A few thoughts and notes for your morning.
**It’s still too early in the season to be certain about the Indianapolis playing time management, but it’s interesting to note that Erich Weiss has played just five games. Last year Indianapolis had a lot of solid players, which meant very little playing time for Mel Rojas Jr. and Dan Gamache. Weiss was in a better spot coming into this season than those two players were last year, so you’d imagine that his playing time picks up a little. That might not happen though because Indianapolis will eventually get Barrett Barnes and that could effect Weiss. Chris Bostick is seeing outfield time now and his main position is second base. Adding someone who should play regularly to a team with an already crowded roster, is probably going to affect the bench. This will be something to keep an eye on.
**Kevin Krause was named the Florida State League Player of the Week on Monday afternoon. It’s still very early in the year and he’s already had a strange season. Krause was on the Bradenton bench for the first three games, which was prior to Jordan George getting hurt. Krause played in game four and homered in each of his first two at-bats. He went 8-for-15 in his first four games. Since then he has gone 0-for-9 with four strikeouts and he was on the bench for two games. In a short time span, he’s gone from the bench, to playing the role of a superstar, to a slumping bench player. That’s just the first dozen games for Bradenton…
**Today should be a good day for the game recaps in the minors, as we expect live coverage in Bradenton, Altoona and Indianapolis. That leaves me to write up the West Virginia Powerhouse lineup, which has put up 32 runs and 40 hits over the last two days. For comparison sake, Indianapolis has scored 40 runs this season and Altoona has put up 36 runs. A better comparison is that West Virginia scored 31 runs in their first ten games combined.
**Bradenton advertised that they were the first team in the Florida State League to broadcast games on MiLB.tv, which is great this season with a team that includes Gage Hinsz, Mitch Keller, Taylor Hearn, Will Craig, Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes. They had issues with the feed during the mini two-game homestand to start the season and no games were on. They returned home last night for a seven-game homestand and the link was there before the game for the MiLB.tv feed, but it disappeared once the game started, leaving us without a feed again. Tim Williams will be providing live coverage from there this week, but I was still looking forward to watching Keller, Hearn and Hinsz make starts this week. Hopefully they have the feed up by Wednesday, so that’s possible.
**In case you’ve wondered how left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo is doing in college, I’ll provide an update. The 41st overall draft pick from last year, who passed on signing to attend TCU, is in the starting rotation. That’s fairly impressive for a freshman at a major college. He pitched on Saturday night and got knocked out after one inning, allowing three runs to West Virginia. That gives Lodolo a 5.49 ERA in 39.1 innings over nine starts. On the bright side for him, he has 43 strikeouts.
As for the Pirates, they get the 42nd overall pick this year, which is worth $60,000 more than the 41st overall pick last year. They also signed high upside pitcher Austin Shields last year, which wouldn’t have been possible if Lodolo took the Pirates highest offer, which was $1,750,000. That would have taken the over-slot money that ended up going to Shields. It will be a long time before we know if the Pirates end up doing better with Shields and the 42nd pick this year, as opposed to signing Lodolo.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 2-1 to the St Louis Cardinals on Monday night. Chad Kuhl now gets the ball for his third start of the season. He allowed one run over 6.1 innings in his start last week against the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Mike Leake, who has an 0.60 ERA. In the minors, a couple pitchers who are off to solid starts this season, make their third appearance today. Altoona’s Alex McRae has an 0.82 ERA through 11 innings, giving up just one run. In Bradenton, 21-year-old Pedro Vasquez looks to build on two outings in which he allowed one run each time. He made just eight starts in Low-A last year, so between his age and experience, this is a slightly advanced placement for him and he’s handling it well so far.
MLB: Pittsburgh (6-7) @ Cardinals (4-9) 8:15 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (2.38 ERA, 6:11 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (3-8) vs Durham (7-4) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (7.84 ERA, 4:12 BB/SO, 10.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (7-4) vs Erie (7-3) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (0.82 ERA, 3:13 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (9-3) vs Clearwater (8-4) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (2.08 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 8.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (5-7) @ Hickory (5-7) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (10.50 ERA, 1:5 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)
Jose Osuna got the scoring started on Sunday with the first of two doubles he hit in the game. He has five doubles this season.
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
4/7: Junior Lopez suspended 25 games
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including pitcher/announcer Steve Blass. He won 103 games over ten seasons for the Pirates and was on the mound at the end of the 1971 World Series. Blass has been announcing for the Pirates since 1983. You can check the link for a detailed bio from his playing days.
Other Pirates born on this date are: catcher Angelo Encarnacion (1995-96), pitcher Larry Foss (1961), catcher Bob Linton (1929), pitcher Jack Scott (1916) and first baseman Jack Rothfuss (1897). Linton has an interesting footnote to his career. He spent the entire season with the Pirates in 1929 and never saw his name in the starting lineup. All 17 career games he played were off the bench. Scott was a pitcher, who played just one game for the Pirates and came into that game as a pinch-hitter before getting on the mound. Rothfuss hit .313 in a late-season trial for the Pirates in 1897 and had the starting first base job going into 1898, but a three-month illness cost him that spot and he never played in the majors again.
Two significant Opening Days have occurred on this date, both before the Pirates moved to the National League. In 1885, the Pirates (then called the Alleghenys) played their first game in April. Their first three seasons all started in May. The next year, the team played their one and only Opening Day doubleheader in franchise history. They lost both games to the St Louis Browns, who are now the St Louis Cardinals, not to be confused with the St Louis Browns team that played in the American League. That AL Browns team is now the Baltimore Orioles, and they actually started as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901.