Prospect Watch: Keller Perfect in Return to Bradenton; Brault Finishes June Strong

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 (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] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);

2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20170629′);

3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170629′);

4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170629′);

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170629′);

6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170629′);

7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170629′);

8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170629′);

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170629′);

10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170629′);

11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170629′);

12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170629′);

13. Max Kranick, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170629′);

14. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170629′);

15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170629′);

16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170629′);

17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170629′);

18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170629′);

19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170629′);

20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170629′);

21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170629′);

22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170629′);

23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20170629′);

24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20170629′);

25. Max Moroff, 2B, Pirates -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170629′);

26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170629′);

27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170629′);

28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170629′);

29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170629′);

30. Jin-De Jhang, C, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(618085,’B’,’20170629′);

P2 Top Performers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Steven Brault was selected to represent the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

But whether Brault makes it to that game on July 11 remains in question, as he is trying his best to force his way into the Pirates’ rotation with every start he makes.

Brault can now add the most dominating performance of any Indianapolis pitcher this season to his resume: throwing eight shutout innings against a prospect-laden Durham team in a 4-0 win. He struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone, allowing four hits, two of which were infield singles.

Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett summed up Brault’s outing in one word: “Dominating.”

Brault has allowed nine earned runs over his last 10 starts, dropping his earned run average to 2.04, third-lowest in the International League.

“I think he’s definitely making a case for himself and the way he threw tonight,” Barkett said. “And the way he threw tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it to that all-star game because of the way he’s pitching and he’s a lefty. We don’t have a lefty in the rotation up there. I think he deserves a chance with the first-half numbers he’s had. But it also depends on opportunity. But if they need a starter they obviously have one ready here.”

Brault retired the side in order in the first four innings, before allowing a one-out double to Pat Leonard in the fifth inning. But he never allowed more than one baserunner in any inning, giving up three additional singles.

He was efficient from the beginning, needing 12 pitches in the first inning, 11 in the second, 13 in the third and 12 in the fourth inning.

Brault is the first Indianapolis starter to even be sent out for the eighth inning this season, sitting at 91 pitches after seven innings. Barkett said Brault was allowed to throw up to 110 pitches.

“I had confidence in him and he had confidence in himself,” Barkett said. “He was coming off the field wanting one more and we already had decided we were going to give it to him if we wanted.”

And Brault wanted that eighth inning.

“It was mine,” Brault said. “I wanted it more than I could tell you. It wasn’t more wanting it, but I felt it was mine and I was going to take it. If Andy took me out, then things are different. But I felt he trusted me to get that inning.”

Durham lead-off hitter Johnny Field worked a full count to open the game, before striking out. Overcoming that slight pothole was enough to propel Brault to the performance he had.

“Things could have gone poorly but they didn’t,” Brault said. “But once you get the momentum going sometimes you can just build on it for the game. I think I did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

Brault’s recent success, which dates back to the beginning of May, is based on a simple mantra: be aggressive and don’t try to paint corners. That carried over into Thursday’s start.

“Just being able to consistently attack in the zone with everything I had tonight,” Brault said. “Starting from the first pitch instead of having a tough first inning I think made a big difference. That’s where it started and you just build from there.”

Indianapolis scored two runs in the first inning and that was more than enough offense to back Brault. Danny Ortiz had an RBI double, while Joey Terdoslavich and Eric Wood had RBI singles. Erich Weiss had an RBI groundout.

Tyler Eppler allowed two hits to open the ninth in a relief appearance, but bounced back to retire the next three batters — two on strikeouts.

**Gift Ngoepe took batting practice for the first time since injuring his hamstring running to first base on June 19. He also did some running exercises, all seemingly without any setbacks. No timetable for his return has publicly been announced, though, Ngoepe seems close to returning.

Jason Rogers was scratched from the game about 15 minutes before first pitch. He officially agreed to terms with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. More on this story will be posted later. – Brian Peloza


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BOWIE, Md. – The Curve got shelled by Bowie, 9-3, completing a four-game sweep by the Baysox.  Tanner Anderson started and mostly struggled.  He throws an upper-80s to low-90s sinker and relies heavily on keeping the ball down in an effort to generate groundballs.  In this game, he missed low often and routinely got behind in the count.  He got through the first two innings with no damage, but in the third fell behind Bowie’s 3rd spot hitter 2-0 with two on.  Anderson left the next fastball up and the result was a long, 3-run HR.  Anderson gave up an opposite-field shot to the backup Bowie catcher and two more runs in the fourth.  He was finished after that, with six runs allowed on eight hits and two walks over four innings.

Apart from the sinker, Anderson threw a lot of changeups to left-handed hitters, something Austin Coley also did last night.  Neither Anderson’s change nor his breaking ball appeared to be an out pitch and he generally ended up having to rely on the sinker.  He wasn’t helped by having Pablo Reyes playing short in place of a resting Kevin Newman.  Reyes isn’t really a shortstop and a couple bouncers got through that might not have with somebody else at the position.

Jake Brentz followed Anderson and showed his upper-90s fastball, along with a low- to mid-80s slider. He didn’t control either pitch well, throwing only 8 of 18 pitches total for strikes. He also found out that AA hitters can hit upper-90s fastballs if you leave them up and over the plate. Two of the first three hitters Brentz faced went deep off fastballs.

After Brentz came Luis Heredia for two innings and Sean Keselica for one. Both had control problems.  Heredia’s first inning went quickly, but his command disappeared in his second. He threw a low- to mid-90s fastball and, for some reason, a large number of curves. The pitch had good, sharp break, but he didn’t throw it for strikes.  Heredia gave up a run on a single, steal and single in his second inning, then walked two to load the bases before getting out of it. Keselica threw a fastball that sat at 90-91 and seemed to have good life, as the hitters couldn’t seem to catch up to it. He fell behind most of the hitters he saw, as his secondary stuff in particular kept missing, but he got a couple of strikeouts with the fastball to finish a scoreless inning. He threw only half of his 26 pitches for strikes.

The Altoona hitters got nowhere for much of the game. The Bowie starter was throwing in the upper-90s with a good slider, and dominated some of the Curve hitters.  The more patient hitters were able to get pitches to hit, but the result was a series of line outs to the outfielders. Lirzano came out after three, having allowed just one hit, and a rehabbing Zach Britton pitched the fourth. The Curve finally got some offense going in the sixth, when they scored all their runs on an Edwin Espinal single and a two-run triple by Wyatt Mathisen.  They weren’t able to do any damage after that. The Curve totaled seven hits, two each by Logan Rutledge and Jerrick Suiter.. – Wilbur Miller


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Mitch Keller’s return to Bradenton was a successful one. Scheduled to go four innings, he retired all 12 batters he faced. The only trouble he had was with the ninth place hitter, who fouled off six pitches in an 11-pitch at-bat to end the third inning. Keller faced Dalton Pompey twice, an MLB player on rehab and got him to ground out each time. Keller threw 49 pitches, with 33 going for strikes. He had two strikeouts and a 7:2 GO/AO ratio. He used all three pitches in the outing and his fastball ranged between 94-97 according to the speeds given by Bradenton announcer Nate March.

Bradenton won this game 7-4, and got another perfect outing, though this one was on offense. Mitchell Tolman went 5-for-5, with a double, run scored and two RBIs. In fact, this is the second game in a row he reached base every time up, going 3-for-3 with a walk yesterday. His average has gone up 27 points in the last two days.

The Marauders went 5-for-5 in steals in this game, with Alfredo Reyes stealing three bases and Cole Tucker picking up his 28th steal. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Will Craig hit his 16th double, then scored on a Jordan George triple. Casey Hughston had two hits and his ninth stolen base.

Before the game, Brandon Cumpton was promoted to Altoona. He had a 2.53 ERA in Bradenton, throwing 10.2 innings over six appearances.


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West Virginia won 6-5 over Augusta in 11 innings. Starter Blake Cederlind allowed all five Augusta runs in his 4.2 innings, then three relievers combined for shutout ball the rest of the way. Cederlind gave up four hits, two walks, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches. He was followed by Jordan Jess, who tossed 1.1 scoreless innings. Dylan Prohoroff was out next and he threw three perfect innings, striking out three batters. That got the Power through nine innings tied, then Matt Eckelman pitched the last two for the win.

Adrian Valerio had three hits, a walk and a run scored. He has his average up to .293 in 29 games. Arden Pabst also had a three-hit game, including his ninth double of the season. The rest of the lineup combined to go 4-for-32, though the lone extra-base hit was a big one. In the eighth inning, Alexis Bastardo tied the score 5-5 with a two-run double. In the fourth inning, he picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly that scored Pabst with the second run.


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Morgantown lost 6-3 on a night in which they were getting no-hit for the first five innings. Through those first five frames, the Black Bears had just two walks, and one of those runners got erased on a pick-off. After the first two batters were retired in the sixth, two top ten draft picks came through for the first run. Jared Oliva doubled, then scored on a Bligh Madris triple. Morgantown added a solo run in the eighth on a ground out by Madris, then another in the ninth on a Nick King triple that scored Jose Barraza. Their only other hit was a Yoel Gonzalez single, and he scored on the Madris grounder.

On the pitching side, Stephan Meyer allowed three runs (two earned) over five innings. Yoandy Fernandez threw a scoreless inning, giving him seven innings without a run. Tenth round pick Beau Sulser allowed two runs in his only frame. Brandon Bingel served up an eighth inning homer, while also striking out three batters. Joel Cesar retired the side in order in the ninth.

Before the game, Jhoan Herrera was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a leg injury he suffered while running the bases a couple days ago. That effectively ends his season, as Bristol has 63 days left in their schedule.

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Bristol has been beating up on Princeton the last two days, sending the Rays to a 1-7 record on the season with an 11-1 victory on Thursday night. Braeden Ogle started the game and did a nice job of keeping runs off the board, but it was far from a clean outing. He went five innings and allowed four hits and five walks, while throwing two wild pitches. The walk total is a career worst, surpassing the three walks he issued late last year. Ogle had four strikeouts and threw 49 of his 86 pitches for strikes. It was a nice improvement over the four runs in four innings he allowed in his first start.

Chris McDonald was out next and he allowed an unearned run over his three frames. He gave up one hit and had four strikeouts. Pirates 11th round draft pick Alex Manasa retired the side in order in the ninth, needing just seven pitches.

The offense had four players collect three hits. Henrry Rosario and Matt Diorio each went 3-for-4 with a double, walk and a three-run homer. Luis Benitez was 3-for-5 with a triple. Huascar Fuentes was 3-for-5 with two runs scored. As for the top prospects, Edison Lantigua was 1-for-5 with a run scored, and Yondry Contreras had the day off.


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The GCL Pirates moved to 2-2 on the season, picking up a 3-1 win against a team that scored ten runs against them yesterday. Austin Shields started and was scheduled for four innings. His control was off and that led to him falling just short of that total. As was reported earlier, he is still building up his innings after some arm tightness, so the fact that he reached his pitch limit is a positive. He allowed one run on four hits, four walks and two wild pitches. It was actually impressive he limited the Braves to one run, because all four hits went for extra bases. He had three strikeouts.

With Shields unable to finish the fourth and the rehabbing Yeudy Garcia warming up for the fifth inning, the Pirates had to be resourceful and go to third baseman Cristopher Perez, who took one for the team. He ended up walking the first batter, before ending the inning on a fly out to center field. Not only did Perez pitch, but Francisco Mepris took over at third base and stayed in the game, so that was the end of a shortened day for both Perez and DH Conner Uselton, who was playing in his second pro game.

Yeudy Garcia made his first appearance since leaving his start on June 14th with an oblique strain. It’s interesting to note that Garcia pitched in relief, because even relievers on rehab usually start GCL games. So this might be a signal that the Pirates want to use Garcia in relief, where his stuff could play up. He pitched one inning and struck out the side. Adonis Pichardo threw shutout ball over the final four innings. (note that the boxscore currently says Roger Santana threw the last four innings, but he started three days ago and it was Pichardo today. That will likely be updated at some point)

The game had an interesting pitcher going for the opposition, and one that proves my point about Garcia pitching in relief. Chaz Roe started in a rehab assignment. He’s a reliever who has 93 games of Major League experience, and for those who don’t know, he is the great-nephew of Bill Mazeroski. Roe allowed an unearned run in the first inning, which was his only work on the day. For high draft picks Calvin Mitchell in his fourth pro game and Conner Uselton in his second pro game, that was quite a step up from the high school pitchers they were seeing last month. Mitchell walked against him, while Uselton had an RBI ground out to shortstop.

Uselton finished 0-for-2 before leaving on the double switch, grounding out to third base in his other at-bat. Mitchell had two walks, two ground outs and a strikeout. Jeremias Portorreal had a double in five trips to the plate. He is 10-for-19 with two doubles and two triples. Lolo “Kevin” Sanchez also went 1-for-5 with a double. He stole his second base. Shortstop Rodolfo Castro had two doubles and he is now 6-for-17 with three doubles and a triple.


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The DSL Pirates won 8-4 over the Indians/Brewers co-op team on Thursday. The Pirates rested almost all of their best prospects on Wednesday, but they all returned to the lineup for this game. Top prospect Jean Eusebio did well with the rest, going 3-for-5, with two runs scored and two RBIs. He hit his fourth double and stole his third base. Shortstop Francisco Acuna had two hits, a run scored, an RBI and three stolen bases, giving him nine on the season. Catcher Samuel Inoa drove in two runs with a double. Larry Alcime doubled in his first game back in the field since missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. Emison Soto picked up his ninth stolen base.

Jose Marcano started for the Pirates and went 4.2 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. He actually left while trailing 4-3 in this game. Pablo Santana followed with two scoreless innings and Wilmer Contreras finished out the game with 2.1 shutout frames to seal the victory.

The Indians part of the team has the new leader in the clubhouse for best name in baseball. A 16-year-old they signed out of the Netherlands named Makesiondon Juroney Kelkboom. If you have a better name in baseball right now, I’d like to hear it.

  • I would not be against Kuhl to the bullpen. Unfortunately, we need to “showcase” Bastardo before we can pawn him off on somebody.

    • DFA Bastardo and eat the contract.

      • Agreed at this point unless Bastardo just Ks every batter between now and the trade deadline they aren’t getting anything for him. Just release him and be done with it.

  • Michael Sankovich
    June 30, 2017 2:36 am

    congrats to Mitchell Tolman on a five for five game.

  • Like to see Glasnow and Brault go bonkers this week. Barkett really hearts Brault.

    • Don’t know anything about Barkett, but I like his straightforward approach – no interpretations needed.

      • I’m still waiting on the real story behind the lots of bad influences here last year comment otherwise I agree.

  • piraterican21
    June 30, 2017 12:07 am

    Congrats Jason Rogers, hope you have a nice career in Japan. P.s. One of the worse trade in the N H era.

    • Yeah horrible for to NH wait and get Freese for virtually nothing and no blame to Chris Coghlin. Props to Rogers for his deal and being a lightning rod for everything out of his control.

      • LULZ

        • If you believe that trades exist in a vacuum and there are no consequences for telling your bosses you voluntarily put them over budget the joke is on you.

          • Wait I missed where it became illegal for the Pirates to trade Rogers to any of the other 29 MLB organizations? Can you share a link with me?

            The overwhelming reality is that Jason Rogers wasn’t good. That has exactly zero to do with David Freese or Mike Morse or anybody else. If Rogers were a Major League-quality baseball player, Huntington would’ve turned him into something the organization could use. Rogers isn’t, so Huntington couldn’t.

            There’s no rationalization for this trade.

            • The rationalization was that Huntington had $1-$2m in the kitty to find something to replace Kang. Freese was likely asking $7m mult years until March rolled around so prior there weren’t a ton of options. Even at $3m Freese still put the bucs $1m over. Most preteen children understand these trades taken at face value are bad. If you evaluate NH without any consideration of the external constraints imposed you’re missing most of the big picture.

              • Revision: they could’ve just gone with Sean rod 2nd and JHay 3b for a month or two. Sean Rod signed a day before Rodgers trade and had a poor offensive year in 15 many didn’t want him resigned. If I’m recalling correct Rodgers had reverse platoon stat so they jumped the gun before signing Jaso the next week as Morse combo mate. They could’ve taken more time with the players traded away. At the time Rodgers looked like a giant improvement over bench players of Jaff Dackers ilk. I wouldn’t call it a minor misfire chalk it up. But last year’s big epiphany was how much mileage they were able to get with a good bench.

              • Hahahahaha…

    • Broxton was somebody we were going to lose (no options remaining), and Supak just did not impress anybody after 2 years. BTW, he is the #29 Prospect for the Brewers with at least a dozen SP’s ahead of him, and started the year at Lo A.

      Rogers was signed for insurance (Kang injury) and hit well for the Brewers. However, after about half of ST was over, Freese was still available, and getting desperate. The Pirates were a playoff team and decided to go with the known commodity. A tough decision made by a GM not afraid to be second-guessed, and Freese has returned solid dividends to the Pirates.

      The Rogers for Broxton/Supak trade cannot be judged separately because of the timing of the signing of Freese. I also wonder if after 2015 the Pirates had talked to Freese before trading for Rogers? Bet the price was a lot higher then.

      • John Dreker
        June 30, 2017 9:33 am

        Broxton had two options remaining going into 2016

      • Rogers wasn’t signed as Kang insurance. He was signed to be the starting first baseman because at the time Sean Rodriguez was the only player on the roster who had ever stood at first with a glove on his hand. I liked the trade at the time (Rogers just posted a solid year with the bat for the Brewers and we had zero true 1b on the roster) and I still don’t think Broxton or Supak are much to worry about losing. The only real issue with the trade is that NH continued to do his job and upgrade the roster by getting Freese, Jaso, and having Bell develop at first instead of the outfield making Rogers superfluous.

      • Jason Rogers, April-Aug 2015: .236/.308/.358 82 wRC+ (117 PA)
        Jason Rogers, September 2015: .435/.500/.630 211 wRC+ (52 PA)

        This is *exactly* why baseball folks say not to trust September stats.

  • Darkstone42
    June 29, 2017 9:30 pm

    Holy crap, Steven Brault.

    I’d like to see him take Kuhl’s spot in the rotation sooner rather than later. Let Chad figure out the new approach in AAA.

    • Hard to argue with that. Brault is on fire. Plus, lefty. I hope we don’t give up on Kuhl as a SP, so I’d prefer him to AAA than the BP.

      • I agree, Kuhl has some tremendous potential, I think he’s close. His stuff is becoming electric, just has to work on efficiency so I’m not ready to give up on him as a starter.

    • Holy crap, E Perez. That’s a game.

      • No kidding he gets on base 5 times, steals 4 bases and doesn’t get a word written about him. That is surprising.

    • Totally agree! I’m still positive on Kuhl long-term, but he needs to work on a few things:
      – breaking ball and changeup so he can compete better against lefties
      – more composure on the mound. I don’t mind some emotion but he’s a little out of control (Jameson and Ivan are great role models)