The DSL All-Stars were named yesterday and the Pittsburgh Pirates will be represented by three players in the game, which takes place on Sunday. If you’ve been following the DSL coverage, then it should come as no surprise that pitcher Oliver Garcia, catcher Samuel Inoa and third baseman Sherten Apostel will play in the All-Star game. I’m actually not sure about Garcia participating, since he threw five innings on Friday. He might not be available to throw on Sunday, even if it’s as one of the pitchers who split the final innings so everyone gets into the game.
The DSL season is at the halfway point exactly at the break, so now is a good time to look at some positives and negatives from the first half.
The top positive has to be the performances of the two All-Star position players. Samuel Inoa has been one of the best hitters in the entire league. He has also been praised for his defensive improvements and being a leader on the field. His defense was considered below average last year, but that has changed as drastically as his offense has this season. Before the season started, I named him as one of the ten players to watch and said that maybe we find out why the Pirates thought so highly of him, giving him a $240,000 signing bonus. We are finding out why this season.
Sherten Apostel has been Mr Clutch for the DSL Pirates this year, and that was even before he hit five homers last week. Another one of the ten players to watch, Apostel finished strong last year, so his success wasn’t totally unexpected. He’s 6’4″, 215 pounds, with tons of raw power, and we are seeing that translate into game power this season.
I’ll mention Oliver Garcia here, but I wouldn’t put him into the same group as the other two players. Part of his success this season is just from him filling out. He put on a lot of weight with the Pirates since signing two years ago, but we are talking about someone going from a twig to a strong frame. He throws harder this year and he has better control, plus the ability to throw five inning outings. That has led to a 1.38 ERA in 39 innings, with a .199 BAA and a 1.00 WHIP. At 19 years old (20 in January) he’s top end for what you want to see in this league. He doesn’t have the best upside on the pitching staff, but he is clearly the best current pitcher.
Samuel Reyes was another of the ten players to watch and he didn’t last long in the league. The Pirates needed someone to take some early innings in the GCL and they though he was ready after just a handful of DSL appearances. His scouting reports sounded too good to be true for someone who didn’t sign until age 20, but he’s that good. Reyes throws mid-90s, with a strong slider and three other pitches in his arsenal.
The 20-16 record for the Pirates has to qualify as good, even though the players care a lot more about the record than anyone else with the Pirates. Only reason fans should care about a DSL record is because a playoff chase at the end of the season is much better for the players than just playing meaningless games in 95+ degree weather in late August. The record is impressive though, mostly because the DSL can be dominated by teams full of fillers. You can liken it to a bad college team playing a freshman high school All-Star team. The college team will win, but the younger players have the upside.
The Pirates have a team filled with inexperienced players and hitters sometimes facing pitchers 4-5 years older than them. Veteran teams win the DSL, or clubs that have two affiliates and can put the best players on one team to help with a playoff push. Prospects usually don’t dominate the league, which is one of the reasons that scouting reports are much more important than stats there.
Some of the players not doing well are still the players with the most upside. Jean Eusebio doesn’t turn 17 until next month, so you’re not going to put too much emphasis on his season performance, especially when he was one of the top hitters during Spring Training. He’s playing center field, he’s 6-for-7 in steals and has a 17:18 BB/SO ratio, so those are all good signs, even if the .576 OPS qualifies as bad. For reference, it’s a pitcher friendly league with a .671 league OPS.
Francisco Acuna is in the same category as Eusebio. We know from winter coverage that he has performed well against better competition than he is seeing in the DSL this year, but that hasn’t translated to success. He has a .669 OPS, but just like Eusebio, there are positives. He’s much younger than league average, playing shortstop regularly, 11-for-12 in steals and he has 27 walks vs 23 strikeouts.
Apart from those two, you do have a bad sign with Larry Alcime, although he missed two weeks with a hamstring injury. The 18-year-old from the Bahamas has a .435 OPS in limited playing time. Those stats will need to pickup soon, even with cutting him some slack to get back up to speed after missed time.
I don’t know how bad this one really is for one of them, but I like grouping them together due to the last name. Julio Rosario received a $125,000 bonus last July. Infielder Ivan Rosario was a low-key signing at the same time. They have been awful. Ivan is 1-for-23 at the plate and has made eight errors in extremely limited time. Julio has 19 walks in 9.2 innings
Angel Suero is even worse than Julio Rosario. They both got the same signing bonus, but at least the Pirates let Rosario pitch through his wildness. Suero was pitching fine in spring, then got injured. When he returned, he couldn’t throw a strike. He hasn’t even pitched a game yet, even though he has physically been able to pitch for quite some time.
Osvaldo Bido was signed at 21 years old and I was told he had the best fastball on the team, at least velocity-wise. His last start was the first time he made it through five innings. He has potential, but you definitely want to see better results from an older pitcher, even if he is a rookie. Another starter named Noe Toribio was the best pitcher during spring, yet he has a 6.43 ERA after seven starts. Some of the pitchers are doing well, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement for some of the bigger signings from last July.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-2 over the St Louis Cardinals on Friday night. The Pirates will send Jameson Taillon to the mound tonight to make his 12th start of the season. He faced the Cardinals on June 23rd and allowed two runs over six innings. Taillon has a 3.25 ERA in five starts at home. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Lance Lynn, who has a 3.61 ERA in 102.1 innings, with 93 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. He threw seven shutout innings against the Pirates in April, then allowed seven runs over 5.2 innings late last month in their second meeting.
In the minors, Mitch Keller gets the start for Bradenton. He walked four batters in his last start, which was his highest total since 2015 with Bristol. Keller also went six innings in his last start, as he continued to extend himself since returning from his back injury. Due to being skipped in the rotation and the All-Star break, Clay Holmes will be making just his second start since June 28th. Bristol will go with Braeden Ogle tonight, who was featured here yesterday.
The GCL Pirates should be a combo on Jake Webb and Leadro Pina, who both went on Monday. They need to finish yesterday’s game before playing a seven inning contest as the regularly scheduled game. Friday’s game was suspended with the Pirates leading 7-0 in the fourth inning. The DSL Pirates are off today and tomorrow due to the All-Star game.
MLB: Pittsburgh (43-47) vs Cardinals (43-46) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (2.73 ERA, 22:59 BB/SO, 62.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (52-39) vs Louisville (35-56) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.75 ERA, 38:72 BB/SO, 72.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (46-43) vs Bowie (49-42) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.95 ERA, 24:56 BB/SO, 98.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (50-37) @ Dunedin (44-46) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (2.78 ERA, 13:49 BB/SO, 55.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (39-48) vs Greensboro (47-41) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (2.66 ERA, 11:37 BB/SO, 50.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (15-9) vs Staten Island (17-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Stephan Meyer (4.35 ERA, 6:14 BB/SO, 20.2 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (7-15) vs Princeton (8-14) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (5-11) vs Yankees East (9-4) 10:00 AM
DSL: Pirates (20-15) vs Indians/Brewers) 10:30 AM 7/17 (season preview)
Here is a home run from Edwin Espinal, who is still in Altoona last time I checked and running low on time with the Pirates.
7/15: Raul Hernandez promoted to Morgantown.
7/14: Brent Gibbs placed on disabled list. Yoel Gonzalez added to West Virginia roster.
7/14: Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates
7/14: Montana DuRapau promoted to Indianapolis.
7/13: Dany Hernandez promoted to Bristol. Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates from Bristol.
7/13: Pasquale Mazzoccoli promoted to West Virginia. Andrew Potter released.
7/12: Luis Escobar activated from temporary inactive list. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.
7/11: Hector Garcia assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
7/10: Starling Marte assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
7/8: Antonio Bastardo designated for assignment. Phil Gosselin recalled from Indianapolis.
7/8: Dan Runzler activated from disabled list. Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona from Indianapolis.
7/8: Luis Escobar placed on temporary inactive list. Nick King assigned to West Virginia.
7/8: Cody Dickson placed on disabled list.
7/6: Pirates recall A.J. Schugel. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis
7/6: Gift Ngoepe activated from disabled list.
7/6: Pirates release Jared Lakind
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including Donn Clendenon, who played first base for the Pirates from 1961 until 1968. After seeing limited September time his first year, he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1962. Between the 1965-66 seasons, he drove in 194 runs. The Pirates lost him to the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. In his time in Pittsburgh, he hit .280 with 106 homers. In 1969, he picked up a World Series ring with the New York Mets.
Other former players born on this date include Anthony Claggett, who pitched one game with the Pirates on October 3, 2009. Enrique Romo, who was a reliever for the Pirates from 1979 until 1982. During that 1979 season, he pitched 84 times and had a 2.99 ERA in 129.1 innings. The next year he made 74 appearances and threw a total of 123.2 innings.
We also have 1966 center fielder Don Bosch and 1925-26 pitcher Red Oldham, who pitched one of the more important innings in franchise history. After the Pirates took a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth in game seven of the 1925 World Series, Oldham was called in to close out the game. The Pirates trailed 7-6 going into the eighth and scored three runs off Walter Johnson. Oldham picked up the final three outs, striking out two future Hall of Famers, Goose Goslin and Sam Rice.