Morning Report: Altoona with a Chance to Advance to Eastern League Finals Tonight

Nick Kingham pitched a great game last night to keep Indianapolis alive in the playoffs, while Altoona put up a lot of offense in their 8-4 win over Bowie. That gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series and now the final three games are at home. As mentioned in the preview from yesterday, Kingham wasn’t just coming off of two poor starts to end the regular season, he also didn’t pitch well during the two times he faced Durham this year. So that was a nice pitching performance from him in a big spot.

The big spot today belongs to Drew Hutchison, who gets the ball in another must-win contest for Indianapolis. He looked solid in his first game against Durham back on April 18th when he allowed one run over six innings. That start was obviously quite a long time ago and a lot has changed in the lineup for the opposition. In his other start against the Bulls, which was exactly three months later, Hutchison gave up five runs over six innings.

Durham is sending Brent Honeywell to the mound for game three tonight. He is the top prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays and the #12 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old righty posted a 3.64 ERA in 123.2 innings in Triple-A this season, with 152 strikeouts and a 1.30 WHIP.

Honeywell faced Indianapolis three times this season with mixed results. He threw five shutout innings on July 18th, which was the most recent start, and the game in which Hutchison struggled. Honeywell also allowed three runs over five innings in late June and three runs over six innings in mid-April. The top four hitters for Indianapolis (Moroff, Bostick, Meadows and Rogers) in that April game, are not with the team now. They combined to drive in seven of the eight runs that day.

For Altoona, the steady Austin Coley will be on the mound. He finished the season with 15 shutout innings, including a one inning relief appearance, followed by two scoreless seven inning outings. The one shutout inning was against Bowie. He also started against them back on July 14th and gave up two earned runs over six innings. Coley faced them twice in June and allowed one run over 5.2 innings in the first game, followed by one run over seven innings in the second contest.

Bowie is going with Lucas Long, who had a 2.95 ERA in 128.1 innings this season. He finished third in the Eastern League in ERA, one spot ahead of Coley (3.01). Long has faced Altoona four times since June 4th, with the first time being a relief appearance and the final three being starts. Here are the results from those games in non-word form:

6/4: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO

7/16: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO

7/21: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO

8/24: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO

So we can safely assume that Long will go seven innings tonight with no walks and three strikeouts, while allowing an even number of runs. We are still waiting on game times for games four and five in this series, which won’t matter if Altoona wins tonight.


(Durham leads series 2-1)

9/6: Indianapolis 3, Durham 10

9/7: Indianapolis 0, Durham 2

9/8: Indianapolis 5, Durham 0

9/9: Game Four VS Durham 7:05 PM

9/10: Game Five VS Durham 1:35 PM (if necessary)


(Altoona leads series 2-0)

9/7: Altoona 2, Bowie 0

9/8: Altoona 8, Bowie 4

9/9: Game Three VS Bowie 6:00 PM

9/10: Game Four VS Bowie TBD (if necessary)

9/11: Game Five VS Bowie TBD (if necessary)


The Pirates trail in their division by 10.5 games. They are 9.5 games back for the second wild card spot.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 4-1 to the St Louis Cardinals on Friday night. Chad Kuhl will be on the mound making his 29th start of the season today. He has faced the Cardinals three times this season, allowing a total of seven earned run over 16 innings. Kuhl has a 4.24 ERA in 13 road starts this season. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Carlos Martinez, who has a 3.34 ERA in 183 innings, with 192 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates twice this season, allowing two runs over seven innings the first time, followed by three runs over seven innings the second time.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-75) @ Cardinals (73-68) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (4.32 ERA, 63:125 BB/SO, 141.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (79-63) vs Durham (86-56) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (3.56 ERA, 57:124 BB/SO, 159.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-66) vs Bowie (72-68) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.01 ERA, 31:114 BB/SO, 143.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (70-62)  (season preview)

Low-A: West Virginia (69-67) (season preview)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (40-35) (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (17-49)

GCL: Pirates (26-34)

DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)


Here are two highlights from Altoona’s 2-0 win on Thursday night. First is Mitch Keller getting the final out.

Second is a nice diving catch by Michael Suchy in right field.


9/8: Gregory Polanco and Adam Frazier activated from disabled list.

9/7: George Kontos activated from disabled list.

9/6: Jack Leathersich added to Indianapolis. Cody Dickson assigned to Bradenton.

9/4: Pirates claimed Jack Leathersich on waivers from Chicago Cubs.

9/3: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Christopher Bostick recalled from Indianapolis.

9/3: Austin Meadows placed on disabled list.

9/3: Anderson Feliz and Justin Maffei promoted to Indianapolis. Mitchell Tolman and Casey Hughston promoted to Altoona

9/3: Kevin Kramer assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

9/2: Kevin Kramer and Taylor Hearn assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

9/1: Pirates activate Wade LeBlanc and Joaquin Benoit from disabled list.

9/1: Hunter Owen added to West Virginia. Shane Kemp promoted to Bradenton.

8/31: Juan Nicasio claimed on waivers by Philadelphia Phillies


Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, though one of them was much more important to the team than the others. One of the players born on this date was Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, who played five seasons in Pittsburgh. He went 35-31, 3.08 in 616.1 innings with the Pirates, winning 15 games during the 1934 season. In his career, he won 237 games. We also have a manager, who is a Hall of Fame player. Frankie Frisch led the Pirates to a 539-528 record from 1940 until 1947. He had five winning seasons in Pittsburgh, topping out at 90 wins in 1944.

Other players born on this date include 1887-88 outfielder Abner Dalrymple, who was the first batter after the team made the switch to the National League in 1887. Doc Johnston, 1915-16 first baseman. He hit .243 and drove in 103 runs in 261 games with the Pirates. Pete Naton, 1953 catcher, whose entire big league career consisted of six games with the Pirates after graduating from Holy Cross in 1953.

Dan Costello, 1914-16 outfielder. Had a .566 OPS in 152 games over three season. His only other Major League time was two at-bats with the 1913 Yankees. Tom Foley, 1993-94 infielder. Hit .246 in 145 games for Pirates, seeing starts at all four infield spots. Dan Miceli, 1993-96 reliever. Had a 5.41 ERA in 139 games with Pittsburgh, picking up 24 saves.

The best player born on this date just happened to be born in the same hometown and in the same year as John Dreker, just blocks away. At one time, they even lived on the same street. That John Dreker would be my great-grandfather, though my first house was also two blocks away from the Miller residence in Kearny, NJ, which was still in their family until 2009. That proximity is likely the main reason we ended up with six relatives in common.

Dots Miller was the second baseman for the 1909 World Series champs, where he was the double play partner of the great Honus Wagner. Miller played 151 games that season, posting a .725 OPS, while leading all NL second baseman in fielding percentage and assists. He finished third in doubles, fourth in triples and fifth with 222 total bases. He even drove in the third most runs in the league, finishing with 87 RBIs. In five seasons in Pittsburgh during the deadball era, he had a .704 OPS in 710 games

You can read his full bio here, which is includes an updated story on how he got his nickname. You can check out the 1909 uniform he wore during that World Series, which is owned by yours truly. Here’s the link.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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joe s

Honey you are going to do so well tonight.


ESPN INsider

Prospects facing make-or-break years in 2018

Guess whose pic is the headliner?

Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

It may seem unfair to place a 22-year-old in Triple-A who was considered one of the best prospects in baseball on this list, but 2018 is going to be very important for Meadows. He has battled health issues every year of his career, and he struggled to make adjustments in his time in the International League.

“He’s very frustrating,” an NL scout said. “Because one minute you’ll see a player who has three plus tools [hit, speed, glove] and the next he looks like a fourth outfielder. I think some of that has to do with how much time he’s missed, but at some point you have to perform up to your abilities.”

I remember being all excited about Mark Merchant….then he started blowing out his knees. To me it is more tragic to ‘lose’ a hitting prospect to injuries than to find out that they can’t hit the curve ball (like Chad the Water Walker).

joe s

If I recall Merchant was traded a year after he was drafted, for whom I do not recall. NOt sure what you are referring to regarding him and his knees. He was not on the team long enough to even get to know him. Shit that year the Bucs could have had Ken Griffiy Jr except for the alternating league getting the first draft choice, which gave him to Seattle, even though the Pirates had the worse record that year.


In the middle 2000’s I talked to a lot of players who came through Altoona, and they all told me Hermanson never had any problems with a bat or his defense till some Pirate coaches started messing with him.

joe s

Another sure thing that turned to failure. It is the Pirate way after all.


This is the biggest issue with going all in on pitching in the draft. I am not saying it is right or wrong, but if a team drafts a disproportionate amount of pitchers, then the one or two hitters they draft absolutely have to work out.

Scott K

Don’t be surprised if Cutch s dealt this winter and Luplow is allowed to start in LF until Meadows proves he is ready to take his place, or maybe be his platoon partner.


If Cutch is dealt, I’d rather NH not repeat last years mistakes and get an outfielder in
free agency even if it’s just a one year stopgap as insurance for Luplow and/or Meadows not being ready.


Or, maybe Luplow is the answer and Meadows just doesn’t work out.

Scott Kliesen

Or maybe both Luplow and Meadows work out and Polanco isn’t the answer. Lots of what if’s to Pirates OF these days.


I’m impressed by the starting pitching (on all four teams) during the minor league playoffs. I thought we would have an advantage there but not so much


We need to trade some for a couple of good hitters…probably some OF’ers and a 3bman?

Polanco can’t stay healthy OR hit. Cutch seems to have become a ‘2 month OF’er’ (two hot months each of the last years…under .600 OPS the remaining 4 months). Marte appears to be the only good OF’er that we have left.


Jogging Starling ?


It’s amazing how many missed opportunities the Pirates have had despite making the (correct) decision to basically give up on the season and play younger guys – if the playoff push section is correct, they would be within 5.5 games of a wild card spot had they won 2 out of the last 3 games.

Also, take a look at Carlos Martinez’s stat line – likely at 190 IP and 200 K’s after tonight with about 4 starts remaining and a 3.30 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP – compared to Cole’s. Those are the numbers (minus just a tad better ERA) an “Ace” puts up, and Cole hasn’t come close the last two years. Does he have the talent? Absolutely. But a #1 Major League pitcher he is not.

Scott K

Only thing missing from Cole’s game is consistency. He misses middle middle far too often to be an Ace.

Chris C

Cole has had an odd year. I think he has pitched pretty well overall. He still is not an “Ace” but he pitched well to begin the season but didn’t get the wins to make it obvious on the stat sheet. He has had more turbulence than one would hope for but he has had some very good starts with his last one against the Cubs being one of his best ever. I still think he can have another season like ’15 and perhaps even better. I am high on him going into ’18.

Pirates Prospects Daily


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