In yesterday’s Morning Report, we took a look at the good and bad from the first half of the season in Altoona. Today we go with Indianapolis and their top five good/bottom five bad.
1. Max Moroff – After his 2016 season in which he was constantly behind in the count because he tends to be too patient at the plate, Moroff became more aggressive with fastballs early in the count. That led to a .954 OPS, which is second in the league. It also led to two trips to Pittsburgh, including his current one which has lasted three weeks already.
2. Christopher Bostick – I have to remember to start calling him Christopher because that’s what he now prefers. When you put up an .820 OPS and move all around the field to gain some versatility, fans will call him whatever he wants. His strong start earned him his first trip to the majors and he could get back there at any time if he continues to play like he has so far.
3. Steven Brault – He was our Pitcher of the Month for May and he’s doing great in June as well. Brault could be up in the majors at this point. One impressive note is that he was hitting 95 MPH during his one relief outing earlier this month. He’s hit 95 in short outings before and he has some deception in his delivery, which is why his stuff works at this level in the usual 89-93 range.
4. Edgar Santana – For the first two months of the season, he was dominating Triple-A. He had a little setback when the Pirates wanted him to get extra inning outings in case they need him for more than one inning in the majors. His performance before the setback was enough to get him his first promotion to the majors.
5. Clay Holmes – The results haven’t been great, except the increase in strikeouts, but Holmes now routinely hits 96 MPH with movement on his fastball, and he’s topped out at 99 MPH. His GO/AO ratio has been near 3.00 since the start of last year, so when you add that into the increase in strikeouts and velocity, you have someone who is developing into a strong pitching option for the 2018 Pirates.
1. Tyler Glasnow – He gets this just for showing up in Indianapolis. We knew last year he had things to work on and his Spring Training numbers weren’t good this year, but once he won a starting spot with the Pirates and they said they were going to stick with him, you didn’t want to see him doing so bad that he ended up back in Indianapolis. I liked his game plan from his last start of just attacking hitters, but you don’t like to see eight walks in 11 innings. With the way Steven Brault is pitching and the need to get Nick Kingham big league time (see below), we might not see much more of Glasnow with the Pirates this year. He will at least get September time, but we will see if he’s up before that.
2. Barrett Barnes – You would love to see what he could do with a healthy season. That was actually what we said before his 2016 season with Altoona. Unfortunately for Barnes, two hamstring injuries this season will limit him to his lowest game total in the last three years.
3. Nick Kingham – He got on here because his missed time with a Spring Training ankle injury and because his fastball just hasn’t been good recently. He has his low-90s velocity and great downward plane on the pitch, but opponents are really squaring his fastball up now. His changeup has looked like a plus pitch and his curve is above average and gets great results, but the fastball needs work and he has to improve soon. Kingham is out of options next year, so he has to stick with the big club. I know no one wants to see another Alen Hanson situation where the manager is afraid to use a young player and then the Pirates lose him for nothing. Kingham should really get some decent MLB experience this year, so he’s better prepared going into 2018.
4. Pat Light – The Pirates lost Pat Light on waivers because he wasn’t the same pitcher who put up strong numbers last year in Triple-A and got his first taste of the majors. He was getting his usual ground balls, but the velocity wasn’t there that we heard about and that led to a lower strikeout rate, more runners on base and a higher ERA. When the Pirates needed a roster spot, he was designated for assignment.
5. Austin Meadows – If he didn’t just get hurt, he would have been in the middle here, not getting good or bad reviews. Another hamstring injury, added on to stats that are below expectation, gets him on this list. The stats really took a hit with a horrible first week, but then he looked good for awhile before really getting results. Add in his defensive value and his speed and he wasn’t doing as bad as some people thought. This injury could push back his big league arrival date depending on the severity and time missed.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-3 over the St Louis Cardinals on Friday night. The Pirates will send Gerrit Cole to the mound tonight for his 16th start of the season. He has allowed one run over seven innings in each of his last two starts. Cole faced the Cardinals on April 19th and allowed two runs over six innings. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Lance Lynn, who has a 3.33 ERA in 78.1 innings, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP. He threw seven shutout innings against the Pirates back on April 17th.
In the minors, Mitch Keller will make his second rehab start with Morgantown. He was limited to two innings in his first game, when he struck out four batters and allowed just one hit. He should go three innings in this game. Steven Brault and Tyler Eppler are both scheduled to start during a doubleheader for Indianapolis. Brault has a 1.35 ERA and an 0.85 WHIP in 20 innings this month. Eppler gave up seven runs on ten hits and four walks over 5.1 innings in his last start. Braeden Ogle will get the start for Bristol. The 2016 4th round pick spent last season in the GCL, where he had a 2.60 ERA and a .188 BAA in eight starts. West Virginia has a doubleheader today. Right now, James Marvel is listed as the second starter after Blake Cederlind, but that could change.
MLB: Pittsburgh (34-40) @ Cardinals (33-39) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.28 ERA, 16:39 BB/SO, 90.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (41-31) @ Louisville (28-44) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.18 ERA, 27:69 BB/SO, 74.1 IP) and Tyler Eppler (3.88 ERA, 23:51 BB/SO, 69.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (38-32) vs Hartford (32-39) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (3.86 ERA, 17:42 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (38-31) @ Lakeland (31-37) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (4.10 ERA, 19:46 BB/SO, 52.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (31-36) vs Lexington (34-36) 6:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Blake Cederlind (5.84 ERA, 15:42 BB/SO, 37.0 IP) and TBD
Short-Season A: Morgantown (4-1) @ Batavia (3-1) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:4 BB/SO, 2.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (1-1) @ Johnson City (1-1) 7:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (8-9) vs Indians (8-10) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here are two videos from Drew Hutchison’s last start. One is a strikeout, the other a strange play.
6/23: Jake Brentz promoted to Altoona.
6/23: Samuel Reyes promoted to GCL Pirates.
6/22: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Jacob Stallings Recalled
6/22: Evan Piechota, Chris McDonald, Nelson Jorge, Jhoan Herrera and Luis Perez transferred from Morgantown to Bristol.
6/22: Justin Maffei and Anderson Feliz assigned to Indianapolis. Austin Meadows and Gift Ngoepe placed on disabled list.
6/22: John Bormann assigned to Indianapolis.
6/22: Pirates sign five draft picks.
6/21: Pirates sign eight draft picks.
6/21: Pirates release Chase Simpson
6/21: Altoona activates Michael Suchy from disabled list.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the franchise’s all-time leader in batting average. Starting with the players that didn’t hit .360 for the Pirates, we have third baseman Ken Reitz (1982), pitcher Al Gerheauser (1945-46) and Rollie Hemsley, who caught for the Pirates from 1928-31 and made five All-Star teams during his 19-year career.
Also born on this, pitcher Kirtley Baker, who played for the worst team in franchise history. The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys went 23-113 and Baker won three of those games. Unfortunately, he lost 19 games, giving him the lowest winning percentage (.136) for any pitcher that has at least 20 decisions with the Pirates. Despite the poor record, he did have a highlight to brag about. At the end of June, he threw a shutout against the New York Giants and pitcher Mickey Welch, who is a 300-game winner and a Hall of Famer.
Finally, Jake Stenzel was born on this date and no one had a higher average than his .360 mark with the Pirates. He is the only player in Major League history to hit .350 with 80 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 50 stolen bases in a season four times. He did it three times with the Pirates, while everyone else combined in franchise history reached those numbers twice, both times by Honus Wagner. Stenzel hit .371 in 1895 and the previous year he scored 150 runs, which remains the franchise’s single-season record. His .429 on base percentage is also the best in team history