Morning Report: Playoffs Start Tonight for Bradenton

The minor league regular season ended yesterday and two affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates made the playoffs. Bradenton won their first half title and we have known about them being in the playoffs since June. Altoona didn’t know they were going to the playoffs until yesterday around 3:00 PM when Brett McKinney recorded the final out in a 2-0 victory in ten innings. We now go into playoff mode with Bradenton playing their first game tonight.

The Marauders took a little hit on the prospect side recently, losing Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley. That also gave them a little hit in the team strength. They still have Jordan Luplow, Connor Joe and Pablo Reyes in the lineup, three batters who have hit really well over the last five weeks. Kevin Kramer is a solid #2 or #3 hitter, depending on where they put him. Chase Simpson and Wyatt Mathisen have been decent hitters recently in a limited role, while Taylor Gushue, Michael Suchy, Jerrick Suiter and Cole Tucker are due to break out, which is a nice way of saying they haven’t hit well recently.

JT Brubaker is starting the playoff opener, which isn’t ideal because he has struggled with the jump to High-A. Mitch Keller should get the start for game two on Wednesday night at home, and Thursday (if necessary) would be Yeudy Garcia’s turn to pitch. Brubaker might not be the worst choice for the opener because he has faced St Lucie three times this year and pitched well in two of those games, including one run over seven innings on the road. He did give up four runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings the next time he pitched in St Lucie, but came back with two runs over six innings when he last pitched against them on August 12th. (updated to note it now says Mitch Keller is starting tonight, although I was told different this morning)

Here are the first round playoff schedules for Altoona and Bradenton, which will remain up in the Morning Report until both teams either win, or have been eliminated.


9/6: Marauders @ St Lucie 6:30 PM

9/7: Marauders vs St Lucie 6:30 PM

9/8: Marauders vs St Lucie 6:30 PM (if necessary)


9/7: Altoona vs Akron 6:00 PM

9/8: Altoona vs Akron 6:00 PM

9/9: Altoona @ Akron 7:05 PM

9/10: Altoona @ Akron 7:05 PM (if necessary)

9/11: Altoona @ Akron 6:05 PM (if necessary)

** Chad Kuhl got knocked out of yesterday’s game after just two innings, but that was enough to take him out of our 2017 Prospect Guide. He is now at 50.2 innings this season, joining Jameson Taillon as the second prospect to lose his prospect status this season. Now we wait to see if Josh Bell and/or Adam Frazier join them. Frazier has more at-bats between the two, now 45 short of the 130 mark that knocks him out of the book. The problem is that he isn’t starting games, so he probably won’t reach that total over the last 27 games unless something changes. Bell has 46 at-bats now, which puts him 84 short with 27 games left. Now that he’s batting higher in the order, he has a better chance to reach that mark. It will just matter how many starts he gets over the rest of the season.

The exciting part about Kuhl losing his prospect status is that it means a new player will enter the top 30 on the Prospect Watch. Just a reminder that we will have a Prospect Watch and Morning Report until the minor league playoffs end. We will also have live coverage of every home game for Bradenton and Altoona during the playoffs. Back to the top 30, and I bet you can’t wait to see how Stephen Alemais does the rest of the season!


The Pirates trail the second wild card spot by a 4.5 games.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 12-6 to the Cardinals on Monday afternoon. They will now send Ryan Vogelsong to the mound tonight, making his ninth start of the season. He has faced the Cardinals once this season as a reliever, giving up two hits and a walk, while recording just one out. In his last start, Vogelsong gave up five runs over five innings against the Cubs. In his two previous starts combined, he allowed three earned runs over 11.1 innings. The Cardinals will counter with Luke Weaver, who has a 3.86 ERA in four starts, with 26 strikeouts and a 1.33 WHIP in 21 innings. Facing the Brewers in Milwaukee, he allowed three runs over six innings, while striking out ten batters in his last start.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-68) vs Cardinals (72-64) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Ryan Vogelsong (3.56 ERA, 24:42 BB/SO, 55.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (70-74) (season preview)

AA: Altoona (0-0) vs Akron (0-0) 6:00 PM 9/7 (season preview)
Probable starter:  Alex McRae (4.79 ERA, 25:67 BB/SO, 88.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (0-0) @ St Lucie (0-0) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter:  JT Brubaker (5.32 ERA, 22:43 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (71-68) (season preview)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (38-38) (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (25-43) (season preview)

GCL: Pirates (22-34) (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (27-42) (season preview)


Here is an RBI double from Hunter Owen, who hit .257/.313/.412 in 52 games after being drafted in the 25th round this year.


9/5: Jung Ho Kang activated from disabled list.

9/3: Jacob Taylor assigned to Morgantown.

9/2: Pirates recall Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault, Jason Rogers and Adam Frazier. Chris Stewart activated from disabled list.

9/1: Jung Ho Kang sent to Indianapolis on rehab.

9/1: Pirates receive Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez from Mariners to complete earlier trade for Arquimedes Caminero.

8/31: Pirates trade Kyle Lobstein to Baltimore Orioles for Zach Phillips.

8/31: Logan Ratledge promoted to Bradenton. Alfredo Reyes activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/31: Pirates release Raymond Rodriguez, Ramy Perez and Ramon Garcia.

8/31: David Whitehead assigned to Morgantown.

8/30: Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley sent to New York Yankees as part of Ivan Nova trade from August 1st.

8/30: Jason Creasy and Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.

8/30: Justin Maffei and Trace Tam Sing assigned to Indianapolis.

8/30: Henry Hirsch and Junior Lopez promoted to Altoona

8/30: Nick Neumann activated from Bradenton disabled list.

8/30: Alen Hanson promoted to Pirates. Jameson Taillon and Steven Brault assigned to Bristol.

8/30: Pirates purchased contract of Kelvin Marte. Kyle Lobstein designated for assignment.

8/30: Mitch Keller and Sean Keselica promoted to Bradenton. Scooter Hightower and Matt Frawley promoted to West Virginia

8/30: Mike Wallace promoted to Morgantown.

8/29: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Gerrit Cole placed on disabled list.

8/28: A.J. Schugel recalled from Indianapolis. Adam Frazier optioned to Bristol.

8/28: Pirates activate Tyler Glasnow from disabled list. Optioned to Indianapolis.

8/28: Justin Topa placed on disabled list. Henry Hirsch activated from temporary inactive list.

8/27: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis.

8/25: Nick Kingham assigned to Altoona. Chase Simpson activated from disabled list.


Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a player that lost his job to one Hall of Famer, then replaced another at a different position.

Derrek Lee, first baseman for the 2011 Pirates. He was a late-season acquisition, who hit .337 with seven homers in 28 games before getting hurt.

Frank Brooks, 2004 pitcher acquired from Phillies for closer Mike Williams. Made one unsuccessful start, then posted a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings of relief.

Pat Meares, infielder for 1999-2001 Pirates. Signed a four-year deal worth $15M with Pirates and ended up putting in just one full season due to injuries.

Mike York, 1990 pitcher. Threw seven shutout innings in his pro debut as a spot starter. Made just three relief appearances for the Pirates after that.

Jack Phillips, 1949-52 first baseman. With the Pirates for four seasons, but only played 158 games. Was in the organization in the minors until the end of the 1954 season.

Johnny Lanning, 1940-43, 45-46 pitcher. Won 11 games during the 1941 season and finished 33-29, 3.44 in 530.2 innings with Pirates.

Vince DiMaggio, center fielder for the Pirates from 1940 until 1944. Two-time All-Star for Pittsburgh, DiMaggio was strong defensively with a big swing that occasionally brought homers, but resulted in a lot of strikeouts. Six times he led the league in strikeouts. Pirates traded Johnny Rizzo to the Reds to get him. At the time, Rizzo held the Pirates record for homers in a season(23 in 1938).

Tommy Thevenow, 1931-35, 38 infielder. He lost his shortstop job in 1932 to Arky Vaughan, then replaced Pie Traynor at third base in 1935. Hit just two homers in his 15-year career and they were hit five days apart, both inside-the-park homers.

Bill Gleason, 1916-17 second baseman. Played over 2,000 minor league games and collected over 2,000 hits. Hit .159 in 14 games over his two seasons in Pittsburgh.

  • Looking forward to seeing Keller live tomorrow evening

  • John, in your opinion what is a reasonable expectation for the fan base of a winning franchise with a strong farm system to have in terms of the number (fraction) of the minor league affiliates making their layoffs? Is it reasonable to expect that all (or most) should make the playoffs? Did the Pirates’ minor league system under achieve this year with two affiliates of seven possibilities making the playoffs? Should we be pleased with this result or disappointed?

    • I don’t think you should have any set expectation going into a certain year. In some cases, playoff teams in the minors are filled with non-prospects who are too old for the level. The only team the Pirates really had with older players was Bristol, so if they made the playoffs, it wouldn’t mean much. Altoona and Bradenton had a lot of prospects throughout the year, so it’s a good sign that they made it. I would say the average year has 2-3 playoff teams. Last year they had four, this year two, so they are right there.

  • If the Muaraders or Altoona were playing the Pirates I would think they would fell pretty good about there chances right now.