It’s Opening Day for the minor league season, which means the return of our daily Morning Report. For those who are new to the site since last year, here is a brief introduction to what you can expect each morning.

We start with the intro section, which is what you’re reading now. It will briefly cover a variety of minor league topics throughout the year. Sometimes you’ll get a mini feature on a player, sometimes it’s a summary of stats throughout the organization and other times you’ll just get a bunch of random notes that aren’t enough for an article on their own.

That’s followed by the Pirates game graph, which is taken from Fangraphs. It basically gives you a summary of the previous day’s games. That section won’t be there if the Pirates had off the previous day.

Next up is the Playoff Push section, which is just there for today so you can see the setup. It will return as the first half of season winds down for Bradenton and West Virginia. Both teams play in a league with a split schedule. After that, the Playoff Push goes away again until later in the year when all eight affiliates will be covered, plus the Pirates. The section gets really busy in early August, running until the regular season ends, or all the clubs have either clinched or been eliminated.

After the Playoff Push, we have the daily schedule section called Today’s Schedule. That gives a brief rundown of the Pirates, covering their results and upcoming schedule, as well as a look at the minor league starters. Each team’s schedule for the day will be listed and the probable starting pitcher for each team from Bristol up to Indianapolis will be listed if they are available. You’ll noticed that both West Virginia and Bradenton have season previews next to their game times. The Altoona and Indianapolis previews will be up later today and then I’ll add them to tomorrow’s Morning Report. Those links remain there all season for your convenience. As other affiliates start to play, we will preview their seasons as well and add the links.

Next is the highlight section, which has a highlight from the Pirates today because none of the minor league teams have started play yet. I usually include a minor league highlight, sometimes two of them, and only go to the Pirates if nothing else is available.

I made a small tweak to the next section this year. I’ve shortened the time span for the transactions below. In the past I went with everything over the previous two weeks, but I’m cutting it down to ten days. That should be enough time for everyone to see a specific transaction. The list got very long at times last year, so the shorter time span should make it better for the article. Whenever a transaction has an article to go along with it, we will include the link.

The final section is This Date in Pirates History and it’s self-explanatory. Every day there will be some Pirates history. This site is loaded with older articles about the early days of the Pirates. The search option will lead you to many articles and notes, including mini bios for over 1,200 former Pirates players, going back to the 1882 club when the franchise was formed. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the Pirates started in 1887, you don’t need that type of negativity in your life.

What’s Coming Up Later Today

Later today before the minor league games start, we will post our daily Prospect Watch. That article will contain a recap for each game in the minors, often with live coverage of games. We have a writer in each city for the full-season clubs, plus Tim Williams doubles up on clubs in late June when the Gulf Coast League season begins. We will also have live coverage of Morgantown and Bristol during the season, bringing you all seven affiliates of the Pirates in the U.S. When I’m not out seeing clubs live, I’ll be watching along on MiLB.tv, which added all 70 home games for Bradenton this year. That goes along with every Indianapolis game and almost every Altoona game. West Virginia and Morgantown will each have 30+ games online. Sometimes the Morning Report intro section will be me expanding on something that happened the previous night in the game(s) I watched.

I usually base my game choice on whether someone else from the site is covering a game. For example tonight, Brian Peloza will be covering Indianapolis live, so I’ll be watching the Altoona game, which is the only other option tonight. Occasionally I’ll watch a game even if it has live coverage, such as Bradenton starts with Mitch Keller on the mound, since he’s the top pitching prospect in the system. In some cases, it’s better to have multiple people watching certain games.

Our Prospect Watch also includes the top 30 prospects in the minors at the top of each article for quick access to their day in the minors. We have taken out Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Williams and Alen Hanson while they are in the majors. If they return to the minors before they lose their prospect status like Josh Bell did on Opening Day (he was just three at-bats short), then they will be put back on the list. Just for reference, Glasnow is 27 innings away from losing his prospect status, while Williams is either 37.2 innings, or 24 appearances, whichever comes first. Hanson will be considered a prospect for awhile as a bench player who needs 100 more at-bats to graduate.

So there you have it. You can expect a Morning Report every morning around 8:00 AM, and then the Prospect Watch will go live sometime in the afternoon. You will occasionally see it earlier in the day if there are multiple day games in the minors.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

PLAYOFF PUSH

This feature is just here for today, since it is way too early to be thinking about the playoffs. Later in the season, we will keep you informed of the playoff push with the Pirates and all of their affiliates. Expect it to return near the end of May for both Bradenton and West Virginia, who play split-seasons and could be looking to earn a playoff spot in September by winning their first half title. That scenario played out last year with Bradenton, then they went on to win the Florida State League title.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 3-0 in 12 innings to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. They now send Chad Kuhl to the mound, looking to pick up one win before leaving Boston and going on to their home opener on Friday. Today’s game has been postponed due to rain. The makeup date is April 13th. Steven Brault, Alex McRae, Dario Agrazal and James Marvel get the starts in the minors. McRae got the start in the opener for Bradenton last year.

MLB: Pittsburgh (0-2) @ Red Sox (2-0) 1:35 PM POSTPONED
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (NR)

AAA: Indianapolis (0-0) vs Toledo (0-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Steven Brault (NR)

AA: Altoona (0-0) @ Harrisburg (0-0) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: Alex McRae (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-0) @ Charlotte (0-0) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (0-0) vs Rome (0-0) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (NR)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Opening Day, here we have Gerrit Cole’s first strikeout of the season. Once the minor league teams start posting highlights, we will usually have 1-2 videos from the minors each day, based on availability. With Bradenton now posting highlights, it gives us more teams to choose from.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

4/4: Pirates sign pitcher Yoandy Fernandez

4/4: Pirates release Francis Rodriguez, Adrian Grullon, Robbie Coursel and Nestor Oronel

3/29: Pirates release Jason Creasy and Justin Topa

3/29: Pirates release Jared Hughes

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Pirates pitcher and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven was born on this date in 1951. He pitched three seasons for the Pirates from 1978 until 1980. Blyleven posted a 34-28, 3.47 record with the Pirates in 697.2 innings. That includes 12 wins during the 1979 season, when he helped the Pirates to their fifth World Series title. During his career, he won 287 games and struck out 3,701 batters, which ranks fifth all-time. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Pirates third baseman Sonny Senerchia was also born on this date, twenty years before Blyleven. His entire big league career consisted of 29 games for the 1952 Pirates.

On this date in 1971, the Pirates opened up their fourth World Series winning season with a 4-2 win over the Phillies. The lineup had three Hall of Famers that day:

2B Mazeroski

3B Hebner

RF Clemente

C  Sanguillen

1B Robertson

LF Stargell

CF Oliver

SS Hernandez

P  Ellis

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Why r the Pirates not sending Bell to minors to work on his swing. Swing so much movement and so long. No way he’ll hit with consistency!

  2. Yes Howie Haak was a legend and those players all were helped by him. Money was not a big issue back then. Now, you see it showing up in the disparity in Bostons roster vis a vis the Pirates. They trade for Sale. Pirates can’t trade for Quintana. This is the difference.

    • Sale is a MUCH MUCH better pitcher than Quintana. Also the reported asking price for Quintana, who is a good pitcher but far from an ace, was way more than he was worth.

  3. Anyone on this page live in Charlotte, NC? I’m relocating there from Philly in 2 weeks. Looking forward to going to some Charlotte Knights games.

  4. What an interesting contrast with today’s club. Maz was primarily glove, to be sure, but not too shabby with the bat. Then: Hebner, Clemente, Sanguillen, Robertson, Stargell (6th!) and Oliver. The Lumber Company pre-Dave Parker. Them was the days!

  5. What an incredible line up from 1971. Unfortunately I was wearing an olive drab uniform and saluting a lot. I didn’t get to see that many games, but loved the World Series.

  6. Glad to have the Morning Report back. Great work, John!

    Is it common for each minor league affiliate to line up their Opening Day rotation roughly in the order of prominence, as is done at the Major League level? Agrazal clearly isn’t the “ace” of the Bradenton staff and I highly doubt Mcrae is top dog in Altoona, but I wonder if there’s any signal to Brault getting the nod for Indy?

    • Nope, it just lines up with how they got stretched out in Spring Training. It’s basically just a carryover from spring and that’s based on where they were in their throwing program when they reported. They don’t line up minor league rotations like they do the majors.

    • He batted 4th just 15 times that season, doing it at least once every month, so he didn’t really have a set spot in the lineup. He hit seventh more often than any other spot.

  7. If you are new to this site, good morning. This is the place you should start your day EVERY morning. John gives a wrap up + preview.
    Three essentials every morning, coffee, breakfast and Dreker Morning Report.

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