With the Major League All-Star game going on tonight, the minor league schedule has just three games today. Two of those games are at the two lowest levels during the day and then Morgantown plays tonight. So it’s going to be a slow day for prospect news. Since it is the All-Star break though, why not look at the the organizational All-Stars. The short-season teams haven’t played many games, but we can make an All-Star team from the full-season squads. Here’s who I would pick as All-Stars from the first half, with no bias towards prospect status. I went with one player at each position, a lefty and right starter and one reliever.
Catcher: Christian Kelley – This is one of the few easy choices. Kelley is hitting .266/.374/.335 in the FSL and providing the team with above average defense. He has caught more games than anyone else in the system, 15 more than Arden Pabst, who has the second most.
First Base: Will Craig – This was basically a toss up between Edwin Espinal and Will Craig because their overall hitting stats are nearly the same, except Craig got there with on base and Espinal with slugging. Craig is in a league where pitchers rule the land, so having the same OPS as someone in the more hitter friendly Eastern League gets him the nod. Craig is hitting .291/.392/.421 in 79 games.
Second Base: Kevin Kramer – Kramer was so good in his first two months that he still made the team despite being on the disabled list for the last month. Before getting hurt, he hit .297/.380/.500, which was much better than the next closest second baseman.
Shortstop: Cole Tucker – Max Moroff put up much better stats, but he also played other positions besides shortstop and has played 20 fewer games than Tucker overall. Tucker has been really good though, especially for a 21-year-old in the FSL. He has a .292/.375/.444 slash line, along with 34 steals and solid defense.
Third Base: Eric Wood – A position where you have three really good options. Hunter Owen has the best stats, but this isn’t just about offense and there is a huge difference between him and Eric Wood at third base. Wyatt Mathisen is very close to Wood on offense, but again, using defense as the deciding factor, you have to go with Wood, who has the edge on Mathisen. Wood has a .254/.333/.470 slash line, with 34 extra-base hits.
Outfield: Jordan Luplow – He has been the best hitter for the Pirates outside of Max Moroff, who only played half the games that Luplow has played. Luplow has a .288/.373/.542 slash line in 82 games and leads everyone with 19 homers.
Outfield: Logan Hill – Hill is hitting .271/.356/.512 in 81 games, with 17 homers and 18 doubles. His hitting has actually gone up since joining Altoona ten games ago.
Outfield: Christopher Bostick – I wasn’t going to go with Bostick for the outfield, instead adding a utility spot. He has played 50 games out there though and the competition for the third outfield spot is very weak, so I included him here. He’s hitting .292/.349/.448 in 80 games. It’s interesting to note that he only trails Will Craig in plate appearances among Pirates (by only three PA’s), but Bostick spent four days in the majors. You have to add in that he was pulled from the lineup the day before his call-up and didn’t play the day after he was sent down due to travel, so he’s been in the lineup on a consistent basis.
LHP: Steven Brault – Easy choice here because he has been our Pitcher of the Month in each of the last two months. He even started July with a solid start and he will pitch in the Triple-A All-Star game tomorrow. Brault has a 2.00 ERA in 94.1 innings, with 88 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP.
RHP: Pedro Vasquez – Has a 2.52 ERA in 89.1 innings, with a 1.13 WHIP. His worst start this season was four runs allowed and he has gone at least six innings in ten of his starts. He has been the most consistent starter in a loaded Bradenton rotation since the start of the season.
Reliever: Tate Scioneaux – He’s pitched more relief innings than anyone else, and by a fairly wide margin. He also has a 2.01 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP in 58.1 innings, so this is an easy choice, though there are some other relievers performing well, they don’t have the innings+performance of Scioneaux.
The interesting part will be looking back on this list (if I remember to) at the end of the season to see if these same players are considered the best at their spots.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
The Pirates are off until Friday.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the All-Star break until Friday when they open a series at home against the St Louis Cardinals. Gerrit Cole will be on the mound for the series opener.
In the minors, only three games on the schedule today, as the MLB All-Star game takes center stage. Morgantown will send Sergio Cubilete to the mound, while the GCL Pirates go with Austin Shields. The DSL Pirates will probably send Jose Marcano to the mound and use Pablo Santana in relief because they have been going on the same day since June 19th. Shields has worked his way up to five innings, but will need to display better control before he is moved up to Bristol. That’s where he was originally scheduled to go before he suffered arm/tricep tightness in late May, which shut him down for a very brief time.
MLB: Pittsburgh (42-47) vs Cardinals (43-45) 7:05 PM 7/14
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.43 ERA, 27:94 BB/SO, 107.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (50-39) vs Louisville (35-54) 7:05 PM 7/13 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
AA: Altoona (46-41) vs Bowie (47-42) 7:00 PM 7/13 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
High-A: Bradenton (48-36) @ Clearwater (47-40) 10:30 AM 7/12 (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (1.42 ERA, 3:9 BB/SO, 19.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (38-46) vs Augusta (31-52) 1:00 PM 7/12 (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.64 ERA, 33:100 BB/SO, 75.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (12-7) @ Hudson Valley (6-13) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Sergio Cubilete (3.24 ERA, 7:10 BB/SO, 16.2 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (5-14) @ Johnson City (8-11) 7:00 PM 7/12
GCL: Pirates (2-11) vs Braves (7-6) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (19-13) vs Indians (12-20) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here are two highlights from Bradenton. First is a walk-off single from Mitchell Tolman
The next is an RBI double from Cole Tucker
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
7/5: Hunter Owen assigned to West Virginia. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.
7/5: Adonis Pichardo assigned to Bristol from GCL Pirates.
7/4. Stephen Alemais assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
7/4: Starling Marte assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
7/4: Gift Ngoepe assigned to Morgantown on rehab.
7/4: Yeudy Garcia activated from disabled list. Casey Sadler assigned to Altoona from Indianapolis.
7/4: Pirates release Buddy Borden.
7/3: Francisco Cervelli activated from disabled list. Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis.
7/2: Starling Marte assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
7/2: Hunter Owen assigned to Morgantown. Nick King assigned to West Virginia.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one trade of note. Starting with the most recent player first, we have lefty reliever Javier Lopez (2010), catcher Ed Ott (1974-80), pitcher Hal Gregg (1948-50), pitcher Harry Wolter (1907) and 1898-1900 catcher Pop Schriver. Wolter played one game for the Pirates on June 17, 1907, throwing the last two innings of the game. Before that, but during the same season, Wolter played outfielder for the Reds. After his one Pittsburgh appearance, he moved on to St Louis two weeks later, where he was also used as an outfielder. Ott was a member of the 1979 World Series champs. He hit .333 during the series and drove in three runs.
The trade on this date occurred in 1992, as the Pirates improved their starting rotation by adding pitcher Danny Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for third baseman Steve Buechele. The Pirates were able to move Jeff King to third base full-time and Jackson put up a 3.36 ERA in 15 starts.
On this date in 1902, the Pirates moved to 49-15 with a 6-3 win over the New York Giants. It gave them a 13 game lead in the National League and it was the start of a seven game win streak. The Pirates would finish the season 103-36, for their best record of all-time.