Prospect Watch: Steven Brault Gets Roughed Up; Will Craig Extends Hit Streak

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors and loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 30 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2016 mid-season update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

We’re working on a solution for the PHP stat codes not working in the app.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates -[insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(640457,’B’,’20160809′);
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3. Josh Bell, 1B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605137,’B’,’20160809′);
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4. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20160809′);
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5. Mitch Keller, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20160809′);
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6. Nick Kingham, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20160809′);
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7.Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20160809′);
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8. Chad Kuhl, RHP, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(641771,’P’,’20160809′);
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9. Will Craig, 3B, Morgantown –  [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20160809′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20160809′);
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11. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, West Virginia -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20160809′);
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12. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20160809′);
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13. Clay Holmes, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20160809′);
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14. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20160809′);
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15. Gage Hinsz, RHP, West Virginia  – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20160809′);
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16. Trevor Williams, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592866,’P’,’20160809′);
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17. Alen Hanson, 2B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(593700,’B’,’20160809′);
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18. Tito Polo, OF, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(622738,’B’,’20160809′);
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 19. Stephen Tarpley, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(605501,’P’,’20160809′);
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20. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20160809′);
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21. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20160809′);
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22. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20160809′);
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23. Taylor Hearn, LHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20160809′);
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24. Adrian Valerio, SS – Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(650832,’B’,’20160809′);
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25. Braeden Ogle, LHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20160809′);
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26. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20160809′);
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27. Travis MacGregor, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20160809′);
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28. Max Kranick, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20160809′);
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29. Frank Duncan, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(641538,’P’,’20160809′);
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30. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20160809′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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Steven Brault was trying to bounce back from a start in which he allowed five earned runs over 2.2 innings. His stat line was much better tonight, but he didn’t look any better. Brault was constantly in trouble in this game, giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. The runs all came on two swings, as he allowed a solo homer to lead-off the third inning, then a three-run homer in the sixth inning to end his day. Brault threw 99 pitches total, with 57 going for strikes. He had three strikeouts and a 5:2 GO/AO ratio. Other than the ground balls, the best thing you could say about his start is that he made some tough pitches when he needed it (not enough) and got a pair of double play grounders in the first and fourth innings.

The relievers weren’t any better, with Dovydas Neverauskas allowing two runs over one inning, and John Kuchno giving up three runs in his 1.2 innings.

On offense, Pedro Florimon led off the game with a home run and then Indianapolis didn’t score again until the seventh inning in their 9-3 loss. Elias Diaz had two hits and drove in a run. Josh Bell hit his 22nd double, drew a walk and stole a base. Gift Ngoepe drove in a run, and Alen Hanson had a single and a run scored.

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, PA – Brandon Waddell made his 17th start of the year for the Altoona Curve on Tuesday night, and he allowed only one run in seven innings of work last Wednesday for the Curve. Tonight, he limited hard hit balls against him and kept the ball on the ground, but a high pitch count, combined with some untimely hits by Harrisburg in the third inning, shortened Waddell’s outing. He allowed four runs, only one of them earned, in his five innings of work, while striking out three and walking two.

Waddell threw a lot of pitches in the first inning while only facing four batters. Pretty much everything was right around the strike zone, but he struggled to put batters away, including walking one batter on eight pitches. His second inning began with back-to-back doubles, one a gap shot to left-center field, while the other was a liner down the right field line, and they were probably the hardest hit balls against him all game. He got out of the jam, only allowing one run in the inning.

In the third, Waddell got a lot of ground balls, but they more frequently than not found holes through the infield. A fielding error by Erich Weiss to the second batter made everything that came across later in the inning unearned, though Waddell allowed three runs to score. Altogether in the inning, nothing was really hit that hard against him, but he had to throw a lot of pitches to get out of it.

The fourth and fifth innings were uneventful for Waddell, as he worked his way to 97 pitches. By my unofficial count, he had a rate of 13 ground balls to five fly balls. He worked well around the strike zone, but threw too many pitches to be able to work deeper in the game. Some of it was unfortunate, as that third inning was extended – not because of his performance.

“The ground balls usually mean you are down in the zone,” Pitching Coach Justin message said. “We’ve been working on his fastball quality down. Overall, that was a tough game to pitch in even though some things didn’t go his way. He battled and fortunately got through five innings.”

Manager Joey Cora agreed that Waddell pitched a pretty good, unlike the numbers showed.

“He pitched a lot better than the numbers showed,” Cora said. “He threw a lot of ground balls, and we didn’t make some plays behind him that we should have made. We could’ve made it easy on him, but he was there battling the whole time. A guy like him, we need to play much better defense behind him.”

Montana DuRapau faced one batter and recorded the last out to pick up his 20th save of the season for the Curve, which ties him for seventh-most in a season for the franchise.

Barrett Barnes and Stetson Allie provided some important instant offense for the Curve tonight, as both homered in the game. Barnes hit a two-run shot in the third inning, which was his first home run since May 2nd and only his second this season. He had cooled off since his long on-base streak ended about a week ago, but displaying some power tonight is a good sign for Barnes.

Barnes said after the game that the home run is a little more special because he played with the opposing pitcher/catcher combination in the Cape Cod League.

“To hit one off of somebody you grew up with is pretty fun,” Barnes said. “It will be a funny group text about it tonight.”

In Allie’s case, he hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth break a 7-7 tie. The hit was to straightaway centerfield over the batter’s eye and probably traveled around 420 feet. It was Allie’s 11th home run of the season and the 49th of his Curve career. Allie is now closing in on the Curve record for home runs, set by Adam Hyzdu and Josh Bonifay at 55 home runs.

“It was a momentum swing,” Barrett Barnes said about both home runs tonight. “They took the momentum and scored, then we were able to get them right back.”

Offensively, the Curve were led by Elvis Escobar, Erich Weiss, and Jin-De Jhang, who each had three hits. Jhang had an impressive performance, as he hit a line drive RBI single in the first, a double in the third, and an infield single (!) to the 5-6 hole in the seventh.

Tonight’s game was an important one for the Curve when it comes to the divisional standings and playoff picture, as they beat second place Harrisburg by a score of 9-7. They now take a 2.5 game lead in the division with two more against Harrisburg this home stand.

The win also marks the Curve’s tenth straight win at home. -Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton scored five runs in the first inning, but couldn’t hold on for the victory, dropping an 8-7 decision to Palm Beach. The Marauders got a three-run homer in the first inning from Jordan Luplow, his sixth of the season. They would get another in the ninth off the bat of Taylor Gushue, a solo shot that brought them within one run. It was Gushue’s seventh home run this year. They were the two big producers in the game, with two hits apiece. Bradenton had four other hits in the game, singles by Tito Polo, Kevin Kramer, Jerrick Suiter and Wyatt Mathisen. Polo walked twice, scored a run, and stole two bases to give him 34 steals on the season. That leads all Pirates in the minors.

Starter Buddy Borden continued to struggle, allowing five runs over three innings. Tate Scioneaux followed and gave up one run over two innings. It could have been much worse for Borden, as he left in the fourth with the bases loaded and no outs. Scioneaux got two strikeouts and a fly out to strand all three runners. Luis Heredia threw a scoreless ninth after allowing runs in each of his last three appearances.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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CHARLESTON, WV – After Casey Hughston’s third at-bat, which resulted in his third strikeout of the day, I sent John a message discussing how I can’t see him as a prospect who could make it to the majors. Hughston has struggled since day one on pitches in the outer third of the plate, and in that third at-bat, the Greensboro starter was targeting the outside zones. His first two pitches were on the outer corner of the plate, which Hughston swung at, missing both. A third pitch was outside, and Hughston laid off. The next pitch was down the middle and low in the zone, which Hughston watched go by for his third strikeout of the day.

My thought after this was that Hughston isn’t going to have a chance in the upper levels if he doesn’t fix this problem. He doesn’t have the bat speed to hit the pitches on the outer third of the plate, and if he’s getting targeted there by Low-A pitchers, then he’ll stand no chance against upper level pitchers who will pick that flaw apart.

The appeal with Hughston is that he has a lot of raw power with his big frame, while also having surprising speed and defense for his size. But the power only shows up as pull power when he’s pitched middle-in. I was talking with John about how those tools would keep me from giving him a 20 likely upside, but I wouldn’t go above 30, and that might be a stretch. And then, at the end of the game, Hughston showed why you’d keep some small hope alive.

The Greensboro bullpen went away from the pitching outside approach, and Hughston capitalized. He hit a triple off the wall in left field on a pitch down the middle with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, but was stranded. He came up big in the bottom of the ninth inning, launching a one out, two-run walk off homer on a pitch that was on the inner third of the plate, letter high.

That’s the appeal with Hughston. If you make a mistake, he has the potential to crush it. And if he can ever find a way to hit the outside third of the plate, he would be a good hitting prospect. Unfortunately, I’m less optimistic he can do that now, since he’s a year removed from college and still struggling in Low-A. I wouldn’t completely write him off, but he’s got a long road to fixing these issues.

Meanwhile, Logan Sendelbach had an outstanding start, which was derailed by a two run homer on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, and a 2-0 lead. Sendelbach was one strike and one out away from the complete game win, but offered up a pitch down the middle which was launched over the right-center field wall to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

Other than that mistake, Sendelbach was fantastic. He was sitting 88-92 MPH with his fastball, while showing a slider at 82-84 MPH, and a changeup around 79-80. He went 6.2 innings, giving up just the two runs on six hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. I talked to a scout who saw him earlier in the year, and said he had a better changeup today than when he saw him earlier.

Last year when I saw Sendelbach, he was mostly flat and didn’t have a lot of movement on his fastball, which led to him giving up a lot of hits. He had some good downward movement on the fastball today, and was commanding the pitch well, setting up his changeup, which was getting a lot of swings and misses. While comparing notes with the scout in attendance, he noted that Sendelbach has to be very fine for his stuff to be effective. That’s true, and for the most part this year, Sendelbach has done this. I’m not sure how this will translate to the upper levels, but he’s definitely improved since I first saw him almost exactly a year ago today, and his tall, projectable frame does leave hope that he’ll add some more velocity, improving his stuff so he has room for error.

Game Two

The Power got off to an early lead in game two, going up 4-0 in the first inning. After Casey Hughston flied out, they got a single from Mitchell Tolman, followed by a walk from Logan Hill, and four singles in a row from Carlos Munoz, Danny Arribas, Jordan George, and Logan Ratledge to bring in the rest of the runs.

Yunior Montero made the spot start tonight, pitching five innings with two runs on three hits, along with a walk and six strikeouts. He was sitting 87-91 MPH with his fastball, while flashing a nice slider that was getting a lot of swings and misses. Seth McGarry came on and gave up a run on a walk and a hit in two innings, with four strikeouts to complete the sweep of the double header. – Tim Williams

Prospect-Watch-Morgantown

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Morgantown had the bats going on Tuesday night and Stephan Meyer pitched great in their 7-4 win. Meyer went six innings and allowed one run on six hits and two walks. He had two strikeouts and a 7:4 GO/AO ratio. In his last four starts combined, he has allowed three runs over 23 innings. Jason Creasy followed him, making his second rehab appearance. This was a successful outing, going two shutout innings on one hit and one strikeout. He threw 27 pitches, with 18 going for strikes.

Will Craig extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first inning double. It was his 12th double of the season. He added a single later in the game. Stephen Alemais hasn’t been hitting much, but he had a strong game in this one, collecting three hits, including his fourth double. Albert Baur also had three hits and two walks, while a trio of All-Stars in Hunter Owen, Kevin Krause and Sandy Santos, had two hits apiece. Both Krause and Santos drove in two runs.

Prospect-Watch-Bristol
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Bristol won 8-7 on Tuesday night, tying the game in the bottom of the eighth, then winning in the ninth on a bases loaded single. Bristol went down 6-1 early, as starter Matt Eckelman didn’t have it in this game. The bats bailed him out though in the bottom of the third inning, scoring five runs to tie the score. Evan Piechota came in after Eckelman and threw three scoreless innings, striking out four batters. That set up Geoff Hartlieb for the ninth and the win. Piechota is making the most of his chance as a non-drafted free agent signed out of independent ball. In eight games between the GCL and Bristol, he has thrown 12.2 shutout innings.

The offense was led by Jhoan Herrera and Raul Siri, who each drove in three runs. Herrera hit his third home run, while Siri collected his sixth double. Both players were featured in our Top Performers article on Monday. In the ninth inning, Victor Fernandez pinch-hit for Garrett Brown and drew a walk. After another walk to Daniel Cucjen, Adrian Valerio reached on an error to load the bases. That brought up Herrera, who hit an infield single for the winning run.

Prospect-Watch-GCL

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The GCL Pirates were rained out on Tuesday.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates played one of their best games on the day they got eliminated from their division race. They won 8-0 over the Cubs1, as starter Roger Santana threw five shutout innings and three relievers finished off the shutout. Santana now has a 1.44 ERA in 56.1 innings, with a 9:51 BB/SO ratio. His numbers are a little deceiving, as he has trouble picking up his teammates after they make errors. That has led to more unearned runs against than earned runs (16 to 9).

Jeremias Portorreal continues to be the best hitter on the team. He had a single, three walks and two runs scored in this game. He has reached base in 23 of his last 24 games. Francisco Mepris had four hits and a walk out of the lead-off spot. He also stole his tenth base and scored a run. Rodolfo Castro had two hits and a walk. Yair Babilonia had two hits and drove in two runs. Ramy Perez drove in three runs.

  • Hughston reminds me of an OFer we had a few years ago who had a lot of power, played a decent OF, but K’d a lot, retired and then came back, but I can’t think of his name.

    Wes??? Wallace??

  • Tim or John some of these “rougher” outings from some of the pitching prospects, would you attribute some of that to innings pitched at this point of the season or no?

  • Just my opinion, but it seems to me that all this up and down from the minors to majors is not helping some of these guys.

  • Hey John, what do you see has Escobar’s ceiling in OF? With the depth we have probably a potential 4th/5th OF? I realize it is still early and a lot can happen..

    • Ceiling would be as a 4th outfielder. He has a lot of tools, just doesn’t have great plate patience. He has above average speed, can play all three outfield spots and has a strong arm. Good line drive hitter, won’t hit for power, but could get his share of doubles/triples. If they can get him to be a little more patient and wait for the right pitch, take the occasional walk and utilize his speed better on the bases, then he will reach that ceiling. Escobar should be a fun one to watch/follow this winter, assuming he plays in Venezuela like normal. Could have a big year leading into the 2017 season.

  • Tim or John, just an outside look at Indianapolis with all of the young guns pitching, Frazier, Moroff, Diaz, Meadows and even Rodgers, wouldn’t you think they would have a better record? Even with the call ups to the MLB club as well as promotions from Altoona, I would think they would leave the Indians with A better record. A thought? Maybe the farm teams aren’t really that good?

    • Good prospect teams don’t always equate to good teams. The teams are focused on development in those cases, which works against the record.

      As a quick example, how good do you think they’d be if they let Taillon pitch as deep as he can currently pitch in the majors? They were saving innings and pitches for late in the MLB season. Same goes for all of the other starting pitching prospects. Josh Bell has worked on tinkering with his swing through the year, and I doubt he’d do this as much in the majors.

      The focus in the minors is on development. The more prospects you have, the more the focus is on development, and the less it is on winning.

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