A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Max Moroff), 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 Mid-Season Update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.
1. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]
2. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
3. Shane Baz, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]
4. Cole Tucker, SS, Altoona – [insert_php]
5. Kevin Newman, SS, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
6. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php]
7. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php]
8. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
9. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]
10. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]
11. Calvin Mitchell, OF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]
12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php]
13. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
14. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php]
15. Steven Brault, LHP, Pirates – [insert_php]
16. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
17. Jordan Luplow, LF, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
18. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]
19. Max Kranick, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]
20. Steven Jennings, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]
21. Adrian Valerio, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php]
22. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
23. Conner Uselton, OF, GCL Pirates – Disabled List
24. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
25. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
26. Eduardo Vera, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]
27. Logan Hill, LF, Altoona – [insert_php]
28. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
29. Lolo Sanchez, CF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]
30. Dario Agrazal, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php]
INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Eppler has struggled over the past two months, but for a reason that is new to him this season: too many home runs allowed.
That was never a concern for him in the past.
Maybe it’s due to a better quality of hitters at the Triple-A level this season, or the quality of his pitches are not as good lately.
Whatever the reason, it’s becoming a problem. Eppler allowed three homers against Rochester in a 7-1 loss on Wednesday, which is the first time he’s given up that many homers in a single game in his professional career.
He’s allowed multiple homers in six games this season. And that comes after only allowing three multiple-homer games in his previous three seasons, all of those coming last year with Double-A.
All three of the homers Eppler allowed against Rochester – solo shots from Mitch Garver in the first inning; Niko Goodrum in the second; and Kenny Vargas in the sixth – came on fastballs in a hitter’s count.
“Just falling into patterns and the scouting report is out on me and they’re doing a good job of game planning for me,” Eppler said. “It was just a couple of bad pitches in counts where they know a fastball is coming, or whatever it may be, and they’re sitting dead red and hitting those pitches. I made mistakes today and paid for all three of them.”
Only three of the four runs Eppler allowed were earned, but he was the reason for the lone run that wasn’t. The fourth run was scored when he overthrew third base on what should have been the finish to picking off a Rochester runner caught in between second and third.
Goodrum’s homer led off the second inning, but Eppler rebounded to retire 13 of the next 15 batters, working around a pair of J.B. Schuck singles.
“I started mixing pitches better and throwing better sequences,” Eppler said. “I felt a lot better after that second inning making pitches and using those pitches better.”
Eppler’s command wasn’t awful, by any means, walking just one batter and throwing 65 of his 100 pitches for a strike. But he just made his mistakes that Rochester hitters didn’t miss.
“This is a higher level with better hitters,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “If you make mistakes they will take advantage.”
Eppler has a 7.30 ERA this month after posting a 7.04 ERA in June, allowing 13 homers in those two months. After a solid start to the season – 2.45 ERA in April and 3.23 in May – Eppler is in a rough patch that has taken a slight toll on his confidence.
“Of course it’s down, but if you don’t believe in yourself than nobody will,” Eppler said. “You just have to battle through it and learning from every outing, taking the good from the bads.”
The formula to break out of this recent rough stretch is simple: keep pitches from being elevated and do a better job of getting ahead of hitters.
“He has to get the ball down and work ahead in the count,” Barkett said. “It’s really simple. There’s no magic potion. He just has to pitch better, pitch well. He’s making mistakes up in the zone in bad counts and they’re getting hit. He has to get the ball down and get in better counts.”
Eury Perez made a nice catch running into the center field wall in the ninth inning, saving two runs from scoring. He made the catch and had about one step before running nearly face-first into the wall. He bruised his knee but should be fine moving forward, Barkett said.
Joey Terdoslavich had an RBI single for Indianapolis’ lone run.
Edgar Santana allowed a three-run homer in the eighth, needing 29 pitches to work past allowing four hits – including the homer – and a walk. – Brian Peloza
Altoona won 6-2 over Reading behind another great start. On Monday, Austin Coley tossed seven shutout innings, which was followed by Alex McRae allowing one run over eight frames last night. On Wednesday afternoon, Tanner Anderson put together the best outing of the group, throwing eight shutout innings, while striking out a career-high nine batters. Reading came into the series with a 54-44 record, leading the way for the second playoff spot in their division, so this wasn’t a bad team that the Altoona starters dominated.
Anderson allowed five hits and one walk, while posting an 8:5 GO/AO ratio. That’s not a bad ratio, but not as ground ball heavy as we normally see from him. He threw 97 pitches, with 70 going for strikes, so Anderson was really pounding the strike zone. He did an excellent job of spreading out the runners and bearing down with men on base. Anderson allowed a runner in six of his eight innings, but never more than one runner in an inning.
Reading tried to make a comeback against Miguel Rosario in the ninth. He had some control issues and needed Sean Keselica to finish the game. Keselica needed one pitch to get an infield pop up to end the game and get his third save.
On offense, Edwin Espinal and Michael Suchy both had the same batting line, going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two strikeouts. Espinal now has 25 doubles on the season. Elvis Escobar had two hits and scored two runs. Pablo Reyes connected on his eighth home run. He also added a single and a walk. Cole Tucker went 1-for-4 with a walk. He is 4-for-24 with four walks in six games for the Curve.
Altoona is now in a three-way tie for first place in their division, with the top two teams making the playoffs.
Bradenton won a 9-8 slugfest over St Lucie on Wednesday. Gage Hinsz started and had a rough night, which twice came close to looking much better. He allowed six runs on ten hits and three walks in five innings. Five of those runs happened in the second inning. He was one strike away from a shutout inning when he gave up a two-run hit, then had a ground ball to Mitchell Tolman just miss being an out when Stephen Alemais couldn’t make the catch on the force at second base. A runner scored from second on that play, and then Hinsz allowed a long drive to center field to bring in two more runs. He looked good in the third and fourth before giving up three straight singles in the fifth for the last run. He came into the game with a 2.56 ERA in his last seven outings.
The Marauders still won the game thanks to some great offense, collecting 14 hits as a team, six of them with runners in scoring position. Jordan George and Casey Hughston each hit solo homers, while Hughston drove in a pair of runs on a single and a sacrifice fly. Tolman drove in two runs on two singles and his 16th double. Kevin Krause had two singles, a walk and two RBIs. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his ninth double and scored a run. Will Craig had the night off.
Stephen Alemais had three hits, a run scored and an RBI, but left early due to an arm injury. According to Bradenton announcer Nate March, Alemais hit a foul ball, then dropped the bat, was in obvious pain and then left. There is no update on his condition yet.
West Virginia has off today.
Morgantown has off today.
Bristol just keeps losing this season, going down 4-1 to Bluefield on Wednesday to drop them to 8-26 on the season. That’s the worst record in all of the minors. On a night when your first three hitters in the batting order combine for seven hits, it’s hard to believe that all they could put together was one run. The reason is simple though, the 4-9 hitters went 0-for-19, failing to reach base once. Edison Lantigua had three hits to give him a .320 average. He also stole his fifth base of the season. Yondry Contreras and Ben Bengtson each had two hits.
Jacob Taylor started and lasted only three innings, showing major control issues. He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks. Just 30 of his 61 pitches went for strikes. He was followed by Hector Quinones, who had a terrific outing, throwing four shutout innings on one hit and no walks. After Miguel Hernandez allowed a run in the eighth, Dany Hernandez retired the side in order in the ninth with three grounders.
BRADENTON, Fla. – It’s a small sample size, but I might be bad luck for Shane Baz.
I’ve seen two of his five starts — both of his home starts — and in the process have seen his two worst outings. The first one saw him throwing 1.2 innings, giving up one run and walking three batters in the process. Today he left early again, going 2.1 innings, rather than his originally scheduled four innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, with a walk and three strikeouts.
The trend today matched what I saw last time. Baz put the leadoff hitter on base, then struggled pitching from the stretch. The first batter of the game reached on a fielding error by Rodolfo Castro, and two singles in the inning led to a run scoring. Things got worse in the third when Baz walked the leadoff hitter, followed up by two singles and a three run homer. He got a ground out before reaching his pitch limit, ending his day early.
Meanwhile, the second inning was flawless, with a line out and two strikeouts. He was around 93-94 MPH with his fastball with no one on base, and was around 89-91 MPH when pitching from the stretch. I saw that same velocity loss last time when he pitched from the stretch almost the entire game. Meanwhile, a lot of the reports we’ve received from his road starts have him hitting mid-90s, and in those games he has been pitching more from the windup, due to better results.
I’m waiting to see him a few more times to see if this trend continues. I’d like to see a dominant outing to see the difference in his game when he’s cruising along, versus when he’s putting the leadoff runner on base in most innings. I do like the potential that Baz has shown, but it’s important to keep perspective that he’s just out of high school, and will need some work adjusting to pro ball. Even Jameson Taillon had to do that in his first year.
Samuel Reyes, the younger brother of Altoona’s Pablo Reyes, came on to pitch 3.2 innings in relief. He gave up five runs, but only one earned, with most of the damage coming on a three run homer. Reyes showed off some good velolcity, sitting 91-93 MPH with a lively fastball. He also had a big breaking 12-to-6 curve that he was throwing for strikes. I’m not sure if the pitch is a strikeout offering at this point. He seems like an interesting arm, but he’ll probably need a better strikeout pitch to break out of the lower level relief role and get priority work.
The offense was pretty quiet today until a five run inning in the sixth. They were being no-hit through 3.2 innings until Mikell Granberry recorded a single in the fourth inning. They didn’t get another hit until the sixth, putting together four hits in a row after starting the inning by reaching base on two errors. They couldn’t overcome the pitching and defense, leading to a 12-5 loss. – Tim Williams
The DSL Pirates lost 7-5 to the Rays2 in a game shortened due to rain. Starter Santiago Florez allowed a run in the first inning on a triple and a throwing error. In the second inning, he recorded just one out before being pulled with the bases loaded. Reliever Kleiner Machado allowed all three inherited runs to score, though the last two were unearned due to another throwing error. Florez gave up a total of six runs, with half of them being earned. Machado pitched well in relief, giving up one run over 4.2 innings. Saul de la Cruz threw a scoreless seventh and was on the mound facing the first batter of the eighth when the game was stopped and eventually called due to rain.