Prospect Watch: Strong Starts from McRae and Agrazal; Frazier Begins Rehab Stint

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna), 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 -[insert_php]
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2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php]

4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php]

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php]

6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton –  [insert_php]

7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton  – [insert_php]

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]

17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php]

19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php]

20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]

21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia –  [insert_php]

22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php]

23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Extended Spring Training -[insert_php]

25. Max Moroff, 2B, Pirates -[insert_php]

26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php]

28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Pirates –  [insert_php]

29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php]

30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

P2 Top Performers



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INDIANAPOLIS — He put together one of his better outings of the season with an important spectator in the stands: Pirates general manager Neal Huntington.

Drew Hutchison struggled to get out of the first inning, but put together arguably his best start of the season in Indianapolis’ 5-3 win over prospect-laden Charlotte.

Adam Frazier made his first rehab start, playing seven innings, while Austin Meadows had a solid night at the plate and was one of five players with an RBI.

The night began ominously for Hutchison, who needed 28 pitches to get out of the first inning. But he rebounded to allow just one run on four hits over 6.2 innings, the longest outing this season by any Indianapolis starting pitcher.

The bad: That’s the fourth time in six starts this season Hutchison has thrown at least 20 pitches in the first inning.

The good: Hutchison rebounded to put together a solid start, throwing just 74 pitches over the final 5.2 innings of his outing. And he turned it around quickly, retiring the side on seven pitches in the second inning.

“We’ve seen flashes of that,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “But to see him basically make a decision to get ahead with his fastball, which he did better tonight than he has all year. And he used his slider well and was in the strike zone. He had a presence about him on the mound that I haven’t seen. It was fun to watch.”

Charlotte’s Jacob May led the game off with a double down the right field line, which might have been a triple if not for Meadows getting to the ball quickly. May later scored on a sacrifice fly. Later in the inning, Hutchison loaded the bases with a pair of walks and single by Adam Engel, before getting out of the jam with a flyout.

Hutchison didn’t allow another hit until Engel doubled with two outs in the fifth inning. Due to rainouts and scheduled days off, Hutchison was starting on seven days rest, which he says attributed to his slow start.

“I was pitching on my eighth day and I think that was really about it,” Hutchison said. “I didn’t feel great right away and was a little rusty, which I think you’re going to feel when you get off your routine. I was able to bear down after that, get in a good rhythm and execute quality pitches.”

Huntington arrived in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon to watch the Triple-A club for a few days. And he saw the Hutchison the organization envisioned when trading for him last season, a pitcher that had success with Toronto’s organization.

“The pitches as individual entities play really well,” Huntington said. “He’s got a small margin of error with his fastball and it’s being aggressive with that, down in and out, and working to stay ahead and putting hitters away with good, quality pitches. Be aggressive and be athletic on the mound. When he does that good things happen. When he starts to try to make the perfect pitch, that’s when the damage is done.”

Charlotte’s Yoan Moncada, the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was 1-for-3 against Hutchison and finished the game 1-for-5.

Austin Meadows, the Pirates’ No. 1 and baseball’s No. 5 prospect, had three good at-bats against Charlotte starter Lucas Giolito, the eighth-ranked prospect in baseball. Meadows singled, walked and hit a hard lineout to right field. He went 1-for-4 from the lead-off position, where he hit from three times at Triple-A last season.

Frazier had a smooth rehab start, going 1-for-3 with a double in seven innings. Playing second base, Frazier made a pair of nice running catches, one going both each direction, testing out his injured hamstring that has kept him out two weeks.

“He can hit,” Barkett said. “The guy hasn’t played in two weeks but came right out and looked like he was on time.”

Frazier walked in the first inning and advanced to second base on a walk. Elias Diaz singled up the middle, but Barkett held Frazier at third on the play. On any other day, Frazier would have been sent home but not in the first inning of his first rehab game, Barkett said.

“I was ready to go and get that RBI for Diaz,” Frazier said. “But you have to be smart with it also on the first time in a couple of weeks. Andy (Barkett) is watching out for me, but as a player you want to push it, push it, push it. That was probably the smart thing to do.”

Meadows had an RBI single in the first inning, while Frazier had his RBI double in the second inning, followed by Eric Wood’s RBI sacrifice fly, Erich Weiss’ RBI single and Jason Rogers had an RBI double that bounced off the top of the wall in right field.

Indianapolis has had bullpen issues this season, allowing several late leads to dissipate. Indianapolis led 5-1 in the eighth inning and Dan Runzler almost let another one get away, allowing a run after the first three batters of the inning reached base.

But Edgar Santana entered the game and got out of the jam in three pitches, allowing one run. Roberto Pena hit into a 6-4-3 double play, which allowed one run to score.

In the ninth inning, Santana retired the side on 10 pitches. He struck out Moncada swinging on a slider. Santana’s ERA is 0.52 and he has a 0.63 WHIP in 17.1 innings over 12 appearances.

“Watching him throw tonight, especially with the general manager here, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, this kid looks really good and might not be here very long throwing like that,’” Barkett said. “It’s impressive and he’s done it all year.”

Phil Gosselin was optioned to Indianapolis and originally scheduled to start, but was scratched in favor of Frazier, due to the likelihood of rain on Tuesday. Those conditions would not be ideal for Frazier, who is rehabbing a hamstring injury.

Weiss and Danny Ortiz each had two hits, while Weiss made an outstanding play at third base, diving to stop a grounder and making a strong throw to first for the out. – Brian Peloza


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Altoona lost 3-1 on Monday, but Alex McRae had another terrific outing. He allowed one run over seven innings, limiting the damage despite giving up three doubles among his six hits. He issued one walk and had four strikeouts. McRae pounded the strike zone and got a couple of timely double play balls. He threw 57 of his 80 pitches for strikes and had an 8:5 GO/AO ratio. He now has a 1.96 ERA in 36.2 innings this season, with a 1.15 WHIP and a 1.65 GO/AO ratio.

Altoona picked up a run on two hits in the first inning, then they collected just two more singles the rest of the game. Edwin Espinal picked up the RBI hit that scored Elvis Escobar, while Kevin Kramer extended his season-long on base streak to 25 games with an eighth inning single. Both Connor Joe and Kevin Newman had the day off. The Curve drew six walks in the game, but couldn’t capitalize on the free passes. They went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Luis Heredia took the loss in this one, giving up two runs in the eighth inning. He surrendered a double, two singles and two stolen bases, leading to the runs. This was his third appearance since joining Altoona and the first in which he allowed a run.


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Bradenton faced a familiar pitcher on Monday during their 3-1 victory over Jupiter. Jeff Locke was the opposing starter, there on rehab. He held the Marauders scoreless through four innings before giving way to a reliever. Bradenton had just two hits off of Locke, singles by Alfredo Reyes and Will Craig. Once Locke left the game, the bats picked up the offense, led by Craig’s second home run of the season. The Marauders also scored on a sacrifice fly by Ke’Bryan Hayes in the eighth inning, which followed a Cole Tucker triple.

Dario Agrazal started for the Marauders and had a terrific outing, allowing one run on three hits and a walk in six innings. He picked up seven strikeouts, which ties his career high. Agrazal threw 58 of his 85 pitches for strikes and the only odd thing about his outing was a 4:4 GO/AO ratio, which is off from normally high ground ball rate. He now has a 2.74 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 42.2 innings.

Bret Helton had two scoreless innings after Agrazal and Daniel Zamora picked up the save with shutout ball in the ninth. Zamora left his last appearance on May 4th early after looking like he was in some discomfort, so it was a good sign to see him return so quickly.

Craig also walked in this game and now has a .282/.370/.400 slash line through 29 games. Tucker went 2-for-4 with a triple and a single, giving him a .358 OBP this season. Jordan George went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Before the game, Logan Ratledge was promoted to Bradenton, taking the roster spot of Kevin Krause, who is out with a hamstring injury.


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Usually when your lead-off hitter bats six times in a nine inning game, your team had a good day. West Virginia somehow managed to leave 15 runners on base on Monday, while also collecting five hits with runners in scoring position, yet they lost 6-3 to Lexington.

The defensive issues they have had all season, showed up in this game, leading to four unearned runs. Starter Matt Anderson allowed one earned run in his five innings, even though Lexington scored solo runs in the third and fifth innings, plus two runs in the fourth frame. Eduardo Vera gave up two runs in his three innings, but he too was hurt by the defense, which led to one unearned run.

Stephen Alemais went 0-for-6 in the lead-off spot, dropping his season average 17 points. Alexis Bastardo, who put up strong stats last week, went 4-for-5 with four singles and an RBI. He is now 10-for-17 in his last five games. Bastardo got playing time when Sandy Santos was benched last week. Santos returned to the lineup in this game and went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Arden Pabst went 3-for-5 with his fifth double. Hunter Owen was 2-for-4 with his sixth double, but he also committed his sixth error.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Nice to see Jeff Locke come back from the shoulder tendonitus that put him on the DL since the start of the season. Hutchison, Agrazal, and McRae were all excellent.

So John, next start from the Taillon slot will be . . . . . . .?


Hurdle just said that Williams is the starter….they want to see what he can do.
From the Trib:

“Before the game, Hurdle said he doesn’t plan on having auditions for the open spot in the rotation.

“We’re going to put Trevor Williams in the spot and see what he can make of it,” Hurdle said.”


But, from where EYE sit, it doesn’t matter whether Brault, Williams or Hootch replaces JT. All 3 are just stop gap pitchers. jmo.

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