Before I get into the title part, I wanted to look at the standings around the minors. A few minor league clubs for the Pirates are in position to make the playoffs at this point. I’m going to add the Playoff Push section back soon, which might not even need to include Bristol at the rate they’re going. They have the worst record in baseball. Last night was the halfway point of their 68-game season and they are 12 games out right now. If they were in the other division of the Appalachian League, they would be 16 games out.
Anyway, a brief summary of the teams with much better playoff chances:
Indianapolis leads their division by 2.5 games, with 39 games left. They play the second place team six more times, while the other two clubs in the division don’t really have a chance.
Altoona is in a three-way tie for first place, with the top two teams both making the playoffs. On top of that, one other team is only three games out. So basically, every game is important for the players. They also have 39 games left, with only eight of those games against the other top three teams in the division.
Bradenton has a two-game lead in their division, with the third place team just 2.5 games back. They have 38 games left.
Morgantown has a 1.5 game lead in their division, with a total of three teams within three games. They have 42 games left, which is the most for any team. This year could be the first time that I can remember, where one of the full-season teams is in the playoffs while another team is still playing regular season games. Our Prospect Watch has had playoffs and regular season games on the same day before, but that was the GCL/DSL teams, which almost always end before the rest of the clubs.
That gives the Pirates four first place teams out of their eight affiliates and three others have a shot. West Virginia is only three games back of a playoff spot, but no one in the division of seven teams can be counted out yet. You already know about Bristol, while the GCL Pirates are just four games back, though they are also 10-16, so it’s not exactly going well. The DSL Pirates have the fewest games left (27) and they trail by four in their division.
* The Pirates went 1-5 vs the lowly Giants this season. They came into the season needing just two wins to reach 1,000 wins in the head-to-head series. The two teams have been playing each other since 1887, with the Pirates (Alleghenys at the time) picking up their first win on May 24, 1887. I knew about this milestone coming up since last year, so I planned to do a special Morning Report about the 1,000th win at some point this season. You’ll have to stay tuned until next year for that article now…hopefully.
When is Mason Martin Getting Promoted?
I’ve been getting this question A LOT in the last week, so let me answer it here and then if you see anyone ask in the comments, you can tell them. People want to know if Mason Martin will get promoted soon. Some of you probably just laughed when you read that, but for others, it’s a legit question in their mind. He COULD get promoted soon, but that’s just because the Pirates can move any player anywhere they want. John Bormann would confirm that fact.
What the Pirates have done in the past though, suggests that he is staying in the GCL until at least the last week of the season. Same goes for Shane Baz, Steven Jennings, Calvin Mitchell and Cody Bolton, who some of you may have forgot about recently. They don’t even move up every big high school signing during that last week, but they may want to give someone like Mitchell an extra week of at-bats with Morgantown, so you may see him or Martin leave the GCL on August 27th (the last scheduled off-day) and get to Morgantown with 11 games left in their season.
So the answer is always going to be “no” when asked if he will be promoted, because they have never given the indication that it will happen and there have been much bigger names than Martin who didn’t receive that mid-season promotion. Ke’Bryan Hayes was the league’s leading hitter when he got called up late for some extra games. Austin Meadows had a .918 OPS in a very pitcher friendly league before leaving during the last week. Reese McGuire competed for the batting title, showed plus defense and never left the league. Cole Tucker didn’t get promoted either, though he got injured the last week, so he may have moved up for a few games if he was healthy.
It just doesn’t happen, and until it does, there is no reason to believe any of the six active prep players (don’t forget Jake Webb, but do forget Conner Uselton because he’s done for the year) will get called up early. I’ll also note that pitchers are even less likely to move, so I wouldn’t plan a trip to Morgantown to see Shane Baz just yet.
The same rule would apply to Lolo Sanchez, who has looked like the best all-around player for the team. Seriously, don’t overlook him…and did you honestly skip the top section to just read this part? Sanchez is a first year DSL player and if he leaves, it will be at the same time as the players above. Jeremias Portorreal, who ranked in our mid-season top 50, is a different story. He played some GCL games last year and he has been in the Fall Instructional League twice already, so a promotion for him is possible at any time. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing him in Bristol so they have some more batters to write about each night.
Basically, don’t expect any GCL promotions within the next month unless the players has prior GCL experience, or they were drafted out of college. Also, I wouldn’t worry about a player moving up this year, because it won’t affect their placement next year. McGuire and Cole Tucker both started in West Virginia without moving up. How the players look in Spring Training camp next year will be the deciding factor, not a couple extra weeks at a higher level.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates are off today before starting a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. They will send Chad Kuhl to the mound Friday for his 21st start. He has a 3.96 ERA in ten road starts this season. Kuhl has a 3.25 ERA in five starts this month. The Padres will counter with TBD, who has been scheduled numerous times, but always seems to be a late scratch.
In the minors, Clay Holmes gets the start for Indianapolis tonight after being pushed back a day, flipping spots in the rotation with Tyler Eppler. Holmes has walked six batters in two of his last four starts, but had no walks in the other two games. He has not allowed more than two runs in a game in any of his last five starts. Casey Sadler starts for Altoona tonight, his first starting assignment in over two years. Yeudry Manzanillo is scheduled for the GCL Pirates and Hunter Stratton should get the ball for Bristol. If the schedule is correct, the brothers Wallace will both start on the same night for the first time. Mike for West Virginia and Gavin for Morgantown.
MLB: Pittsburgh (50-52) @ Padres (44-57) 10:10 PM 7/28
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (4.92 ERA, 39:80 BB/SO, 97.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (57-46) vs Rochester (59-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.51 ERA, 44:78 BB/SO, 82.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (53-48) vs Trenton (69-33) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (3.18 ERA, 1:10 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (58-41) @ St Lucie (46-55) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.68 ERA, 10:18 BB/SO, 36.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (46-51) @ Hagerstown (55-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (3.36 ERA, 17:46 BB/SO, 61.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (22-12) @ Auburn (13-22) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Gavin Wallace (4.66 ERA, 2:17 BB/SO, 19.1 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (8-26) vs Greeneville (18-14) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (10-16) vs Braves (13-13) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (24-21) vs Rays2 (24-17) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here are two recent highlights from Indianapolis. First is Gift Ngoepe doing Gift Ngoepe things to end the game.
Next is Nick Kingham picking up a strikeout during his fantastic outing on Monday. Video includes the entire at-bat.
7/25: Connor Joe activated from Altoona disabled list. Justin Maffei assigned to Indianapolis.
7/25: Jonathan Schwind assigned to Morgantown.
7/23: Adrian Valerio placed on disabled list. Andrew Walker assigned to West Virginia.
7/22: Gregory Polanco placed on the disabled list. Steven Brault recalled from Indianapolis.
7/22: Hector Garcia assigned to Morgantown on rehab.
7/21: Adonis Pichardo assigned to GCL Pirates from Bristol. Ryan Valdes, Hector Quinones and Will Reed promoted to Bristol.
7/20: Kevin Newman promoted to Indianapolis. Anderson Feliz and Jackson Williams assigned to Altoona.
7/20: Tomas Morales placed on disabled list.
7/20: Cole Tucker promoted to Altoona. Logan Ratledge assigned to Bradenton.
7/20: Stephen Alemais promoted to Bradenton.
7/20: Pirates release Zane Chavez
7/19: Brandon Waddell and Conner Joe assigned to Morgantown on rehab.
7/18: Starling Marte activated from restricted list. Phil Gosselin optioned to Indianapolis.
7/18: Hunter Owen placed on disabled list. Nick King promoted to West Virginia.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a key game from the 1979 season. Starting with the players and neither was around too long. Enrique Wilson played for the 2000-01 Pirates, joining the team on July 28, 2000 in a deal with the Cleveland Indians for Wil Cordero. The next season he was dealt to the Yankees on June 13th for Damaso Marte. Wilson was a valuable utility player during his first season with the Pirates, seeing time at 2B/3B/SS and putting up a .723 OPS. He was mostly playing shortstop in 2001 before the trade and had a .186 average in 46 games.
The other player born on this date was left-handed pitcher Irish McIlveen, who despite pitching for the Pirates back in 1906, is one of the last Major League players born in Ireland. He was a star athlete at Penn State and joined the Pirates in July of 1906 right out of college. McIlveen pitched twice for the Pirates and played three games off the bench. After coaching two years at PSU, he returned to the majors with the New York Highlanders, playing exclusively in the outfield. By May of 1909, he was out of baseball.
On this date in 1979, the Pirates took a doubleheader from the first place Montreal Expos, which brought them within a half game of the NL East top spot. The link above has more details for the games, including quotes from Dave Parker, who got hit by a pitch in both games of the doubleheader. You can find the boxscore for game two here, which has a link for the first game.