Every Monday afternoon, minor league baseball announces the Players and Pitchers of the Week for each league. The Pittsburgh Pirates had two players receive recognition from their leagues yesterday. Erich Weiss was named the Player of the Week for the International League and Eduardo Vera was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. Both players were featured in our daily Monday article titled The Twenty.
Weiss had hits in all seven games last week, including three games in which he hit a home run. He got his hit streak up to eight games on Monday during the first game of a doubleheader, but saw it come to an end in game two when he went 0-for-1 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Weiss got lost in Indianapolis this season because the team was filled with prospects and he wasn’t playing everyday, or putting up stats that stood out. He is still going to end up with a solid season though, especially if he can finish this last week out strong.
Part of the intrigue with Weiss this season is that he has made himself more valuable by adding versatility. He’s had a solid all-around season on defense, but he has done that while playing third base for the first time since 2013 and adding first base to his resume recently. As a player with one position for the last three years, his prospect status was always a fringe player, who we said could make the majors as a bench player. Part of the issue was him being a slow-moving college player through the system, while usually being a year too old for the level. He would put up solid stats, but nothing impressive. Now just shy of his 26th birthday, he has continued that in Triple-A and it’s likely we will see him there in a utility role next season, with a chance to move up if the Pirates need to go to their depth.
Eduardo Vera nearly pitched a no-hitter in his lone appearance last week. Needing just one more out in the first game of a doubleheader, he gave up consecutive singles before completing the shutout. The game was shortened to seven innings, but that’s the case for every doubleheader in the minors. It was a fairly impressive game considering that he has pitched a ton of innings this season compared to the past.
Vera was out with Tommy John surgery for all of 2015 and slowly came back during the 2016 season. He has already exceeded his innings total from 2013-16 by 19.2 innings and it has appeared recently that he is pitching on fumes this last month. In his two starts prior to his near no-hitter, Vera allowed 11 runs over 10.2 innings. He had a 3.13 ERA going into the first of those two games, so he was putting up impressive numbers considering that he was in the GCL last year and threw a total of 8.2 innings. It looks like he has two more starts left, so we will see if he can finish up strong. Regardless of these late season outcomes, he has definitely put himself on the prospect map with a solid three-pitch mix that includes a fastball that has touched 97 this season, along with above average control of all three pitches.
** Bradenton is going to end up playing a shortened schedule this season due to rain. They have had eight games wiped off the schedule already, so even if they get these final seven games in (including a doubleheader today), they will have played 132 games this season. Part of that comes from the split schedule, where they don’t play any first half games after the second half starts. The Marauders lost three of those eight games during the first half. The West Virginia Power lost four games during the first half, but they have been good during the second half so far with six games remaining.
** Barrett Barnes was moved up to Indianapolis after Jordan Luplow was promoted. He was going to continue his rehab in Bradenton at first, but never got to play a game there due to those pesky rain outs. Time-wise, it wasn’t a quick rehab, but actual game playing in the GCL, it was quite quick. He took two at-bats as a DH in his first game, then played six innings, eight innings and one full game, all with days off in between. For a player who was out of action for over two months, that’s a short rehab stint. The need in Indianapolis made it necessary, and he will probably see limited action at first.
The Pirates trail in their division by eight games. They are 8.5 games back for the second wild card spot.
Indianapolis is in first place with a seven game lead and can clinch today. Their season ends September 4th.
Altoona is in first place with a one game lead. The top two teams make the playoffs. Their season ends September 4th.
Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoffs
West Virginia is in third place, two games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.
Morgantown is in second place, 4.5 games back. Their season ends September 7th.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The DSL season is over.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 6-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Monday night. They will send Chad Kuhl to the mound today for his 27th start. He has posted a 3.68 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break and a 4.16 ERA in 12 starts on the road this season. Kuhl has allowed ten earned runs (nine in one game) over 4.2 innings against the Cubs this season. The Cubs will counter with right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta, who has a 3.49 ERA in 152 innings, with 149 strikeouts and a 1.20 WHIP. He has allowed ten runs over 16 innings (three starts) against the Pirates this season.
In the minors, Clay Holmes gets the start for Indianapolis. He threw six shutout innings in his last start and allowed two or fewer earned runs in ten of his last 11 starts. Austin Coley starts for Altoona. He’s among the Eastern League leaders in multiple categories, ranking third with a 3.33 ERA, seventh with a 1.26 WHIP, ninth with 104 strikeouts and tenth with 129.2 innings pitched. Bradenton had their game rained out yesterday, leading to it being canceled. Today they will attempt to play a doubleheader for the fourth straight day, with attempt being the operative word. Eduardo Vera starts tonight versus Lakewood (weather permitting). You may have read earlier today that he just missed a no-hitter in his last start. Sergio Cubilete gets the start for Morgantown. The DSL season is over.
MLB: Pittsburgh (63-69) @ Cubs (70-60) 8:05 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (4.52 ERA, 41:91 BB/SO, 122.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (75-60) @ Louisville (53-82) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.26 ERA, 55:97 BB/SO, 107.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (70-63) @ Richmond (59-74) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.33 ERA, 29:104 BB/SO, 129.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (67-58) @ Tampa (79-49) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.41 ERA, 35:82 BB/SO, 108.1 IP) and Cam Vieaux (4.46 ERA, 21:44 BB/SO, 72.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (64-65) @ Lakewood (69-64) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.50 ERA, 14:103 BB/SO, 118.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (35-31) vs State College (35-31) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Rookie: Bristol (16-47) vs Burlington (27-38) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (23-32) vs Braves (30-25) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)
Here is a triple from 14th round pick Chris Sharpe, his first of his pro career.
8/29: Mikell Granberry promoted to Bristol. Jason Delay promoted to Morgantown.
8/28: Adam Frazier placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas.
8/28: Johnny Barbato optioned to Indianapolis. Jordan Luplow recalled.
8/28: Hunter Owen assigned to Morgantown.
8/27: Barrett Barnes assigned to Indianapolis.
8/26: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Elias Diaz recalled from Indianapolis.
8/25: Francisco Cervelli activated from the disabled list. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis.
8/23: Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates select the contract of Angel Sanchez.
8/23: Cody Dickson promoted to Indianapolis.
8/23: Gage Hinsz placed on disabled list.
8/23: Braeden Ogle placed on the disabled list.
8/23: Arden Pabst placed on disabled list. Henrry Rosario promoted from Bristol to West Virginia.
8/22: Joaquin Benoit and George Kontos placed on disabled list.
8/22: Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. Steven Brault, Edgar Santana and Johnny Barbato recalled from Indianapolis.
8/22: Hunter Owen and Jason Stoffel assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
8/21: Pirates option Jacob Stallings to Indianapolis.
8/21: Brandon Cumpton promoted to Indianapolis. Jacob Brentz activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/21: John Bormann assigned to Bradenton.
8/20: Pirates recall Jacob Stallings.
8/20: Trae Arbet placed on disabled list. Shane Kemp assigned to West Virginia.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded away long-time second baseman Johnny Ray, to the California Angels for two minor league players. Ray was acquired near the end of the 1981 season for Phil Garner and he had no Major League experience at the time, but the Pirates put him right in the starting job. That’s where he stayed there until this second deal 30 years ago today. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1982, and he hit .286 over 931 games with the Pirates.
Former Players born on this date include:
Billy Cox, shortstop in 1941, then again during the 1946-47 seasons. Missed four full years due to military service during WWII. He hit .290 over 121 games in his first year back.
Joe Schultz Jr., catcher from 1939 until 1941. His dad was the farm director for the Pirates and also played for the team during the 1916 season. He also had a cousin named Hans Lobert, who played for the 1903 Pirates and another cousin named Frank Lobert, who spent a season in the big leagues.
Pep Young, infielder from 1933 until 1940. His .264 in 697 games with Pittsburgh. Spent most of his time at second base, but also saw time at shortstop and third base.
Roy Wood, 1913 left fielder. Joined the team in mid-June, playing just 14 games the rest of the season.
Ensign Cottrell, pitcher on June 21,1911. Played just one game for Pirates, coming in late during a blowout loss. He played for five teams in the majors, yet he only played 12 games as a pro. He is the first player to play for a World Series winning team in both leagues, 1913 A’s and 1914 Braves.