Morning Report: Two Pirates Ranked Among Top 50 Prospects

Baseball Prospectus posted their mid-season top 50 prospects list on Thursday. Their list doesn’t include drafted players from this year, or any prospects currently in the majors. They have Mitch Keller ranked 17th overall and Austin Meadows is four spots behind him in 21st place.

BP had five Pirates in their top 101 prospects during the preseason. That group included Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow, who both used up their prospect status earlier this season. It also included Kevin Newman, who was ranked 65th overall. So you have the two remaining players from the preseason top 50 still on the list and no new players joining them.

Most people probably would have guessed that Meadows and Keller would be the only ones on this new list. Despite injuries for both of them, and both having slow starts to the season, they are clearly the top two prospects in the system. I don’t think anyone ranking prospects would have them out of the top 50 now. That’s especially true with Keller returning strong to Bradenton over the last week. If someone wanted to be down on Meadows due to another hamstring injury and the uncertainty that brings, I could see their side. His upside is still better than most prospects in baseball, so at his age and proximity to the majors, that carries more weight.

* In the fifth inning of the Pirates game yesterday, Jose Osuna grounded out to third base. Not the most memorable time at the plate for him, but it was his 131st Major League at-bat, crossing the prospect maximum limit and eliminating him from the 2018 Prospect Guide. He had a good run, making six straight top 50’s once he reached the U.S. after playing his first year in the Venezuelan Summer League. A quick update on the only two remaining prospects. Elias Diaz batter four times last night, giving him 85 at-bats. Max Moroff had three at-bats last night to give him 44 career at-bats.

* Baseball America named their All-Prospect team for the month of June and Steven Brault made the list. We covered his incredible month when we named him our Pitcher of the Month.

* During the draft coverage this year, the Pirates were mentioned a few times as a potential landing spot for Kentucky first baseman Evan White. I usually don’t root for them to take specific players, but I do prefer prep players due to them usually being in the farm system longer and there is a lot more progress to track. That makes the coverage for that player better. A college player taken early in the first round is going to be a lot closer to his peak than a high school player. That being said, if I knew earlier about Evan White’s family tree, I would have been rooting hard for him to be picked by the Pirates.

White is the great-nephew of 1910-11 Pirates pitcher Kirby White, so yeah, I would have been interested in hearing any family stories. I really like the Jordan Luplow-Al Luplow Pirates connection, but my biggest interest in baseball history is from the earlier time periods, so that would have been a great one. Kirby White was acquired early in the 1910 season from Boston for two backups, as the Pirates tried to bolster their pitching staff. The 26-year-old right-hander posted a 3.46 ERA in 153.1 innings for the Pirates in 1910, but an arm injury in 1911 made him ineffective and ended his big league career.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-3 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night. The Pirates now start a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. They will send Trevor Williams to the mound for his 12th start. He has allowed three runs over five relief innings against the Cubs and three runs in five innings during his only start against the Cubs. Chicago will counter with right-handed pitcher Eddie Butler, who has a 4.18 ERA in 47.1 innings, with 28 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP.

In the minors, Nick Kingham makes his tenth start for Indianapolis. He allowed one run over six innings in his last start. In each of his previous five starts, he gave up at least three earned runs. Taylor Hearn allowed two runs over five innings in his last start, while striking out seven batters. He ranks tied for fifth in the Florida State League with 87 strikeouts. Oddy Nunez will be on the mound for West Virginia. He has a 1.06 WHIP and a 2.33 GO/AO ratio. He was supposed to go during yesterday’s second game, but that was postponed due to rain. Domingo Robles goes for Bristol today and Roger Santana is slated for the GCL.

MLB: Pittsburgh (40-46) @ Cubs (42-43) 2.20 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.67 ERA, 18:51 BB/SO, 71.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (48-38) @ Gwinnett (43-42) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (4.50 ERA, 16:45 BB/SO, 50.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (43-40) @ Akron (43-38) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (14.14 ERA, 6:5 BB/SO, 7.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (45-36) vs Tampa (47-36) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (4.23 ERA, 36:87 BB/SO, 76.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (36-44) @ Rome (43-39) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (3.29 ERA, 18:53 BB/SO, 63.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (11-6) vs Batavia (7-10) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Sergio Cubilete (1.69 ERA, 6:9 BB/SO, 16.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (4-11) vs Pulaski (11-4) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (2-8) vs Yankees West (4-5) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (18-11) vs Cubs1 (13-15) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is the home run hit by Starling Marte on Wednesday night.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

6/29: Yeudy Garcia assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/29: Brandon Cumpton promoted to Altoona.

6/29: Mitch Keller activated from the disabled list.

6/28: Nelson Jorge and Raul Hernandez promoted to Bristol. Eumir Sepulveda and Adonis Pichardo assigned to GCL  Pirates from Bristol.

6/28: Daniel Arribas released. John Bormann assigned to Bradenton.

6/28: Angel Vasquez promoted from DSL Pirates to GCL Pirates.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and combined, they didn’t even play 30 games with the Pirates. Starting with the most recent player first, we have Jerry Dybzinski, shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. Before him was Chuck Goggin, who was dealt to the Pirates for Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning. Goggin was a utility fielder for the 1972-73 Pirates.

Next up are Red Nonnenkamp and Art Merewether, who share something in common besides a birthday and playing for the Pirates. Both of them played exactly one game for the Pirates and it came as a pinch-hitter. Nonnenkamp struck out in his only at-bat on September 6,1933 and Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft in his only at-bat. Unlike Nonnenkamp, Merewether never played another Major League game.

Finally we have Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman, who was a player-manager during the 1947 season. He didn’t write his name into the lineup often, starting just 13 times. He led the Pirates to a 61-92 record before stepping down prior to the last game of the season. Herman went into the HOF in 1975, part of the same class with his teammate in 1947, Ralph Kiner.

  • I’m someone who would have dropped Meadows into the back of the top 50. The peak doesn’t seem as high to me because I think the hamstrings will either prevent him from his old top speed, or will result in injuries when he attempts to hit top speed.
    And I would say he’s not as safe a bet now.

  • Osuna did something I don’t ever recall happening when he got an OF assist throwing out consecutive hitters at 2nd base. Even more remarkable was him getting another OF assist with another throw at 2nd later in the game. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of anyone getting 3 OF assists in a game.

  • 2 in the top 50 puts us right at average (I guess two in top 25 is above average). I will be curious to see what we have in the top 100. At this point is their another player in the top 100 (maybe Newman)? We seem to have a lot of depth but I am not sure we have a lot of high end upside guys right now. I hope I am wrong.

    • Stonecipher
      July 7, 2017 10:13 am

      I’m starting to just outright ignore these rankings. I think there tends to be a lot of ranking other rankings, meaning these sites tend to try not to deviate from other outlets that rank prospects and are also victims of their own hype. They like to tout the guys that they have hyped in the past.

      • That thought process occurs in scouting also. Let one scout tout a ballplayer and the next thing you know there are 5 or 6 others doing the same because they are afraid to be perceived as overlooking a prospect.

  • yup. and oh look. we need one of those =)

  • so is it time to take luplow seriously as a prospect? only 23. having a great start in aaa. has good power

    • At the minimum, looks like a legit 4th OF, late inning bench bat.

      • Osuna, but with patience and defense.

        • Is it time to get both Osuna and Luplow working more at 3B and continue the work over the off season? Lup was tried at 3B in Lo A and committed 21 errors/.910 fielding percentage in 86 games.

          Not saying 3B is easy, but for a shot to start in MLB, is it worth the effort? Osuna has seen a lot of time at 1B so he may be able to adapt more easily. Hate to see bats like they have sitting 3 of every 4 games as 4th OF.

          • I’m not terribly confident Osuna’s bat holds up enough to be worth it. Poor discipline and lots of grounders/popups buoyed by power production that he’s never shown in MiLB.

            Luplow would definitely be interesting, though. Seemed like they booted him back to the outfield in order to get Connor Joe a look at 3B more than Luplow’s lack of ability in itself. If they were seriously considering allowing Jason Rogers to play 3B part time I really struggle to see why Luplow couldn’t be given a shot.

          • That being said, Eric Wood might eventually deserve a look himself. Not sure if you want to take AAA reps away from him and give them to Luplow, although a straight swap might help both of their versatility.

            • Wood has never hit for a high enough average to get excited about him. Wish he would!

              That said Luplow at 3B would be good offensively, if he can pass muster on defense.

      • From the offensive perspective he seems to be out playing Meadows. Since they are both slated for left field why wouldn’t you go with Luplow over Meadows for the power bat?

        • Because meadows is a potential superstar and Luplow is not.

          • I’ll always take performance over consensus opinions. Since a strong short burst of performance in AA early last year Meadows hadn’t done much. Why? What hole has the opposition found that Meadows hasn’t filled yet? If Luplow can outperform Meadows then I play Luplow until Meadows starts to perform to expectations.

            • So even *if* Luplow’s bat plays a bit better *right now*, Meadows has him flanked on literally everything else that goes into playing the game of baseball.

            • Luplow played 3 years at a major college and is a year older than Meadows. Meadows was really great at all levels especially considering the aggressive push he has gotten. A top Pirates’ prospect hasn’t done what Meadows has done since Cutch. Don’t get me wrong, I love Luplow and I think his upside is a Kevin McReynolds type of player, but Meadows has at least 25/25 potential and potential to be above average CF in the field. He has all the tools of an elite player. He has not put it all together at AAA yet but he is putting in the final touches and I still think he is a guy who could get called up and play way better than he has at Indy in the majors. He is an incredible talent. Also, Luplow is a guy that does a lot of things well. It’s great to have two guys that good at Indy. Luplow is really coming on.

            • Meadows is almost 20 months younger than Luplow. Factor that in and it’s clear Meadows is a much better prospect. Also as mentioned, he has a much better set of tools.

    • Stonecipher
      July 7, 2017 10:06 am

      I was looking at Luplow’s peripherals a lot today. Surprisingly, fangraphs has batted ball stats on minor leaguers. I think looking straight at the stat line, you see the HRs and the low K rate. But he also has a high GB rate which is probably the reason that this BABIP is low compared to his AVG. The HR/FB % is also really high which makes it hard to completely buy into his power surge. So in essence he probably needs to make a few more adjustments before being considered for a callup.

      • is that this year, or throughout his minor league career? cause he’s shown moderate power throughout his career so far

      • His batted ball numbers in Indy are still far too small of a sample to have stabilized, so take them with a grain of salt.

        Major League average GB rate is also around 45%, so he’s still firmly a fly ball hitter despite a small uptick in Altoona this year.

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