Morning Report: Comparing Two Similarly Ranked Prospects

On Tuesday, the South Atlantic League named Mitchell Tolman the Player of the Week for last week. He had an incredible week, posting a 1.833 OPS, with a .500 batting average, four homers and seven walks. That got him included in our Top Performer article and there was also a perfectly timed feature article from Abigail Miskowiec.

We rated him 34th in our prospect guide, which isn’t a bad rating considering how deep the system was at that point. He actually moved up one spot after the book was put out due to Trey Supak being traded away. Tolman has probably done enough to maintain that spot, posting an .815 OPS through Tuesday night’s action. That’s just two points below the OPS he put up with Morgantown last year in 63 games.

Part of the reason he should stay around the same spot is that he has shown an increase in power, while posting a 41:38 BB/SO ratio. He has also improved his defense at second base, which was a new position for him last year. While not quite at a point you like to see yet, he has become better at stealing bases. That makes him sound like he should move up in the rankings, but then you have to remember that he’s a 22-year-old college player in Low-A putting up these stats. College players, who are prospects, should have success at this level in their first full season.

That last part has to make you wonder about the future for Casey Hughston on the prospect list. He is the same as Tolman (Hughston is one day younger),  yet his stats have gone down from last year in Morgantown. If you need a reminder, he had a .577 OPS in 61 games last year, striking out 71 times in 216 at-bats. This season he has a .180/.249/.284 slash line in 194 at-bats, with 75 strikeouts.

Hughston rated just one spot behind Tolman in our book despite the huge difference in stats. The reason was that he is an athletic player, with strong defense in center field and above average speed, to go along with raw power, which is tough to find in the minors for the Pirates. The strikeouts were a concern in college and they haven’t gone away at all in the pros.

We know Hughston won’t make our top 30 when we update it in the near future, but the top 50 at the end of the year could still be possible. Having seen him play, the defense in center field is there. The speed is there. The raw power is still there. He will have to show more over the rest of the season to really be considered. That being said, there is still two months and 57 games left in the year, which is a long time in minor league days to turn things around. At this point, I think they are just going to keep running him out there everyday and see what happens. Then from there you still have a month of the Fall Instructional League to hopefully see some improvements.

So basically, you have two players the same age, who are performing somewhat similar to how they played last year. For Tolman, the overall hitting is the same, but the increased power, along with a better BB/SO ratio, better defense at second base and improved base running, has him looking like a better player than at this time last year. For Hughston, you have the defense, raw power and speed still showing up, but that potential hasn’t turned into anything this season, so his stock has definitely fallen from this time last year.

You can’t really say they are heading in opposite directions since Tolman isn’t moving up, but the once small difference in rankings between them has become a lot bigger.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-2 on Tuesday night over the Cardinals. Jeff Locke gets the start tonight. He allowed three runs over five innings in his last start. In his two prior starts combined, he gave up just one run over 13.2 innings. Locke has faced the Cardinals once this year back on May 7th and allowed three runs over six innings. The Cardinals will counter with Jaime Garcia, who has a 3.84 ERA in 96 innings, with 81 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP. In his last start, he allowed one run over eight innings against the Brewers. Garcia has not faced the Pirates yet this season.

In the minors, Stephen Tarpley goes for Bradenton, while Gage Hinsz makes his start for West Virginia. Tarpley was on a roll until his last outing in which he gave up four runs over 3.1 innings. In his previous four starts combined, he allowed two earned runs over 22 innings. Tarpley has a .233 BAA and he’s averaging nearly one strikeout per inning. Hinsz allowed one run over five innings in his last start. Last year in 38 innings, he had 23 walks and 24 strikeouts. This season in 31.1 innings, he has issued just seven walks, and already has 25 strikeouts.

Brian Sousa will start for the GCL Pirates. Fifth round pick Blake Cederlind will go for Bristol. Morgantown has yet to name a starter.

MLB: Pittsburgh (43-41) @ Cardinals (43-40) 8:15 PM
Probable starter:  Jeff Locke (5.13 ERA, 31:49 BB/SO, 94.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (45-41) vs Louisville (42-43) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.86 ERA, 6:39 BB/SO, 60.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (46-37) @ Akron (48-38) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (8.64 ERA, 9:18 BB/SO, 25.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (42-38) vs Charlotte (40-41) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (3.91 ERA, 18:46 BB/SO, 48.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (42-40) @ Greensboro (48-35) 12:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (4.02 ERA, 7:25 BB/SO, 31.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-10) @ Aberdeen (8-11) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (6-7) vs Elizabethton (5-7) 7:00 PM (season preview)

GCL: Pirates (3-6) vs Yankees West (3-6) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (9-18) vs Mets1 (12-14) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is triple from Harold Ramirez, who is hitting .295/.347/.397 after Tuesday night’s action.


7/5: Gerrit Cole assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

7/5: Steven Brault promoted to Pirates. Jacob Stallings designated for assignment.

7/5: Austin Meadows placed on disabled list.

7/5: Tomas Morales promoted to Indianapolis

7/4: Jameson Taillon placed on 15-day disabled list.

7/4: Jin-De Jhang promoted to Indianapolis. Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona.

7/4: Erik Lunde activated from disabled list. Assigned to Bradenton. Raul Hernandez assigned to GCL.

7/4: Elias Diaz assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

7/4: Chris Stewart placed on disabled list.

7/4: Pirates claim Eric Fryer off waivers. Rob Scahill placed on waivers.

7/3: Pirates sign Chris McDonald and Evan Piechota.

7/3: Pirates sign six international free agents.

7/3: Yunior Montero promoted to West Virginia.

7/3: Curtis Partch sent outright to Indianapolis.

7/2: Pablo Reyes activated from temporary inactive list. Trace Tam Sing placed on temporary inactive list.

7/1: Julio Vivas promoted to West Virginia.

7/1: Rinku Singh assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab

7/1: Pirates sign Andrew Walker.

6/30: Jorge Rondon sent outright to Indianapolis.

6/30: Erik Lunde assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/30: Raul Hernandez assigned to Bradenton.

6/30: Jose Regalado placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson promoted to Bradenton.

6/30: Tomas Morales assigned to Indianapolis. Ed Easley released.

6/30: Jose Osuna promoted to Indianapolis. Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

6/29: Pirates sign Nick King and Daniel Cucjen.

6/28: Trevor Williams activated from temporary inactive list.

6/28: Carl Anderson assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/28: Pirates sign Max Kranick. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/27: Pirates sign Buddy Borden. Assigned to Bradenton.

6/27: Jeff Roy assigned to Bristol.

6/27: Erik Lunde placed on the disabled list.

6/26: Pirates purchase the contract of Chad Kuhl. Kyle Lobstein optioned to Indianapolis.

6/26: Pirates designate Curtis Partch for assignment.

6/26: Pirates unconditionally release Cory Luebke.

6/26: Trevor Williams placed on bereavement list.

6/26: Tomas Morales sent to Bradenton.

6/25: Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona.

6/25: Luis Paula and David Whitehead assigned to Bristol on rehab.

6/24: Pirates purchase the contract of Adam Frazier. Designate Cole Figueroa for assignment.

6/24: Juan Nicasio activated from restricted list. Designate Jorge Rondon for assignment.

6/24: Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.

6/23: JT Brubaker added to Bradenton roster. Colten Brewer placed on temporary inactive list.

6/23: Tito Polo assigned to Bradenton.


Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the better Pirates’ pitchers from the 1930’s. Starting with the most recent first, we have 2001 pitcher Omar Oliveras, 1975 second baseman Willie Randolph and 1981-85 first baseman Jason Thompson. In 1983, Thompson made the All-Star team and hit .284, with 31 homers, 101 RBIs and 101 walks. Randolph has a great career that started in Pittsburgh, but they traded him away right after he made the majors, in a deal that did not work out. The Pirates got Doc Medich, while giving up Randolph, Ken Brett and Dock Ellis.

Cy Blanton pitched for the Pirates from 1934 until 1939. He won 56 games over a four-year stretch from 1935-38. Blanton led the National League with a 2.58 ERA and with four shutouts in 1935. He led the NL again with four shutouts in 1936 and his 34 starts in 1937 were the most in the league. Blanton completed 129 of his 155 starts with the Pirates.

On this date in 1980, the Pirates won the longest game ever in Three Rivers Stadium. In the 20th inning of a game that took just over 5 1/2 hours, Omar Moreno drove in Ed Ott with the winning run. That win pushed the Pirates to 42-37 on the season. You can read a recap of the game in the link above and the boxscore can be found here.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 6, 2016 8:22 pm

    Given his obvious positive traits, you just have to hope that Hughston figures it out. I am sure he is pressing. Last year he had an even worse start – like 0-40? But, he bounced back and hit pretty well for the rest of the season. For that reason, I thought he would have a very good year in 2016.

  • Wow a highlight of someone other than Bell getting hit after hit.

  • pantherfan83
    July 6, 2016 9:50 am
    • pantherfan83
      July 6, 2016 9:53 am

      Glasnow Saturday? Or is he Sunday’s starter and Steve gets sent down?

  • Tim and John
    A question regarding the Organizational Depth Chart on Pirates Prospects. Are you still facing technology challenges that make it difficult to update? With injuries, call ups, DL moves and bullpen shuffling the actual depth chart today is pretty different. Its great to see the prospects called up but the depth chart doesn’t capture the moves yet.

    • John Dreker
      July 6, 2016 10:32 am

      I just did about ten updates on the list and I can tell you that it took about 15 minutes to do, so it’s not an easy quick change. Wilbur Miller usually does them and he is out of the country right now.

      You won’t see it updated daily, such as the catcher situation right now. Cervelli and Stewart are still the top options even if they are injured. You also won’t see it updated for someone like Brault or Kuhl in the rotation because those probably aren’t permanent moves for right now. If we updated after every single move Wilbur would spend about an hour every week updating the chart, and imagine what it would be like with all of those bullpen moves this year back and forth. It’s really not a popular page compared to things like the normal player pages, or the draft tracker or international tracker.

      The depth chart is more to give you an idea of who could be next in line, not to update daily with moves. That’s what the transaction section above is for. It’s closer to updated now though

      • Andrew Rothstein
        July 6, 2016 10:59 am

        Any idea who the backup catcher was in Altoona last night?

        • John Dreker
          July 6, 2016 2:00 pm

          My guess is Schwind, since he has played there before. No one was added to the roster

      • Thanks for the thoughtful and lengthy response. I guess I have a hang up about depth charts going back to my playing days because they were posted to name starters and people moved up and down based upon performance.
        This morning when I saw the guys on the DL listed as starting and Nicasio as a starting pitcher it prompted my question.
        It is great to see these prospects so heavily covered by PP being promoted on merit and need. A subscriber knows about these guys and the rationale.

  • pantherfan83
    July 6, 2016 9:41 am

    Glasnow gets the call. Woohoo

  • Hughston should not be on any list and was a wasted pick so early in the draft. Tolman has Brock Holt capability and should be where he is as his ceiling is like Holt or Frazier or Presley.
    By the way does it seem like Harold has put on some weight? I can’t tell if its muscle or fat but it seems like bulk of some kind.

    • John Dreker
      July 6, 2016 10:07 am

      Ramirez has seemed to put on some weight during the season. He was slimmer in Spring Training. That might be an issue to watch

    • I agree with you regarding Hughston. Cannot explain it, but I think we left a few VG LHP’s on the Board in Phillip Pfeiffer of Vanderbilt, and Garrett Cleavinger of Oregon. Cleavinger has already turned into valuable reliever for the Orioles, and Pfeiffer is in the Dodger system.

      Hughston had a decent batting average overall for Alabama, but in the SEC Conference games he only batted .208 – somebody should have noticed that

  • Hughston’s profile reminds me a bit of Wesley Freeman.

    • He came back from his 3 or 4 week “back to the basics of hitting” stint at extended ST, did well for a few games, but he is now back to the guy we knew before he left. He is athletic and unless he has an eyesight issue, there is no reason for him to keep missing the ball with such frequency.

      Watched Tolman at Pirate City and he impressed immediately with how smooth he looked at 2B in the DP infield drills with Hayes at 3B and Tucker at SS. But, he is blocked at 2B at Bradenton by Kramer (also having a strong year), and he could bump Joe at 3B, but then that could block Hayes which we do not want to do. Tough situation.