Morning Report: Notes on the Stacked GCL Outfield, Power All-Star Results and McCutchen

The South Atlantic League held their All-Star game last night and it ended in a thrilling 3-3 tie after seven innings due to rain. The West Virginia Power sent four players to the game, though only three played. Cam Vieaux, Trae Arbet and Ty Moore were joined by reliever Jordan Jess, who was a late addition to the squad.

On Monday night, Arbet took part in the Home Run Derby and finished in second place. During the game itself last night, he went 0-for-3 and struck out three times. He batted ninth, started at second base and played the entire game.

Ty Moore also played the entire game and he left with some hardware. He played left field and went 1-for-3 at the plate with a single and a run scored. He was named the Defensive Player of the Game. He only made two plays in the game, so one of them (or both) must have been a nice play.

Cam Vieaux was the one who didn’t play, but Jordan Jess had an impressive performance in this game. I had to check to verify this first before writing it up, because Gameday sometimes won’t keep track of balls/strikes correctly. Jess started the first batter of the bottom of the fifth off with nine straight foul balls. Seven pitches later, he had three strikeouts. He threw 16 pitches and all 16 were strikes.

* If you missed it from yesterday morning because it got pushed off the top spot quickly due to draft news, I broke down the West Virginia player performances from the first half. I mentioned all 32 players they have used so far this season. Not an exciting group, but there are some players who have made a lot of progress since last year.

* The GCL Pirates are starting to take shape with Conner Uselton and Calvin Mitchell signing last night. Both will play in an outfield that also contains two international players of note. Both Kevin Sanchez and Jeremias Portorreal are slated for the GCL this season. Portorreal had a breakout season last year in the DSL and has hit well this year during Extended Spring Training, although the defense wasn’t highly regarded. Sanchez received the highest bonus ($450,000) for the Pirates during the 2015-16 international signing period. He’s a speedy center fielder with a solid approach at the plate.

In addition to the stacked outfield, Shane Baz will be the main attraction. The Pirates also took a pretty good pitcher with the 42nd overall pick, so whenever Steven Jennings signs (he has indicated he will) he will be assigned to the GCL. You will also get sixth round pick Cody Bolton and 19th round pick Jake Webb, two high school pitchers with upside who have said they will sign. It’s going to be a fun team to follow, and I’ve already made my plans to go see those players during the Fall Instructional League.

* Andrew McCutchen passed Dick Groat last night for 17th place on the Pirates all-time list for games played. McCutchen now sits at 1,259, which is 37 games behind Manny Sanguillen for 16th place. There are 34 games left before the July 31st trade deadline. Chances Sanguillen stays in 16th place for a long time? We will know in 40 days.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Bradenton has been eliminated from the first half playoffs

West Virginia has been eliminated from the first half playoffs.

*This section will disappear on Thursday and reappear later in the season with all eight affiliates and the Pirates updated daily.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 7-3 on Tuesday night over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates will send Trevor Williams to the mound tonight for his ninth start. He has a 5.06 ERA in three starts this month and had a 5.06 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance last month. The Brewers will counter with right-handed pitcher Junior Guerra, who has a 2.84 ERA in six starts, with a 1.23 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.

In the minors,  Nick Kingham gets the start for Indianapolis. He has been limited to 13.2 innings total over his last three starts. In those starts, he has allowed 11 earned runs on 22 hits and six walks. The Altoona starter for tonight’s game is Dario Agrazal, who is making his Double-A debut. He left the Florida State League as the leader in innings pitched with 80.1, fifth with a 1.03 WHIP and just outside the top ten with 63 strikeouts. Sergio Cubilete is scheduled for Morgantown. More on him in the season preview, which was posted yesterday. West Virginia is on their All-Star break for one more day.

MLB: Pittsburgh (33-38) @ Brewers (38-35) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (5.16 ERA, 15:34 BB/SO, 52.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (40-30) vs Toledo (30-39) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (4.83 ERA, 12:28 BB/SO, 31.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (38-30) vs Trenton (46-24) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (37-29) @ Clearwater (37-32) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter:  Taylor Hearn (4.60 ERA, 27:74 BB/SO, 60.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (30-36) vs Lexington (34-35) 7:05 PM 6/22 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Short-Season A: Morgantown (1-1) @ Williamsport (1-1) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Sergio Cubilete  (NR)

DSL: Pirates (7-8) vs Cubs1 (4-11) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is our first Morgantown highlight. Sandy Santos showing off out in left field

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/20 Pirates sign Conner Uselton and Calvin Mitchell.

6/20: Pirates announce nine draft signings.

6/20: Dario Agrazal promoted to Altoona. Yeudy Garcia placed on disabled list.

6/19: Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona. Zane Chavez placed on disabled list.

6/18: Chris Stewart activated from the disabled list. Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.

6/16: Pirates sign Shane Baz.

6/16: Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona.

6/15: Ronny Agustin assigned to West Virginia.

6/14: Matt Frawley sent to New York Yankees as part of earlier trade.

6/14: Francisco Cervelli activated from disabled list. A.J.Schugel optioned to Indianapolis.

6/13: Adrian Valerio and Victor Fernandez activated from disabled list. Sandy Santos and Andrew Walker assigned to Morgantown

6/13: Barrett Barnes placed on disabled list. Justin Maffei and Eury Perez assigned to Indianapolis.

6/13: Anderson Feliz assigned to Altoona.

6/12: Jameson Taillon activated from disabled list. Phil Gosselin optioned to Indianapolis.

6/11: Kevin Kramer placed on disabled list.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one game of note. The players are 1B/RF Garrett Jones and 1923 infielder Spencer Adams. Jones played five years for the Pirates, hitting .256/.318/.462 in 677 games, with exactly 100 homers. Adams spent four years in the majors, playing one year each with four different teams. With the Pirates as a rookie, he had a .608 OPS in 25 games, splitting his time between second base and shortstop.

On this date in 1888, the Pittsburgh Pirates (then know as Alleghenys) were no-hit for the first time in franchise history. It was a six inning game, called due to rain. Pittsburgh lost 1-0 and reached base twice in the game, once by error and once on a walk. The opposing pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings was George Van Haltren, who has a connection to the Pirates. He played for Pittsburgh in 1892 and 1893, and by that time he was an outfielder. He hit .338 during that second season. Van Haltren won 40 games as a pitcher, but made his name as a hitter and he is one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame. He hit .316 career in 1,990 games and scored 1,642 runs, while stealing 587 bases. He is also fourth all-time in outfield assists.

  • Todd Tomasic
    June 21, 2017 3:59 pm

    The Pirates have roughly 4 weeks until they need to make any decisions on Cutch,
    Cole or anyone else. If they are within a game or two of first does anyone think they
    will deal?

  • Why are we thinking about trading Cutch? You have knucklehead Marte who is a juice away from a year suspension. You have the mercurial Mr. Polanco and a AAA who may or may not be as good as advertised.

    • Money and the fact that they’re going to lose him to free agency anyway. It’s no different than Melanceon last year. They aren’t contending really, they only have Cutch for one more year at the longest and he is their highest paid player right now. I think there’s absolutely no question that they trade Cutch this year. The only way I can see them keeping him is if they go on a miraculous tear through July and/or if the offers that they get for him are insulting. But, who knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played out this year with them and they just didn’t pick up his option for next year.

      • It’s very different because Cutch has a $14 million option year remaining and Melancon was a free agent at the end of last season. It’s also different because if we keep Cutch until he becomes a free agent at the end of 2017 we will tender him and get a draft pick.

  • The way the division is currently playing, I would not be surprised to see the Pirates as buyers around the trade deadline. Sure it is a crazy idea but the Brewers are currently leading the division and the Cubs and Cards are sleep walking. I doubt even if they are buyers that it will make any difference.

    • If they replicate ’15 and get Happ Blanton Soria clones they’re back in business. Hopefully soon too.

    • I don’t think there’s anyway they are buyers at the deadline. The only way I could see them deciding to be buyers would be if they went on a 15-1 sort of tear right now which would put them legitimately in the conversation for both the division and the wildcard.

      Remember, they are a losing team right now coming off of a 6-4 stretch. Unless they do something extraordinary, they look to be a losing team at the trade deadline. Sure they may “technically” be in it but when was the last time a losing team ever want to division or made the wildcard? They’re not going to invest in a team like that and frankly, they shouldn’t

  • If you can trade Cutch for two guys in that 50-100 range you do it. Will this hot streak command that type of return?

    • If it carries all the way to the trade deadline I might say that is too light of a return. Especially from a AL team that would have the luxury to DH him.

      • Well let’s hope that 1,000 OPS carries all the way to mid July then! I’d say the Robles and Ross types are off the table and there’s a good chance they were never there to begin with back in December. But they might be able to get a few guys in that second tier. I’ll have to see who Washington has left and if anyone else has an OF that tore their ACL or needs a DH upgrade.

    • It shows that hes still capable of being the player he used to be, albeit occasionally……the bat speed questions go away, and that is the type of thing that can slaughter a return you get for a player.

      • Oh yeah. Though this is a very general and cliché statement but I’m going to say it anyway – Cutch very much passes the eye test right now. He’s taking balls the other way AND he’s turning on balls on the inside part of the plate which is where the bat speed comes in to play to your point. And it would appear he’s chasing less. That being said you’re not winning the WS this year, he’s a year older next year I think you have to move him or risk a prolonged slump, injury, etc. And if that happens you’re getting not much back. They need to cash in on this.

        • That was my point……we HAVE to move him. If Kang was on this team and we had Marte, we CAN’T move him. This team can’t compete for a title this year, sell now that he’s regained some value, but don’t dump him

          • It’ll be interesting to see what type of value he brings back. Neal has made some good trades but he hasn’t had to deal anything close to the face of the franchise yet. Bay and Sanchez had emotional attachment but not like this. And with the way Cutch is playing his 2018 option is now considered good value instead of joke like it was this April.

  • If I were Cutch I would go to a perennial contender at the deadline and then chase the money at FA. He was disrespected(acknowledging it’s a business, but he literally saved the franchise) and should enjoy the time he spent here, but do what’s best for his career. And that is move at the deadline and chase a ring with someone else. Hopefully we can get a couple good pieces in the meantime.

    • He doesn’t have a choice where he goes for 1.5 years if extended. It could be another basement dweller team if they offer the best package of players in a return. But I get what your saying. If he had the choice I would go to the LA’s and Chicago’s of the world…

      • Why would a basement dwelling team trade for Mccutchen at the deadline? If he goes, in all likelihood it will be to a contending team.

        • I think he was just trying to illustrate the point that Cutch doesn’t have a no trade clause therefor can’t decide who he does and doesn’t play for until free agency.

        • Not saying they would, just saying at this current time it isn’t his choice where he goes.

      • Neither of those two franchises need him

        • Disagree about LA (Dodgers).

          When you’re at their point on the win curve, do you really wanna go into the playoffs with Puig/Toles/Gutierez in RF if Cutch is hitting anywhere close to where he’s been lately? There’s a move to be made there, I’d say.

          An outfield of Taylor/Pederson/Cutch with Bellinger at 1B and Forsythe at 2B would be terribly good.

    • I disagree both that he was disrespected and that he saved the franchise. It is not, to me, disrespectful to be assigned a new position when you are awful at yours. Think about that in the context of the real world. If you were the worst person in your field at what you do should you have the right to insist you don’t move to a new position? Trade rumors are part of the business if you can’t deal with them you probably shouldn’t be playing at that level.

      As for the “saving the franchise”, terms like that are thrown around too often. Don’t forget he played in the major leagues for 3 seasons before the Pirates had a winning record. No one player can save a franchise. I will give you an example. As good as McCutchen is/was he is not, nor has he ever been on Mike Trout’s level and Mike Trout isn’t even enough to “save a franchise” as you put it. He was the best player on a team full of very good players I will grant you that. Saving a franchise is what Mario Lemieux did when he bought the Penguins and prevented them from moving to Kansas City.

      • I remember ’15 and it was Cutch and Kang who looked like they had a chance against Arrieta and generated hits. Everyone prettymuch struck out all ABs. I don’t hear this mentioned but Neil Walker was 3/31 in the post season all as a pirate that’s my dividing line Cutch performed evenly the other guys fell off against better comp he was a level above the other “good” players definitely something to be said.

        • I do not disagree at all Andrew McCutchen was the best player on the team every year between 2009-2015.

          • I don’t have an opinion on what should be done with Cutch but I believe he will be kept around if he stays anywhere close to his current level, if it lasts to year end he’ll be back. I deep down don’t believe contention makes a difference (emphasis on) in this situation.

      • Couldn’t agree more……on all accounts, great post

      • He was disrespected in the sense that they didn’t even have a conversation with him about being traded. The entire off season he said no one had reached out to him. They tried their hardest to move in(with no communication) and then moved him to Right. Be transparent at least. With twitter/blogs you can’t hide stuff anymore. I would have tried to move him too, but they could have done it better. And if i were him i would have that in mind as extra reason to get a contract with a contender once he hits FA, rather than stay.

        • That is not disrespectful. They are in no way obligated to tell him they are considering trading him. They are also in no way obligated to ask for his input on changing positions. In fact I found it rather disrespectful that he outwardly showed anger about moving positions. Him moving to right was what was best for the team yet he publicly expressed displeasure with it.

    • Is Cutch now a GM? I am lost at where this is his decision to make…..

  • I am seeing more folks wanting to extend Cutch. After watching him struggle for the last year or so I want to ask what are they smoking. I would keep him unless they get a good trade offer for him. Maybe exercise the option which would give us another year to see if he can sustain his performance but don’t mortgage the future.

    • You have a Marte whom you can’t trust to make wise personal decisions. You have Polanco who, despite flashes, hasn’t nearly lived up to the hype. You have a Meadows, who hasn’t yet begun to show anything that would make him a legit choice to replace Cutch.

      Add that to the fact that the upper minors in general don’t have any difference makers who will join the club in 2018, and you’ve got a situation where the best opportunity to win the NLC is keeping Cutch & Cole and adding to that via FA. Basically, it’s a one-year window, after which we’re probably looking at several years of being a sub-.500 team.

      • I think that is why you keep him unless you get a really good offer for him. He isn’t all that expensive and if he can produce somewhere between the horrendous stretches during the last year and the MVP pace of the most recent period he is valuable. If he doesn’t go back to horrendous you can exercise his option and have up to 18 months to reach a reasonable extension or just wish him luck in free agency.

        • I don’t disagree about Marte but I have a feeling he’ll be ok providing d and average, prob won’t see power. Polanco concerns me most. Frazier is nice insurance for either. Yelich is probably Meadows floor he will be fine. The bullpen scares me.

          • Marte- don’t forget speed—–if you count his steals as doubles (which I always believe you should) then he can easily bring you 40 doubles 40 more by way of steals, 10 triples and 10-15 homers……that’s 100 times per season he’s getting you at least 2 bases. We have no one else on the team capable of that.

            • I don’t need any convincing w him I think he’ll be productive one way or another.

              • agreed…..I saw no evidence that any steroids affected his game…..he’s basically the same player the last 3 years and he obviously wasn’t taking roids the whole time cause he’s been tested probably 10-20 times over that period

            • Marte’s speed is the reason I would have him lead off (eventually). HBP, infield singles – with his speed turn into doubles. I could also be sold putting Rizzo there too but um…….we don’t have that option.

            • Bill Harvey
              June 21, 2017 5:28 pm

              Those numbers would be great out of your leadoff hitter, unfortunately, Marte is not a leadoff hitter.

      • Couldn’t disagree more…..except that “the upper minors in general don’t have any difference makers who will join the club in 2018” hell…..other than pitching, we don’t have anything I can see as a legit all-star caliber player anywhere in the system

        • I think most people still feel Meadows will be that guy. Let’s not forget he is still only 22 years old.

          • ……yeah, that’s true. I’m just not in that camp. Bell and Meadows will probably both be “good” but difference makers…..no.

        • So you’re saying you trust Marte to make wise decisions, Polanco is living up to his hype and Meadows is ready to replace Cutch?

          Or are you saying you don’t believe the Bucs will be competitive in 2018 even if they keep all their key pieces?

          I believe that the Bucs will be competitive in 2018 – and that it is the only year in which they will be competitive over the next half dozen or more. You’ve still got Cutch, Cole, Nova, a catching tandem of Cervelli/Diaz, a supersub or 2b in Frazier, a nice bench piece in Freese (assuming JHay moves to 3b) and a lot of potential in Bell. Plus a closer. Add a back end SP and a couple of pen pieces and Bucs are in pretty good shape.

          If you’re going to deal Cutch, then you might as well deal every other veteran with a contract expiring in next two years. No point in keeping any of them as you’ve already given up. And if that’s what the FO wants to do, fine. Just don’t keep veterans around for the sake of selling tickets. All or nothing.

          • 1. I trust that Marte won’t make another dumb decision. 2. I believe Polanco will be just fine IF he’s ever actually healthy which currently, he isn’t 3. Meadows will never be ready to replace cutch until he’s up here and plays, it isn’t like Cutch was Cutch when he was in AAA either. I Think that you have to trade Cutch……get what you can, try to get a piece that can definitely help make at least 1 position better next year, and otherwise look out 2-3 years.

      • yea but if you can get 2-3 people who are knocking on the MLB door for each of Cole and Cutch, then you may have made your team better.

  • Cutch is en fuego. This series against the Brewers couldn’t have started any better. Jose Osuna taking advantage of his chances too. He’s looking like he’ll be a pretty legit major leaguer.

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