Last year at this same time, I took a look at the minor league hitters who were above average for their league. I used the average OPS for each of the four leagues that have affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a quick refresher and a look back at one year ago today, here is a summary of those results, followed by this year’s results afterwards. I used 75 plate appearances as the minimum last year, which I’ll use again for this year’s results.

Josh Bell led Indianapolis with an .840 OPS. He was one of four players over the .685 OPS that represented the International League average. That group included Adam Frazier, Danny Ortiz and Jason Rogers, with Alen Hanson missing by one point.

Altoona was led by Erich Weiss at an .830 OPS, which was well over the .691 league average. Anderson Feliz, Harold Ramirez, Eric Wood, Jose Osuna, Reese McGuire and Barrett Barnes were all above average, while Austin Meadows, Edwin Espinal and Stetson Allie led the group of below average players.

Bradenton was led by Kevin Newman and his .881 OPS. The league average was .658 and only Kevin Kramer and Chase Simpson joined Newman in the above average group.

West Virginia was in a league with a .694 OPS. They also had three above average players, who went off in three different directions this season. Danny Arribas led with an .827 OPS, followed by Ke’Bryan Hayes and Tito Polo. Hayes continues his climb up the system, while Arribas is a backup for Bradenton and Polo was traded away.

2017 Results

The International League has an average .711 OPS, up 26 points from last year. Max Moroff leads the team with a .949 OPS, followed by Chris Bostick at .918, Jason Rogers at .803 and Eric Wood at .769. Five players are below average, led by Austin Meadows and Elias Diaz, who is hitting .290 this season.

The Eastern League has an average .722 OPS, up 31 points from last year. Kevin Kramer leads with a 1.022 OPS, followed by Jordan Luplow at .924, Connor Joe at .915, Edwin Espinal at .902 and Wyatt Mathisen at .825. Kevin Newman leads the group of five players below average.

The Florida State League has an average .689 OPS, tying the EL with 31 points over last year. Logan Hill leads with a .947 mark, followed by Cole Tucker at .837, Christian Kelley at .836, Casey Hughston at .809, Will Craig at .750, Mitchell Tolman at .713 and Ke’Bryan Hayes at .696. Jordan George missed qualifying by two plate appearances. Only Alfredo Reyes and Danny Arribas are below average.

The South Atlantic League surprisingly has a .688 OPS, which puts them below the FSL and makes it the only league of the four that went down (by six points) in offense compared to last year. Hunter Owen leads with a .925 OPS, followed by Trae Arbet at .875, Ty Moore at .830, Clark Eagan at .794, Carlos Munoz at .791, Arden Pabst at .725, Alexis Bastardo at .720 and Logan Ratledge, who has been promoted to Bradenton, at .692. Sandy Santos missed by one point, while Stephen Alemais and Kevin Mahala are also below average.

**The DSL season begins on June 3rd and runs until August 26th this year. They play a 72-game schedule, which has them ending a few days to a week earlier than all of the other affiliates. It’s going to be a very young and inexperienced team this season. We will have a preview in a week or so.


Bradenton leads their division by three games with 27 games remaining in the first half.

West Virginia trails their division leader by five games, with 28 games left in the first half. They are in fifth place.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by a 6-3 score on Saturday evening. The Pirates will send Chad Kuhl to the mound for his ninth start of the season today. In his last outing, he gave up six runs on ten hits over four innings. The Phillies will counter with 23-year-old right-hander Aaron Nola, who has a 4.50 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP in three starts.

In the minors, Steven Brault has allowed one run over six innings in each of his last two starts. He has a .219 BAA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 1.65 GO/AO ratio. Tanner Anderson goes for Altoona tonight, trying to rebound from two poor outings. He had a 1.98 ERA prior to his start on May 9th, but ten runs over 8.2 innings in those last two games has doubled his ERA. Cole Tucker currently has a 27-game on base streak.

MLB: Pittsburgh (19-24) vs Phillies (15-25) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (6.69 ERA, 15:28 BB/SO, 35.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (23-18) vs Toledo (20-21) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.95 ERA, 19:41 BB/SO, 42.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (24-15) vs Erie (18-21) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (4.00 ERA, 13:18 BB/SO, 36.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (26-17) @ Ft Myers (23-20) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (4.23 ERA, 7:29 BB/SO, 27.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (20-21) @ Columbia (21-19) 2:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Anderson (3.50 ERA, 12:38 BB/SO, 36.0 IP)


Here is a West Virginia highlight because we don’t get a lot of them. Hunter Owen homers off of Blake Taylor, who was the 2013 2nd round pick of the Pirates.


5/20: Jhan Marinez added to Pirates roster. Josh Lindblom placed on disabled list.

5/19: Pirates claim Jhan Marinez off waivers.

5/19: Stephen Alemais placed on disabled list.  Cam Vieaux activated from West Virginia disabled list.

5/19: Jin-De Jhang added to Altoona roster. Zane Chavez placed on disabled list.

5/17: Gregory Polanco placed on disabled list. Danny Ortiz recalled from Indianapolis.

5/16: Pirates sign Haicheng Gong.

5/16: JT Brubaker activated from Altoona disabled list. Chris Diaz assigned to Morgantown.

5/15: Nick Kingham promoted to Indianapolis.

5/15: Casey Sadler and Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton. Sam Street assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/15: James Marvel placed on West Virginia disabled list. Chris Harvey assigned to West Virginia.

5/14: Cam Vieaux placed on West Virginia disabled list. Adrian Valerio added to West Virginia roster.

5/14: Barrett Barnes added to Indianapolis roster. Anderson Feliz assigned to Morgantown.

5/12: Pirates active Adam Frazier and David Freese from disabled list. Chris Bostick and Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis.

5/12: Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.

5/12: Zane Chavez added to Altoona roster. Tomas Morales assigned to Morgantown.


Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the best relievers in team history. Mace Brown played for the Pirates from 1935 until 1941. During that time, he was used as a long man out of the pen, occasionally starting and also closing out games before closers came in for just three outs at a time. He pitched 778.2 innings from 1936 until 1940 and posted a 3.67 ERA during his time with the Pirates. Brown was an All-Star in 1938 and he finished ninth in the MVP voting that year.

Others born on this date include:

Fred Dunlap, second baseman from 1888-90. He was a star player before he was acquired by Pittsburgh. He had his career cut short by two broken legs (at different times), but he played long enough to put together a solid 12-year career. During the only year of the Union Association (1884), Dunlap was the best player by far, hitting .412/.448/.621, leading the league in all three categories, as well as runs scored, hits and homers.

Steve Pegues, outfielder for the 1994-95 Pirates. He hit .264 in 89 games for the Pirates.

Catcher Ed Fitz Gerald, who played for the Pirates from 1948 until 1953, turns 93 today. He is the seventh oldest living former Pirates player.

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  1. Glad to see confirmation offense is up a lot in MILB. Seeing the likes of Luplow, Hill and Bostic blowing it up like Barry Bonds makes me wonder if something got dialed up.

    Could be tighter ball winding in Costa Rica or a tighter strikezone in the USA. Cole Tucker? Connor Joe? Wyatt Mathison? Max Moroff… is Austin Meadows the only guy in this organization who isnt seeing pumpkins in the strikezone?

  2. Love that the Dominican Summer League is close to starting up again. Are the rosters known yet? If I remember correctly, werent Sandy Santos and Alexis Bastardo there last year? Who might be the top guys this season? Im hoping Leandro Pina filled out his frame a bit and added some velocity, he had a great statistical season last year as a young kid.

    • Santos and Bastardo have been in the U.S. for a few years each.

      I know the roster, but it hasn’t been announced yet and there could be cuts or additions before June 3rd. They have 39 players, which includes a few injuries and there are some tryout players there who could be signed as depth.

      Pina is in Extended Spring Training in Bradenton. He played in the Fall Instructional League last year.

      The player to watch is Jean Eusebio, a 16-year-old who signed in February. He will be one of the youngest players in the league, so the stats might not fit the prospect status.

  3. Elias Diaz has one walk in 100 PAs. Even Josh Harrison does better.
    Barrett Barnes has struggled to a 3 for 23 in his comeback. Awful start.
    What, if anything, are the Pirates going to do with Mathisen. He hits for average, but is totally lacking in power or the ability to accumulate RBIs. Could he become a CF or go back to catching?

    • Diaz has never drawn a huge amount of walks, but he also doesn’t strike out much. He had two walks with the Pirates this year in only 11 plate appearances. He walked twice in Spring Training and twice in winter ball and all three of those small sample sizes combined don’t equal his plate appearances with Indy this year. It’s more of an odd stat this season than something you should expect from him. There are plenty of players in the system who are more aggressive at the plate. He just does a good job of putting the ball in play when he does swing.

  4. Wonder who the 6 older living Pirates are over 93. Get an interview if you can.
    Great article as well.

    • Wally Westlake is the oldest, followed by Marv Rackley, Johnny Hetki, Eddie Basinski and Lee Howard. I’ll note the timing of writeup here was done just before it was announced that Bob Kuzava died. Although he passed away six days ago, not since I wrote it. So Fitz Gerald is actually sixth oldest since Tuesday.

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