Baseball America posted their list of the top 20 prospect from the Dominican Summer League. As we noted in our DSL recap, it wasn’t the best year for the Pirates and their prospects in the DSL. For that reason, I didn’t expect any Pirates to make the BA top 20, especially since there were over 1,500 players in the DSL last year. Basically, it’s a large group and the top 20 players means you’re talking about the elites of the group. That being said, Kevin Sanchez was one of two players named by BA as players who just missed the list, but they were still intriguing prospects.
It sounds like Sanchez missed the list due to not putting up the stats you hope to see from a prospect. Part of the reason might come from the fact that he suffered a minor leg injury right before Opening Day and missed the beginning of the season, then had a slow start once he returned. As one of the youngest players in the league, Sanchez ended up hitting .235/.359/.275 in 45 games, while posting an impressive 24:18 BB/SO ratio. The leg injury took away his best asset, which is above average speed. One person I talked to before he got hurt described it as “plus-plus” speed. He finished just 4-for-12 in steals, which is well off what you would expect from a base runner of his caliber.
Since the DSL season ended, Sanchez was invited to the Fall Instructional League, where he got to play games for a few weeks against some of the older prospects in the system. I wrote about seeing him battle Gage Hinsz in an impressive at-bat, where he ended up striking out on a 3-2 pitch. Sanchez was one of the few DSL players who was an early invite to minor league Spring Training this year, so he’s been down at Pirate City since early March, and should be the starting center fielder for the GCL Pirates this season.
We had Sanchez as the second best prospect for the DSL Pirates last year behind outfielder Jeremias Portorreal. He was picked over Sanchez because a mid-season adjustment he made at the plate led to terrific results in the second half of the DSL season. He then got promoted to the GCL, where the season ended later, giving him a chance to get in 32 plate appearances against more advanced pitching. Portorreal also took part in the Fall Instructional League and he’s currently in Extended Spring Training.
** West Virginia has been a prime example of how early in the season it is still at this point. Just three days ago, they went into Sunday’s game as one of the worst hitting teams in the minors, scoring 31 runs in ten games. After 40 runs and 50 hits in the last three days, they now lead the South Atlantic League with an .810 OPS. They are also doing it after losing two of their starters and best hitters on the team. Now only if some other club could do that same exact thing after losing two of their best hitters…
To be serious for a second, it’s great to see the Power hitting well, but I’m not sure I can remember a Low-A team for the Pirates where the youngest position player was 22 years old. While we mentioned there could be some sleeper prospects in the group, no one can really jump up the prospect list by doing well at West Virginia because every single player is older than the league average. A big season would get them on the map, but they would still need to prove something at a higher level before they really got recognition. This team should be doing well, because in Low-A terms, they are a bunch of veterans and the experience should lead to results, even if they aren’t top prospects.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 2-1 to the St Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night. Gerrit Cole will take the mound this afternoon for his fourth start. He allowed two runs over six innings in a win against the Cubs at Wrigley in his last start. The Cardinals will counter with right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha, who has a 3.00 ERA in two starts.
In the minors, it’s all prospects on the mound. Tyler Eppler goes for Indianapolis, coming off two shutout performances to begin the season. JT Brubaker gets his third start for Altoona, as does Mitch Keller for Bradenton and Luis Escobar for West Virginia. Keller had tough first outing, then bounced back with one run over six innings in his next start. Escobar struck out 12 batters in his first game, then followed it up with 11 strikeouts in his second start. Indianapolis is an afternoon start.
MLB: Pittsburgh (6-8) @ Cardinals (5-9) 1:45 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (5.29 ERA, 4:11 BB/SO, 17.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (3-9) vs Durham (8-4) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (0.00 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (8-4) vs Erie (7-4) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (4.76 ERA, 5:9 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (9-4) vs Clearwater (9-4) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (6.48 ERA, 1:7 BB/SO, 8.1 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (6-7) @ Hickory (5-8) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (1.64 ERA, 1:23 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)
From Sunday for West Virginia, shortstop Stephen Alemais rips an RBI double.
4/18: Starling Marte suspended 80 games by MLB. Pirates recall Jose Osuna
4/18: Brandon Waddell placed on disabled list
4/18: Joey Terdoslavich added to Indianapolis roster
4/18: Pedro Vasquez added to Bradenton roster. Julio Eusebio assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/17: Pirates acquire Johnny Barbato from New York Yankees. Barbato optioned to Indianapolis.
4/15: Cam Vieaux added to West Virginia roster. Mike Wallace assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/13: Julio Eusebio added to Bradenton roster. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/11: Albert Baur placed on disabled list. Ty Moore added to West Virginia roster
4/11: Cam Vieaux assigned to Extended Spring Training. Mike Wallace added to West Virginia roster
4/11: Jordan George assigned to Extended Spring Training. Trace Tam Sing added to Bradenton roster
4/10: Victor Fernandez placed on West Virginia disabled list. Carlos Munoz added to active roster
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, all of them have played within the last 30 years. There is also a trade of note from the last World Series team in franchise history.
On this date in 1979, the Pirates traded shortstop Frank Taveras to the New York Mets in exchange for shortstop Tim Foli and minor league pitcher Greg Field. Foli was a big part of the 1979 squad and stuck around until the 1981 season, though he did come back briefly during the 1985 season. He hit .291 while setting career highs with 70 runs scored and 65 RBIs in 1979. In 587 plate appearances that year, he struck out just 14 times. Foli hit .333 in both the NLCS and the World Series.
The players born on this date are: Pitcher Zach Duke (2005-10), pitcher Joe Beimel (2001-03, 2011), pitcher Dennys Reyes (2003) and outfielder R.J. Reynolds (1985-90). Reynolds was acquired from the Dodgers in the 1985 Bill Madlock trade. He would hit .308 with 12 stolen bases and 17 RBIs in his first month with the Pirates. Reynolds played 616 games with the Pirates before being released. He then went to Japan for three seasons, before finishing his playing career in Mexico.
Two Opening Days from long ago of note. On this date in 1900, Sam Leever made his first Opening Day start, losing 3-0 to the St Louis Cardinals. Leever’s 194 wins with the Pirates ties him with Babe Adams for the second most in franchise history.
Ten years earlier, Pittsburgh defeated the Cleveland Spiders by a 3-2 score. They would win just 22 more games the entire season. The 1890 Pirates (then known as the Alleghenys) finished the season with a 23-113 record, the second worst record in Major League history.