Prospect Watch: Strong Starts for Ogle, Holmes and McRae; Keller Has Poor Control in Tough Outing

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time, or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20170715′);
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3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170715′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170715′);
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5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170715′);
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6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170715′);
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7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170715′);
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8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170715′);
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9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170715′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170715′);
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11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170715′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170715′);
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13. Max Kranick, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170715′);
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14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170715′);
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15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170715′);
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16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170715′);
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17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170715′);
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18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170715′);
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19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170715′);
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20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170715′);
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21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170715′);
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22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170715′);
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23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20170715′);
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24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20170715′);
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25. Max Moroff, 2B, Pirates -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170715′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170715′);
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27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170715′);
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28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170715′);
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29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170715′);
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30. Jin-De Jhang, C, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(618085,’B’,’20170715′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Clay Holmes was in the midst of arguably his best start of the season, but one pitch later it ended prematurely.

He was putting up complete-game efficiency numbers through six innings.

But Holmes’ outing ended against the first batter in the seventh inning. Louisville’s Sebastian Elizalde hit a line drive back up the middle past the outstretched reach of Holmes.

At first it appeared like an innocent lead-off single, but catcher Elias Diaz immediately visited the mound and trainer Dru Scott was quickly called out of the dugout.

Diaz noticed something off with Holmes’ delivery and after some conversation — none of which involved evaluating any body part or throwing a practice pitch — Holmes left the game.

“He felt a little more fatigue in his shoulder and something wasn’t right,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “We weren’t sure what it was and he wasn’t right, so we just went out and that was precautionary.”

Holmes said he was battling some fatigue and the early exit was “the safe thing to do,” but it’s too soon to speculate on if he will miss his next start.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of the those things where we’ll go on and get another one and hopefully get into the seventh and eighth, and eventually complete games,” Holmes said.

The early departure was unfortunate because Holmes was in the midst of one of his best starts this season. He didn’t walk a batter and induced 11 groundouts. In his previous four starts, Holmes induced 33 groundouts in 21.1 innings.

“I think it’s just trusting my angle and trusting my sinker,” Holmes said. “Even when I get behind in counts, still trusting that. I think when I got behind in the count I still got some groundouts with my fastball. Just seeing that and trusting that, and knowing I don’t have to be too perfect with it and allow the hitter to chase a little bit and put it on the ground.”

Holmes’ velocity wasn’t as high as has been seen at times this season, sitting about 93 MPH on Saturday.

“But it was playing about four miles an hour up because of the action it had on it,” Barkett said. “You could hear it hit the mitts and it sounded like a bowling ball.”

The dip in velocity is nothing to worry about, Barkett said, as it’s more a change in approach.

“He’s focusing on executing pitches and not overthrowing,” Barkett said. “And when he does that he doesn’t have to throw 99 (MPH) to get people out.”
Holmes labeled his velocity dip as part of the ups and downs of a season, and he’s not necessarily trying to take anything off his fastball.

“I don’t think so,” Holmes said. “I just think you have some outings where balls come out really good and you’ll have some outings where you might be down a little bit. I think that’s just part of the course of the season and something is part of the rhythm of the game of baseball. You have some ups and downs.”

One big difference in this outing: zero walks, which is key after Holmes allowed six walks over five innings in his previous start. He attributed his command to being able to use his fastball well early in the count.

Louisville’s lone run against Holmes came in the third inning on two hits. Alex Blandino hit a slow roller that trickled down the third base line, barely staying fair. Darnell Sweeney later hit an RBI single that went off the tip of first baseman Joey Terdoslavich’s glove. If Terdoslavich was standing one step further back, the inning likely would have been over without a run scoring.

Hits were few and far between for both teams on Saturday, with Indianapolis and Louisville combining for seven hits. Indianapolis managed just two hits, singles by Elias Diaz and Starling Marte.

Diaz was 1-for-2 throwing runners out trying to steal, throwing Brandon Dixon out by a foot; but not getting a good throw to second on Phil Ervin’s stolen base in the ninth inning.

Dovydas Neverauskas allowed a run in the ninth inning, breaking a 29-inning scoreless streak by Indianapolis relievers. Phil Ervin singled to lead off the inning, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Indianapolis has been shutout in its last six home losses. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, Pa. – After losing by one run the past two nights against division rival Bowie, the Altoona Curve looked take the third game of the series on Saturday night with the hopes of a four game split on Sunday. The Curve called on starter Alex McRae to go for the win Saturday night, and McRae gave them everything he possibly could in front of a huge crowd at PNG Field. It took a little longer than expected, but the Curve won on a walk-off in the 13th inning, 7-6.

Down 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Pablo Reyes hit a solo home run to get the Curve back within one run. It looked like the game was going to end after an Elvis Escobar strikeout swinging, but he reached base after the ball went to the backstop. Two batters later, Edwin Espinal lined a single into center field to tie the game up at six.

With not much happening in the 10th, 11th, and 12th, Pablo Reyes led off for the Curve in the bottom of the 13th inning. It didn’t take long for him to end the game, lining a 2-1 pitch into the left field bleachers. Those two home runs were Reyes’ 5th and 6th homers of the season, and he added an RBI double earlier in the game to give him three RBIs.

“I just thought he wasn’t trying to do too much,” Hitting Coach Kevin Riggs said about Reyes after the game. “That’s one of the things we’ve been trying to talk to him about throughout the year. Sometimes the swing gets a little too big like he’s trying to do too much. He just kept it simple. He’s got tremendous hand-eye coordination so when he gets the barrel on the ball, it really jumps.”

Reyes stole the story line of the night, but the real work horse of the night was McRae, who went 8.0+ innings tonight. The line doesn’t tell the whole story, but he allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits, three strikeouts, and no walks. Both of the earned runs were tagged to McRae after he went out for the start of the ninth inning, and Bowie snuck two ground balls through the infield. He was then lifted because of his pitch count and Sean Keselica came in with those runners on first and third. He was not able to hold the runners on base.

McRae was fantastic all night, getting lots of ground balls and weak fly balls. He was resilient all night, finding a way to get outs. Not only resilient, he was efficient, sitting at only 78 pitches after seven innings and in the low 90s after eight. Sending him back out to pitch the ninth was a difficult decision, but it was one that McRae earned tonight.

“He earned the right to have one more hitter in the ninth,” Riggs said. “It was unfortunate what happened in the ninth, but it’s not unfortunate all that he gave tonight. He gave his heart and soul out there, and he was brilliant.”

McRae’s sinker was very good, according to his battery mate Jin-De Jhang.

“We came out with a game plan, and he stuck to it very well,” Jhang said. “All of his pitchers were good.”

It was the eighth time this season that McRae pitched seven or more innings, and he is in the top five in the Eastern League in innings pitched this season. The Curve have been able to rely on McRae to be efficient and eat innings for the most part this season, as his only really big hiccup came back in May when he couldn’t get out of the first inning.

As long as McRae is able to have his sinker ball working down in the zone, he has gotten good results all season.

Of note, Sean Keselica not only allowed McRae’s two runners to score, three more runs came across against him, as he could not get out of the inning. Yeudy Garcia relieved Keselica and pitched 2.1 innings without allowing a hit. Garcia has only allowed one run in 8.1 innings out of the bullpen since coming off of the disabled list. Luis Heredia threw two scoreless innings to pick up the win.

Edwin Espinal went 3-for-6 with that game tying hit in the ninth and also a home run earlier in the game. His average is up to .292, and he has 12 home runs this year.

As for the team, Riggs said that he thinks this win could give them momentum down the road.

“Any win is a good win, but certainly a game like tonight and making a comeback after giving up five in the ninth [is special],” Riggs said. “They showed some resiliency by getting back in the game and tying it up in the bottom. This is going to play big here over the next couple of months. That’s a big win for the guys, no matter what team you are playing. I think there will be some good things and signs from that.” -Sean McCool

 

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Mitch Keller started on Saturday night and had one of his worst career outings, comparable to his worst start while in Bristol in 2015. He lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits and five walks, with just one strikeout. It ties his career high for walks and earned runs, both set on August 21, 2015 when he lasted just two innings. It’s a new career high for hits allowed and just his second one strikeout game since 2014 when he was building up his innings in the GCL. The other one strikeout game was the day he left after one inning when he hurt his back earlier this year. So yes, this was a bad day for Keller. He threw 88 pitches, with 50 going for strikes and Dunedin scored in all four innings he worked.

Bradenton lost 8-4, getting nice relief work from three pitchers who combined for one run on two hits in the final 4.2 innings. The Marauders got their big hit from Jordan George, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, his seventh of the season. He also scored a run on a Christian Kelley single. Cole Tucker was 1-for-4 with a walk, run scored and his 35th stolen base. Will Craig had two walks and a run scored. One day after reaching base four times, Ke’Bryan Hayes went 0-for-5. Casey Hughston stole his 14th base, but he also crossed the century mark in strikeouts, now with 101 in 77 games.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia lost 5-3 to Greensboro on Saturday night, with both teams scoring all of their runs in one inning. Mike Wallace started in place of Blake Cederlind, who was moved to the bullpen. Wallace had three scoreless innings before allowing five runs in the fourth inning on four singles, two walks and a double. He remained in the game for another inning before Cederlind came on to pitch. Cederlind threw two no-hit innings, giving up two walks, while picking up three strikeouts. Pasquale Mazzoccoli made his Power debut and threw two scoreless frames.

The Power had four walks, a single and a hit batter through the first seven innings, but never had two runners on base in the same inning until the eighth. In that eighth inning, West Virginia scored three runs on three singles, a walk and a two-run double by Hunter Owen. It was his 18th double and the sixth game in a row in which he has hit a double. They had a chance to tie the score with two runners in scoring position and just one out, but the final five hitters for the Power were retired in order. Carlos Munoz had a single and two walks. Hunter Owen was plunked for the 23rd time.

Prospect-Watch-Morgantown

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Morgantown lost 5-3 to Staten Island on Saturday night. Stephan Meyer started and allowed three runs over six innings, with all three runs scoring in the fifth. He had eight strikeouts on the night, which is two more than his previous career high. Eighth round pick Blake Weiman threw two scoreless innings and now has ten shutout innings over six appearances, with an 0.50 WHIP and 13 strikeouts. Brandon Bingel lost the game in the tenth.

The bottom of the order for Morgantown had a tough night. The 5-8 hitters went 0-for-16 with nine strikeouts, although ninth place hitter Robbie Glendinning walked three times. The top of the lineup provided the production, along with a throwing error that helped the Black Bears score their first two runs of the game. Lead-off hitter Chris Sharpe had two hits and a run scored. Jared Oliva had a double and a run scored. Deon Stafford had a single, walk and an RBI. Tristan Gray batted in the cleanup spot and had two hits and an RBI. Bligh Madris went down on strikeouts in all four at-bats.

Prospect-Watch-Bristol
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Bristol lost 5-3, but Braeden Ogle has a solid start and Edison Lantigua had a nice day at the plate. Ogle went six innings, allowing solo runs in the first and sixth innings. He gave up seven hits and a walk, while striking out three batters. This is the first time he has gone beyond the fifth inning in his career and he was able to extend his outing due to his efficient pitch count. Ogle threw 65 pitches total, 44 for strikes. He now has a 3.60 ERA in five starts this season.

Edison Lantigua went 3-for-4 with his fourth home run. In 19 games this year, he has a .313/.446/.552 slash line. Bristol had ten hits on the day, but just one with a runner in scoring position. That was a first inning single by Lantigua that brought home Luis Benitez with their first run. Benitez had two hits and an outfield assist.

Dany Hernandez, a Cuban player the Pirates signed in February, was promoted to Bristol yesterday from the GCL  and made his first appearance. He took the loss, though all three runs he allowed were unearned.

Prospect-Watch-GCL

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The GCL Pirates had their Friday game suspended while leading 7-0 in the fourth inning. Shane Baz made his third pro start and threw three shutout innings. He gave up one runner in each inning, allowing two singles and a walk, while striking out two batters. Baz got out of the third inning on a double play, as part of his 5:1 GO/AO ratio on the day. Yeudry Manzanillo had his outing cut short in the fourth on a day he was scheduled to go five innings. He recorded two outs before issuing a walk and a runner reached on an error, so they resumed the game on Saturday morning with runners on first and second and two outs.

Eumir Sepulveda recorded the final out of the fourth inning, then Brandon Waddell made his first rehab appearance since being placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain after his start on June 4th. Waddell pitched great on Saturday, allowing one hit over three scoreless innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. After Hector Garcia threw a scoreless eighth in his second rehab appearance, Jacob Webb closed out the 9-0 win in the ninth. He gave up a double and a walk.

The Pirates had just seven hits in the game, but five of them went for extra bases, including the first pro homer for 17th round draft pick Mason Martin. He also walked, reached on a hit-by-pitch and scored three runs. Mikell Granberry drove in three runs with his two doubles. Victor Ngoepe hit a bases loaded double in the fourth inning. He also walked and stole his third base. Gabriel Brito hit a double and walked twice. Stephen Alemais went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Game Two Recap: The Pirates started game two with four straight singles. The fourth one was by Jeremias Portorreal and it brought home two runs. That was followed by a two-run double from Rodolfo Castro. He would score on a wild pitch to give the Pirates a 5-0 lead in the first inning.

In the sixth inning, a Mikell Granberry single started off a three-run inning that was capped off by a two-run double from Stephen Alemais, who played all 11.1 innings today at shortstop. Alemais went 3-for-4 with a stolen base in game two, giving him a .333 average. His rehab stint is likely over at this point. Victor Ngoepe had two hits, an RBI and a stolen base. Lolo Sanchez had a single, walk and two runs scored.

Leandro Pina started and went two scoreless innings before the Yankees East put two runs on the board in the third inning. He gave up another in the fifth, with Angel Vasquez bailing him out of the inning by stranding two runners. Pina finished with three runs on eight hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. He had five strikeouts and now has a 6.00 ERA through four starts. Vasquez threw a scoreless sixth and Ryan Valdes closed out the game in the seventh, preserving an 8-3 win.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates are off this weekend for the DSL All-Star game.

  • Did the Pirates do right by Lantigua by having him play 2 seasons in the GCL? I know he only batted .207 2 years ago, but couldn’t the strides he made last year in the GCL have also happened at Bristol? I love what he is doing, but wish he was at least in the NYPL if not with the the Power. Is there any chance of him moving up this year?

    • He missed time in 2015 due to a thumb injury, so the return to the GCL was partially due to the lost time. The players have three months worth of games between Spring Training and Extended Spring Training to make their case for placement, he made that decision by his play in March-June last year.

      The placement this year for Bristol or Morgantown won’t affect his placement next year. If they feel he is ready for WV, he will go there. It’s unlikely he moves up this year because Morgantown has a crowded outfield already.

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