Prospect Watch: Solid Pitching by JT Brubaker Highlights Friday’s Action

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 Mid-Season Update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Mitch Keller, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(640457,’B’,’20170825′);
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3. Shane Baz, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(669358,’P’,’20170825′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170825′);
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5. Kevin Newman, SS, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170825′);
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6. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170825′);
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7. Will Craig, 1B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170825′);
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8. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170825′);
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9. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170825′);
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10. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170825′);
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11. Calvin Mitchell, OF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668751,’B’,’20170825′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170825′);
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13Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170825′);
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14. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170825′);
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15. Steven Brault, LHP, Pirates– [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170825′);
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16. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170825′);
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17. Jordan Luplow, LF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(656669,’B’,’20170825′);
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18. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170825′);
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19. Max Kranick, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170825′);
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20. Steven Jennings, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(675651,’P’,’20170825′);
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21. Adrian Valerio, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650832,’B’,’20170825′);
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22. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170825′);
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23. Conner Uselton, OF, GCL Pirates – Disabled List

24. Max Moroff, INF, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170825′);
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25. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170825′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170825′);
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27. Eduardo Vera, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(622747,’P’,’20170825′);
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28. Logan Hill, LF, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664930,’B’,’20170825′);
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29.  Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170825′);
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30. Lolo Sanchez, CF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(665975,’B’,’20170825′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Erich Weiss ditched his batting gloves five days ago, deciding to join a small club of players swinging barehanded.

And apparently that was all he needed to break out of a hitting slump. Weiss hit a solo homer and continued his recent surge in Indianapolis’ 3-1 win over Columbus on Friday.

Weiss is hitting 8-for-18 (.444) over the first five games of the current weeklong homestand, which followed a road trip when he hit a paltry 2-for-13 (.153).

“I was struggling the series before and it was kind of a mental thing,” Weiss said. “I just wanted to change things up and make it a mental thing.”

Sure, the lack of batting gloves is a fun coincidence but there’s more to him breaking out of his slump than what accessories he’s bringing into the dugout.

“It’s just going back to you have to control how you play and you can’t let things happen out of your control dictate how you play that day,” Weiss said. “Everybody gets out, it’s just like a mental thing you have to deal with and get back to what do I do best.”

Weiss’ solo homer to right field in the fourth inning was a no-doubter, even invoking a slight bat flip out of the typically reserved infielder. The slight bat flip was more the emotion of the moment, but he’s also showing more confidence at the plate.

“We’ve talked to him a lot about his confidence and playing with confidence,” Barkett said. “He understands it and knows he has to have an edge everyday. He’s a really good player. Just making sure he’s locked in is key for him and he’s playing really well down the stretch.”

Indianapolis scored the only two runs it needed in the first inning on Edwin Espinal’s two-run, two-out double. That early hit set the tone for a critical three-game series against the only team that can knock them out of the playoffs.

“Espinal is a guy with a big personality and loves to be in the game in that situation,” Barkett said. “He thrives upon it and wants to be the guy up there with the bases loaded. His ability to want to be in that situation is something we wish we could bottle up and let our prospects drink. Because what he has is an edge that a lot of people don’t have.”

Espinal had seven RBI in his last three games.

On the mound, the beat goes on for Indianapolis. Drew Hutchison was the latest starting pitcher to control a game, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed five hits, striking out eight and walking two.

The rotation of Hutchison, Clay Holmes, Tyler Eppler, Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham allowed a 1.32 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in five starts this week, with each pitcher finishing at least six innings.

That starting pitching is putting a strangle hold on Indianapolis’ divisional lead over Columbus. The Indians’ magic number is down to five with ten games to play, including two more games against Columbus this weekend.

Dan Runzler entered in the ninth inning for a one-pitch save after Dovydas Neverauskas couldn’t finish off the game, allowing a run and putting the tying run at second. Runzler entered in relief with those two runners on base, but induced a game-ending groundout on one pitch.

Edgar Santana worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. Danny Ortiz had two hits. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, Pa. – JT Brubaker took the mound for the Altoona Curve on Friday night, looking to help his team extend their five game winning streak while also trying to go three games ahead in their division. Unfortunately, their bats did not match the Curve’s pitching staff’s performance, as they lost 2-0 while only recording two hits.

Brubaker looked to build off of his last start while at New Hampshire when he worked seven innings and allowed three runs. Over his last seven starts before tonight, Brubaker has a 3.00 ERA (13 ER/39 IP) and has been much more consistent than earlier in the summer.

He worked a quick first on only ten pitches. After striking out the lead-off batter in the second, he went deep in counts to the next two hitters and walked them both. Two more ground ball singles allowed one run to score, but Brubaker was able to limit the damage by recording two strike outs with the bases loaded. He threw 31 pitches in the inning.

“Location of the off-speed, he fell behind,” Michael Ryan said of Brubaker’s second inning. “Just for maybe that little bit, he lost some command which got him in some trouble. He did a good job limiting it to just one run.”

After the second inning, Brubaker buckled down and didn’t allow another hit. His command was slightly off through the game, allowing five walks total in six innings, but he didn’t allow a good hitting Bowie team to beat him with the bat.

He attacked with his fastball down in the zone and worked extremely well with his slider to a heavy right-handed team. He said about the game that he had a good feel for all of his pitches and was able to locate them well around the zone. He did note that Bowie was much more patient against him this time around than they were in previous times out against him.

“This team was a lot more patient than they typically have been,” he said. “I made quality pitches, but they may have been just missing.”

Ryan said that Brubaker has earned the reputation of being a big game pitcher, and “he showed that tonight”. It was the second really good pitching performance in a row against a strong hitting team.

“Two unbelievable starts,” Ryan said of Sadler’s and Brubaker’s starts. “Brubaker carried the momentum tonight. He did a nice job with his off-speed for strikes and off-speed for chase. He threw some high quality fastballs and kept the ball on the ground. It’s such a dangerous offense. Sometimes you count your blessings when you hold them a little bit.”

Austin Coley came out of the bullpen and worked an inning that he was scheduled to pitch last night. It was a quick, 10-pitch outing for Coley, who should rejoin the rotation next time through.

New Curve relief pitcher Johnny Hellweg also pitched an inning of relief, walking one and striking out one. He attacked with a hard two-seam fastball that sat between 95-97 MPH and moved a lot. He also has a curveball that drops down in the low-80s.

“Good presence out there,” Ryan said. “Looks like he’s been around for a long time. That’s the type of pitcher he is.”

Defensively, Jin-De Jhang threw out another runner at second tonight for his 21st caught stealing of the season. That marked three straight games that Jhang has caught a runner stealing, and he has a 47.7% caught stealing rate this season. He has greatly improved in this arena, looking much quicker with a stronger arm.

“His feet control everything,” Ryan said of Jhang. “It helps with his exchange and puts him in a position to make a strong throw. He works hard at it.”

Offensively, nothing was happening for the Curve tonight. Bowie starter David Hess went eight innings and only allowed one hit.

“He was throwing the breaking ball over and we were chasing the high fastball,” Ryan said. “We couldn’t pull the trigger when he would paint the fastball. He threw the curveball for strikes. He located the fastball inside and outside on the corners. We couldn’t pull the trigger against him.”

Overall, it was the top two teams in the division battling it out again tonight, and Bowie was able to take the win and cut Altoona’s division lead to one game. -Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton had their game suspended with no score in the top of the 4th inning. They will resume play tomorrow. James Marvel threw 3.2 innings of shutout ball before the game was stopped. He has now allowed four earned runs over 21.2 innings since joining Bradenton, with all four of those runs coming in the same inning.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia won 5-4 over Hagerstown on a walk-off homer from Garrett Brown in the tenth inning. Brown came into the game with one career homer in 378 at-bats. He led off the bottom of the tenth inning and on the seventh pitch he saw, Brown ended the game. It was a nice book-end to the home run Adrian Valerio  hit the lead-off the bottom of the first inning. Valerio now has ten homers on the season after hitting four homers in his first three seasons combined. Kevin Mahala also homered. The Power hitters had no walks and 11 strikeouts.

Stephan Meyer started and allowed two runs over six innings. He gave up a lot of base runners, but he was doing a good job of keeping the ball on the ground with a 9:2 GO/AO ratio. Dylan Prohoroff threw 1.1 scoreless innings with three strikeouts, though he allowed three hits and got help from Julio Eusebio to strand two runners.

Prospect-Watch-Morgantown

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Morgantown lost 6-5 for the second night in a row. Last night, they nearly completed a comeback after going down 6-0 in the first inning. On Friday night, the other team came back against them. The Black Bears put up all five of their runs in the fourth inning. That gave them a 5-1 lead at the time, which didn’t last long. All-Star pitcher Ike Schlabach allowed four runs in the fourth inning,  knocking him out of the game early. Nicholas Economos gave up an unearned run in the fifth inning for the loss.

Joe Cesar came back from a tough outing last time out to throw 2.1 scoreless innings in this game. He stranded all three runners he inherited from Economos in the fifth inning. Matt Seelinger pitched the eighth inning and struck out three batters. He has a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings, with 32 strikeouts.

The five-run fourth inning for Morgantown started with a Deon Stafford double, which was followed by an error on a Dylan Busby grounder, allowing Stafford to score. Busby scored on a Tristan Gray triple. After two strikeouts, Robbie Glendinning singled home Gray, then Sandy Santos capped the scoring with a two-run homer. Stafford, Gray and Santos each had two hits.

Prospect-Watch-Bristol
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Bristol lost 12-1 on Friday in a very rough game for 19-year-old lefty, Domingo Robles. He was having trouble throwing strikes, and when he did, Elizabethton put runs on the board. In 3.1 innings, he gave up eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks, while failing to pick up a strikeout. He will have one more start left to try to finish his season on a high note.

The Pirates scored just one run, but it wasn’t due to a lack of base runners. They had five hits, eight walks and two hit batters. Edison Lantigua was 1-for-3 with two walks. Yondry Contreras hit his sixth double. The team continued to strike out at a high rate, with 13 on this night. Everyone in the lineup reached base safely at least once

Prospect-Watch-GCL

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The GCL Pirates completed a game from last Thursday before playing Friday’s regularly scheduled game. The completion game started with a 2-2 score in the seventh inning and the Pirates would end up losing 6-2. The stats from the first seven innings were already official, and included three shutout innings from Shane Baz and the fifth home run of the season from Rodolfo Castro. Jason Stoffel allowed three of the runs in his second rehab game, although this game counts for stats from August 17th, so this will end up looking like his season debut. He was signed as a minor league free agent this off-season and given an MLB Spring Training invite, but has been injured (shoulder) since mid-February.

As for the regularly scheduled game, the Pirates won 3-1, with all three runs scored on a first inning homer by Rodolfo Castro. Lolo Sanchez had a double, walk and run scored. Mason Martin walked twice. Nick King and Jesse Medrano each had two hits. Mikell Granberry extended his hit streak to six games.

Yeudry Manzanillo allowed just one run over six innings. He allowed four hits, with two walks and two strikeouts, to go along with a 10:3 GO/AO ratio. Samuel Reyes threw three shutout innings for his third save.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates won 5-3 over the Cubs1, as Sherten Apostel hit his ninth home run of the season. Osvaldo Bido made his final start and allowed just one unearned run on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. He had his issues with control, but finished the season out strong by lowering his ERA in each of his last four starts, going from a 6.56 ERA down to a 5.15 mark after today’s game. Saul de la Cruz also finished strong with three no-hit innings.

It’s a good sign to see that Luis Diaz was healthy and able to make four appearances. The Pirates signed the lefty in June of 2015 after he showed a huge jump in velocity, but he didn’t debut until this month due to a shoulder injury. The return is great, but the results were very poor. He ended up allowing ten earned runs over 2.1 innings. One of his outings is still credited to outfielder Rayvi Rodriguez, but I’m told by someone at MiLB that they will fix it.

Apostel’s ninth home run ranks his second in the DSL. He was on a much better pace, but he stopped seeing pitches to hit, which has led to 56 walks in 61 games this season. He had just eight walks through 22 games, so 48 walks over 39 games really helped his OBP, but kept him from having more extra-base hits.

Jean Eusebio had a walk and a stolen base. He has gone 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts this season. The walk was his 35th in 50 games. Francisco Acuna has also done well in the walk department this season. He walked and scored twice today, giving him 53 walks in 58 games.

  • How much are walks in the DSL indicative of actual future plate patience in higher levels and that patience translating to more pitches to hit/higher averages? It just seems like this DSL team has a lot of guys with decent to great walk rates, but are they striking out a bunch too?

    • They do have a somewhat high strikeout total with the tenth most in a 40-team league, but they also lead the league by a wide margin in walks. That would indicate that it’s an extremely patient team at the plate, mostly because they only have one true weapon in the lineup. Apostel is the only one getting pitched around. Even with that huge OBP bump from all of those walks, they rank 20th in the league in OPS.

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