Some news and notes from around the system for your Tuesday morning.
* Scooter Hightower was named the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week on Monday afternoon. If you read The Twenty yesterday, you already know why that happened. Hightower made a scoreless relief appearance on Monday, retiring all three batters he faced, two by strikeout. On Saturday, he threw five no-hit innings with ten strikeouts. In six innings, the only runners to reach base were on a hit-by-pitch and a fielding error. During most weeks, Morgantown’s Yoandy Fernandez would have won the award because he also had 12 strikeouts over six innings, with one unearned run scoring against him. As great as his two appearances were, the didn’t stand up to the brilliant pitching by Hightower.
* Monday wasn’t a good day for offense around the farm system. The seven affiliates combined for just nine runs and four of those came from the DSL Pirates. The bright side to that note is that the teams only allowed 13 runs total and had some terrific pitching, with five of their starters throwing shutout ball for five innings or more. The only home run for the Pirates was hit by Henrry Rosario, who I jokingly called the mayor of Bristol the other day, now in his third season with the team. To be honest, he has no business being at that level, but he’s filling a roster spot and not blocking any prospects. Bristol isn’t the level for a 24-year-old in his sixth season of pro ball.
* After a handful of draft picks made their debut yesterday, including second round pick Calvin Mitchell, we have now seen 14 of the 31 signed draft picks play. Everyone will want to know when Shane Baz will make his debut. It’s important to remember that he last pitched on May 16th before signing. He arrived a few days later at Pirate City and then the process is just like stretching out someone for Spring Training at that point. When he’s ready to throw in a game will be up to the Pirates and how they handle him. If they are fine with his debut being just one inning, then you will see him sooner. If they want him to go two innings, then it will take a little longer.
For reference purposes, Max Kranick threw two innings his first start and that was 15 days after he signed. Braeden Ogle didn’t make his debut until 26 days after he signed and he went two innings as well. Travis MacGregor was 17 days and he was scheduled to go two innings, but reached his pitch count early. Austin Shields took 26 days, same as Ogle, and he was only scheduled for one inning. I’d say Baz will be closer to Ogle and Shields due to the time off between pitching and signing. He’s now at ten days since he signed, so we could see him near the end of next week, unless they are fine sending him out for just one inning.
As a side note, 72nd overall pick Conner Uselton wasn’t on the roster as available for yesterday’s game. He also had a long layoff between playing and signing, but position players are usually ready soon. So expect to see him before Baz. Steven Jennings, the 42nd overall pick, signed six days after Baz, so unless they go one inning, I wouldn’t expect to see him too soon. We should actually get a better idea when we could see these players later this week when we have live coverage of the GCL.
As a second side note, don’t be surprised if sixth round pick Cody Bolton signs today. That is all.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
The Pirates were off on Monday
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates were off yesterday as they traveled home for a six-game homestand, starting with three against the Tampa Bay Rays, then three more against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. Trevor Williams will get the start for the Pirates tonight, going up against right-hander Alex Cobb, who has a 4.05 ERA in 93.1 innings, with 66 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. In his last three starts combined, Williams has allowed 11 earned runs over 13 innings. In his two prior starts combined, he gave up two runs over 13 innings.
In the minors, Nick Kingham will try to build off of a decent outing last time out when he gave up three runs on six hits and no walks in 6.2 innings. His results were not as good in his previous three outings, where he combined to allow 11 runs on 22 hits and six walks in 13.2 innings. Luis Escobar gets the start for West Virginia. His 92 strikeouts lead all Pirates and rank him tied for first in the South Atlantic League. Cody Dickson makes the start for Altoona in place of the injured Dario Agrazal. Morgantown has off today. Bristol is scheduled to start Domingo Robles and the GCL starter should be Yeudry Manzanillo today. He was originally scheduled to be the Opening Day starter.
MLB: Pittsburgh (35-41) vs Rays (40-38) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (5.09 ERA, 17:41 BB/SO, 58.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (42-34) vs Durham (47-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (4.70 ERA, 12:34 BB/SO, 38.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (40-33) @ Bowie (37-39) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (NR)
High-A: Bradenton (39-32) vs Dunedin (35-38) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (32-39) @ Augusta (25-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.12 ERA, 28:92 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (5-3) vs Mahoning Valley (5-3) 7:05 PM 6/28 (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (1-4) vs Greeneville (3-2) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (1-0) vs Tigers East (0-1) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (11-9) vs Rangers1 (12-7) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is a strikeout from Steven Brault on Saturday. The entire at-bat is here, so you see him hit 94 on the gun and drop in a nice breaking ball for a strike.
6/26: Ty Moore promoted to Bradenton. Garrett Brown promoted to West Virginia
6/25: Logan Ratledge promoted to Altoona.
6/25: Ryan Nagle promoted to West Virginia.
6/25: Matt Diorio and Huascar Fuentes assigned to Bristol from Morgantown.
6/25: Victor Ngoepe, Felix Vinicio, Jose Delgado, Nelson Jorge and Brian Sousa assigned from Bristol to GCL Pirates
6/24: Cole Tucker activated from disabled list.
6/24: Dario Agrazal placed on disabled list. Cody Dickson assigned to Indianapolis.
6/24: Geoff Hartlieb promoted to Bradenton. Andrew Potter promoted to West Virginia.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the first player to hit a ball into the Allegheny on a fly. Starting with the oldest today, we have 1883-84 catcher Jackie Hayes, 1947 pitcher Hank Behrman, 1962-63 catcher Elmo Plaskett and 1995-96 lefty pitcher Lee Hancock. You can find bios for all of these players in the link just above.
The fifth player is Daryle Ward, who played for the 2004-05 Pirates, but it was something he did with another team that makes him special. Ward is the son of Major League outfielder Gary Ward, who had a decent career himself. The younger Ward broke into the big leagues with the Astros in 1998 and on July 6,2002, he became the first player to reach the Allegheny River on the fly. It took 11 years before that feat was equaled by Garrett Jones.
The link above also includes a game recap from 1991, in which the eventual NL East champs, had a ninth inning comeback at home to beat the Cubs. You can find the boxscore of the game here, which comes with complete play-by-play of the game and the ninth inning rally.
On this date in 1903, Deacon Phillippe battled Hall of Fame pitcher Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity for 11 innings, as the Pirates defeated the Giants by a 4-2 score. Both runs were unearned against Phillippe due to a Tommie Leach error, but it was Leach who hit a two-run double that scored Hall of Famers Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner for the winning runs. Wagner had no trouble against his fellow HOF’er, collecting four hits and a walk off McGinnity. The game was witnessed by 32,000 fans at the Polo Grounds and it took two hours and 15 minutes to play.