Jared Lakind was released on Friday, ending a long minor league career with the organization. Coming into this season, he looked like he could be a legit prospect, with a chance to pitch in Indianapolis during the second half of this season. The Pirates even gave him a Spring Training invite after he re-signed as a minor league free agent in the off-season.
We did not see the same Lakind we saw last year though. He had a 2.59 ERA in 66 innings last year, holding opponents to a .216 BAA, while picking up 62 strikeouts. He showed solid velocity, getting up to 94 MPH and he was tough on left-handed batters. At minimum, he seemed like he would be good for lefty-lefty match-ups, but he could have been a middle reliever if all went well.
All did not go well obviously this season. There wasn’t even a stretch where it looked like the 2016 Lakind was returning. The worst part was that left-handed batters had a field day with him on the mound, hitting .368 this season. Last year, he gave up 50 hits in those 66 innings. This season he allowed 49 hits in 35.2 innings. Basically, no one was having trouble hitting him this year.
We mentioned the other day that there was going to be a roster crunch due to players returning from injuries and others moving up in the system. The release of Buddy Borden earlier this week was a surprise because of how well he was pitching all year. Lakind being released wasn’t a surprise, although there was the possibility of placing him on the disabled list with a random injury to keep him around. He was going to be a free agent at the end of the season though, and with eight weeks left in the year, a disabled list trip with no set return date (meaning whenever something opens up) meant that he wouldn’t have much of a chance to rebound this season.
It’s probably no coincidence that Cody Dickson went on the disabled list with an ankle sprain yesterday. After he pitched on Friday, he wasn’t going to pitch again until sometime after the All-Star break. It’s possible he is hurt, but it’s also possible that his injury heals at the exact same time as a spot opening up at either Altoona or Indianapolis. Dickson has shown potential in the past, but much like Lakind, this season has no highlights. The difference between the two players is that Dickson still has two more years before free agency. That doesn’t guarantee he will stick around over the off-season, but there’s no reason to get rid of him now. Unlike Borden who should be able to find a new team, Dickson would probably have trouble finding a job with his 5.79 ERA and 1.90 WHIP.
So now Lakind is gone after eight seasons in the system. He went from a potential power hitting first baseman who couldn’t get out of short-season ball, to a solid relief prospect in Double-A during his time with the team. For a little perspective on how long he has been around, his first home run came in his fourth career game in the GCL. He was hitting in a lineup that featured Gregory Polanco and Elias Diaz batting 3rd and 4th, and Nick Kingham made his second career appearance the inning after Lakind homered. From my own personal perspective, I started writing here a month before he played his first game (no, I did not misspell Jose Osuna’s name in that link, it actually changed when he came stateside the following year).
* Don’t forget the the Futures Game is on MLB Network today at 4:00 PM. Luis Escobar will represent the Pirates and if you’ve never seen him pitch before, you could be in for a treat. I say could because Escobar can get erratic at times, and an event like this could be one of those times. His delivery can get too quick at times, so a little extra adrenaline could be a bad thing. It could also be very good if he is on because then he will flash a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball with a big break. With the ability to go all out for one inning, you might see higher than the 93-95 MPH range we usually see, since he has got up to 97 before. Not sure if he would go to his third pitch in a short outing, but his changeup looks great at times and can be used as a strikeout pitch. The game is exciting anyway, even if you’re only going to get one inning out of the only Pirate in the game, but Escobar will be worth checking out.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-2 over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night. They will send Jameson Taillon to the mound this afternoon for his 12th start. He has faced the Cubs twice this year with vastly different results. In the first game, he allowed one unearned run over seven innings. In the second game, Taillon allowed four runs in five innings. Chicago will counter with lefty Jon Lester, who has a 3.94 ERA in 107.1 innings, with 110 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP.
In the minors, Mitch Keller is on the mound for Bradenton this afternoon. This will be his third start since returning to the Marauders after a back injury caused him to miss a month. Keller threw nine innings total in his first two games, giving up one run on four hits and one walk. Tyler Eppler goes for Indianapolis in their last game before the All-Star break. His last start was two runs over five innings, and that followed a one-inning relief outing, in which he threw a scoreless frame. Braeden Ogle goes for Bristol today. After allowing four runs over four innings in his first start, he has given up two runs over ten innings in his last two games combined. The GCL and DSL Pirates are both off on Sundays.
MLB: Pittsburgh (41-47) @ Cubs (43-44) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (2.73 ERA, 22:59 BB/SO, 62.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (50-38) @ Gwinnett (43-44) 1:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (4.13 ERA, 25:60 BB/SO, 80.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (46-40) @ Akron (43-41) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (3.89 ERA, 20:52 BB/SO, 85.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (47-36) vs Tampa (47-38) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (2.57 ERA, 9:46 BB/SO, 49.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (37-45) @ Rome (44-40) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Blake Cederlind (6.80 ERA, 23:46 BB/SO, 49.0 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (12-7) vs Batavia (8-11) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Stephan Meyer (4.02 ERA, 4:8 BB/SO, 15.2 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (4-13) vs Pulaski (13-4) 6:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (2-10) vs Braves (6-6) 12:00 PM 7/10
DSL: Pirates (19-12) vs Rays2 (16-15) 10:30 AM 7/10 (season preview)
Here are two recent homers from Altoona. First up is Elvis Escobar, who smacks a line drive down the right field line.
Then Pablo Reyes hits a bomb to center field.
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.
6/30: Logan Hill promoted to Altoona. Jordan Luplow promoted to Indianapolis. Alexis Bastardo promoted to Bradenton. Julio Eusebio promoted to West Virginia.
6/30: Connor Joe placed on disabled list.
6/30: Jason Rogers released.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
One former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date, plus a couple games of note. The only former Pirate born on this date is Coot Veal, who pinch-hit for the team on April 17, 1962. Veal turns 85 today. In his only game for the Pirates, he pinch-hit for pitcher Tom Sturdivant in the second inning and struck out looking. He spent the next 19 days on the Pirates bench before being sent to the minors. A month later, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers.
On this date in 1912, the Pirates sent their young pitching phenom Marty O’Toole to the mound, where he faced off against a young pitcher for the Phillies named Eppa Rixey. Back in 1911, the Pirates paid $22,500 to sign O’Toole, which was a huge sum back then. Early in the career it looked like a great purchase, but his star quickly faded. In this game however, O’Toole out-pitched Rixey, who would go on to win 266 games and get elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pirates won 2-0 and Hall of Famer Max Carey plated the go-ahead run with an RBI triple in the sixth inning.
The link above includes a game recap/boxscore for the Pirates 9-8 win in 12 innings over the Phillies on this date in 1977. The winning hit came off the bat of Mario Mendoza and the losing pitcher was former Bucco Gene Garber. The pitching match-up that day was Steve Carlton versus John Candelaria, and closer Kent Tekulve lost a two-run lead in the ninth to send it to extra innings.