I’ll start by saying that there is never a good time to get injured, but certain times are better than others. I mentioned the other day that Taylor Hearn had very bad timing with his strained oblique. He has been working on a new slider and the results were clearly there, as he set his career high with nine strikeouts, then topped it the next time out with ten strikeouts. He left at the end of that ten strikeout game with the injury, so it looked like everything was just coming together for him with seven weeks left in the season (at the time) and he will now miss an unknown amount of time.
On Monday night, Hunter Owen played his first game in the outfield this season. If you have read our featured article The Twenty, you know that he has been mentioned often due to his offense, along with how bad he has looked at third base and how outfield is a better position for him. I saw Owen make some very nice outfield plays last year watching Morgantown games, then saw him make the best defensively play during the time I was down watching instructs last year. So I knew he could play left field, but I also saw more than enough this year at third base to know it wasn’t going well, especially behind poor Oddy Nunez, who took the brunt of it.
We haven’t got word of Owen’s injury yet, but his playing time in the outfield lasted all of seven innings before he left with an injury. The injury occurred on a play where he moved to third base on a sacrifice fly. I have a hard time believing the outfielder tried to throw him out, because the lead runner was Carlos Munoz, who is incredibly slow, so the throw probably should have been to home plate. Whatever happened, Owen got hurt running between second base and third base, leaving for a pinch-runner.
The Hearn injury was clearly bad timing, but the one to Owen was probably worse. Hearn at least saw great results from what he was working on. I imagine the move back to the outfield was to set Owen up for a promotion to Bradenton in the very near future. He has a streak of eight straight games with an extra-base hit going right now, and as someone who turns 24 in two months, he really has no business still being in Low-A with the way he has hit. He has a .291/.387/.504 slash line, which has him one point below the best OPS in the South Atlantic League. If Owen got enough time at Bradenton this season, moving up to Altoona to begin next year becomes an option and then he would be more age appropriate for his level.
Owen was placed on the 7-day disabled list on Tuesday, so this is most likely going to cut into time he would have spent in Bradenton. If he is back next Tuesday then it’s really not a big deal, but anything much longer than that will really limit what is left of the season when/if he returns. Unless they make the playoffs, the Marauders wrap up their season September 3rd. We will try to get an update soon on how much time he is expected to miss.
* We have the Twitter scroll on the side of our site for our writers, but if you’re not on Twitter, you may have missed this tweet by Tim Williams yesterday:
Tomorrow we will post the @pirateprospects Mid-Season top 50 prospects.
— Tim Williams (@TimWilliamsP2) July 18, 2017
That tomorrow he mentioned is today. It will be posted sometime around noon. Before we post ours, Baseball America is releasing their updated top ten, which we will write about first. If it’s based off of their top 100 list they released a couple weeks ago, we know the top three spots will be Mitch Keller, Austin Meadows and Kevin Newman. They don’t always do that though, as they have both staff lists for the top ten and some are done by a writer for the site.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-3 over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night. The Pirates will send Gerrit Cole to the mound tonight for his 20th start. He has allowed one run over seven innings in each of his two starts against the Brewers this season. Milwaukee will counter with right-hander Zach Davies, who has a 5.08 ERA in 102 innings, with 69 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP. He has allowed nine runs over 10.2 innings this season in two starts against the Pirates.
In the minors, Nick Kingham starts tonight for Indianapolis. His last outing was a scoreless one inning relief appearance and he has allowed two runs over 10.1 innings in his last two starts combined. Kingham had eight strikeouts in his last start. Austin Coley has allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his last ten outings. Travis MacGregor is due to start for Bristol and 42nd overall draft pick Steven Jennings is the probable for the GCL Pirates, making his third pro start. The GCL Pirates were rained out yesterday. That game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in August. Both Altoona and Bradenton have early start times. Scooter Hightower is listed for Morgantown, but I’m still not ready to trust them after last week’s debacle.
MLB: Pittsburgh (46-48) vs Brewers (52-43) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.35 ERA, 15:67 BB/SO, 120.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (53-42) @ Durham (58-37) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (4.23 ERA, 18:53 BB/SO, 55.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (48-45) vs Harrisburg (38-56) 12:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.11 ERA, 21:69 BB/SO, 92.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (52-39) vs Fort Myers (50-42) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (40-50) @ Kannapolis (49-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (3.27 ERA, 22:65 BB/SO, 74.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (17-11) @ Auburn (10-18) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (8-18) @ Elizabethton (16-10) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (7-12) vs Blue Jays (13-5) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (21-17) vs Astros Orange (11-25) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is Pablo Reyes hitting a home run on Monday night. This was his first at-bat since hitting a walk-off homer on Saturday night. I included that video two days ago, but I’m posting it again so you can see how close Monday’s homer landed to Saturday’s homer. Almost the exact same spot.
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.
7/15: Taylor Hearn placed on disabled list.
7/15: Cody Dickson activated from Altoona disabled list.
7/15: Raul Hernandez promoted to Morgantown.
7/15: Brandon Waddell assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two born on the same day 151 years ago. Starting with the most recent players first, we have pitcher Brian Smith (2000), pitcher Vincente Palacios (1987-88, 1990-92), catcher Nick Koback (1953-55), lefty pitcher Earl Hamilton (1918-23), catcher Jeff Sweeney (1919) and first baseman Harry Davis (1896-98). Palacios was a member of three straight NL East champs. Koback signed with the Pirates at the age of 17 and went right to the majors. In three seasons with the Pirates, he played a total of 16 games despite being in the big leagues the entire time from July 1953 until July 1955. Harry Davis was acquired from the New York Giants in exchange for Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley, in a deal that didn’t work out well for Pittsburgh.
Two players from the 1897 Pirates were born 151 years ago today. Along with Harry Davis, three players from that team shared the same birthday, but pitcher Bill Hart and third baseman Jim Donnelly were born on the same date. Hart won over 300 games in pro ball, though 251 of those wins came in the minor leagues. He played pro ball from 1885 until 1910. Donnelly came over from Baltimore in a trade that included the Pirates all-time batting average leader, Jake Stenzel. The deal didn’t work out for the Pirates, as Donnelly hit .193 in 44 games. You can find more info on every player in the link above.
On this date in 1902, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-0 over the Chicago Cubs and played an entire nine inning game without any of their four infielders recording an assist. Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro started and pitched a complete game. He struck out six batters. The three outfielders from left to right were Fred Clarke, Ginger Beaumont and Honus Wagner. They recorded 12 of the outs on fly balls and Beaumont chipped in a 13th out on a double play after one of his catches. Catcher Jack O’Connor threw out one runner and Chesbro fielded two grounders himself. The other five outs were spread among third baseman Tommy Leach, shortstop Wid Conroy and second baseman Jimmy Burke on pop ups and unassisted putouts. Burke actually had a chance to pick up an early assist on a ground ball, but he committed the only fielding error of the game.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.