Prospect Watch: Steven Brault Carries His May Success into June with Seven Shutout Innings

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 (Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson, 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’,’20170601′);
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3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170601′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170601′);
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5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170601′);
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6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170601′);
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7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170601′);
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8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170601′);
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9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170601′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170601′);
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11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170601′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170416′);
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13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170416′);
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14. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170601′);
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15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170601′);
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16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170601′);
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17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170601′);
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18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170601′);
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19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170601′);
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20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170601′);
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21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170531′);
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22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170601′);
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23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20170416′);
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24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20170601′);
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25. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170601′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170601′);
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27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170601′);
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28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170601′);
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29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170601′);
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30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(572990,’P’,’20170601′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Steven Brault did more than enough on the mound to win the game, but he also found a way to jumpstart the Indianapolis offense.

He had an impressive month of May on the mound, allowing just four earned runs in 28.2 innings over five starts.

And the month of June is off to a pretty solid start. Brault threw seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over Lehigh Valley, striking out eight and walking nobody.

Brault hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in any of his last six starts. His earned run average now sits at 2.20. He looks like the pitcher that dominated early last season prior to his hamstring injury.

After 11 starts, Brault put together his first walk-free performance this season. He only had one start last season with Indianapolis where he didn’t allow a walk, a 4-inning performance that was his first start back with the Indians after returning from his hamstring injury.

In all, there wasn’t much to critique about Brault’s start. Really, nothing at all.

“Absolutely not,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “He was outstanding, he really was. I’ve been kind of talking to him and making comparisons to him and Kenny Rogers.”

As in Kenny Rogers the retired left-handed baseball pitcher, not Kenny Rogers the country music singer.

“(Brault) would probably prefer the singer more than the pitcher, because he does like to sing,” Barkett joked.

Jokes aside, the desire to see Brault resemble Rogers is reasonable.

“I actually saw glimpses of that,” Barkett said. “You saw an athletic left-handed pitcher that was going to attack with good pitches. (Brault) had good life on his fastball, a good breaking ball, pitched inside aggressively. You can use every positive adjective to describe his outing tonight. It was just really good. It was a major league outing.”

Brault put together numerous efficient innings, needing no more than 14 pitches to get through any of the first five innings. He retired the side in order in the second inning on seven pitches. And in the fourth inning, he retired the first two batters on two pitches.

At the plate, Brault helped jumpstart the Indianapolis offense in the sixth inning. He reached on an infield single to become the first baserunner of the inning.

Eric Wood and Barrett Barnes each had a two-run double in that inning, which was more than enough offense needed to put away the series-clinching win against Lehigh Valley.

Wood put together a solid game, adding a triple later in the game. He also made an impressive play at third base on a grounder that hit the third base bag and bounced straight up. Wood grabbed the ball in mid-air and threw all in one motion, making an impressive throw to first for the out.

That play will end up in the manager’s postgame report, Barkett said.

“That was a major league play,” he said. “Outstanding. He showed an above-average major league arm on that throw and that’s going to go into my report.”

Wood has been struggling at the plate for a majority of this season, but on Thursday he showed the potential he has offensively and defensively, though he did drop a potential game-ending foul popout.

“Wood played like a major league baseball player tonight,” Barkett said. “Even though he dropped that popout, that was a major league baseball player. I thought he was outstanding.”

Dovydas Neverauskas allowed two hits and a walk, but worked around those to pitch a scoreless ninth inning. The amount of baserunners was not ideal, but not allowing any runs to score is a definite improvement.

Neverauskas had given up two or more earned runs in three of his last four relief appearances.

“He had a little more energy and he was in the zone better,” Barkett said. “There seemed like there was a little more intent to attack the zone. At times he looks passive out there, but tonight he didn’t look passive.”

Erich Weiss added a triple, while Indianapolis has won the last 13 games in which Jacob Stallings has started. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, Pa. – Playing Akron for the seventh time in 11 days, the Curve looked to take the series rubber match on Thursday night after being swept just a week ago by this same team. Even with a spotty defensive effort in the 4th and 5th innings, the Curve kept battling back to take the game, 7-5.

“We put together good at-bats,” Manager Michael Ryan said. “It’s good that our offense got going on a day that we haven’t gotten the best start on the mound. It’s great seeing that we have the ability to pick each other up. Those offense carried us tonight.”

This was the 16th time that Altoona and Akron have faced off already this year thanks to the Eastern League schedule makers. J.T. Brubaker made his seventh start of the season and ninth appearance overall, and he allowed two runs in six innings earlier this season against Akron. Tonight, Brubaker cruised through his first two innings but scuffled in his next two, allowing five runs in four innings pitched.

Brubaker faced the minimum and threw only 19 pitches in his first two innings of work. Then, after a lead-off walk in the third, Akron’s Mark Mathias hit a long fly ball to right-center field. Pablo Reyes played a terrible line to the ball and should’ve gotten there for the out; rather, the ball went over his head, and it was scored as an RBI triple. Brubaker struck out the next two batters, but Mathias then can around to score. Really, no runs should have scored in the inning.

In the fourth, Brubaker had a strikeout and allowed a single before Elvis Escobar made a bad read on a fly ball, and it sailed over his head. After that, the floodgates opened, and Akron scored three runs. In this case in particular, it seemed the defensive miscue affected Brubaker, as Akron started squaring him up regularly in the inning. Overall, he threw 60 pitches in the third and fourth innings, ending his night prematurely.

He struck out six and walked two batters.

Sean Keselica, Austin Coley, and Montana DuRapau combined to throw five hitless innings after Brubaker. Their bullpen has been great all season, including Buddy Borden (0.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIP), DuRapau (1.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP), Keselica (1.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP), Miguel Rosario (1.04 ERA, 1.15 WHIP), and Tate Scioneaux (1.87 ERA, 0.86 WHIP).

“Our bullpen has been unbelievable,” Ryan said. “When you start a season, you always think to yourself that you will always be successful if your bullpen is good. For us, that is why we are where we are at. We can hold onto leads. We fight back to be able to get leads. You can put anybody in, and you are comfortable with it. That’s the sign of a great bullpen.”

Austin Coley came out of the bullpen tonight and pitched two scoreless innings; however, he will be inserted back into the rotation the next time around. The Curve are essentially using a faux six man rotation to limit innings. They already had Brubaker and Anderson throw two innings out of the bullpen rather than start, and Alex McRae will be the next starter to do that.

“Those five innings that they might save could be huge down the road at the end of the season,” Ryan said.

As for Coley, he created some strong competition for the rotation by pitching so well in Waddell’s spot when he was on the disabled list. Coley is now 5th in the Eastern League in ERA at 2.81 in 48 innings pitched.

“It’s good to have some in-house competition here,” Ryan said.

Offensively, the Curve kept coming back every time they got down during through the middle innings of the game. Wyatt Mathisen got them on the board with a monster two-run home run over the center field wall (estimated 410 feet), his second homer of the season. Mathisen is hitting .314 this season, good for 10th in the E.L.

Kevin Kramer doubled down the left field line in the eighth inning to score two runs. It was a two-strike count and he protected the plate by going the other way.

“He got a two-seamer going away and his sights were probably that way because of a shift on him,” Ryan said about Kramer’s two-strike hit. “It’s hard for a lefty to keep a ball fair down the third base line.”

Newman, Jhang, and Escobar added two hits apiece for the Curve.

Defensively in the first inning, Connor Joe made a ridiculous over the shoulder catch at first base, then he proceeded to double up a runner at first. It was a great, athletic play that not many first basemen would have been able to make. -Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton won 5-1 over Ft Myers on Thursday night, as starter Bret Helton threw six shutout innings and the top four in the lineup provided the offense.

The Marauders got on the board early and then it was up to the pitching staff from there on out. They scored two runs in both the first and second innings. The runs in the first came from a Ke’Bryan Hayes double, followed by Will Craig’s fourth home run of the season. In the second inning, Kevin Krause doubled, then scored on Casey Hughston’s sixth triple of the season. Hughston would score one batter later on a Cole Tucker single. The Marauders added an insurance run in the seventh on a walk by Hayes, followed by singles from Craig and Logan Hill, with an error occurring on Hill’s single, which brought in the run.

Tucker finished this game 2-for-4 with a walk. He struck out in this game, giving him at least one strikeout in 14 straight games, which is the highest streak of his career. He was also caught stealing for the ninth time, though that’s in 36 attempts for a 75% success rate. Hayes had a double, single, walk and two runs scored. Craig had three hits in this game and Hill reached base all four times with two walks and two singles.

Helton continues to get starts with Mitch Keller out and he impressed in this game. He allowed nine base runners, including at least one every inning, but still managed to keep Ft Myers off of the board. Sam Street and Jess Amedee followed with scoreless innings, before Yunior Montero allowed a run in the ninth.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia had a tough loss on the scoreboard and with their best player. The game was lost in the bottom of the eighth inning on a passed ball by Brent Gibbs, which allowed the go ahead run. The bigger deal was the loss of Adrian Valerio, who got hit in the left check/eye area on a ball that deflected off a runner on a throw to second base. Valerio needed to be carted off of the field and was holding a towel to his face the whole time. We will try to get an update tonight on his condition (UPDATE: Valerio needed to be taken to the hospital and there was no further update on Thursday night).

Prior to the injury, Valerio extended his hit streak to ten games on an impressive piece of hitting. He was thrown a nasty slider that was breaking away from him just off the outside corner and he ended up somehow pulling it down the line quite a distance and hustling into second base for the stand-up double.

Eduardo Vera started this game and allowed two runs over five innings. The first run came very early on a lead-off triple, followed by a sacrifice fly. Vera then retired nine of ten batters, with the lone exception being a hit-by-pitch. In the fourth, he allowed another run, although the ball that hit Valerio played a role in that, as they couldn’t record the out on the runner at second base, who later came around to score. In 40 innings, Vera has a 2.48 ERA, an 0.95 WHIP and a .224 BAA, with 42 strikeouts.

Blake Cederlind threw two scoreless innings before hitting a rough patch in the eighth that brought home two runs on two singles, a stolen base and a triple. Cederlind was originally scheduled to start, but he went back to long relief, where he has worked most of the season. Matt Frawley came on with no outs and while he continued to lower his ERA, the unearned run on the Brent Gibbs passed ball gave Frawley the loss. He now has a 1.63 ERA in 27.2 innings, with 30 strikeouts.

  • Wow, 18 comments and not a one about the pitching effort of Steven Brault at AAA last night? Nice summary and it seems as if he has it all coming together. Could make for a tough decision in the very near future. BTW, nice effort by Jeff Locke last night.

    Valerio has been very strong lately. With Cole Tucker and Valerio both showing very well, why have the Pirates kept Kevin Newman at AA? Moroff was playing SS at AAA and had 13 errors, but maybe not all of them were at SS.

    I like all of these “near” MLB Rotation pitchers, but we are deep at the MLB level, and the MLB BP is looking pretty deep also. Unlike our stash of middle infielders, many of these guys could interest other teams. If you were the GM of another team, who would be your ask as part of a trade – Williams, Kingham, Holmes, Brault, Eppler, Hutch?

    • Just for comparison sakes, the much maligned Jeff Locke had a 2.82 Era in 3 AAA seasons. I’ll get excited about Brault if he can do this in the majors.

      • With the lack of a LHSP in the current Rotation, Brault may get an opportunity, and thankfully, Searage will make that call and evaluation and not the other guy – the current Manager.

      • John Dreker
        June 2, 2017 10:27 am

        So you wouldn’t take Locke’s 2013-14 numbers from Brault right now?

    • SufferinBuccotash
      June 2, 2017 8:17 am

      Why is Kevin Newman still in AA? I would think a .232 BA and .611 OPS would be enough reason.

      • What did he hit last year in AA? Over 200 AB and batted around .280 if I recall. Should have been promoted to start 2017. Is he the same guy who struggled at the low level the Pirates started him at after the draft, and then took off in a positive direction when he was promoted?

        • John Dreker
          June 2, 2017 10:23 am

          I’m pretty sure his performance this year proves that he wasn’t ready to move up. He’s the worst regular on the team out of the 11 players with the most playing time. They are 51 games into the season, that’s no longer a small sample size.

          You usually don’t promote the worst player unless he’s a Gold Glover like Gift Ngoepe and Newman is no Ngoepe. In fact, with Ngoepe back to starting at Indy where he belongs, Newman is probably the sixth best defensive shortstop in the system. Ngoepe, Alemais, Valerio and Alfredo Reyes are all clearly better, which isn’t an insult to Newman because they are all above average defenders. Cole Tucker has probably passed him at this point though.

          • Adam Frazier hit .250 for an entire year in Bradenton before moving up and hitting at least .320 in successive season at AA and AAA. You can’t look at the aggregate results for these BABIP-dependent bats and tell if they were ready for a promotion or not.

            • John Dreker
              June 2, 2017 1:13 pm

              Our reports from Bradenton talked about how well Frazier was hitting the ball despite the poor results, while I’ve mentioned multiple times that Newman isn’t hitting the ball well this year. He was the one trying to use a .280 average last year, while ignoring a .232 average this year, to prove Newman was ready.

        • Relax Newman will get to AAA this year. He just needs to break out of the funk he has been in.

    • The White Flag Brigade bullpen is certainly deep in something…

      • Good one, but until we can trade a few guys, we have no room in the BP. Are there any teams interested in Watson? I have heard the Astro’s, but he is lowering the asking price with every outing.
        And, how long can they keep Bastardo in AAA without putting him on a longer term DL or releasing him?

        • John Dreker
          June 2, 2017 10:18 am

          Pitchers have 30 days of rehab before a decision needs to be made. You don’t need to put them on a longer DL trip though. If they aren’t ready after 30 days, you don’t have to add them back to the 25-man roster, you just can’t have them pitch in the minors

        • Courtesy of our friend Wilbur.

          The current Pirate bullpen has two arms that nobody else wanted, so I fail to see how trades are necessary to relieve the pressure in the pen. You’re not going to miss Barbato or Marinez, I promise.

  • Everybody hits tonight, boys.

  • Wilbur Miller
    June 1, 2017 8:42 pm

    Looks like Valerio got hurt in a collision at second. Box score says “injured head.” Insurance rates must be skyrocketing for WV Power middle infielders.

    • John Dreker
      June 1, 2017 8:48 pm

      Not a collision, ball hit him. I’ll have an update after the game

      • Wilbur Miller
        June 1, 2017 9:14 pm

        Hope it’s not bad. He’s showing signs of breaking out.

        • John Dreker
          June 1, 2017 9:21 pm

          His double tonight was off a nasty slider away from him and somehow he pulled it down the line almost 300 feet and hustled out a double. I’m not sure who else on WV would have been able to do that, if anyone. I’ve watched him play 8-9 times now and every game he has impressed me both on offense and defense. Easily the best all-around player on the team full of older players.

    • I hope his eye is ok.

  • Wonder what the story is on Kevin Krause? Usually when an older college kid rakes in the NYPL as a rookie they don’t make them play another full season there. Yet now he’s again raking… in Bradenton. At 24 he clearly isn’t on any MLB track but he was a 9th rounder and the bat appears to be real.

    • John Dreker
      June 1, 2017 8:03 pm

      He missed a full season due to Tommy John surgery. The recovery lasted into the following season because he tried to rehab it first in 2015 after he injured it in Spring Training. He went to Morgantown last year because he was still in recovery mode. He’s a nice bat, not much of a defender anywhere though

      • What about 1B?

        • John Dreker
          June 1, 2017 9:50 pm

          He’s not going to play 1B at Bradenton and he’s never played it in his career. I’m not going to speculate on him moving to a new position and right now he’s still platooning. He’s an older player in High-A with limited playing time and no position, so it’s tough to get excited about him. If he starts playing everyday in Altoona and he’s hitting well, then you worry about a possible position change.

          • Have we no fear the Bucs will make him a super utility player incapable of playing any position well. A sure ticket to the majors.

          • Hate to waste a bat. From the stats he looks like his stick is better than Will Craig’s. But if, as you say, he is platooning the that could be deceiving.

            • John Dreker
              June 2, 2017 12:57 am

              He has a very limited sample size this season with 23 games played. One of the worst things you can do is look at a starter and a bench player in the minors and just compare stats, especially when one is two years older. Age is important for progress. One is young compared to league avg, one is old. Playing time is important to look at. Then you factor in the scouting aspect, followed by the stats.

              If all we needed was stats to see who was good, it would be very easy to rank prospects.

              Logan Hill has the best stats on the team right now, but you probably couldn’t find a scout who would put money on him ending up as the best player in the majors from the team, or even one of the best three.

    • Krause had a good year with the bat in 2014. Not sure about the defense.
      But then he had a lingering elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John Surgery that caused him to miss all of 2015. In 2016 he was in recovery mode, which may have kept him from moving up a level. This year, however, he was jumped two levels.

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