A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson), or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.
1. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis –DNP
2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – DNP
3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – DNP
4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – DNP
5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton –DNP
6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – DNP
7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – DNP
8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – DNP
9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP
10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – DNP
11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP
12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP
13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP
14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – DNP
15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP
16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – DNP
17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP
18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona –DNP
19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona –DNP
20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis –DNP
21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – DNP
22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – DNP
23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP
24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Extended Spring Training –DNP
25. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis –DNP
26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – DNP
27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – DNP
28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – DNP
29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – DNP
30. Jose Osuna, 1B, Pirates – DNP
INDIANAPOLIS — Clay Holmes has shown a little bit of everything in three starts this season.
He had a solid, but not spectacular outing in his Triple-A debut, but didn’t make it out of the first inning of his second start.
And then came his third start.
Holmes threw a gem against Durham on Thursday that showed the potential of the organization’s 12th-ranked prospect, striking out seven and walking just one in six scoreless innings.
But the best part?
“We really haven’t seen him at his best yet until today and I don’t even think that was his best,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “I think there’s more in the tank.”
Durham scored all of its runs in the ninth inning of its 4-1 win over Indianapolis. Prior to the Indianapolis bullpen melting down, Holmes won a pitching duel against Bulls’ starter Ryan Yarbrough.
And this outing came after Holmes needed 35 pitches to record two outs, and not finishing the first inning of his previous start.
“He showed a lot of composure and was in a tough battle with their guy who was keeping us off balance,” Barkett said. “(Clay) didn’t relent and just kept coming after them. I’m really proud of his effort, especially after last time.”
Holmes brought some heat in the second inning, striking out the side. He struck out Curt Casali on three pitches, freezing him with a 99 MPH fastball on the outer edge.
“Some (teammates) were chirping about that,” Holmes said of his 99 MPH fastball.
Holmes hit 97 MPH with his fastball on two occasions, and hit 96 MPH on several pitches. His increased velocity is due to one key factor: his Tommy John surgery of 2015 is becoming a distant memory.
“(The velocity) is definitely up,” Holmes said. “I think it’s part of having a whole offseason. My body is in really good shape coming off the surgery. The arm is really fast and I’m feeling really good. I definitely think. It’s not a surprise. It’s something I can do. My velo is good right now, so as long as I stay healthy and on top of my arm care programs, I think it’s something that should stay there.”
Barkett didn’t realize Holmes had velocity that can reach the upper-90s, and doesn’t usually pay too much attention to the radar gun during games. But a 99 MPH fastball on the corner caught even his attention
“I was impressed,” Barkett said. “That velocity is obviously on the upper tier of what guys can throw these days. Only a few people can throw it like that. It was impressive.”
While the velocity was impressive, Holmes also used his slider-cutter and curveball effectively. Holmes was able to mix all of those pitches in a way to induce groundballs when he needed them the most.
The game began ominously for Holmes, hitting Durham lead-off hitter Jake Hager in the upper back with the second pitch of the game. But he got out of the inning with just four more pitches, inducing a 6-4-3 double play two pitches later.
Holmes worked around a pair of singles in the third inning, one on a slow rolling infield hit, but Hager hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Durham’s Granden Goetzman hit a standup double down the left field line to lead off the fourth inning and moved to third base on a slow rolling groundout down the first base line. But Holmes worked around that scoring threat, striking out Casey Gillaspie on a 95 MPH fastball. Indianapolis third baseman Eric Wood made a nice play on a slow grounder to end the inning.
“That’s the thing with me, when I’m good my strength is getting the ball on the ground,” Holmes said. “Especially with runners on, I know I’m always one pitch away. If I can make that pitch and get the double play it’s going to help me go deeper in games. It will help me as a pitcher, too, with runners on.”
Those double plays are the result of a philosophy that is simple, but crucial, Barkett said.
“Attacking the zone,” Barkett said. “Sometimes these young pitchers, when they get in tough spots, try to be perfect. And he stayed on the attack and when you stay on the attack and have really good stuff like he does, you have a chance to get ground balls.”
Holmes struck out two batters — Casali and Kean Wong — on 83 MPH curveballs in the fifth inning.
“Later in the game I started to throwing the curveball more,” Holmes said. “I was still throwing both of the breaking pitches, but they kind of feed off each other.”
Hager led the sixth inning off with an opposite-field single down the first base line, and Holmes issued his first walk on five pitches to the next batter. Gift Ngoepe fielded a grounder up the middle, stepped on second and threw to first for the 6-3 double play. A popup ended the inning.
Overall, Holmes put together an impressive outing. He mixed not just his pitches but the location of them well throughout the game. Bauers struck out looking at a 97 MPH fastball at the knees. Holmes used all parts of the plate to set up that strikeout, throwing a 95 MPH fastball high and inside that brushed Bauers back, and later throwing a two-seam fastball low and away.
“That’s something we’ve talked about – throwing the two-seam to both sides of the plate,” Holmes said. “I can throw it inside and both of those are really good weapons and something I have to use. I just can’t stay on one side of the plate with sinkers. I was able to go both sides with it.”
Holmes threw 51 of his 80 pitches for a strike, walking just one batter after walking three batters in each of his first two starts of the season.
Newly-acquired Johnny Barbato made his organizational debut, throwing two scoreless innings in relief. Barbato was sitting 94 MPH and struck out one batter and allowed one hit in his two innings of work.
And with Holmes and Barbato combining for eight scoreless innings, Austin Meadows seemed to have provided all the offense needed.
Meadows had a nice piece of hitting in the sixth inning, slapping an opposite field double to left that scored Gift Ngoepe from first base. Meadows’ double came off Yarbrough, a left-hander.
Meadows went 2-for-4 and is hitting .184, showing signs of breaking out of his slow early-season start. He almost got a day off, but his results might provide a jump start.
”He has a scarred up shin from sliding, but then I changed my mind (on a day off),” Barkett said. “He hits lefties well and he needs to get going. He got a couple of hits and that was a great at-bat against that left-hander (Yarbrough), who was giving everyone trouble. He stayed in there with two strikes and did what he does best, which is use the whole field.”
Meadows’ second hit was a single in the ninth inning off Durham reliever Ryne Stanek, who was consistently hitting 100 MPH.
Indianapolis led 1-0 going into the ninth inning, but the bullpen lost the game. Cody Dickson didn’t retire the three batters he faced, allowing two singles and one walk. A.J. Schugel entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs, but allowed two hits, including a two-run home run to Mike Marjama.
The Indians (4-10) have lost four games this season when leading after six innings.
“Obviously it hasn’t been good,” Barkett said. “We’re not set up in a way, with the way we run the bullpen, that this is the closer and this is the setup guy. They’re all going to get chances to pitch in different situations. We just have to pitch better and we have to be able to put people away when we get two strikes.”
Max Moroff and Elias Diaz each went 0-for-4. Eric Wood was 0-for-2, but made three nice defensive plays at third base, including a leaping grab of a lineout in the seventh inning. – Brian Peloza
Altoona was off today.
BRADENTON, Fla. – Taylor Hearn only lasted two innings tonight, reaching his single pitch limit in the second inning after giving up five runs. Hearn looked good in the first inning, pounding the strike zone and getting two strikeouts with his slider. He added another strikeout in the second inning, getting his second out with a runner on second — reaching second on a passed ball. That strikeout can be seen below.
That’s when things fell apart for Hearn. He got into a lot of deep counts and couldn’t put opposing hitters away when he got into two strike counts. His slider, which he’s only had for a little over a year, wasn’t consistent tonight. It wasn’t putting people away consistently when Hearn got into those two strike counts, and that allowed for a few singles that just fell in for hits.
Hearn was sitting 96-98 MPH early with his fastball, and was consistently hitting 95-97 throughout the start. The fastball command was good, which is a positive takeaway here. Hearn didn’t have the best fastball command last year, showing bouts of wildness. He’s doing much better in that regard this year, although still struggling with the slider and changeup command at times.
This is the first full season that Hearn is pitching in pro ball, after missing a lot of time with a broken foot last year. He didn’t get much time as a starter when he returned, which means that this year will be his first season getting the opportunity to work multiple innings and work on his secondary stuff. He’s showing some promise early in the season, but as the second inning showed tonight, he still has plenty of work to do throughout the year.
**I’ve been encouraged by Will Craig’s defense at first base this series. He looks much better there than he did at third base last year, with much better first step quickness. Tonight he made a nice diving catch on a liner to his right with the bases loaded and no outs. He was then able to flip to the pitcher to double up the runner at first base, who broke from the bag thinking the ball would go through for a hit. I heard from scouts who saw him in college that they have no concerns about his defense at first base, and he’s not showing any concerns so far from what I’ve seen.
**Cole Tucker continues to be aggressive on the bases. He stretched a single into a double in the first inning, using his speed to get the base easily on a hard line drive single. He then tried to steal third base and was thrown out easily. That was the second time Tucker has been thrown out at third this season, and the second time he’s been thrown out this season. Four of his 11 stolen bases this year have been a steal of third base. He’s 7-for-7 at stealing second.
**Yunior Montero might not be in Bradenton for long. He went three innings tonight in relief of Hearn, giving up a run on a hit and two walks. Most of the damage came in the third inning, and he was looking good in his first two innings. The first inning saw him strike out the side on 11 pitches, with eight swings and misses. He was throwing a 90-93 MPH fastball and a nasty slider in the low-80s that was getting a lot of swings. I could see him moving up to Altoona at some point in the first half if he keeps this up, since he’s 24 years old. The age is higher because his signing was delayed a few years.
**Seth McGarry pitched the final two innings, getting three strikeouts and not giving up a walk or a hit. He was consistently hitting 94-95 MPH, which is a good sign. He was reported to have mid-90s velocity as a reliever when he was drafted, but topped out in the low-90s last year. He could be a legit relief pitching prospect if this continues, as his fastball/slider combo plays up in the bullpen.
**Mitchell Tolman had the only offense tonight, hitting a solo homer into the bullpen in right field.
**Alfredo Reyes was playing third base tonight, and might have one of the best infield arms in the system, making a lot of great throws to get outs on very close plays. – Tim Williams
West Virginia scored a total of 48 runs in their four previous games before Thursday night. They also had a six-game win streak coming into the day. The Power didn’t score a run until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday and it took an error to do that, but it was enough to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Cam Vieaux made his third start and for the third time, he allowed just one run, this time going six innings. He gave up four hits and two walks, while picking up one strikeout. Vieaux had an 8:4 GO/AO ratio and he was efficient with his pitch count, throwing 50 of his 70 pitches for strikes. He now has a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings, though his six strikeouts leaves something to be desired.
Matt Eckleman followed Vieaux and threw three shutout innings, facing just one batter over the minimum. Next up was Jordan Jess and after he threw a scoreless tenth, he allowed an unearned run in the 11th due to a Clark Eagan error. That was all Lakewood needed for a 2-1 win.
The offense was quiet in this one, with seven hits, one walk, 16 strikeouts and an 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Stephen Alemais went 2-for-5 with a double and a single. He didn’t have luck on the bases though, as he was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple, then he was thrown out trying to steal after the single. No one else had more than one hit and all five batters with one hit collected a single. Trae Arbet had three strikeouts and he was picked-off, while Eagan had just as much trouble at the plate as he did in the field, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Hunter Owen was 0-for-5 in his return to the lineup after being hit on the helmet on Tuesday night, which caused him to leave the game.