Prospect Watch: Second Rehab Start for Keller, Ogle’s Season Debut, Valerio Homers Twice

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’);
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2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20170624′);
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3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170624′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170624′);
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5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170624′);
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6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170624′);
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7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170624′);
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8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170624′);
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9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170624′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170624′);
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11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170624′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170624′);
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13. Max Kranick, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170624′);
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14. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170624′);
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15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170624′);
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16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170624′);
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17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170624′);
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18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170624′);
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19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170624′);
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20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170624′);
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21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170624′);
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22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170624′);
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23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20170624′);
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24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20170624′);
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25. Max Moroff, 2B, Pirates -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170624′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170624′);
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27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170624′);
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28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170624′);
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29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170624′);
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30. Jin-De Jhang, C, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(618085,’B’,’20170624′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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Indianapolis won game one of a doubleheader by a 4-2 score, as Steven Brault overcame two runs in the first to put up six strong innings. Brault has been the best pitcher in the system since the beginning of May. He was named our Pitcher of the Month for last month and he’s putting up numbers that have him contending for June’s best pitcher.

Brault had a tough first inning, but it doesn’t look as bad as the boxscore indicates. He walked the lead-off batter, then gave up three hits to bring home the two runs. The first hit went about 20 feet, while the next two hits were slow bouncers through the middle of the infield that went against the shift. Both actually looked like double play balls off the bat, but the shift failed on both occasions.

After that first inning, Brault pitched five shutout innings for the win. Louisville was actually hitting the ball better after the first, collecting three doubles. Brault had five strikeouts and threw 68 of his 102 pitches for strikes. His ERA went up slightly to 2.24 through 80.1 innings. Casey Sadler came on for the save and recorded two outs, but after a walk and an infield hit put runners on the corners, Dovydas Neverauskas came on for the final out.

Christopher Bostick had a triple and scored two runs. Jason Rogers had two hits and a walk. Eric Wood hit his 18th double and Steven Brault hit his first double.

Game Two Recap: Indianapolis lost game two by an 8-4 score. Tyler Eppler had a somewhat similar outing to Brault in that he allowed three runs in the first inning, then settled down for four innings. In the sixth, he served up  triple and a single before being replaced by Josh Lindblom, who was just sent outright to Indianapolis today after his rehab assignment ended. Lindblom allowed the one inherited runner to score, as well as three runs of his own runs in his only inning of work. Eppler was giving up some hard hits in this one, allowing two doubles and two triples. He finished with three strikeouts, one walk and a 5:2 GO/AO ratio, while throwing 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes.

The offense for Indianapolis was led by Danny Ortiz and Erich Weiss, who each had two hits, a double and an RBI. Weiss also scored a run. Former Major Leaguer John Bormann had two hits and a run scored in his Triple-A debut. Eury Perez had a hit and stolen base in each game, giving him ten steals on the season.

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, Pa. – Tanner Anderson followed up one of his best outings of the season in Hartford last week with another solid performance tonight in Altoona. Last weekend, Anderson picked up a win, pitching six scoreless innings against this same Hartford team. That time, he only needed 58 pitches to get through those six innings, allowing just two hits.

Tonight, Anderson was good again, allowing two earned runs in six innings of work. He did not walk any batters and struck out three on 79 pitches (53 strikes). Seemingly like a broken record, Anderson kept the ball on the ground all night. He had 11 ground outs compared to only one fly out, and the majority of the seven hits against him — all singles — were on the ground. Even in the fifth inning when Hartford got two runs across the board, the runs were a result of balls finding holes through the infield and an error.

Anderson’s ground ball rate coming into tonight was at 60.3%, which surprisingly is the lowest of his professional career. That number will most definitely bump up after tonight’s outing. It wasn’t just his sinkerball that was on, Anderson’s breaking stuff had a lot of movement tonight.

Anderson also helped himself in the fourth inning, singling up the middle to score Wyatt Mathisen. It was his fifth hit of the season and his first professional RBI. Anderson was actually a pretty good hitter in college, with a .277 AVG and .742 OPS for Harvard.

It didn’t take long for Edwin Espinal to extend his hitting streak to 11 games tonight, as he hit a three-run home run in the first inning to get the Curve on the board early. It was Espinal’s eighth home run of the season, which is a career high for the first baseman. Espinal had a terrible stretch at the beginning of the month of June, but he has quickly rebounded to get his batting average back up to the .290 mark. – Sean McCool

The biggest thing that stood out to me tonight with Anderson was his changeup. I talked to him last year in the AFL about the pitch, which he was adding after mostly being a sinker/slider reliever throughout his pitching career. He made the transition to the rotation this year, which makes the changeup very necessary. As Sean wrote earlier in the season, he’s making that transition well, in large part due to the changeup.

The pitch was getting some swings and misses tonight against lefties, and allowing him to get ahead in the count. That’s huge for a sinkerball guy, as the common trend for a guy with a sinker and a decent slider is that he won’t have the changeup and will struggle against lefties. The progress that Anderson has shown in the last year is very encouraging for his future.

“He’s more comfortable with it,” Altoona manager Michael Ryan said. “The more he throws it, the more comfortable you’re going to be with it, the more effective it becomes. I think last year he went from a sinker/slider guy to using the changeup more where he’s a three pitch guy. It makes the two-seamer play a lot better, to be honest with you. A bunch of ground ball outs tonight, 11. The changeup had a lot to do with that also.”

The changeup works to get guys swinging out in front of the pitch, which leads to ground balls on that specific pitch. But Ryan explained that this also slows down the hitter, adding a few MPH in perceived velocity to the two-seamer, which keeps them out in front. Anderson can sit in the low-90s with his sinker, but when it’s following a low-to-mid 80s changeup, it can be a nasty pitch.

“The changeup has been a huge weapon for him, and the reason he’s getting the ball on the ground so much,” Ryan said.

Anderson looked like a non-prospect heading into the 2016 season. By the end of the year, he looked like he might be a relief pitching prospect. At this point, I could see him making it to the majors as a reliever, with a chance to be a depth starter if that third pitch continues this development.

“He’s got three quality pitches, and he’s a ground ball guy,” Ryan said. “That’s going to play wherever he’s at. If he can continue to do what he’s going to do, and develop into that three pitch guy, he’s going to be really good. He knows how to pitch. He’s very smart. So he’s going to have success, whether he’s in Triple-A or the big leagues.”

Jake Brentz made his Double-A debut tonight, although it didn’t go as well as his final outings in Bradenton. The hard throwing lefty got his fastball up to 98 MPH, but saw control problems, throwing 16 of 34 pitches for strikes. He had two 3-0 counts with two outs in the first inning, issuing one walk and getting one hard hit fly ball out to end the frame. The second inning saw him walk two batters and give up a few hard hits, while also getting two outs. He was lifted for Montana DuRapau with the bases loaded, and DuRapau got the final out, starting a four out save.

“I thought he got a little bit excited,” Ryan said. “It’s a bigger crowd under the lights. We’ve got some noise here. It’s different than Bradenton. … I think he found out that hitters are pretty good here too. He tried to maybe be a little bit too fine. I think he got excited, but he handled it well.”

I don’t want to make much of the single game for Brentz, due to all of the factors here. I will say that Double-A is going to be a big test. His control has been better this year, although at times he was effectively wild in Bradenton, and that’s a bit more difficult in Altoona. This will be the first big test to see whether he ends up closer to a power reliever in the majors, or a guy who is perpetually in Triple-A with good stuff and poor control holding him back.

Offensively, the Curve got some power tonight with homers from Pablo Reyes and Edwin Espinal, as Sean noted above. I wouldn’t be surprised if Espinal moves up in the second half, clearing a path for Will Craig to move up from Bradenton. Both players look ready to move up right now, and the Pirates don’t really have a need to keep Joey Terdoslavich and Jason Rogers in Indianapolis, since the first base depth in Pittsburgh is pretty strong without them. I’d expect that series of moves to happen at some point in the second half, with Espinal and Craig both moving up. – Tim Williams

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton had their game suspended in the eighth inning after they took a 3-2 lead. They will finish this game, then play their regularly scheduled game tomorrow. We will post a full recap in tomorrow’s Prospect Watch.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia lost game one of a doubleheader against Lexington by a 9-4 score. Starter Blake Cederlind had a tough game, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and three walks in 2.1 innings. He came into the day with 42 strikeouts in 37 innings, but failed to pick up one in this game. Cederlind threw 71 pitches in his abbreviated outing, with 38 going for strikes. Matt Anderson was out next and surrendered two runs over 4.2 innings. Both pitchers allowed homers and they combined to make three errors, with two from Anderson.

On offense, Adrian Valerio connected on his fourth homer of the season and his third in the last two games. Hunter Owen hit a two-run homer and walked in his other two plate appearances. Ty Moore and Alexis Bastardo each picked up outfield assists.

Game Two Recap: West Virginia won game two after dropping the opener. The Power trailed 1-0 into the bottom of the fifth when Adrian Valerio connected on a three-run homer. That gives him four homers in his last three games. He isn’t a big guy and he’s more of a line drive hitter, so it seems safe to say you won’t see a streak like this again from him and shouldn’t expect a lot of homers in the future. He is one of the guilty parties, who has a tendency to swing for the fences after he hits a homer and that usually puts him into a slump.

James Marvel started this game and allowed just one unearned run over six innings. The only two hits against him were singles. Marvel walked three batters and struck out a pair. In his previous two outings combined, he allowed eight runs over 6.2 innings. Jordan Jess pitched a scoreless seventh for the save.

Arden Pabst drove in the other Power run with a sacrifice fly. He also walked and scored on Valerio’s homer. Valerio also hit a single to go along with his home run.

Prospect-Watch-Morgantown

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Mitch Keller made his second rehab start with Morgantown and it was cut short due to weather. The game went into a rain delay just before the bottom of the third inning. Keller had an easy first inning, with two strikeouts and a ground out. He wasn’t as sharp in the second, starting with a lead-off single. That was followed by a two-out walk and then a hit batter to load the bases. He got out of the jam with a ground out to second base. Keller threw 28 pitches total, 19 for strikes, with 17 of those pitches coming in the second inning.

The game was suspended with a 0-0 score in the third inning due to rain.

Prospect-Watch-Bristol
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Bristol lost 11-5 in Braeden Ogle’s season debut. The 2016 fourth round pick went four innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. He had two strikeouts, a 6:3 GO/AO ratio and threw 40 of his 68 pitches for strikes. Ogle allowed three doubles among his six hits. In eight starts last year, he had just one outing in which he allowed more than one earned run.

Brian Sousa was out next and he gave up five runs in one inning. This was his second outing this year, and not any worse than his first when he allowed three runs without making it out of his only inning. Miguel Hernandez had control issues in his first appearance, then came back with two perfect innings tonight. That was typical of him last year, when he would look like a legit prospect one start, then look like a project in his next game. Jose Delgado was up next for his debut in the States and it was much like his outings in the DSL last year. He threw 29 pitches, with just 13 going for strikes. The four pitchers the Pirates used in this game all top out in the 93-96 MPH range.

On offense, Melvin Jimenez went 3-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. He was the only Bristol player not to strike out in this game, as they went down 14 times on the night. Every player reached base safely at least once, as Bristol had 12 hits and seven walks. Mayor Henrry Rosario in his third term with Bristol, went 3-for-5 with a double and two steals. Paul Brands had two hits. Edison Lantigua hit his third double, but he also committed two errors.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates won 8-3 on Saturday, as third baseman Sherten Apostel continued his strong start to the season. Apostel finished well last year after a very rough start. In 201 plate appearances in 2016, he had nine extra-base hits and 61 strikeouts. Now in 71 plate appearances after hitting two triples on Saturday, he equaled those nine extra-base hits (six doubles, three triples) and he has struck out just ten times. The 18-year-old from Curacao was described as raw when he signed for $200,000 in July of 2014, but it appears the bat is coming around. He has also driven in 19 runs in only 17 games.

The big hit in this game was a grand slam by outfielder Carlos Garcia. It was his first career homer in 44 games. Ronaldo Paulino hit two doubles in this game. The Pirates almost ran themselves into trouble on this day, going 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts.

Starter Jose Marcano allowed two runs over 4.2 innings, though both runs scored after he left the game. Reliever Kleiner Machado gave up a double, hit a batter and issued a walk before he could record the final out in the fifth. After Julio Rosario allowed a run in the sixth, Pablo Santana finished the game with three shutout innings and picked up the win.

  • What is up with Adrian Valerio? Has he been putting in extra time in the weight room? 4 HR in two days is amazing even for a big bopper.

    • One of our big investments ($400K), he fields well at a .950 clip and he just turned 20. Cole Tucker is about 8 months older and fields at a .972 clip in Hi A. Don’t be surprised if these two are not the MI for the Pirates in the very near future. Both magicians in the field, both switchhitters, and both hitting out of the leadoff position for average and power. Waiting for that Newman to AAA, Tucker to AA. Valerio with less than 100 AB may have to wait until later in the year to get to Hi A.

      Valerio could always field, and his bat started to get better at Bristol last year. He is looking like a strong break-out candidate so far and should probably be in the P2 Top 20 – he started the season at #39. If the hitting continues at this pace, could he be a candidate for the MLB Top 100?

      • Valerio gave up switch-hitting in the off-season. I wouldn’t call Tucker a magician in the field. He’s better than Newman, but not in the same class as Valerio or Alemais. I think Alfredo Reyes is actually a better shortstop than him, but he can’t hit, so he’s not really a prospect.

        I wouldn’t put Valerio into a potential top 100 spot player. He’s not really that type of upside and the power isn’t legit. He’s a line drive hitter, should hit for a decent average, get his share of doubles. Speed is average, doesn’t work the count well, but he also doesn’t chase much or swing and miss often.

  • Morgantown suspended for rain? I am about 75 miles away and not a cloud in the sky and nothing on the radar over motown. Plus the field is plastic.

    • They are in Batavia

      • Dont i look like the fool thanks.

        • No not really JD keeps everyone straight on this site. But graduating from that fine university on the Mon- it rains a lot more frequently in that area than in the surrounding area. It’s a temporal vortex similar to the one in the Star Trek movie.

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