Second baseman Trae Arbet was injured last night in a collision with a runner while trying to make a play in the field. He was removed from the game and didn’t play in the second game of a doubleheader. I don’t have an update on the severity of the injury, but with Stephen Alemais out, that made me wonder who would be next up as a middle infielder if Arbet was put on the DL. West Virginia would be down to two middle infielders, with Adrian Valerio and Kevin Mahala.
The Extended Spring Training roster isn’t strong with middle infielders, but there are 11 of them down there at Pirate City. Right away you could cross off the DSL players from last year, as they are all young and inexperienced. Those players are Cristopher Perez, Francisco Mepris and Rodolfo Castro, who was an All-Star last year in the DSL as the youngest player on the Pirates.
For the players left, you have the GCL infielders, Victor Ngoepe, Melvin Jimenez, Andrew Walker, Johan De Jesus and Nelson Jorge. Then there is Raul Siri, who spent last season in Bristol, Nick King, who played for Morgantown and Luis Perez, who missed all of last year with shoulder surgery.
As I said, there are no top 50 prospects and no players who were really considered. Castro could end up there if he has a GCL season similar to his DSL season last year. Ngoepe has the same type of potential his brother had back when he was in the GCL at the same age, but that still leaves him well short of the top 50 in the short-term outlook. Cristopher Perez has made big leaps since signing and he did get a six figure bonus, so it’s possible he has future upside as well.
With no obvious choices, I got some opinions on the players down there and I’m told the best ones of the group (most advanced) right now are Andrew Walker, Nelson Jorge, Nick King and Raul Siri. King would seem to be the best choice to me because he’s a college player from a major school, who put in 28 games with Morgantown last year. That gives him the experience advantage over everyone else. The stats weren’t great, but he’s a very athletic player who can cover 2B/SS/3B, and I’ve been told in the past that he doesn’t get outworked during practices and pre-games.
Jorge and Siri have got some press over the years here, but haven’t panned out. Jorge was a seventh round pick out of high school in Puerto Rico, but he has spent three years in the GCL. Siri had a huge season in the DSL in 2014, then fizzled out the last two years in the states, despite a ridiculous first week in the GCL that had people saying he should be in Bristol already. You reading this may be one of those guilty people! These two are playing well I’ve heard, so maybe all is not lost.
Andrew Walker also played college ball for four years and is 23 years old, so he is in the same class as Nick King if they want to go that route. He’s very athletic too, with well above average speed. Walker played in the GCL last year, but that’s only because he was signed to fill a need there after both Luis Perez and Melvin Jimenez got hurt. So while it would seem like a big jump for him to go to West Virginia, that was actually just a low placement for him based on need.
Basically, I just used the uncertainty of an injury to look over the middle infield depth in the low levels. I also spent part of yesterday checking in on the DSL middle infield for our team preview, which will be up sometime within the next week. Those who follow our winter coverage, which should be all of you, know that Francisco Acuna will be a player to watch. If you don’t know his name, use the search feature to get acquainted. If you’re worried about the middle infield depth, since I basically just said it’s not a strong point, remember that the draft is coming up and there will be shortstops drafted, we just don’t know how long the Pirates will wait to take their first one.
** The Rochester announcers mentioned last night that both Josh Lindblom and Antonio Bastardo will pitch for Indianapolis this weekend, which extends into Monday during this four-game series. We were told that Indianapolis needed to make room for some rehab innings this weekend, although it initially sounded like those two would pitch last night. Bastardo was actually down at Pirate City pitching two innings Thursday. You may have heard it reported that he threw one inning earlier this week, but I confirmed that it was two innings each time. That difference might just be what is considered an inning down in Extended Spring Training, where guys can get 0-6 outs in an inning and some “innings” are thrown in a bullpen. It’s also possible it just feels like two innings when Bastardo pitches one inning.
Bradenton leads their division by a half game with 21 games remaining in the first half.
West Virginia trails their division leader by 4.5 games, with 22 games left in the first half. They are in fifth place. The Power have two games left versus first place Hagerstown this weekend.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 8-1 to the New York Mets on Friday night. Gerrit Cole gets the ball today for his 11th start of the season. He had his worst start of the season in his last outing, allowing five runs on ten hits in 4.2 innings. At home this season, Cole has a 1.67 ERA, compared to 4.67 on the road. The Mets will counter with 26-year-old right-hander Zack Wheeler, who has a 3.74 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in eight starts this season.
In the minors, we have had a lot of changes in all four rotations over the last few days. Indianapolis doesn’t have a starter listed, but today was supposed to be Steven Brault. Altoona went with JT Brubaker over Tanner Anderson yesterday, and they list Austin Coley today. Anderson ended up pitching (poorly) in relief. No starter is listed for Bradenton, but I’m told it will be Taylor Hearn. West Virginia is going with Blake Cederlind. We will see tonight how it all ends up.
MLB: Pittsburgh (22-27) vs Mets (20-26) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (3.36 ERA, 13:52 BB/SO, 61.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (26-20) @ Rochester (20-21) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
AA: Altoona (24-21) @ Erie (21-23) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (2.98 ERA, 11:30 BB/SO, 42.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (29-20) @ Jupiter (17-31) 5:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (5.12 ERA, 16:50 BB/SO, 38.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (22-22) vs Hagerstown (28-19) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Blake Cederlind (3.75 ERA, 13:25 BB/SO, 24.0 IP)
Here is the third hit from Austin Meadows on Thursday night. Not the best hit, but you do see former Pirate Pedro Florimon almost rob him with a diving stop. Chances are we could have a better highlight for Meadows tomorrow.
5/26: Kevin Krause activated from disabled list. Mitch Keller placed on disabled list.
5/26: Eury Perez assigned to Morgantown.
5/25: Chris Harvey retired.
5/25: Gregory Polanco activated from the disabled list. Danny Ortiz optioned to Indianapolis.
5/23: Yunior Montero assigned to Extended Spring Training. Sam Street added to Bradenton roster.
5/22: James Marvel activated from West Virginia disabled list. Chris Harvey assigned to Morgantown.
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.
5/16: Pirates sign Haicheng Gong.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a game recap from the 1979 season. The players born on this date include center fielder Jacob Brumfield (1995-96), pitcher Ross Baumgarten (1982) and 1954 pitcher, George O’Donnell. Brumfield was a 1983 draft pick, who didn’t make his Major League debut until 1992. He was the Pirates starting center fielder in 1995, then got traded away the following May. Baumgarten went 0-5, 6.55 in 44 innings for the Pirates. O’Donnell won 20 games in the minors in both 1951 and 1953, but he managed just three Major League wins in his career.
On May 27,1979, the Pirates opened the day with an 18-21 record, losers of three straight, sitting in fifth place, seven games out of first place. The day didn’t start off well either, with pitcher Jim Bibby leaving the game early due to a strained rib cage muscle. The Pirates ended up beating the Mets that day by a 2-1 score, then they won another five games in a row, turning their season around. After May 27th, they went 80-41, then defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games for their fifth World Series title. You can view the boxscore for this game here.