Morning Report: Thoughts on the AFL Assignments and Three Released Players

Some notes on players who were released yesterday, as well as weather messing up the schedule, and a couple of injuries you may have missed last night in the Prospect Watch because they were added late at night. Before I get into that, I just wanted to mention the AFL assignments from yesterday. I usually give guesses during a Morning Report, but I passed on it this year. I still made guesses and just like the last two years, I got two correct. This year it was Eric Wood and Montana DuRapau.

The Pirates threw a curveball this year with their selections by including four Triple-A players and two returning players. Most players who go are Double-A players, with usually 1-2 Bradenton players. Return trips to the AFL are very rare. Players who have winter ball in their home country are also rare, but they threw two of them in this year. The AFL assignments are just like predicting the draft for the Pirates. Just when you think you got the pattern down, they make a change. I’m still waiting for them to select an athletic player with the hit tool in this year’s draft.

We will have live coverage of the AFL for a week or so in early November, which includes the Fall-Stars game. I also give recaps for the games daily with a breakdown of the performance of each player. Sometimes they will have pitch velocities and once in awhile, you might be able to catch a game or two on MLB Network. I have no idea why they don’t televise more games from the AFL, especially after the World Series ends. It would be the only baseball on, at least in the U.S., and every game has players from ten organizations so you’re possibly drawing from a big crowd. Maybe this will be the year they add some more broadcasts, besides the 3-4 they usually do.

** The Pirates released three players at the end of the DSL season, so I’ll give them a proper send-off here. Ramy Perez played four seasons in the DSL, which is the league maximum, so his release was expected. The Pirates would have needed to invite him to the Fall Instructional League, and when we got that list and he wasn’t on it, that spelled the end for him. Perez actually got the kiss of death last year when he was used as a mop up pitcher. Prospects don’t take that role and very few position players get to pitch on their way up to the majors, and then actually make it to the highest level. Perez could play three infield spots and catch, so he was a good extra player to have around. He hit .237/.307/.307 in 178 games.

If you knew nothing about Raymond Rodriguez, all I would have to tell you is that the Pirates released a 19-year-old lefty with DSL eligibility left, and you would know there were some issues. Rodriguez spent three seasons in the league and his main goal was work on fastball command. In 55.1 innings, he walked 73 batters. This season was his worst, so he ends up being released as a teenager who can sit 91-92 MPH with his fastball. He just can’t do that while throwing it in the strike zone.

The final player released is a slightly odd one. Ramon Garcia had a strong season in 2015, which earned him a trip to the Fall Instructional League. That’s usually a good sign that the team thinks you have some potential, and it’s almost a guarantee you report to Bradenton in March for Spring Training. Garcia was the exception to that rule, then he had a poor season this year, especially compared to last year. He was a polished pitcher for the DSL with limited upside. Garcia hit 90 MPH with his fastball and had a strong curve and changeup, using all three pitches for strikes. He was one of the oldest DSL players at 24 years old.

** Weather took care of a doubleheader for the GCL Pirates today. Would have been a nice day with Jacob Taylor and Travis MacGregor both scheduled, plus Austin Shields would have likely pitched. With the rain, the GCL Pirates lost a total of three games this season. Bradenton also had a game wiped off their schedule last night due to rain. Amazing to think that the minor league season is almost over. A total of 26 regular season games remain for affiliates of the Pirates. By tomorrow morning, three of the teams will be done with their season.

** If you read the Prospect Watch last night when it was first “completed”, which you usually can tell by an updated title after all of the games are completed, then you may have missed two injury updates. I saw both Cam Vieaux and Stephen Alemais left early, so once the games were archived on, I went back and watched them. I won’t go into full detail like I did last night, since you can check the link if you’re interested. I will give the short answer that it looked like Alemais hurt his wrist (which initially happened Tuesday night) and Vieaux had a footing problem on a delivery and came up limping. At this point in the season, these injuries (assuming they are minor, which I believe they are) shouldn’t be a concern with only a few games left and an entire off-season to recover.


The Pirates trail the second wild card spot by a 2.5 games.

Indianapolis has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.

Altoona leads their division by one game. The top two teams in the division go to the playoffs, with the first place team getting the home field advantage in the first round.

Bradenton won the first half title. They have home field advantage in the playoffs.

West Virginia has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.

Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.

Bristol has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends today.

The GCL season has ended.

The DSL season has ended.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-5 to the Cubs on Wednesday night. The Pirates have off today before starting a three-game series at home against the Brewers. Jameson Taillon will be on the mound.

In the minors, Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams make their last starts of the season. We will have more on Glasnow later today. We found out yesterday that Williams will be making a return trip to the Arizona Fall League. He has been on quite a run the second half of the season. In his last 11 starts, Williams has a 1.51 ERA over 65.2 innings. He’s holding batters to a .518 OPS during that stretch.

Today will also be the last starts of the season for Logan Sendelbach, James Marvel and Adam Oller. Alex McRae goes for Altoona and JT Brubaker gets the ball for Bradenton. Both of them could pitch in the playoffs. Last night, the GCL Pirates canceled their scheduled doubleheader for today due to the weather, officially ending their season. Bristol finishes up their schedule today. The DSL season ended Saturday.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-64) vs Brewers (57-76) 7:05 PM 9/2
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.39 ERA, 21:39 BB/SO, 77.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (67-71) vs Louisville (68-70) 6:05 PM DH(season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.89 ERA, 58:125 BB/SO, 105.0 IP) and Trevor Williams (2.68 ERA, 29:64 BB/SO, 104.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-61) vs Binghamton (62-73) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.14 ERA, 24:64 BB/SO, 82.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (69-64) @ Ft Myers (68-67) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter:  JT Brubaker (5.51 ERA, 22:41 BB/SO, 63.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (68-66) @ Columbia (64-71) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Logan Sendelbach (3.71 ERA, 31:96 BB/SO, 133.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (34-37) @ Auburn (28-41) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: James Marvel (4.58 ERA, 19:39 BB/SO, 59.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (25-42) @ Kingsport (26-41) 6:00 PM (season preview)

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

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


Here is a two-run homer from Austin Meadows on Tuesday night. He was named to the Arizona Fall League roster on Wednesday afternoon.


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.

8/22: Kyle Lobstein activated from the disabled list.

8/21: Evan Piechota promoted to Morgantown.

8/21: Yeudy Garcia activated from disabled list. Henry Hirsch placed on temporary inactive list.

8/20: Jung Ho Kang placed on disabled list. Josh Bell recalled from Indianapolis.

8/20: Stephen Alemais promoted to West Virginia. Alfredo Reyes placed on disabled list.

8/20: Ke’Bryan Hayes assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

8/20: Pirates release Edgardo Leon

8/18: Pirates release Josh Outman.

8/18: Juan Diaz assigned to Bristol.

8/18: Jeremias Portorreal and Gabriel Brito promoted to GCL Pirates.


Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the son of a Pirates great.

Dave Rucker, 1988 pitcher. Lefty reliever signed as a free agent prior to the 1988 season. Spent all of 1989 in the minors for the Pirates. In 31 appearances, he had a 4.76 ERA over 28.1 innings. The Pirates had an 85-75 record during the 1988 season, but they were 6-25 in games that Rucker pitched.

Vic Barnhart turns 94 today. He played 74 games total for the 1944-46 Pirates. He is the son of Clyde Barnhart, who spent his entire nine-year career with the Pirates (1920-28), hitting .295 in 814 games. Vic is the only Pirates player alive who played with the team before 1947. He is the fourth oldest living former Pirates player.

Jim Hopper, 1946 pitcher. Was managed by HOF pitcher Burleigh Grimes when the Pirates signed him out of the minors. Grimes played for the Pirates three different times, and said that Hopper was the best young player the Pirates had. Unfortunately, before he played a game for the team, he was called into active duty for the war. The Pirates signed him thinking he wouldn’t go to war because he had two young kids at home. Hopper missed two full years before returning in 1946. He started the fifth game of the season, then pitched again a month later, in what ended up being his last big league appearance.

Fred Nicholson, 1919-20 Pirates outfielder. The Pirates purchased him from the Tigers on June 30, 1919 for $2,500. He hit .273 in 30 games in 1919, then batted .360 over 99 games during the 1920 season. Prior to the 1921 season, he was involved in a trade that included two future Hall of Famers, Billy Southworth and Rabbit Maranville.

Sam Brenegan, played one inning on April 24,1914. If he played in this era, he would be one of the most hated Pirates. Brenegan made his Major League debut in the sixth inning of a game the Pirates were losing to the Cardinals. Manager Fred Clarke decided to give starting catcher George Gibson a rest, sending Brenegan in to catch. Two batters into the inning, he committed a passed ball and walked after the ball behind him, which immediately irritated Clarke. A couple pitches later, a wild pitch hit his finger and he walked after the ball again. Instead of going back behind the plate, he walked to the bench and sat down. That was his entire big league career.

On this date in 1890, the Pirates/Alleghenys lost all three games of a tripleheader to Brooklyn. It is one of three tripleheaders in Major League history. Pittsburgh lost 10-9 in the opener, 3-2 in the middle game and 8-4 in the last game. Only 915 paying customers showed up and the games took a total of four hours and 48 minutes to play.

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.

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Off topic, but the Tigers are putting Jacoby Jones in CF in the middle of a pennant race and he’s doing well….Albeit for a couple of games. He was one of my favorite prospects before the trade last year and I will be closely watching his development in the majors. Very good athlete.


Does the fact that Montana D is going to the AFL mean that he is now a prospect again? Because, in the spring, you mentioned that the fact that he was being used as the “blowout” pitcher meant that they weren’t too high on him.


He is the closer for Altoona.


I couldn’t recall the exact name, but to me “extra pitcher” means “blowout pitcher” or “run out of arms” pitcher. 🙂


Why is his prospect status down? He has good k/9 #’s, solid whip, as well as a solid era. I know his BB/9 could come down some, but what else am I missing? He seems like he could be a long reliever in the majors in the near future?


Gotcha….How is his secondary pitches? Does he have movement on his Fb, or is it a low 90’s, flat and up in the zone? I watched Altoona play a few times in Erie, but he didn’t pitch….Was always curious about him.


He only hit 89 when I saw him.

Pete Cepulis

Raymond Rodriguez’s stats at DSL: 8 2/3 IP, 19 BB, 22.85 ERA, 4.27 WHIP. Did the Bucs actually sign Jean Robert Eusebio for the DSL next year yet?


It is unusual to send AAA players to the AFL. When started, it was primarily a AA League where your best prospects at AA were going to get some extra experience before reporting to AAA. Over the years, many teams, including the Pirates, have begun sending prospects from levels lower than AA.

If it works, great experience; if it does not, it could be a mental setback in a game where confidence in your abilities is a primary attribute for success.


I wonder if the AFL is gonna replaced the winter league for some players.

Mark H

Wow – 4 hours and 48 minutes for three games! A little more than 10 minutes per inning.


I remember when Pirate Games started at 8:15 and were almost always over before 11:00.

Look at the time it took to play that 1960 7th game and it was a high scoring game! Clete Boyer got a new bat and practically sprinted back to the batter’s box!

Completely different game these days!

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