Each year in the Morning Report, I look at the toughest hitters to strike out in the system. Jin-De Jhang and Carlos Munoz have been a perennial members of the list and this year is no different for either of them. So we will start with those two players.
Munoz strikes out about once every ten plate appearances during his career and that is right where he was going into action last night. He had 37 strikeouts in 370 plate appearances. He batted five times last night without a strikeout, pushing that average up slightly. In his career he has 1,888 plate appearances and 182 strikeouts. The big difference between him and Jhang is that Munoz draws more walks. They really aren’t similar hitters. Munoz will take pitches and Jhang puts the ball in play early, leading to both low walks and strikeouts.
This season, Jhang has 15 strikeouts in 176 plate appearances. His career high for strikeouts is 43, while he has never walked more than 22 time in a season. Over his career, he has 148 strikeouts in 1,454 plate appearances, so he is slightly behind Munoz, but still close.
Since we know those two are always on the list, the big question is, who else in the system belong with these two players in the toughest to strike out category? I also wanted to look at the best among draft picks and new players in the DSL.
Kevin Newman would have to rank up there with those top two players. He has 43 strikeouts this season in 401 plate appearances. Last season was actually better for him. Newman struck out just 36 times in 457 plate appearances. It’s a significant drop-off, but not something to worry about because he is still among the best in the system. Last year was just a great year, while this year he is very good at putting the ball in play.
Edwin Espinal has always put up decent strikeout rates, but they always come with low walk rates. This year he added home runs to his game, doubling his previous best, now with 14 homers. The strikeout rate has remained strong and is ahead of last year. Espinal has 45 strikeouts in 389 plate appearances.
Clark Eagan has been getting some notice lately due to a nice run of games, but before this run, he was doing poorly for a long stretch. Eagan still did a nice job of putting the ball in play, even if it wasn’t providing the desired results. He has 39 strikeouts in 328 plate appearances this season.
Lolo Sanchez put himself on the prospect map recently, though he was one to watch since the day he signed (July 2, 2015). Down in the GCL, he has 12 strikeouts in 100 plate appearances. That is easily the best on the team for anyone with a significant amount of plate appearances.
The DSL Pirates have a player with a very impressive total, which gets lost because it isn’t one of the top prospects. Emison Soto has eight strikeouts in 139 plate appearances. He also has 27 walks. I plan to do an article on him someday, because he has a very interesting story.
Among the best drafts picks from this year, a group of 18 position players signed, Jason Delay is the best with five strikeouts in 56 plate appearances. That should come with the obvious caveat that he was a senior at a major college and he’s playing in Bristol. He’s still making a lot of contact though. Brett Pope would be the next best with eight strikeouts in 54 plate appearances. Not a lot of great strikeout percentages for the draft picks, but no one is in the Casey Hughston range either, so that’s a good sign.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost on Tuesday night to the San Francisco Giants by an 11-3 score. The Pirates will send Trevor Williams to the mound today for his 15th start. He gave up two runs over six innings against the Giants back on July 2nd. Williams has a 5.40 ERA on the road in 40 innings. The Giants will counter with right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who has a 5.05 ERA in 128.1 innings, with 138 strikeouts and a 1.20 WHIP. He faced Williams in that July 2nd start and matched him with two runs over six innings.
In the minors, Clay Holmes gets the afternoon start for Indianapolis. He 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. Gage Hinsz has lowered his season ERA in each of his last six starts. He has a 2.56 ERA since the FSL All-Star break back in mid-June. Shane Baz makes his fifth pro start today and he should be extended to four innings in this outing. He has a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts. Both West Virginia and Morgantown are off today.
MLB: Pittsburgh (50-51) @ Giants (39-63) 3:45 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.74 ERA, 24:63 BB/SO, 87.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (57-45) vs Rochester (58-44) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.51 ERA, 44:78 BB/SO, 82.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (52-48) @ Reading (54-46) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (4.08 ERA, 26:69 BB/SO, 103.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (57-41) @ St Lucie (46-54) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (5.32 ERA, 27:50 BB/SO, 88.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (46-51) @ Hagerstown (55-44) 7:05 PM 7/27 (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 7/27 (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (8-25) vs Bluefield (22-10) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (10-15) vs Braves (12-13) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (24-20) vs Rays2 (23-17) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here are a couple highlights from the same player. First, Austin Coley: The Pitcher
Austin Coley: The Hitter
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
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. First the trade, and on this date in 2008, the Pirates sent Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to the New York Yankees for Jose Tabata and three pitchers, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen. The Pirates got decent use out of the three pitchers, with both Karstens and Ohlendorf looking like solid pitchers at times. Jose Tabata was still around until 2015 and he ended up signing a deal that looks bad now with the way he performed, but it could have been a good deal if he lived up to his potential.
The Yankees didn’t get much from the deal. Marte was a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. Nady had another year on his contract, but he ended up getting injured just seven games into the 2009 season and missed the rest of the year.
The players born on this date include 1969-70 infielder Jose Martinez, 1949-51, 1955 outfielder Tom Saffell, 1948-49 third baseman Eddie Bockman and 1947 second baseman Jimmy Bloodworth. Saffell, Bockman and Bloodworth all served in the military during WWII, missing a combined nine years of their playing career. You can read more about those players in this link.