD

Tito Polo – Polo is in the middle of a breakout season, which I wrote about last week. He was also our Player of the Month for the month of May. And right after that, he exploded with a massive game, hitting two doubles and two homers on June 1st. He finished the week with a 1.221 OPS in 21 at-bats, mostly fueled by that game, but also seeing another double and a triple added to his stats. He’s got an .899 OPS on the season, heading into this week, while showing a lot of power with eight home runs and 12 doubles. He might have a chance to move up to Bradenton by the end of the year, especially if he continues hitting like this. – TW

Jason Rogers – Before coming up to Pittsburgh in April, Rogers was the best hitter on Indianapolis. After coming back to Triple-A the second time, he wasn’t doing much at the plate until this past week. He had hits in all six games he played, posting a .968 OPS in 26 plate appearances. Rogers has mostly been at third base and he’s made some above average plays, looking better than the scouting reports we heard when he was acquired from Milwaukee. He will continue to bide his time at Indianapolis, waiting for an opportunity to come back to Pittsburgh, where his bat should play better than it did in the limited time he saw earlier this season. – JD

Michael Suchy – Suchy seems to make this list every week, and always for the same reasons. He hits a lot, and gets on base a lot, putting up a weekly OPS of .800 or higher without adding much power. That’s strange, as he has a big frame, but has been more of a contact hitter and a high OBP guy to date. This week he had a .368/.478/.368 line in 24 plate appearances, with all of his hits being singles. In fact, he has just one extra base hit since May 16th. He’s probably going to need to eventually tap into his big frame in order to have success beyond A-ball, but for now you can expect him to continue doing well hitting for average and getting on base at a high rate. – TW

Jerrick Suiter – Just like Suchy, Suiter is another guy with a big frame who hasn’t hit for much power this year. It’s not to the same extreme though, as Suiter does show off some power on occasion, with two doubles and a home run this week. He only has a .652 OPS on the season, but like most players in Bradenton, that is brought down by a horrible month of April. He has a .758 OPS since the start of May, broken down as a .300/.358/.400 line. He’s another guy who will need to hit for more power in order to have success beyond A-ball. – TW

Pitchers

JT Brubaker – For five straight starts, Brubaker allowed at least three earned runs and six hits. He broke that streak on May 28th with five shutout innings, then last week he allowed one run over six innings, while striking out a career high 11 batters. His issues were mechanical according to Brubaker. I watched two of those games and his fastball was up in the zone the entire game. He then went to his off-speed pitches heavily and while it worked at first, batters stopped chasing them out of the zone and sat on the fastball as he got behind in the count. It’s been a tough start to the season, as he has already allowed nine homers and 23 walks, compared to three homers and 12 walks in 17.1 more innings last year with Morgantown. Nothing has changed with his stuff though. The fastball still sits 90-93, touching 94 MPH. The slider is still a strikeout pitch, and he has at least an average changeup. If the mechanical issues are fixed, then you can expect him to go on a run similar to what we saw last year and these last two games. – JD

Montana DuRapau – DuRapau only pitched twice this past week, but he was effective in both. When I saw him last weekend, he dominated the opposition to record a six-out save, with five of those being strikeouts. He struck out the side in the ninth inning. His fastball velocity was up a few ticks from the past couple of weeks by hitting 94 MPH, and he commanded the fastball extremely well early in counts to set batters up for the cutter or curveball. In one at-bat in particular DuRapau threw ten pitches to a batter to finally record a strikeout. He picked up his 11th save of the season. On the year, he is holding batters to a .597 OPS, and lefties have been terrible against him only hitting .128 with a .432 OPS. Since a bad outing on April 30th, DuRapau has only allowed one run in 13.1 IP, recording 11 strikeouts. – SM

Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow’s start last week showed exactly why he is the top prospect in the system and why he still has work to do before he reaches the majors. He threw five no-hit innings and yet after the game, both Glasnow and manager Dean Treanor were disappointed with the performance. There were multiple reasons for that. His fastball command wasn’t sharp. He curveball was the worst it has looked all season, and that followed his last start when it looked as good as ever. He didn’t throw enough changeups for the second start in a row. With all those issues, Rochester batters still couldn’t really square up any balls well against him. He was basically getting by with a fastball he couldn’t command, because the opposition couldn’t touch it in the zone and couldn’t lay off it out of the zone. When a pitcher can throw five no-hit innings (four walks) without having close to his best stuff, you know they are something special. Unfortunately for Glasnow, a start like this did nothing to get him closer to being Major League ready, but he gets a chance to go again tonight. – JD

Bret Helton – He got off to a slow start this season, but Helton is now on a run of three starts in which he has allowed a total of three earned runs over 18.2 innings. Even with the nice recent run, the ninth round pick from last year has a 3.93 ERA over 52.2 innings, with a 1.27 WHIP and a 21:36 BB/SO ratio. His 0.90 GO/AO ratio leaves something to be desired, and he has hit seven batters already. On the plus side, his .236 BAA is a solid number, and a big improvement on the .288 BAA he had last year. Helton has average stuff, so he’s going to need to throw more strikes to limit the base runners and maximize his potential. – JD

Luis Heredia – Heredia only made two appearances this week, pitching two shutout innings with two hits, no walks, and two strikeouts. However, the lack of good starts this week gives me a chance to once again highlight what is going right for him. He has switched to a sinkerball this year, and is relying heavily on the pitch. It sits 93-94 MPH, and has led to some nice results, with an 0.73 ERA in 24.2 innings, along with a 17:6 K/BB ratio. The lack of walks is very impressive, as that was what hurt Heredia in the past. His ground ball rate is also way up, sitting just shy of 64% on the season. Heredia could make his way up to Altoona at some point soon if this success continues. – TW

Gage Hinsz – Last week I got a report from a scout that said Hinsz was now hitting 95 MPH with a plus curveball. By the weekend, he was making his 2016 debut in West Virginia, and it was a good one. He threw five shutout innings, with three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. The scouting report I received was similar to what I saw from Hinsz on April 19th, when he was hitting 94 MPH and showing off a nice curveball. He’s also done better with his control, which was a problem last year, leading to a 24:23 K/BB ratio in 38 innings with Bristol. Hinsz is starting to emerge as a high upside pitching prospect, and is off to a good start this year with the Power. – TW

Mitch Keller – After three starts in which he allowed a total of eight runs, Keller returned to his early season form last week, which saw him give up three runs in his first six starts combined. He allowed one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out six batters. The only run shouldn’t have scored either, as it was a routine pop up between the shortstop and left fielder, and both of them could have made a catch on it. Keller pounded the strike zone and put up a 6:3 GO/AO ratio, which is twice as good as his season average. He ranks first in the league in WHIP, second in strikeouts and third in ERA. He has already pitched 57 innings this season, so the Pirates have added a sixth starter to the rotation, which should help limit his innings while allowing him to remain in the rotation for the entire season. – JD

Jameson Taillon – Taillon didn’t have his best start last week, in fact is was one of his worst of the season. That being said, he only allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings and had seven strikeouts. From a stat standpoint, it wasn’t what we have seen from him this season, but from the actual stuff, he looked as good as ever. Taillon had good velocity on his fastball and pounded the strike zone. The curve was sharp and he was using it in all situations. The changeup has been solid all season and while he doesn’t go to it often, he used it effectively in this game. He held his velocity until the end of a 99 pitch outing, his longest of the season. His arrival in Pittsburgh should come very soon, if not this week (He’s scheduled for Wednesday), then I’d bet on next week. – JD

IMPORTANT: You will need to update your password after the switch to the new server in order to log in and comment. Go to the Password Reset Page to change your password.

10 COMMENTS

    • If he stays in relief, could he move quickly and maybe be up in Pittsburgh by September?

  1. Still waiting to see if anyone wants to comment on Caminaro’s rehab performance
    last week. Is he still in Indy or did they send him someplace else like Charleston?

    I have not followed baseball seriously until just recently. How can a player
    pitch so well last year and its dangerous to be in the batters box against
    him this year?

    I feel sorry for him.

    • dr dog the magic dust washed off. It has been washing off a lot lately with most of the staff.

      • “OOOh someone from my generation…
        Maybe the Pirates may need to contact
        Cheech and Chong to find Santa so
        they can resupply their stock of
        “magic dust!”

  2. I realize that Hanson has been disappointing the last year or so (remember his age though) but with all his talent I hate the way the Pirates have developed him. The call up was idiotic. The way they’ve moved him around despite his huge defensive upside at 2b…I really feel for the kid because I think he’s gotten a raw deal the last cope years. Too bad. Clearly has talent.

    • What are your expectations for Hanson? What do you think the Pirates should have done? To me a player has to earn his promotions and at no time has Hanson earned the right to be in the majors. He shows flashes like many players but he takes no pitches doesn’t hit for power and has a BA of 260 or less over most of the last three years. There is about 250 guys playing in the minors that have done more then that who have no shot at the majors. For Hanson i would like to A see him hit for a better average, B take a few walks, C show some consistency in AAA. There is plenty of time for him to improve since he is only 23 so I do not see how you have a problem with the way the Pirates are developing him. I would mention though the Pirates bringing him up in mid may would suggest they do not view him as a top prospect otherwise they would have waited until June with the other super two guys.

      • I agree with you up until the last part. Bringing him up in May for three days really doesn’t indicate the Pirates’ opinion of him as all they’d have to do to keep him off the S2 radar is delay the next call-up until three days after the S2 date.

        But, yeah, he needs to show more. From what I read from everyone that sees him, the biggest problem might be that he pushes too hard. If the damn kid would relax and not try to muscle his way onto the ML team, he’d probably have an easier time of it.

      • I don’t think you read my comment all that closely. I don’t think he’s ready for the majors. I don’t think he should have been called up for the 3 days. I think moving him all over, including the outfield, does not help him become a better ball player. I think the Pirates have downgraded their opinion of him or they wouldn’t have him moving all over, being promoted for 3 days, and not being committed to him at a position. Listen, like it or not there are not a ton of 23 year old who can even do what he’s done…he’s young with a ton of upside and they have NOT developed him appropriately in my mind and have, now, downgraded him to a utility type player which is ridiculous.

        • With Josh Harrison playing well, there is 0 chance a pure 2Bmen has a clear spot on this roster for at least a few years.

          I could just as easily make the argument that the Pirates moving Hanson around shows they at least feel he’s close enough that they want him to be able to find places to give value soon.

          If they didnt care about how quickly he was promoted, they could keep him at AAA for all of next year playing only 2B and he’d be blocked until Harrison gets expensive in his final year.

          I dont think Hanson is ready, but getting him work at many spots in a Harrison like way seems to suggest they think he can be a utility player soon. Otherwise, he could easily only play 2B but have 0 shot at a regular starting spot for a few years.

Comments are closed.