Morning Report: Checking In on the Prospects Who Have Been Promoted this Season

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a lot of promotions in the minor leagues this season, most of them recently. After watching Mitch Keller’s Double-A debut last night, I wanted to look at the players on our mid-season top 50 prospects list and see how they are doing with their new clubs. I’ll start at the top of the list, with the number next to each player representing their rank on our updated top 50.

1. Mitch Keller – Just promoted from Bradenton this past week, Keller allowed two runs over six innings in his Altoona debut. He was strong through four innings, before working his way through a lot of hard contact in the fifth and some wildness in the sixth.

4. Cole Tucker – Tucker beat his former roommate to Altoona by about two weeks. In 14 games, he is hitting .203/.277/.203. He stole his 40th base of the season on Saturday night.

5. Kevin Newman – Promoted at the same time as Tucker, Newman is hitting .283/.309/.340 in 13 games with Indianapolis.

17. Jordan Luplow – I wasn’t going to include players promoted to the majors, but Luplow had a move from Altoona to Indianapolis before his brief trial with the Pirates. The 23-year-old outfielder is hitting .310/.404/.524 in 24 games with Indianapolis, after putting up a .903 OPS in Altoona.

28. Logan Hill – Hill was promoted at the same time as Luplow going to Indianapolis, but things haven’t worked out as well for him. He had his hand fractured by a pitch and is likely done for the season, including possible playoffs. He hit .278/.385/.418 in 22 games with Altoona.

31. Dario Agrazal – Another Altoona promotion cut short by injury. Agrazal looked great in Bradenton, then got injured during his first start in Altoona on June 21st. He has just started throwing recently, so he won’t be back for awhile.

45. Jake Brentz – Another Bradenton to Altoona player, he isn’t injured, but he has struggled to control his plus fastball. In ten outings, he has a 7.71 ERA in 9.1 innings, with 12 walks and 12 strikeouts. On the bright side, just five hits allowed.

48. Stephen Alemais – Has looked strong at the plate since joining Bradenton, hitting .457/.558/.514 in 11 games. Small sample size, but his new approach at the plate looks like it’s working.

I threw in three guys who just missed our top 50, rated somewhere in the 51-65 range.

Jerrick Suiter – Suiter was an early promotion to Altoona after Michael Suchy broke his hamate. Suiter has been great with his new team, hitting .295/.381/.473 in 72 games.

Edwin Espinal – He went 0-for-6 during a doubleheader on his first day with Indianapolis, getting there shortly before the games started. Since then has hit .375 (10-for-24).

Cam Vieaux – He pitched great in his first two games with Bradenton (one run over 12 innings), then has hit some bumps during the next six starts. Pitches tonight.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates trail in their division by 4.5 games. They are nine games back for the second wild card spot.

Indianapolis is in first place, with a 1.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.

Altoona is in second place, a 1/2 game behind. Their season ends September 4th.

Bradenton is in second place, 2.5 games behind. Their season ends September 3rd.

West Virginia is in fourth place, two games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.

Morgantown is in second place, a 1/2 game back. Their season ends September 7th.

Bristol is in last place, 18 games back. Their season ends August 31st.

The GCL Pirates are in third place, seven games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.

The DSL Pirates are in fourth place, 3.5 games back. Their season ends August 26th.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-4 over the San Diego Padres in extra innings on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates now face the Detroit Tigers for four games, with the first two in Pittsburgh, before moving to Detroit to finish the series. The Pirates will send Trevor Williams to the mound today for his 17th start. He posted a 3.86 ERA in five July starts, then allowed two runs over 5.1 innings in his first start this month. The Tigers will counter with right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, who has a 5.35 ERA in 119.1 innings, with 83 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP. He threw seven shutout innings in his last start, which was against the New York Yankees. In the month of July, he had a 6.23 ERA in five starts.

In the minors, Steven Brault starts for Indianapolis tonight after a rain out last night. He allowed three runs in his last start, all of them coming on a home run. It was just the third time all season that he gave up more than two runs in a game. Bradenton started Cam Vieaux has allowed just four home runs all season in 110.2 innings pitched. Beau Sulser, the tenth round pick from this year, gets his second pro start for Morgantown. His first 11 appearances were out of the bullpen. The DSL Pirates have a doubleheader today and then off tomorrow due to their opponent’s schedule. Usually, they only have off on Sundays. Altoona has off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (54-57) vs Tigers (51-59) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.47 ERA, 29:71 BB/SO, 98.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (61-52) vs Buffalo (50-64) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.20 ERA, 39:102 BB/SO, 106.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (58-54) vs Reading (59-52) 7:00 PM 8/8 (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (3.80 ERA, 1:16 BB/SO, 21.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (61-48) @ Lakeland (48-57) 6:30 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.94 ERA, 15:31 BB/SO, 48.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (52-57) vs Lakewood (60-53) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (3.62 ERA, 17:59 BB/SO, 74.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (27-19) @ Batavia (16-28) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Beau Sulser (4.50 ERA, 2:21 BB/SO, 18.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (9-35) vs Danville (24-20) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (13-23) vs Phillies (21-13) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (29-25) vs Dodgers2 (30-24) 10:30 AM DH (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is the fourth home run of the season from this year’s 13th round draft pick, Tristan Gray

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/6: Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis. Sean Rodriguez added to active roster.

8/5: Pirates claim George Kontos off waivers. Designate Jhan Marinez and Danny Ortiz for assignment.

8/5: Pirates acquire Sean Rodriguez from Atlanta Braves for Connor Joe.

8/5: Wade LeBlanc reinstated from bereavement list.

8/4: Mitch Keller promoted to Altoona. Jerrick Suiter placed on the temporarily inactive list.

8/4: Michael de la Cruz assigned to GCL Pirates

8/4: James Marvel promoted to Bradenton. Oddy Nunez activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/3: Angel German and Oneil Cruz added to West Virginia roster. Jordan Jess promoted to Bradenton. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.

8/3: Eury Perez traded to Miami Marlins for cash.

8/2: Gregory Polanco activated from disabled list. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Wade LeBlanc placed on Bereavement List. Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis.

8/1: Oddy Nunez and Blake Cederlind placed on disabled list. Oneil Cruz and Angel German assigned to West Virginia.

8/1: Adrian Valerio activated from disabled list.

8/1: Stephan Meyer assigned to West Virginia. Hector Quinones assigned to Bristol.

7/31: Tony Watson traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for Oneil Cruz and Angel German

7/31: Seth McGarry traded to Philadelphia Phillies for Joaquin Benoit and cash

7/31: Brandon Waddell activated from disabled list. Miguel  Rosario assigned to Bradenton

7/28: Jordan Luplow promoted to Pittsburgh Pirates. Edwin Espinal promoted to Indianapolis. Jordan George promoted to Altoona.

7/28: Austin Meadows assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one better know for his managerial career. We start with an important transaction that occurred on this date in 1958. The Pirates signed an 18-year-old kid out of high school named Willie Stargell. During his first season of pro ball in 1959, Stargell played D League ball, which is similar to Low-A now. He hit .274 with seven homers in 118 games. You can read more on Stargell here.

Players born on this date include:

Jim Gray, who played for the franchise in 1884, 1890 and 1893. He was a very good local player who filled in occasionally when needed. He also played for the Pittsburgh team in the Player’s League in 1890, but dressed for just six games total during his four stops in the majors.

Adonis Terry, 1892-94 pitcher. In a roundabout way, the Pirates acquired him for Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin. They sent Galvin to St Louis for Cub Stricker, who never played for the Pirates. Instead, he was immediately dealt for Terry, who won 30 games between his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, but lasted just one game the next year.

Les Fleming, successful minor league hitter, who never saw that translate over to MLB success. Hit .258 in 24 games for the Pirates in 1949 as their first baseman.

Jerry McNertney, catcher for the 1973 team. Was the backup at the beginning of the year when Manny Sanguillen tried to replace Roberto Clemente in right field. When that didn’t work, Sanguillen went back to catching and McNertney lost his spot.

Jim Sadowski, pitcher for the 1974 Pirates. Spent eight season in the Pirates system, but his big league career lasted just nine innings.

Steve Kemp, 1985-86 left fielder. He was a slugger for the Tigers in the early 80’s, but his Pirates career was a disaster over two seasons.

Tyler Yates, 2008-09 pitcher. One of the first players the current front office trade for, which didn’t work out that well.

The Hall of Fame manager mentioned above is Bill McKechnie, which if you’ve ever been to Spring Training, you’ll recognize the last name from the Pirates home field….or at least you would have before the poor decision to change the name before Spring Training this year. McKechnie played six seasons for the Pirates and managed them for five years, including 1925 when the franchise won it’s second World Series title. An interesting note about his start with the Pirates as a manager. He tried out for the team as the backup middle infielder in 1921, then when that didn’t work out, he became a coach, which transformed into the managerial spot when George Gibson got fired. You can read more about McKechnie in the link above.

  • Every fan and at times GM’s over value their prospects. Unless Hayes can hit for some power, I doubt that he will make much of an impact as a single hitting 3b man. A thing that is upsetting to me is that when a Pirate prospect comes to the bigs he struggles, management losses confidence in him and he sits, while other teams bring up prospects that seem to produce right away, cub/cards/Yankees. The only elite prospect the Pirates currently have is Keller and I am not sure he will become the number one starter he is projected to be and don’t worry about him replacing what Cole gives the pirates, because what Cole provides is frustration and aggravation and little production although he has great ability that he rarely applies.

  • Too bad Kramer is injured and was not promoted. I am hopeful about his future.

  • Heard Meadows isn’t going to be a September call-up. Was this expected after that injury? Does this mean he’ll be called up next season September (and earlier if one of our OF is injured)?

    • I’m guessing they are pushing back his arrival time to next June after the Super 2 deadline passes. You call him up in September and it just adds to that time you have to wait next year. They probably feel he won’t be able to get enough time in Indianapolis this season to get him up to speed.

    • What they do with Cutch and Meadows progress will be interesting stories to follow in the off season and into next year. They can’t feel very confident that Meadows could step in at some point next June and be an adequate replacement for Cutch. That puts a big hole in their plan to compete in 2018 — unless they actually keep Cutch. I just find it difficult to imagine that they will for a variety of reasons.

      • I’m in agreement concerning Meadows, who has not hit AAA pitching nor spent much time off the DL. As far as Cutch is concerned, I see the following happening: Pirates pick up the ’18 option; trades will be spurned in the ’17 offseason; after the ’18 season the Pirates offer Cutch a Q.O.
        The Pirates can’t lose if they make it thru these scenerios. They have made the offer to keep its franchise player at a higher salary and if Cutch refuses he comes across as someone who is all about the money.

        • That’s an interesting thought — the qualifying offer. Its a limited gamble for the Pirates but surely Cutch would decline it. Then his marketability might be reduced b/c teams that sign him have to surrender a high draft pick. A bit crappy to do that to Cutch. But very interesting thing to ponder.

  • Early regarding Keller but really not terribly impressive with the exception of Luplow. Small sample size but would be good to see some of these higher pedigree prospects like Newman and Tucker acclimate and producing better soon.

    I will be very surprised if Baseball America doesn’t have this system 15th or lower going into next year.

    • John…you make me look like Dale Carnegie! 🙂

      I have been as disappointed as anyone in how some of our prospects have performed, but I still think that Tucker, Keller, Hayes and Meadows (IF he can quit getting pulled hamstrings) can be, at least, above average players.

      I have looked at Top 10 prospects for the top farm clubs for a five year period. Getting 3 or 4 good ball players from those lists is about average. Therefore, if these guys come through, we’ll be league average WITH the top farm clubs.

      And that is not to mention Diaz, who should be, at least, a league average catcher and Newman, who, at worst, should be a fine utility player. (Hearn, Baz and Hinsz are too far away to get excited about, and everyone, by now, knows how I fell about Will Craig, lol).

      So, even IF we get rated below #15, we should be just fine. And, many times, clubs get rated because BA, et al, love ‘shiny new toys’.

      • WillyMoGarcia33
        August 7, 2017 9:04 am

        Well, maybe a lower rated farm is what’s needed to temper expectations. So fans stop expecting prospects like Glasnow to instantly be Kershaw, or Meadows/Bell to instantly become Trout or such.

      • The system is lacking in high end prospects right now and Meadows’ inability to stay healthy definitely doesn’t help. Although, I do contend that this is a very deep system despite that lack of high end talent with players ranked in the 20’s and 30’s with a chance to be major leaguers and a few that look to be late bloomers or sneaky good major leaguers despite the lack of pedigree.

      • I don’t dispute too much of what you say Foo with the exception of Diaz having a floor of an average MLB catcher(almost 27 with a WRC+ under 80 last time I checked in Indy) but my question is which one of these prospects is an actual upgrade over someone they are most likely replacing. By the time these guys are ready they basically will have to fill in for someone who is traded or near FA.

        How much of Cutch’s production can we realistically expect Meadows to replace?

        How much of Cole’s 2013-17 performance will Keller replace?

        Newman might be slight upgrade over Mercer… might not

        I’m not saying these guys aren’t good prospects, they are. But there will be churn in this team and in the big picture I don’t see how anyone argues it is much more than a 500, middling team at best looking at foreseeable future.

        There can be surprises to either the upside or downside but realistically I think we see a middling team.

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